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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

Chapter 7 - The Continuum and the Doctrine of God

from Part III - The Human Continuum


There are some potentially troublesome conceptual problems with the very idea of a continuum that I need to address. It has been pointed out to me that a gender continuum with male and female as opposite poles may not, after all, avoid the problems associated with binary assumptions about gender. First, the idea of a continuum might not be sufficient to undo the asymmetrical valuing of one of the poles over the other. Men and women might be related in a continuum instead of a binary, this objection runs, yet the continuum would provide no insurance against the downwards slide into inequality. For the continuum idea to work, each point along the continuum would have to be equally valuable in the first place. The gender hierarchy may remain, then, even within the continuum. Second, the idea of a human continuum still retains the binary terms, but as poles, if not polar opposites. ‘Male’ and ‘female’ then, are still retained as ‘contrastive sites’, far apart. Third, since the gender binary functions as a social-symbolic system below the level of consciousness, the idea of a continuum is unlikely to affect it. In other words, tinkering around with concepts doesn’t touch the alienating power of a skewed symbolic system. Finally, the continuum might be found incompatible with gender realism, or with the experience of the majority of human beings who identify themselves within a binary system almost without thought that it could be otherwise.