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Opposing the Binary: Blurring the Lines of Gender and Sexual Identity for Planetary Sociology

Rachel A. Ponder (Maryville College, USA)

Planetary Sociology

ISBN: 978-1-80043-509-4, eISBN: 978-1-80043-508-7

Publication date: 5 May 2023


Born to a family of ultratraditional values constructed by the Baptist church and the United States military, I was introduced to a world of strict binary roles which defined the way one must present through thoughts and behavior. Such roles emerge from and bolster claims to membership in specific sex and gender categories. My gender was a socially scripted dramatization of the culture's idealization of feminine nature in which I was casted into a role that I must play to successfully navigate through life. This essay follows the course of my life in which I, as a young child, began to notice the drastic characteristics that differentiated the lives of males and females and the struggle of realization that one could deviate from this binary. The recognition that I was gender nonconforming, and a lesbian led to feelings of isolation and fear. With the support of social theory, I illustrate how the experience of social othering and social oppression aids in providing a unique lens that drives my research interests and academic career. Through my own individual identity structurization, the process of pulling off only a minuscule amount of the multifaceted layers of society was difficult and time consuming. However, it was through this necessary process that led me to the capability of thinking in terms of planetary sociology. As a criminologist, I study how people are categorized into specific social groups and deemed vulnerable to violence or harm. The paradox in studies of oppression is that social scientists do not blame the individual, but the institutions that prey on people's self-description. It is within this paradox that I study institutional and structural harm and strive to promote a more just, humane worldview for my students both in and out of the classroom.



Ponder, R.A. (2023), "Opposing the Binary: Blurring the Lines of Gender and Sexual Identity for Planetary Sociology", Dahms, H.F. (Ed.) Planetary Sociology (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 40), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 147-156.



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