posted on Dec, 2 2019 @ 02:25 PM
When Billy Dee Williams "came out as gender-fluid", he received a lot of praise from the media for it. In explaining what he meant by his desire to
speak of himself as also a "her", he writes, "And you see I say "himself" and "herself," because I also see myself as feminine as well as
masculine. I'm a very soft person. I'm not afraid to show that side of myself."
What's clear in this statement is that Williams identifies 'softness' with femininity, perhaps with Jungian themes in mind of the animus and the
anima. Since 'softness' is femininity and the anima, then the converse must be 'roughness' and masculinity, and the animus.
What's surprising, or confusing for me, is the conflation of a psychological category of self-experience with biological identity. As for
Williams statement that he has a prototypically 'feminine' part of himself that is soft, and a prototypically masculine part that is rough, I have
very little problem with. All Humans are composed of a combination of motivational states that derive from the conditions of our existing, some of
which are more basic and general, such as the need to be positively known and experienced by others, the most essential experience of which is to love
and be loved. Williams calls this 'feminine', and at an archetypal level of analysis, since we all come into this world as intrinsically vulnerable
and needy infants, the intersubjective unity of self and other remains the bedrock of our affective being, and the only thing which can regenerate us
when we're feeling weak, sick, and vulnerable. Like in embryogenesis and the gendering of the physical body where feminine sexual organs precede
masculinization with testosterone, the emergence of the ego in language grows out of the more symbiotic sensitivities of non-verbal communication
between self and other. Between these two components lies a slight asymmetry in favor of the "feminine" elements of intersubjective field effects,
which we see reflected in macro form after adolescence in the way males pursue females, and the way a loving pair bond with another relaxes the
restless isolation of the egotistical feeling-body.
Reality is indeed complementary - yin and yang, the yielding and animating. Within each of us lies this component, but not in equal measure. I
am a male not simply because I identify as one, but because my brain-mind is physiologically and emotionally textured by a masculine
physiology. Testosterone and estrogen are hormones with profound influences on the tuning of the nervous system and body, and with those effects,
humans naturally converge to culturally established basins of attraction. Gender is therefore not merely a 'cultural' thing, as if culture
was somehow disconnected from biological determinants and constraints. Culture is a vague term which oftentimes obscures more than it reveals. To be
more explicit, we can call culture those "systems of referents which regulate interpersonal interactions". These referents are already established
by the time a human enters the world, and it 'captures' our forms of implicit reflexive and diffuse experience by the intrinsic mirroring
properties of our brains which cause us to identify with people who are like us. We are inevitably attracted to similarity, and in this way,
culture is those intersubjective forms of knowing which are transmitted simply observing and interacting with others. We incorporate and incarnate the
self-states of others as a function of what we are.
So my problem with Billy Dee Williams is this: you can claim you have feminine and masculine dimensions to your personality, and that wouldn't be a
problem. But to limit all analysis to merely ones psychological forms of self-experience, and to pretend that nothing has been left out, is to ignore
the positive functional value of acknowledging your masculine and feminine gender states.
What is sensitivity? If Billy Dee Williams is sensitive, what is he sensitive to? Is he sensitive to the real - i.e. to what exists in fact? Where
does his sensitivities begin and where do they end? I believe Billy Dee Williams is sensitive to people who function and grow with a liberal
environment where alienation between humanity and nature is already presupposed. The perennial solution to this alienation is Gnosticism, where
instead of alienation being understood as an emergent property of a structural asymmetry between the human brain and the way it knows the world around
it, it is essentialized, reified, and concretized into a preexisting reality. Humans are deemed a priori (beforehand) as alien to the world,
which necessarily implies that the world is evil, and harmful, and a lie, and that humanity is a team which must band together in opposition against
natures harsh amorality. When the media extolls Billy Dee Williams for using a male and female pronoun, one cannot help but suspect a deliberative
belief system at play which is essentially Gnostic, which more or less implies, or presupposes, a structural discontinuity between the way our minds
(brains) work and the way we link up with the environment around us.
For me, I can't help but wonder why its such a problem for both these facts to be the case: that we, all of us, can have feminine and masculine
dimensions to our personalities, and at the same time be specifically limited as individual beings with a singular gender. What is going on here? Why
does acknowledging finitude and specification - or the reality of natures naturing - pose such a problem for people? Do we not look strange, that on
the outside, we are clearly male or female, or males trying to be females or females trying to be males, and doesn't this inauthenticity necessarily
imply a problem for how we understand reality, or more generally, deal with unpalatable truths, truths that appear throughout our experience, in our
diets, sleep, relationships, or at the largest scale, in facts such as climate change? Is there not something consonant between our present-day
cultural trend to 'transcend' sensuous realities like our physical bodies and the way they structure psychological gender, and the physical world
and the way it structures psychological experience? How can we hope to live harmoniously with our environments if we can't even live harmoniously
with our physical bodies? How can we hope to prevent an ecological apocalypse if this is what our leaders believe?