The problem with women are the same as the problem with men. We tend to see these as helpful categories. And perhaps sometimes they are? What we typically do when we speak about women or men is a short-cut that embodies a lot of different things. The problem is that in meeting other people the projection of what a ‘woman really is’ (or what a ‘man really is’) often overcodes and predetermines too much, way too often. It is seldom the case that the category ‘woman’ holds all the pertinent information that we need to know about a certain person. In their book A thousand Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari introduces the term or concept ”a thousand tiny sexes”. To some people, this seems ludicrous – why on earth would we need that many ”sexes”?! My answer is that each of the thousand sexes are a possible metaphor. Instead of using only two metaphors that we rely on to provide us with informative insights that is relevant for all purposes and instances we may want to think about when and how the metaphors or categories are actually illuminating. So, below I have constructed a thought experiment in the shape of a ”personality-test”. If we combine each choice in each category, with another one from the next category, and one from the next and so on and so forth – I have actually seen to it that we end up with a thousand tiny … if not ”sexes”, then at least ways of being a person:
A) Sex Self-identification
1) I feel I identify with a sensation of being man, being strongly masculine and displaying these traits is something I consider a virtue or strength.
2) I identify with a deep seated sensation of being woman, being strongly feminine and displaying such traits is something I consider a virtue.
3) I identify with being a man, and I display (sometimes strong) traits of masculinity, but I don’t know if that’s always a good thing.
4) I identify with being a woman, and I display (sometimes strong) traits of femininity, but I don’t know if that’s always a good thing.
5) Although I identify as male I’m ambivalent in regards to connecting my biological sex to anything that is per say virtuous or negative.
6) Although I identify as female I’m ambivalent in regards to connecting my biological sex to anything that is per say virtuous or negative.
7) I oppose any categorisation of myself based on biological constitution.
1) I tend to be open to learning from others all the time and find it invigorating. Furthermore, it doesn’t stop me from holding strong views but I am open to revisiting at any given moment.
2) I tend to be open to learning from others all the time and find it invigorating. This is connected to a feeling of uncertainty and hopefully I can hold stronger views in the future. The views I currently hold can be revisited at any given moment.
3) There has been moments in time where I’ve been more open to revising my views, and this is such a time.
4) There has been moments in time where I’ve been more open to revising my views, but this isn’t such a time.
1) I believe that I can control my life in most aspects and that control is a positive thing.
2) Control is perhaps an illusion, but one that is comforting.
3) Control is an illusion and I try to remind myself of reality’s chaotic nature.
4) I’m hesitant about the level of control I can exert over my life, and that is scary.
5) I’m heistant about the level of control anyone can exert over their lives, and that is scary.
6) I’m confident control is largely an illusion and that is scary.
7) I’m confident control is largely an illusion and that’s alright with me.
D) Physical activity
1) Physical activity is important in itself for me
2) Physical activity is important if it’s connected to some other virtue of experience that I value
3) Physical activity is not important to me
4) I’m all about positive thinking and the physical is just a hinderance
1) My gender is important for how I act in relation to others (my selection of friends, significant other and what we do together)
2) My gender is not important for how I act in relation to others (my selection of friends, significant other and what we do together)
F) Which Jungian archetype would you identify with?
1) The innocent
2) The Orphan
3) The Hero
4) The Caregiver
5) The Explorer
6) The Rebel
7) The Lover
8) The Creator
9) The Jester
10) The Sage
11) The Magician
12) The Ruler
For a full list of the meaning of each archetype, go here:
G) Metaphors – Which metaphors do you feel are speaking to you?
1) Biblical – I like returning to familiar one’s from the Bible but typically don’t comtemplate much on them
2) Biblical – I like returning to familiar one’s from the Bible but typically explore and go deeper and reflect on them in new ways
3) Hollywood – I like the often recurring categories that people are presented as in Hollywood, and I often easily identify with one of them, be it protagonist, antagonist or someone perhaps less important to the plot.
4) Hollywood – I like the often recurring categories that people are presented as in Hollywood, but not because I agree with or identify with them, more because it allows reflection on and challenge norms through the stereotypical portraits presented in movies and tv-series.
5) Literary – I find the development of characters and their inner life over the pages of a book or series of books to be a productive way to enter the mindset of different characters and identify with them.
6) Poetic – I like how poetry is somehow more exhaustive than the actually written words, the surplus, the undercurrents of the texts is a great way to metaphorically reflect on life
7) Music – Vocal music that underscores condensed texts allow for me to fill in blanks and move me, beyond what poetry without music does, in a way that allows me to reflect on life.
8) Music – Instrumental music often make me feel things that are not evident or easily detectible in everyday life, but gives me a sensation of life’s grandeur.
1) I always feel invigorated by being around people
2) I often feel invigorated by being around people
3) It depends on other things whether or not I feel like being around people affects me positively or negatively
1) Having time alone is an absolute must that equals self-love, and I need it daily
2) Having time alone is something I value deeply, and I need it often
3) If I could, I would choose having time alone over being around others most of the time.
4) If I could, I would always choose being alone over being around others.
J) Impulse Control
1) I feel things so strongly that I cannot help myself from acting upon my emotions
2) My emotions can sometimes cripple me and impede work or activities
3) Although I have strong feelings, I can almost always resist the urge to act upon them
1) I am so overwhelmed by reality daily that I must withdraw at some point, preferably into a dark room. I also plan in a way where I avoid too much input, and I startle easily.
2) I am often overwhelmed and need to retreat from the world for a long period of time. I sometimes make plans to avoid too much input or things that can startle me.
3) I am of often overwhelmed and need to balance the amount of input I get from the outside world. Sometimes it forces me to withdraw or make plans to avoid things.
4) I am sometimes overwhelmed and need to balance the amount of input I get from the outside world. However, it seldom results in the need to withdraw or make plans to avoid things.
5) I have a deep appreciation for fine arts, music, food and/or drinks (scent, textures, smells), and this kind of input often bring me to tears.
6) Although I have a deep appreciation for fine arts, music, food and/or drinks (scent, textures, smells), once I’ve experienced it, I go about my day pretty much like I was before.
7) I don’t get overwhelmed easily, although I have a deep appreciation for arts, music, food and/or drinks.
8) I don’t get overwhelmed easily, and most art, music and food moves me little.
9) I pretty much never get overwhelmed, or moved by arts, music and food. I never have to withdraw to regain energy.
1) I see myself as a creative person, both professionally and in my spare-time.
2) I see myself as a creative person professionally, but not so much in my spare-time.
3) I see myself as a creative person in my spare-time, but I wouldn’t say my work is creative.
4) I don’t see myself as a creative person, although I can be good at some crafts, design, playing music or other.
5) I don’t see myself as a creative person, and I don’t do any arts, crafts, music or the like.
1) I like to be told what to do in the work place, and I like to have others make decisions for me in my spare-time. I trust in authority figures at work, I trust in the religious authority of my congregation, and I’m happy to let my friend’s decide things for me.
2) I like to work autonomously in the work place, but I like to have others make decisions for me in my spare-time. I sometimes trust authority figures such as religious authority and/or politicians, but to a finite extent.
3) I like to be told what to do in the work place, but in my spare-time I like to do as I please. I put a bit of stock in various authority figures and leaders, but not too much.
4) I don’t like to be told what to do either in the work place or in my spare-time, but I do put some trust in political leaders and/or religious authorities.
5) I don’t like to be told what to do either in the work place or in my spare-time, and I put very little to no trust in political leaders and/or religious authorities.
6) I try to avoid making my own path in all respects of life, that’s too time-consuming, I’d rather just go with the flow, and trust that people, friends, leaders, clergy or whatever is generally good people that wants what’s best for me.
Now when you’ve read through this, you are probably very aware this is not all to do with ”biological sex”. However, these are all different traits, predispositions, and self-identifications that a person can display. And all these factor into how we see life; what kind of person we are. And most are really not mutually exclusive. So, this is a way of thinking about the ‘thousand tiny sexes’, or at least ‘thousand tiny variants of what it is to be a person’. But to be honest, counting the alternatives that you can arrive at, it’s far more than a thousand alternatives.
7 x 4 x 7 x 4 (already here, we’re at 784 different ‘types’) x 2 x 12 (here we’re at 18 816 different possible positions) x 8 x 3 x 4 x 3 (here we’re at 5,4 million different possible positions) x 9 x 5 x 6, and we end at a total of 1 463 132 160 (1,5 billion versions that could be true, given that you’ve identified with one trait per letter).
Given that we can differ in very significant ways, there can still be times where ‘man’ and ‘woman’ is useful categories. Just don’t forget to not project too much into them, as this thought experience produced a subset of 1,5 billion possible differences that are significant to how we look at the world.