Saturday, September 13, 2014

Structuralism & Sexism

I have taken many a personality test in my time. One of the most popular of these is the Myers-Brigg test, which has sixteen results and splits the world into archetypes based on four categories - extroversion or introversion, sensation or intuition, judiciousness or perceptiveness and thinking or feeling. This post is primarily concerned with the last category.
Thinking vs. feeling is a binary which deeply implicates gender. Throughout modern history we have the commonly accepted rationale that men are the traditional custodians of rational thought, while women are to be found embodying the realm of the emotions. Women have been described as 'hysterical' in innumerable contexts. Less extremely, as 'too emotional', 'unable to reason', and so forth. 'Too reasonable' or 'too logical' don't work as insults, on the other hand. Our patriarchal societies prioritise thinking over feeling, putting the characteristic associated with males on a pedestal and reserving emotions for those so-called inferior beings, the women.
We separate the thinking and feeling personalities just like we separate gender into female and male - without a second thought. But it's actually impossible to separate the two because both thinking and feeling are part of the same process. Thinking has an emotional valency, and emotion cannot happen in the absence of mental processes. To act as a human being is to perform both simultaneously - however we haven't figured that out, because dualism and structuralism still make up an awful lot of popular theory. When will we wake up?

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