Gender Nihilism From a Thelemic Perspective
Over the course of the last decade, the conversation on gender has changed. We started talking about how gender was on a spectrum, and nobody is squarely on one side. It is socially recognized, medically recognized, and governments are starting to make laws around nonbinary people.
But is that enough?
I believe that everything in the universe exists as a composite of positive and negative forces. From the ideas in our head, to the smallest part of an atom. While that sound like binary thinking, I am not proposing that things are ‘one or the other.’ Instead, I assert that everything is on a spectrum. It’s similar to yin an yang. The combination of good and evil forces.
I believe the binary only tells half the story. The Thelemic concept of 0=2 in which the addition of two values cancel each other out:
From Liber L vel Legis
Sub figura XXXI:
“None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of
the stars, and two. For I am divided
for love’s sake, for the chance of union.”
“The Perfect and the Perfect are one
Perfect and not two; nay, are none!
Nothing is a secret key of this law”
There is also this:
Liber Al I:4
Every number is infinite; there is no difference.
Also this video from Numberphile that gives a good description on numerical fictionalism.
Since gender is just a construct, a label of arbitrary values by which we define ourselves, then by its very nature it does not exist. I am not so dense as to argue that gender is not real. Rather, I must admit that I feel it is quite meaningless. However, it is important to have labels and markers to help simplify our existence to other people. I don’t carry around a dossier of my background or my natal chart everywhere I go (actually I used to) so I use a label when I need to relay my existence to others. I think I’m starting to understand what Sartre meant when he said “Hell is other people.”
As such, I am saying that gender shouldn’t exist. As quantum physics loves to point out, things only exist when we observe them. We can observe sex. We can observe the color of my eyes. We completely made up gender and based it on sex to carry out societal norms.
Where would we be without music genres? How would I explain that 1950s American rock went overseas as skiffle and came back as a different kind of rock. It would all just be music. It would be confusing and nobody would be able to document its progress.
There are those that identify as agender, and say they do not have a gender. I feel this is inaccurate, but the best attempt we have at gender nihilism so far. However, just as anti-art is still art, agender is still gender. If the opposite of something is true, the absolute value cancels each other out.
What happens in 2030, when the technological singularity occurs? We’re able to upload our minds to a computer, as Ray Kurzweil suggests in his book The Singularity is Near?
It doesn’t seem feasible to abolish gender as it stands today. However, I feel we are reaching a singularity within the scope of gender. I am meeting many more nonbinary individuals at gender conventions and transgender meetups than I ever have before. Even those who are transgender using binary nomenclature such as transmen and transwomen are starting to use less gendered language. I feel like we’re slowly moving to a post-gender society, and I feel like we’d be better for it.
You might find it strange that transgender woman that practices sex magick is against gender, but ultimately that isn’t about gender either. I take hormones and want to change physiologically. Sex magick really has little to do with one’s gender identity and more about joining opposites, finding the divine in masculine and feminine energies.
Ceremonies like The Gnostic Mass get criticisms for having relatively strict roles. The only real rule is that you can’t switch between Priest and Priestess as you see fit. Pick the one you identify most with and you have to stick to that. The ritual itself is a celebration of the joining of two opposites, with male and female as symbolism for Hadit and Nuit. If anything, it is the very essence of the idea of the gender spectrum.
We aren’t in a post-gender society yet, and I don’t know when we will be getting there. I know it won’t be soon. We still have gender roles firmly planted in our culture. If history has taught us anything, it’s that gender roles can change. I feel like they are changing. Hopefully the change will lead towards a culture in which we can appreciate gender as something that is the union of two opposite forces, and ultimately meaningless.