Identification in Non-Binary Terms

Table of Contents below

“Feminist critiques are pushing us to move beyond the divisive binaries of human/nonhuman, subject/object, economy/ecology and thinking/acting. The reframing of our living worlds as vast uncontrolled experiments is inspiring us to reposition ourselves as learners, increasingly open to our interconnections and more willing to intervene in adventurous ways.” — Katherine Gibson

Editor’s Letter

As a teenager, I bought a motorcycle with babysitting money, went four-wheeling with poker buddies, and started a 10-year career in sports writing. Dividing hobbies, career paths, and life dreams along gender lines never made sense to me. 

I think most Minnesota Women’s Press readers would agree that categorizing humans into one of two sets is not a useful exercise. Our values, capabilities, and evolution are not a factor of chromosomes. 

Yet we also recognize that many people do see the world in black and white terms. Pay inequity, racism, gender-based violence, health and housing disparities, and education gaps can be traced to the same virus: the inability to extend empathy outside one’s own life experience. 

Being a feminist is not about defining the world as patriarchy or matriarchy, or even about correcting the notion that gender determines abilities. It is about building equality into all of our social and economic ecosystems — fighting for justice everywhere. 

This is why Minnesota Women’s Press, since 1985, has been a platform for narratives that speak to the value of building society not from a chain of command, but as a web of connection.


In 2014, Minnesota Women’s Press featured a story about Gender Justice. The work of culture professor Jo Paoletti was cited, noting that “pink for girls, blue for boys” did not take hold in the U.S. until after World War II, and especially not until the 1980s.

Marketing and other forms of storytelling began to obsess on gendering household roles in the 1950s, perhaps as a backlash to women’s greater entry into the workplace. Teachers, nurses, and secretaries were “pink” concepts, slotted as low-paying service jobs. Corporate management, doctors, lawyers, athletes, and trades were higher paying “blue” jobs.

Simultaneously, mail order companies and fan clubs began to give people a sense of mass-marketed identity — cowboy outfits and western TV shows for boys, aprons and homemaker ads for girls.

Paoletti is working on a book about age and gender. She writes that it was inspired in part by the realization that her mother was bombarded with the message that “it was her duty to raise me to embrace femininity. Failure meant a masculinized daughter destined for confusion and unhappiness.”

In this issue writers explore how we limit ourselves by thinking in binary terms. These stories remind us that everything is a spectrum, including age, gender, abilities, productivity, and even the people and places where we find connection.

Editor’s Notes

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To cut costs, we have not printed our May and June issues, but intend to return to newsstands and mailboxes with our July issue on Climate, which also will feature winners of the Readers Recommend poll.


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June Table of Contents

Breaking the Binary

Ellie Krug: Categories 

Ali Sands: Finding Myself Through My Partner’s Journey 

From Daughter to Son 

Remembering: LGBTQ+ Coverage

Action = Change Buy Local in Minnesota

Tapestry Embracing the Spectrum 

Money & Business Ileana Mejia: Community Care

Identity Anika Fajardo: Family Ties

Equity Nemeh Al-Sarraj: Demystifying Autism

Self-Care Valérie Déus: Finding Balance

Art of Living Lindsy Halleckson: The Air We Breathe

GoSeeDo Pride, Greater Than Fear, MWP Discussion

In the News LGBTQ+ Equity, Air Pollution, Disabilities

LGBTQ+ Guide: Casey Nelson: Mental Health and COVID-19

Education Guide: Betty Sandison: No Age Limit to Learning

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