COLUMN The Embryo and the rainbow. A match?


Hooray for the German language and the German gender-mind! Recently a German ad for staff caught my attention because of the addition m/ w/ d. My suspicion was that this was ‘mänlich’ (masculine) / weiblich (feminine) and . ? Yes, what could be possible after that, or rather in between? Neutrality? I always feel resistance to the notion of ‘gender neutrality’ meant to support the emancipation of the LGBTQ+ movement.
Over the last 10, 20 years, a shift in our horizon and conceptual framework around gender, sex, gender and identity (Note! Those are four different categories or levels! Often unfortunately confused and conflated. But that’s not the point here). Thereby, reference is often made to the rainbow which then designates the so-called “third,” dimension of gender and sex, the range of diversity between the two poles of masculine and feminine. In principle I have nothing against this, I even appeared to be categorized to one them and thus to “belong” to the LHBTIQ+ (… ?). However, I am greatly opposed to the levelling out more and more of the polarity or, if you will, the difference or antithesis between men and women, between the masculine and the feminine. The male-female differentiation is not a simple duality but, I learned that as a phenomenologist from the human embryo, it is about male-female polarity. And that is something quite different.

Dualities, so to speak, have nothing to do with each other but polarities are in fact a duality and fulfill each other. In any form: whether it is about gender and reproduction, or about sex, sex, and relationship, or about identity and roles. Fulfill each other? Yes, polarities can create rainbow, make it possible. The rainbow is not a third group, no, it is the middle, the supremacy of the two! That is the rainbow. Most people think that the colors of the rainbow come or are created “out of light. A much more interesting and more appropriate phenomenological explanation (Goethe) is that the rainbow is the dialogue of day and night, of light and dark, and thus the colors signify both light and dark and at the same time neither light nor dark. So rainbow is not appearance or genus number three or of a neutral middle, it is the dimension of The Third.

I know that in Germany people sometimes talk about the “third sex” but that seems to me to be a woeful misunderstanding. There are two sexes and the diversity between is the third dimension of the rainbow, of diversity: between the two poles a whole rainbow of possibilities is conceivable. That can be confusing but that doesn’t mean you have to erase or deny the polarities. This is why I abhor the word sex or gender neutrality. The term ‘queer’, which is gaining ground in Dutch language and society as a summary for the third sex, also strikes me as wrong, because I associate it with obstruction or denial. It is not a matter of a movement of more or better or different than the two poles. The masculine and feminine are part of it, even make the rainbow possible! So when the two poles, when the two sexes, when the two genders enter into conversation and dialogue with each other, the result is precisely never something neutral but rather a diversity as colorful as a rainbow. Genius, then, that the German can interpret the /d both as the D of ‘Dritte’ (the Third, the Middle), but also as the D of Diverse and diversity. A wonderful piece of language phenomenology, something for everyone.

The poles, the polarities are also part of the rainbow, one should not exclude or discount them! Wouldn’t “the third sex” be a kind of ‘above the parties’? And “above” in this case never means “better”. Quantitatively, rainbow probably remains socially a minority and always involves the dialogue between the masculine and the feminine, qualitatively it is a third dimension, the dimension of the middle, of diversity. Of freedom? For those in the know (of Goethe or of “my” embryology), perhaps it is about a “Steigerung. If you want to know what that means and how this concept can help you better understand the human embryo and body including the polarity of the sexes, you are welcome to visit the website, or one of my courses on The Embryo in Us.

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