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Stay in the middle?

melal's picture

After reading Middlesex, I started to think about what it means to be in the middle. The facts in this case, as Cal tells us on the very first page, are that he was born and raised as a girl but was revealed as a teenager to be a boy, at least in genetic and chromosomal terms. If seen the world from a traditional binary way, Cal doesn’t belong to any side completely (or maybe none of us does?). Such in-the-middle position brings him confusions and struggles, but also enables him to become strong and to explore himself deeply since he has nobody similar to him. People often describe the birth of their new self in this way - we are reborn after facing an obstacle and overcoming it. Here, there is no rebirth, because Cal isn't Calliope born anew. He's just brand new, with a completely new identity, a whole new birth. His distance from Calliope is because he can't face who he is and was. Even as an adult, he's only on the cusp of accepting his body, his gender (both his current one and the former one), and his self for what they are. It's a second birth, almost because he has to grow up one more time and learn how to be a man.

This remind me of Zhongyong--"Doctrine of the mean", a Confucian philosophy. The goal of the mean is to maintain balance and harmony from directing the mind to a state of constant equilibrium or neutrality. In other words, people need to put themselves in the middle position in order to perceive the world comprehensibly and achieve success. A superior person is cautious, a gentle teacher and shows no contempt for their inferiors. They always do what is natural according to their status in the world. Here, I understand one’s nature as one’s personal character, rather than gender. Speak back to our topic, gender identity should lie in the issues of societal acceptance and gender neutrality in the novel Middlesex through the character of Calliope. As he says in the novel,

Cal: My bodily metamorphosis was a small family found that,
contrary to popular opinion, gender was not all that important. My change
from girl to boy was far less dramatic than the distance anybody travels
from infancy to adulthood. In most ways I remained the person I'd always been.

But another question arises: If gender is not really that important, then what’s the meaning of feminist studies? Are we put ourselves in a binary world at the same time we lay stress on the importance of feminism?