Diversity — creative descriptions rather than categories

by Wai Ho

For the large part, diversity challenges people.  And we usually don’t like it that much.

Gender diversity really challenges people.  I once had a shop owner refuse to serve me, until I told him whether I was really a boy or a girl.  And sometimes people are beaten up, kicked out of home, or killed for not fitting nicely and quietly into narrow gender boxes.

We can get a bit obsessed with boxes, categories and labels.  We try to fit everything and everyone into those boxes, and when people won’t fit, it freaks us out.

This is because other people’s diversity and outside-of-box-ness, category defiance and lack of clear label, challenges our own notion of ourselves.

Other people are often from-a-different-angle, truthful mirrors that can reflect ourselves back, and sometimes we don’t like what we see.

What might we be seeing that we aren’t wanting to see?

And herein may lie a solution.

Too often we only search for new boxes, new labels, new categories.  An ongoing search for a universal potion to fix and solve everything. Really just a thin veneer for controlling and managing other people.

What if instead we swapped boxes, labels, categories and the like, for descriptions.  Rich descriptions where change was created in the expressing of those creations.

Descriptions of gender, rather than categories.  Diversity as a creative and curious knitting together, rather than a cold managing and separating out.  What then could gender diversity show us within the realms of creativity and social change?

‘Tomboy’ is a 2011 French film directed by Céline Sciamma. It tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who, after moving to a new place, has all her new acquaintances believe she is a boy. The film opened to critical acclaim, with many critics praising the directing as well as the acting. In this video Andy Jalfon from Number 8 Films talks about the movie, gender diversity and the right to be who you are without discrimination and stigma.

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