Binary: The root of this word is “bi” which means two, so when we speak of the binary we are talking about that which has two sides. An example of this, seeing as we’re talking about women’s studies, is man and woman. In a simpler context we have the idea of on and off, or up and down.
In our society today we have a strong desire to use the binary to label things right, or wrong, with us, or against us, and the idea of “us” and “them.” This idea holds true with gender as well, you’re either a man or woman in our society with no room for anything else. Bell Hooks calls this “competitive either/or thinking.” This idea that everything has two sides is a very simplistic way of looking at the world.