The world is a variety show of differences, so why is it that society is so hesitant to embrace these differences to encompass what it is to be a beautiful humanity, united in acceptance? Maybe this is a pipe-dream in the timeline of progression but it has to start somewhere. Let it begin with a recognition of what it is to not be male or female, but just to be human.
Just another lesson in…gender?
My brother and my daughter are working together to fix the broken wagon wheel. My daughter, chooses to be “girly” sometimes with her friends but other times she chooses to be more of a “tomboy.” In this picture we are way out in the woods at my brother’s cabin that he built himself. He spent a lot of time teaching his son and also my daughter how to measure and cut the wood, and then how to use the hammer and screwdriver. Both children were enthralled at the opportunity to learn to make things out of raw materials. In expressing ourselves and being able to feel that freedom to be who we are, we challenge the binary that details male/female roles. Gender can be “undone” in a variety of ways. Girls just wanna have fun! or so they say…
This picture is worth a thousand words… The story goes like this; after we watched the Alaska Thunderfuck video “This is my hair” I returned home and showed the video to my friend. The rest of the night we joked around with either one of us saying “this is my hair, I don’t wear wigs!” at random times. My daughter (who is 7 years old) had her friend over staying the night at our house while this is all going on. The next morning while making them breakfast I said, “this is my hair,” and to my surprise they replied in unison, “I don’t wear wigs!” We all burst into laughter. They never viewed the video of course but they had picked up on our banter. We concluded the morning with a video of our own, in which I took a frame from for this picture. We are in the act of flinging our hair. This is my daughter Marlee on the right, her friend Ryker on the left and me in the middle. I did not have to prompt these little girls on their style for their hair flinging or their stance, or their twirls. They have been doing this kind of gender with each other and other girls since they started school. Our society influences the ways in which we socialize our children and teach them the norms of our society. For girls and for boys we prescribe different behaviors, attitudes and even different colors. Gender Performance on Display
Recently my family and I traveled to the Dominican Republic for vacation. I attended several shows with both male and female performers. This picture shows the men in one of the dance routines using chairs as props. Women typically do this “chair dance” routine so for these men, the gender role here is literally on its side. Usually women are provocatively performing for men in this fashion, but these men transitioned from this dance swiftly into a number where they lifted up their woman partners. The roles were only switched briefly but for these men being able to be flexible in their gender roles is a requirement of their chosen profession. Domination in heels
This woman is challenging gender in different ways. She is a professional dominatrix. She looks like a woman dressed up in a outfit offering her sex appeal but, she is dressed up for a very different reason. She is performing her gender as a beautiful but devilish man-eater with an unwavering back-hand, a whip and an impressive pair of boots. “Doing” gender in wearing her corset and stockings and “undoing” gender with her dark persona, dangerous profession and powerful intentions. Gender roles are reversed in her business, she is charge and the men follow her every command, whim and fancy. Challenging the Traditional
In “doing” and “undoing” gender we have to have a common definition of gender and what it means. If gender for women means wearing makeup, high heels and dresses, then this women has it covered. She is performing her gender perfectly… But what if this is a man? Is he performing his gender? We could say no probably, but why? These stereotypical gender roles are being challenged everyday. To keep the ball rolling, it is important that we challenge the ideas that our society has put into place about what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman. Drag gives us the tools we need to start questioning the binary, how limiting it is, and what we can do in big or small ways to be the change we want to see in the way gender is constructed.
2 thoughts on “A little bit of both worlds…”
Overall, I love the attitude of this essay. You kept it personalized and showed gender in your everyday life. Also, the influence you have on your children is a magnificent point to make out as it serves to prove that gender is learned, not applied.
I like that you included instances of people doing gender and challenging gender. Often we are able to identify the stereotypes of what doing gender is but forget that those images are powerful to in order to continue to recognize how being typically or stereotypically feminine is still beautiful.