Gender Finery

I never played with dolls as a child. I only played with dinosaurs and stuffed animals. I assigned a male gender to most of these toys. Even when I was playing make-believe games with my friends, I would always be a boy.  My friend would play a kidnapped princess and I would be the Prince of Persia coming to rescue her (specifically I was the Dog of Persia, because being a dog was way more fun than being a human).

It wasn’t always like that. I remember when I was very very young I would dress up as Glinda  from the Wizard of Oz in a bedraggled pink tutu and cardboard crown. But as I grew up and gathered more and more information from the world around me, it became clear that in order to have the grandest adventures, you had to be a boy.

Just look at this sausage fest

Just look at this sausage fest

The main characters in my favourite books, movies and tv shows were almost always boys.  Even when there was a female protagonist, she was usually overshadowed by a more interesting, wisecracking sidekick. It became so ingrained in me that boys were better than when a great female protagonists did occasionally come along, I wasn’t interested in giving them a shot.  So I  kept playing with my male toys and taking them on epic adventures around my bedroom, and every lunch break at school I would turn into a boy.

And it wasn’t until yesterday, at 26 years old, that I realised how messed up that is.

This wasn’t about gender dysphoria or anything like that. I never actually wanted to be a boy. I had simply been taught be society that male protagonists were the norm, and that anything else was going to be less fun.

This is why I love Brave and Frozen, why I’m glad to jump on the Hunger Games bandwagon, why I will be thrilled to see a Wonder Woman movie get made even though I know nothing about Wonder Woman. This is why I’m writing a novel about ass-kicking magical bird girls with nary a boy in sight.

We need to show young girls that they don’t have to reject their gender in order to be the hero in their own adventure.


3 responses to “Gender Finery

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