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April 11, 2024

  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
  • Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg
    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

Gender roles imposed by society cause harm

You are where you are.

Maybe you’re comfortable, but put yourself here, in Little Johnny’s shoes.

He’s not comfortable. He’s 12 years old, an age when all boys feel awkward — a little sticky, a little hairy. But it’s all give and take to grow up big and strong.

Little Johnny is like the other boys — at least, the normal ones; he trades cards on the bus, winks at the giggling girls and swears like a sailor to impress his friends.

All the other boys dress in hoodies and jeans and so does he, so you can imagine the shock that jolts his entire body when, one day, another little boy gets onto the bus.

But this little boy is dehumanized and faceless, because all the other little boys, who have seen nothing like him before, scream “Pink Dress! Pink Dress!”

Is that his name? No. His name is Evan. But, to them, he’s Pink Dress.

Why is he Pink Dress? Little Johnny doesn’t understand, but he eagerly goes along with the name-calling.

He thinks that he does it because of his urge to fit in with the boys — the muscular ones, the normal ones. But it’s also his father.

His father makes him unhappy because of his disapproval of him and he hasn’t taught him that there’s something more than fitting in or standing in the shadows of others.

Because of his father’s disappointment, Little Johnny has suppressed security issues, which make him hoot even louder than the others.

He’s used to being a part of something, so having someone else come in and shake up the food chain makes him swallow thickly.

He is unsure how he feels about someone else being braver than he is, being able to stand out. Being able to make a difference.

All too often, little boys are unconsciously taught by society, parents or friends that they must square their shoulders, don the football jersey and suck in the tears.

They don’t realize that, even 200 years ago, men dressed as women and some women dressed as men.

When theater first came about and women weren’t allowed to play any roles, men easily slipped into the parts. And when women were finally offered parts, they often played young boys, such as Peter Pan.

This is only one example of a time when genders were swapped without a care, as all throughout history this was a common practice.

It is actually quite rare to have a society built around the beliefs that men must be burly and unemotional, but because children often learn too late of the happiness that can be found once you accept your gender [and that you can choose not to be hidden behind it], the tradition that men must be defined by their exterior and must ignore their interior carries on.

As the hollering carries on, Pink Dress simply smiles, because he knows what happiness is, while the shouting boys’ voices crackle and then give out.

They are silenced by their own hatred and they frown, smashing themselves to the backs of their seats as they wonder why Pink Dress is happy now.

Respond to Abbey at [email protected]

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