Just because we view each other as male or female, is that all their is to consider? In today’s society many feel as if we must act or be a certain way because of our sex. While a majority of people feel this way there are others who do not. If you identify as male must you be masculine, strong, tough, and serious? No. If you identify as female must you be feminine, weak, fragile, and emotional? No. Sex does not equal gender so people have to stop viewing these two as the same thing. Even though this is the case many people, such as myself, used to (or still do) follow this gender-based normative narrative because we feel we must act based on our assigned gender.
In my story I did not follow the normative narrative of boys my age using their size to play certain sports, but that does not mean I did not feel bad about it. I am sure my size would have been useful to the teams at my school and a part of me wanted to play but I was kind of scared to play (something I’m admitting now). I wanted to fit the normative and play but I was too afraid. In Kelsey’s story she was placed in ballet at a young age and loved it and I feel if my parents did something similar for me and football I would like it the same as well. I understand now that when I was younger person I wanted to fit into the normative narrative of a guy who plays tough sports because that I use to think all big guys did that. In Kelsey’s story she even says, ‘I learned that girls are pretty and wear dresses and dance, while boys are loud and play football and have cooties.’ I felt the same way growing up and felt out of place when I did not act that way. Seeing that other people think the same way I did helps me connect with their stories despite them being different. Looking back then I would not have viewed Kelsey or myself wanting to perform our gender ‘properly’ but for myself to fit in and belong. As a teenager I just wanted to belong and be like the guys (The Normative Narrative). According to Sensoy and DiAngelo (2012), ‘Humans are social beings who depend on the humans around us to make sense of our world.’ (p. 21)
Another story that I feel that I can relate to is Sydney’s. The reason why her story is relatable is because she was similar to me in some ways. We both acted as a way we thought we should but realized that people similar to ourselves acted differently. (For me, the guys who played sports. For her, her older sister who was like a “tom-boy”.) We both had the impression in our minds of ‘why am I not like them?’ or ‘why are they not like me?’ She speaks of how she likes being a ‘girly-girl’ and wearing dresses which fits the normative narrative of performing her gender ‘properly’ despite for her age, doing so unintentional. With thoughts such as these at a young age you grow up feeling this is the normal and when I was not acting in such a way I felt out of place or I was the one could not fit in. Sydney realizes her sister does not act like a ‘girly-girl’ and wonders if she is really a girl at all, ‘”What does tomboy even mean? Is my sister still a girl?”‘ Even at young ages you start to have an idea of in your mind of how you should act based on gender and we should be educating people to stop exchanging sex and gender so freely. The way that these stories are alike is in the sense that both Sidney and Kelsey perform the common sense narrative unintentionally but further implying that this is the way it is.
A story that interrupts the normative narrative of performing your gender a certain way based on sex is Paige’s. Paige’s story disrupts the normative narrative by playing a sport not many consider girls to play which is hockey. To some people hockey is seen as a ‘man’s sport’ because of how rough and violent it can get at times. In her story she mentions that in multiple occasions when she plays hockey people often try to correct her by asking if she meant ringette. “Every time my mom would tell other parents from our school that I played hockey they had the exact same reply, “Don’t you mean Ringette?” as if it was impossible for me, a female, to play the same, rough, exciting sport as their sons did.’ What stands out in her story is how well she stands up for herself and does not really care if she is performing up to certain standards people expect. It is inspiring in a sense that she chose what she wanted to do because she loved it and did not care if she was ridiculed for doing so.
Throughout the course we have learned that sex and gender are not interchangeable terms rather two different terms altogether. Sensoy and DiAngelo state (2012), ‘Sex, refers to the biological, genetic, or phonotypical characteristics used to distinguish female and male bodies… Gender, on the other hand, what it means to have body in that culture…’ Your sex may give you your biological sex but anyone has a right to choose their gender and act as they wish. I wanted to play football because I was a guy but I was scared, and that is okay. While this is not a reading but a very powerful day was when Laura Budd came and spoke to us. She told us her life story about how she was born with the sex of a man and performed the gender of so for many years but she decided she wanted change. Even when having the sex of a man she chose to identify her gender as female and she did so, while unsuccessful at first with much resistance she prevailed. At first it was shocking and unsettling but as she told her story it made sense and the feeling of shock and unsettledness disappeared. When you meet someone who has disrupted the normative narrative you hear what it’s like trying to do so and its disgusting how people treat you for it.
The reason for disrupting this narrative is because it is time for change. Everybody should have a choice to identify as they choose without people being hateful towards them. It has changed my ignorant view for I have learnt much this course about what sex and gender truly are. People have a hard time as is trying to do this and the least we can do as a society is to give these people a chance and accept them for who they are. While not everyone will support this there are many that will, and together we can eliminate this narrative someday.