Tuesday, November 30, 2010

last day of november

this is my 30th post this month.
as of the posting of this post, im technically done with my commitment. but im just now feeling like i have the time to deal with writing and posting things again, and ive gotten so in the habit of making this happen, that i think ill try to continue. i dont want to post just for posting's sake (like some of this last week's entries, due to the time and energy vortex that was tech week), nor do i want to keep myself from writing on the projects i have in production because i have to post something else, but i do want to keep the discipline of making this happen because its important. maybe ill try 5 substantial posts a week in december. some of them may very well be portions of what other things im working on. in fact, quite a few should be. but i will for sure continue putting things up for you to read.
today im going to talk about this idea of a firloy i mentioned on sunday. he her him, free fer frim is a zine my ex luka showed me a couple years ago about a kid, named han, who has decided to not be a boy or a girl but a firloy. and the protagonist gets teased cuz that doesnt make sense to anyone, until it makes sense to someone else cuz they are a firloy too. and han is so happy to have a friend who knows whats up. i will illustrate it in my life by giving you an exchange that my friend becky had with her daughter after my visit over labor day weekend:

Over dinner tonight- following Molly's question of "Where's Amtrak?" when Patrick discussed his bus ride home.

Me: "It's where we dropped Ray off."
Molly was pensive for a minute: "Is Ray a girl or a boy?"
Us: "Well........ what do you think?"
Molly: "I think she's a boy."
Me: "Yes, Ray likes being a boy."
Molly: "Ray IS a boy."

So, Molly has it all figured out, as usual. :-)

'i think she's a boy.' (yes, molly. you are exactly right. i love it.)
this statement, along with 'my mom, he...' (whatever, '...will pick us up at soccer practice,' i dont care how the sentence ends) are thoughts, statements and perceptions that im aiming for in life right now. (not that im trying to have a kid of my own to say these things) just that i want the younger generation that i participate in raising to be gender-savvy in this way. that this way of seeing things, which to us looks odd or wrong or something (or right in only a handful of communities) would make perfect sense to a child born now or in the near future as they grow up in the two thousand teens and deal with language and gender and such. that adults who hear things like this wouldnt correct the children saying them because they couldnt be the reflective of the truth, just a mistake. children dont make mistakes like that. they deal with what rules they have been given around the perception of people. they learn early that there are differences in people and what they are and how to see these differences and understand which side of the coin they have been given any one person falls on.
when i was a child i got asked all the time 'are you a boy or a girl' and i was so angry that i had to choose. i was annoyed that the other kids on the playground felt the need to classify me. but thats what their parents had taught them. i used to say anything to avoid answering one way or the other. i used to say 'cant you tell?' or 'why do you care?' sometimes id really wanna say, 'im not gonna tell you, if you cant figure it out.' or 'its none of your business.' a lot of times id do exactly what becky did and say 'what do you think?' but whatever they said in response made me angry, cuz it was at least half wrong. (none of them were as savvy as molly) but really, the question was so much more offensive than any answer.
back in early 2004 i was presenting quite femininely and had let my hair get kinda long, but decided i really needed to cut it all off if i was going to be wearing skirts and dresses (oh balance, a whole other post). so i did. i chopped the back of my hair really short (i kept it long in front for a few months, then buzzed the whole thing down to an inch long) and i went to work the day after in a skirt. at the time i was working as a TA in a montessori preschool classroom for 5 and 6 year olds. one of my students, who was a smart and likable kid, said to me, 'ms. rachel, you look like a boy.' and i said, 'but jack, im wearing a skirt.' and he said, 'oh? yeah...i guess. but you still look like a boy.' i queried, 'how come, if im dressed like a girl?' his answer, 'well, your hair is short like mine, and it makes you look like a boy.'
now, i had no problem with his perception, and part of me was excited by the possibility that his idea of what a boy looks like could encompass someone wearing a skirt. but really, it just seemed kinda absurd that this 5 year old had latched on to one indicator of gender (which isnt a very good one as indicators go), hair length, and decided that was it. didnt matter that i was wearing a kinda tight shirt that showed off my chest and a skirt that came to my knees and exposed my shaved legs (i know, hard to imagine, right?) these things didnt at that time factor into his rules as to what made a boy or a girl. just hair length. it really highlighted for me the ridiculous amount of time we spend trying to teach our kids the 'rules' of gender expression and identification that are somewhat arbitrary and have more exceptions to them that most of dominant culture wants to admit.
kids pick up on things that are more true that the random classification systems we create and try to make them learn. i think jack even joked to other students something to the effect of 'ms. rachel is a boy.' and they thought it was funny, but looked at me in a way that seemed to be putting that possibility into their own classification systems. and even if jack said that statement in jest, and even if its not on some levels factually correct, i do wish ardently that he never *ever* grew out of believing that it could be (at least somewhat) true.

No comments: