This past week-end I took Mr. C to a special viewing of “The Mask We Live In” It was a film being shown by Violence Prevention Coordinating Council of Durham and Survivor Advocacy Committee of Durham. It was a fantastic film that highlighted the gender role we force upon males in our determination to narrowly define masculinity and the effects it has on boys and men in how they act, how much they hide of their true selves and the overall influence it has on every aspect of their lives.
He went up to the organizer after the movie and talk was done and told her how happy he was to have seen the movie. How it made him realize he could be his true authentic self and that he didn’t have to act like anyone he saw on T.V We had amazing conversations about the movie, about the hidden messages society sends about males and how they should act. We talked about how he had the right to define who he was, freely and openly and that I would love him unconditionally (as would the rest of our epic tribe, both those of blood and those of choice.)
I felt confident in my parenting of him, and of his siblings. I felt sure within myself that I was not pushing them to be anyone but themselves. That I was encouraging them to be true to their authentic self regardless of traditional gender roles or even current societal norms in regards to who they should be or how they should act or dress based on their genders.
THEN Minx found my knitting scissors (I had hidden them, but apparently not well enough for my wee super sleuth) and gave herself a mullet. An uneven one at that. So I took her to the bathroom and gave her a pixie cut to even out what she’d already cut, and have the rest match it.
Then I got tempted to let her dad take her to get her ears pierced as her hair this short makes her look less “girlish” and I automatically without any real consideration to the issue wanted to “fix” that. As if anything about her needs to be fixed! And it made me feel embarrassed that I even thought for a second about something like that. As if I should change my mind that her body means she has the right to choose if and when she wishes to have holes put in it for ornamentation. Espicially after writing long, short or none, still a woman.
Sometimes I forget just how much of the hidden messages society sends about how one should look or act based on their gender we really take into ourselves. But this was a potent reminder that I need to continue to look within about my own reactions to things, and what hidden messages I’ve accidently assimilated into myself as well. And most importantly to discard the ones that say any of us need to look a certain way simply because of the chromosomes we were born with.