Monday, August 24, 2009

Society's Visegrip

Yesterday my son drew me the cutest picture.

It was a stick person (he's 4, he'll be five in three weeks or so) with a heart next to it, and he said, "This picture is for you - this is me, and this is my heart. It's for you, Mommy." How sweet is that?

I thought it was adorable. He did one for my husband as well, and then one for my daughter, his sister. He then asked if I would write one for him, so I did.

I drew a stick figure to match his, but I made this one me. I gave it sort of spiky hair on top of its head because that's the best way I know how to make someone have my hair cut in the stick figure world, then I gave her eyes, nose, mouth, and drew my heart at the top corner of the index card (for this was our canvas of choice). The drawing looked...well..masculine. So I added some long eyelashes and felt quite satisfied that this figure, while without clothing or long hair, was decidedly female.

My son took a look at it, and instead of being happy with it, he asked if I would please draw myself with long hair so that he "would know [I was] a girl."

"But, Jonah, you know Mommy is a girl."

"Sometimes I think you're a boy because you have a boy haircut."

"But I'm not one, right?"

"No. But could you just draw it that way?"

"Look, Jonah, do you see how I made the eyelashes on the girl and there are no eyelashes on the picture of you?"

"Uh huh."

"That's another way to show it's a girl in the picture."


"Uh huh?"

"Could you still draw long hair on it, please?"

I did as he asked. He told me he remembered when I had long hair and he wished I would have long hair again.

I wonder if some kid said something about me or called me a boy or something in front of him. I wonder if he really feels embarrassed by me.

I know one thing.

After much inner debate I decided to leave my hair just the way it is (though I do need a haircut right about now, and badly at that, and I will be shaving it again hopefully this evening).

If someone is going to teach my son about stereotypes and how they are an issue then it's going to be his family.

Gender is a hugely hot topic right now in the world. People questioning everything. Beauty. Homosexuality. Transgender. Everything sexual. Everything gender oriented.

A girl recently ran a super fast 800 meter dash and now her gender is up for questioning because she was so much faster and her build is somewhat "masculine".

What does it all mean?

There's something important in all of this.

There's a reason for my shaved head and a reason I feel the need to keep it that way.

I'm having trouble putting it into words, but I feel if I cave to this stereotype - that girls must have long hair to be feminine, then I've lost something important. Something about being who you are. This is me.

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