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Posts Tagged ‘societal expectations’

I was lucky enough to see this amazing film last week and to hear from the filmmaker, Debra Chasnoff. The subtitle for the film, “How gender’s got us all tied up,” speaks volumes. As do the voices of the youth in the film.

It’s heartbreaking to hear from boys who acknowledge that how they often act is sexist, chauvenist, and disrespectful of girls/women. And then acknowledge that they will probably return to school and continue to act that way. Because it is so engrained in who they are and how they move through the world. Literally, gender norms have bound them and are a stronger force in determining their behavior than any of their thoughtful self-reflections.

Chasnoff explained that she made the film out of a desire to shed light on the homophobia that is latent throughout society and that so powerfully shapes many of the gendered norms that many of us take for granted. I appreciated her pointing the finger at homophobia as a root source here. The connection is so clear, yet I think it often goes unspoken.

This film is winging its way around the country. See it. Bring friends. I think that it can play a huge role in loosening the grip that gendered norms have on all of us.

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Not sure how many of you have been following the saga of the South African runner who has been subjected to “gender testing.” She is a breakout star, without the typical “feminine” look that often accompanies successful female athletes.You can have a look here.

While I can’t imagine that pain that she must be going through, having her identity questioned (no matter her biology, mind you), now her testing has brought with it an image makeover. Yes, this runner has been glammed up for the media. Have a look at her new look.

Shame on the folks who thought that a new look would quell “worries” about her identity or worries over the test. Of course a more femmy look will make everyone forget about the testing to which she’s been subjected.

For me, this issue highlights many things. First off, it really points to the boundaries put around women who excel in athletics. Beauty and glamour are a must in order to make it big as a female athlete. Somehow, it’s important to always emphasize one’s femininity — the more of a super star you are, the more important it is to make that emphasis. I don’t for a second think that the athletes are the ones pushing this, but rather it’s the agents, publicists, the sports media, etc.

Most profoundly, though, this athlete makeover is yet another blatant example of how society expects women to look and how terribly unacceptable it is to look any way that jogs outside of those boundaries. To me, that is utterly shameful.

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