Analyzing one's personal view of gender is an incredibly complex task. I believe that American society, and the media in particular, have drastically distorted our views of gender. I think that when one considers the way that he or she (or neither, or both) examines one's relationship towards gender and sexuality, it is imperative to take into consideration one's geographical location, one's socioeconomic class, and the environment in which one was raised.
I hardly remember being a young child. For me, trying to remember my early childhood is like looking through fog, and I can occasionally discern vague shapes and figures, but I always seem to struggle to make out specific details. I often can't remember whether my recollection of an event is an actual memory, or a result of viewing photographs taken during that time. I was a shy, quiet kid, and although I played sports, I also dressed in a stereotypically girly way, and I often played with polly pockets and American Girl dolls. My best friend and I would often argue about who was girlier, and because she more more stereotypically masculine colors and was thinner, she always seemed to "win". Honestly, trying to get anywhere near my childhood mindset seems impossible. I can't fathom how I liked the things I liked, and looking back at how I acted often feels like a painful experience. My friends and I have jokingly labeled sixth grade as my "mean year", the year I was rude to my close friends and attempted to "be popular". I even bought a hoodie from Victoria's Secret's Pink line, and started dressing girlier. However, I also played basketball and, as a result of growing up watching my brother play hockey, I was passionate about hockey and could talk "with the guys" and my athletic tendencies also place me in the "average" category, whatever that even is. When I took up dance after a long break of many years, I took several different types of dance, including ballet. Ballet is considered incredibly helpful for building a foundation of discipline, strength, and technique that can significantly benefit one's ability to do additional types of dance. Yet, I felt like my friends would severely judge me, especially my best friend. I didn't want to be considered even girlier, so for many years I didn't tell her about ballet. Eventually, I couldn't avoid her finding out, and I was so humiliated.
Between seventh and eighth grade, for whatever reason, it was as if i woke up with a completely different perspective on life. I honestly don't know why my mentality altered so drastically. I just simply didn't care what people thought anymore. I was becoming a stronger, more skilled dancer and basketball player, I had a great friend group, I became a vegetarian, the Blackhawks were doing extremely well (haha), and for whatever other reasons, I just gave up all interest in caring what people thought of me. I mean, I still wanted people to think I was a kind, intelligent, respectful person, because I wanted to be all of those things. But, aesthetically speaking, I didn't give a crap about anyone's opinions, and that mentality has only grown stronger ever since.
I also don't know why I've started to question my gender lately. Similarly to my drastic change of mindset during the summer before eighth grade, in the past few months, I have had the strong urge to be a guy. I've always preferred the athletic body type aesthetically, and because I've become so serious about dance, I've realized that it would be much more convenient if I cut my hair extremely short. I'm also striving towards minimalism, including owning a small wardrobe of a small amount of quality clothing, and so maybe I'm favoring sneakers and pants to skirts and more stereotypically feminine shoes because of convenience and necessity. Maybe I've realized in this past unit on Feminism that women still suffer from a lot of discrimination and societal judgement and expectations, and maybe I just want to feel the power that society often attributes to men more often than women. Maybe I'm just bored. As I've said, where I live, in a very progressive, accepting, privileged community, I have very few problems and I often feel like I have no right to complain about anything, and that there are SO many more important things to do and worry about than my gender.
A while ago, since I realized that mainstream media basically sucks, I would limit my relationship towards the media to reading a few sites and watching a few tv shows and movies that are high quality, respectable works, and that portray life in a reasonably honest way. I've considered cutting out media completely. But right now, I feel like the media can exist as a tool for creating positive change and improving one's emotional mentality. I watch shows such as Project Runway, that oddly enough represents an extremely diverse group of people who are so talented and passionate that their outer appearances don't have any relationship to their abilities. I look up to actresses such as Rooney Mara and Ellen Page. I listen to podcasts with awespome female comedians. I read RookieMag religiously.
Dance has also actually helped me forget about sexism and gender. I am completely in lvoe with contemporary dance, which is basically whatever style of dance you want it to be, and emphasizes the emotional movement, in relationship to song lyrics. When I dance, I forget about how I look. I am free.