The Big Aware

By
In the fall of 2001, the children in Ms. Fredrico’s 3rd class collectively came to a realization that was equal parts shocking and horrifying. It was something that would stick with us for the rest of our natural lives: there was something horribly awry in the pants of the opposite sex. Suddenly the intrepid group of nine year olds began to realize that we did not all paint on our underwear like Barbie and that there was a very, very distinct difference between your boyfriends and your girlfriends. Around that same time, my group of male friends coldly rejected my advances to play action figures with them at recess. The reason, as my then ex-friend Cody Shawe had so eloquently put it, was cooties.

I wasn’t entirely sure what cooties really were or how one came about acquiring them; just that some of the boys in Mrs. Fredrico’s class bragged about having had their “cootie shots” and “cootie insurance”. By the middle of the year, the lines between female and male had been firmly drawn, and I was unfairly shoved to the side of the cootie-ridden girls. I didn’t even really like girls all that much, since all they seemed to think about were dolls and dresses and pink.

The truth of the matter was that I was bad at girl-things and, really, I didn’t enjoy them all that much. I just did not get the same primal joy out of making friendship bracelets at arts and crafts time that some of my female classmates did.

Still, I was doomed by my genitals. When you’re 9, gender becomes very much black and white—it didn’t matter how desperately I wanted to be like the boys. To cut my ridiculous looking long hair, to throw away all the girly shirts my mother thought were “really nice looking”, there was no way to beat the system. I may not have been a stellar student (you could have mistaken my work on math and spelling worksheets for that of a college football player lobbed over the head one too many times) but if there’s one thing I knew above all else, it was that I was supposed to be one of the boys.

Once in 10th grade, you would think that this gender ghettoization would cease. That boy or girl, I would be accepted whatever way I came—and, yes, this is partially true. The only caveat being that, with age, more labels came seeping out of the floorboards—one especially relevant one being lesbian. Suddenly I wasn’t just a tomboy, I was gay-looking or lesbianish. It was like, just by coming out, I had prepackaged myself, ignorant label and all, ready to be known to my school as the lesbian, or the gay one.

Why are we still acting like third-graders? Sure, the labels are different, but under the surface it’s the same damn thing. I shouldn’t have to be categorized just because of who I love or how I dress. Can’t I just live on in peace, without somebody constantly telling me who I am?





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback