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Tomboys and Other Gender Heroes

Confessions from the Classroom

Series:

Karleen Pendleton Jiménez

Have you ever been told that you’re too girlish or too boyish? We are all potential targets of the gender police, some more so than others. And how did you respond? Did you hide or change or rebel or hurt or gleefully celebrate your style? Tomboys and Other Gender Heroes is a study that brings together gender stories from approximately 600 children and youth. Set in both urban and rural contexts, these young people show how their schools and communities respond to their bodies, passions, and imaginations. As one 13-year-old student expresses, «My flowered jeans make me feel happy because they represent the sort of feminine side to me and at the same time show my masculine side. They also make me feel like I’m a part of a large force that stands up to bullying and criticism, to express themselves and to show the world that our lives have meaning.» In this book, student writings are framed by teaching strategies and gender theory, featuring themes of sports, film, media, landscape, joyfulness, and gender creativity. The research will be of great interest to university students in the fields of education, gender, sexuality and women’s studies, sociology, social work, psychology, counseling, and child development. This book is ideal for teachers, professors, parents, and community members who hope to create accepting environments for gender diversity.

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Preface

Extract

Setting: A cold March morning in 2011. My first day of research. A classroom packed with grade 8 students. An Ontario city of about 75,000 people, tucked between broad expanses of farmland. A 10 minute free-write. The writing prompt: Choose an object or activity that you think best expresses your gender. My Object of Expression: The object I would choose is my flowered jeans, because I normally don’t like jeans but these I thought were different because all along the side of the legs there are rows of string that end up being stems of flowers that are blooming. These jeans make me feel happy because they represent the sort of feminine side to me and at the same time show my masculine side. They also make me feel like I’m a part of a large force that stands up to bullying and criticism to express themselves and to show the world that our lives have meaning. If somebody were to tell me that I couldn’t wear my favourite jeans I would stand up to everything they’re trying to criticize and tell them that they had no say in what I wear and certainly have no say in what I believe in. When people see me they might ask me what I have on my leg and I would clearly say and explain what it was and it’s a horrible thing that I notice them mocking me about x tomboys and other gender heroes it, but if I were...

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