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Tomboys and Other Gender Heroes

Confessions from the Classroom


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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3. The Making of a Queer Latina Cartoon: Pedagogies of Border, Body, and Home


· 3 · the making of a queer latina cartoon Pedagogies of Border, Body, and Home “Was It Hard to Make a Movie?”: Introduction The animated film Tomboy (Taylor, Parkin, & Pendleton Jiménez, 2008) was the gender narrative I used to introduce the teaching activities described in Chapter 2. The film is an act of vulnerability, a sharing of the kinds of teasing I endured as a tomboy. It served as an invitation to students to write their own gender stories. Tomboy itself is a product of careful, detailed, and sometimes tedious pedagogical production decisions and aspirations. In this chapter I outline the integration of the story, theory, and art that inform Tomboy as a film and curricular resource. January 21, 2009 During a screening of Tomboy, Reel Kids Film Festival, Market Hall Theater, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada I cup my hands over my eyes to block the bright light. Three hundred grades 4 and 5 kids are out there in the dark, raising up their arms with questions: “Was it fun to make a movie?” “Was it hard to make a movie?” “Do they still tease you for looking like a boy?” “How much did it cost?” “How long did it take?” 38 tomboys and other gender heroes We wanted to create a short film about the bullying received by a young boyish Latina Canadian girl, as well as the love and support she receives from her mother. I was working closely with producer/director Barb Taylor, an established lesbian artist/activist who considers...

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