Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson
19. Off the Script: A Study of Techniques for Uncovering Gender-Bending Truths in the Classroom
“Tomboys and Other Gender Heroes”
Off the Script1
A Study of Techniques for Uncovering Gender-Bending Truths in the Classroom
Karleen Pendleton Jiménez
On an August evening, surrounded by fields of yellow and green, I watch a play performed in the courtyard of a century-old barn. St. Francis of Millbrook (Gilbert, 2012) is produced by 4th Line Theatre, an open-air playhouse that urges the playwrights to incorporate the culture, history, and sensibilities of the local region. The animals participate as well—impromptu calls from a barn swallow, a heroic white horse, and uninvited mosquitoes—as the sky darkens. A young man—a queer, blond Adonis, the teenage son of farmers during a year of drought—dances to Madonna as he plants the field. It becomes apparent to his family that something out of the ordinary is happening to the oldest son.
While other family members nervously skirt around the issue, his father poses what he imagines is a direct question about the state of his son’s sexuality. “Are you a boy or a girl?” His son lacks the words to answer, and in the silence, his father transforms into a monster that assaults his own child. The lack of a solid and/or rigid declaration of gender expression implies to his father that his son is gay. His son ultimately responds to a question of sexual orientation, understanding as well that his father is asking about his sexuality and not his gender. Ambiguous gender...
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