The following monologue, performed by Drew Descourouez ’15, derives from a 2013 essay written by an anonymous “Gender Roles in Literature” student:
In my younger years I was not a very masculine child…As a stay at home mom, my mother loved me unconditionally as the first born child. In a way it was a situation that kids living in broken homes dream of. A byproduct of this care and compassion was that it instilled in me, as a young child, this caring feeling. In a way, her constant maternal attention drove me to develop behaviors similar to what was shown to me. It is basic psychology really; I learned what I was shown and what was reinforced. When my little brother was born, I was very affectionate and caring towards him, and my mother positively reinforced that type of behavior, solidifying it into my psyche. The school I went to also reinforced this behavior.. There was no fear of judgment so the boys and girls happily played together. I tried out sports like horseback riding and gymnastics, which to my friends and my family was cool and exciting instead of feminine. I was set on a path to become a soft-hearted guy, but the world does not work in a simple kind of way, and my path was altered rather abruptly when my family changed towns and houses.
But my parents decided to move me to another school…I became an outcast. When fights broke out or games were played and I tried to respond in the way I had known all my life, the other kids just laughed and questioned why I acted like such a girl. Being beaten up and constantly criticized does a lot to a kid, and I quickly changed. My behaviors, appearance, and thought all adapted to survive in this new environment and act in the way that they dictated my gender should act…I dropped out of the feminine sports, cut my hair and spiked it, and started fighting more and more with not only my friends, but my family. In this time my mother got a job, and her influence grew weaker and weaker. I started going to my father for advice about how to fend for myself, and how not to get beat up. In those few years, I changed into a masculine role, and it was my understanding that it was supposed to be that way.
After moving schools again…there was no need for violence and the other behaviors I had learned in the past few years. Unfortunately this just left me more and more confused at the thought of who I should and would be. I tried to be compassionate and soft but that got destroyed. I then tried to be tough and masculine, but then that too was shown to be the wrong way to act after getting in trouble with the school and losing friends due to the way I treated them. So began the process of making myself anew, and making myself original. It took a long time, but by looking at the way others acted, and not just taking one way of behavior as the only way, I found myself my own role. I thought on my mother’s compassion and my father’s masculinity, as well as the mix of caring and toughness from the people and friends around me. Using all this knowledge I slowly crafted what I have come to be today, what I believe to be a graceful mix of masculinity and feminine compassion.
Growing up is hard, it is confusing, and most of all it is important. We define who we are and what our gender roles are each and every day through our actions and our decisions. The learning I did from observation of others and my own experiences was a crazy ride, but it taught me a lot and allowed me to see what I feel as both sides of the supposed “male” gender role. For that I am very lucky and grateful, because without all the learning I went through I never would have been who I am today, someone I can be happy and proud of.