Bullied For Not Being Tough
Posted by BroadBlogs
By G. Gayton
I am a man. And a feminist.
In fact, I was a feminist before I’d ever heard the word.
That’s partly because as a kid I didn’t stick to “boy things.” And caught hell for it.
Dad bullied my gender nonconformity
As a little kid I sometimes painted my nails, played with dolls and danced, among other things that I now find rather embarrassing.
One moment especially sticks in my mind.
When I was about seven years old I wanted to do something for my father’s birthday. So I sang him happy birthday à la Marilyn Monroe.
I’d thought it would be cute and funny.
But my father “punished” me. He was soon dragging me to “manly” places — the car junkyard, the construction site where he worked, and other macho locals.
Kids bullied my gender nonconformity
It wasn’t just dad, though. My classmates bullied me, too, because I watched cartoons “meant” for girls, painted, played music, dressed in slacks — and because my last name had “gay” in it.
Soon, rumors that I was gay began to fly. In school I was verbally and physically attacked several times a week.
I began to disconnect – I cut school, made excuses about being sick — anything to avoid seeing my tormentors.
So I experienced homophobia when I wasn’t even homosexual. But like a confused young gay male who has no support, I became distraught, lost, and looked for escape. Sometimes I thought about suicide.
In an odd way, I was rescued when I was kicked out and sent to a continuation school. There, I was with other kids who had it tough. And I was accepted — in a trivial way — but it was all I needed to get out of a dark place.
Women’s needs are trivial?
Over the years I grew more masculine out of fear. But some of the things I learned about being “a man” felt wrong to me.
Especially in regards to women. Like catcalling or saying sexist things.
Or seeing how my dad treated my mom. And how neighborhood men treated their wives.
My mother always woke up early, made my father his lunch, got us kids ready for school, drove us to school, went to work for eight hours, picked us up, ran errands, drove home, cooked dinner, cleaned the house, did laundry…
And then my father would say that she didn’t do hard work, like him (working in construction).
His needs came first. Her needs were trivial. My father could be lazy after work, but my mother couldn’t; my father could go out drinking with friends, but my mother couldn’t; my father could go on trips with friends, but my mother couldn’t…
His word was “law.” Yet it felt off that the man ruled the household.
We all deserve respect
I have always butted heads with my father in regards to equality and respect – if he wants my respect he must treat me with respect; if he wants something he must ask nicely and not demand it. To this day we butt heads.
He has changed over the years, calmed down — except when it comes to food. I think he now realizes that my mother has the ability to leave him, and that she provides more than he had once realized.
I believe we should teach our children equality — in classrooms, in our homes, and in the media. We should teach that with equality the world will be a better place.
One of my students wrote this and gave permission to post on my blog.
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