I recently came across this article about a new documentary that is being produced by National Geographic about gender called, “A Gender Revolution”. There is also a special issue of National Geographic magazine that displays a transgender girl on the cover. This film was created in hopes by the producers to act a resource for furthering public awareness, understanding, and compassion of the concept of “gender”. When I saw the short clip for this film I thought first “Wow”, this is amazing thank you to whoever is making this, and second that it would be something great to share with the class as “gender” has been a keyword that we have discussed in lecture. In class, we have talked about what people typically associate with gender and how they are portrayed in children’s literature.
Until most recently most people associate gender as being binary, meaning only boy or only girl. As we know and have seen becoming a bigger issue in the news is whether gender is binary, and what defines the term “gender”. This also incorporates the idea of “girlhood” and who identifies as a girl, and why. This documentary will challenge the ideas of “girlhood” and even “boyhood” and go against the typical norms. We have also read a keywords article on gender that discusses the dictionary definition as the state of being male (masculine) or female (feminine). We talked about what makes something feminine and what makes something masculine? And who gets to define this? A few examples that came up in class regarding gender included that typically you wouldn’t see a male reading the Little House on the Prairie series, you would see them reading the other series directed more towards the male audience, Farmer boy. We also talked about how things were gendered in the books we have been reading throughout class, like in Little House on the Prairie Laura’s mother does most of the work in the house and the cooking, and clean whereas Pa does the building of the house, and the hunting. Throughout our lives most people have grown up thinking that gender is binary, and that it is nothing more.
In this upcoming television film release, Katie Couric goes around and meets a number of different activists and talk to them about their everyday lives and how they are shaped by our cultures understanding of gender. This “Gender Revolution” opens a much needed and long awaited discussion about intersex identity, and also about the lives of gender variant children. It specifically talks about in the preview, that whenever anyone talks about gender the first thing anyone thinks of is the external genitalia and how that defines “who” and “what” they are. When in fact, your external genitalia does not dictate your gender. As Katie Couric is quoted on the cover of the film, “We’re all a lot more complicated than we’ve assumed.” Which is absolutely true. Most children grow up and learn about only two genders, male and female, therefore only knowing that there is two, and now today this is becoming a problem because people are not educated about these concepts that are starting to arise. Specifically in the short clip with Katie interviewing a gentleman, he talks about something called “The Genderbread Person”. This helps people to think about gender in a few distinct categories he says: gender Identity, gender expression, and biological sex or anatomical sex.
The film “Gender Revolution” is fighting for all of the people featured in the film who feel that this term “gender” and the definition that we have all learned is wrong, and leaves out so many beautiful humans in this world. Every day we are seeing things in the media that are challenging our preconceived notions that we have about gender, and I think that this film will have such a positive effect on those who are willing to learn about something that they may not know anything about. For everyone to be included in the definition of gender, everyone must first understand the differences. If you get the chance I encourage you all to watch this film, the release date is today, so if you can find it, watch it. It looks like a great learning tool, to understand what a few specific people are going through and will help break the models of gendered behavior and educate people that gender is in fact not binary, and that intersex identity, a set of experiences that inherently destabilizes the gender binary, is something that many people associate with. After if you get a chance to watch the film, I encourage you to go out and have conversations about it with your friends and family and see what they know already if anything, then to encourage them to watch it as well. As our society keeps undergoing these changes, so do the ideals of “girlhood”, along with the performative roles of gender based on male and female characteristics.