This NY Times video profiles fifth-grader ZeAndre Orr, a double dutch champ. ZeAndre was mocked and even assaulted by other boys at his school for participating in the “girls’ sport” and his mother initially tried to disuade his aspirations.
As feminists, it’s understandable that we generally focus on girls and women who break down gender barriers, rather than boys and men who do the same. Indeed, some might even make the argument that this little feature is bringing the focus back to men, even when concerning an area predominantly populated by women.
But I think they took an important approach here, and I’m definitely filing this one under Patriarchy Hurts Men Too ™. If we’re going to rid the world of rigid, oppressive stereotypes, it’s extremely important that girls and women aren’t the only ones pushing the envelope and redefining what gender and gender performance really means. Because girls and women, while generally impacted much more severely, are certainly not the only ones hurt by society’s current standards and expectations.
Good work, ZeAndre, and congratulations!
See more at Sociological Images, where there are some interesting questions asked about how we as a society decide what does and doesn’t qualify as a sport, and how those decisions tend to fall along gender lines.