I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about gender.
I’ve been thinking about gender because I’m writing a series of books in which it plays an important role. But it’s also on my mind because it’s very much a part of the global conversation these days. Issues of women’s rights in general and transsexual men and women’s rights in particular flare regularly in my morning news feed. My wife is teaching an online class in theater and gender that looks at these subjects in depth. The subjects comes up frequently in my conversations with my daughters and with my friends.
I’m just old enough that when I was young we didn’t make any distinction between sex (as defined by one’s physical appearance) and gender (one’s identification and behavior). Certain toys were girl toys and others were boy toys. Some boys were girly and some girls were tomboys. When I reached high school, we were taught that people with XX chromosomes were female while people with XY chromosomes were male.
My wife Maura is directing a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at her school. As often happens, I’m helping out, working with the actors on the language and teaching them combat. It’s fun to break out the scansion and fencing I learned as a young actor.
Yesterday, I proudly joined my eldest daughter, my wife, and millions of others for the worldwide Women’s March. We were in San Francisco, but friends have shared images of themselves marching in huge cities and small towns across the United States and around the world.
I’m proud for many reasons. I’m proud because it was wonderful to show support for people and a cause in which I believe, and wonderful to see so many people share that support. I was proud to see the power of young women (and not-so-young women, and men of all ages) to make their wills and voices heard. I was also proud because I wrote Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale in part as a way to show my daughters and their peers that young woman can have and have had the power to change the world, even when society seemed least likely to let them. Continue reading #WomensMarch and the power of young women to change the world→
I went to see Ghostbusters last night with my wife and my daughter Julia. As we were driving home, we were talking about how funny the movie was, and Julia brought up how much grumbling there had been among her friends — particularly among her male friends — about the fact that the leads were cast as women.
That got me thinking about gender roles, and (not surprisingly) about Risuko.
Here’s how my thinking went: gender difference exists. Vive la difference, and all of that. (I’m not even going to get into issues of gender fluidity or sexuality here — it’s a complicated enough issue looked at through a binary lens. Sorry.) It exists, but in art and entertainment, does it matter?Continue reading Ghostbusters, Risuko, and when gender matters→
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