“They’ll say, ‘Well, it’s fine, I just don’t want to hear about it.'”
Hold a Conversation
In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.
- What disturbs the speaker most about her experience at the dance?
- How does the speaker feel about peers being “okay with the idea of difference in gender and sexuality” but not wanting to hear about it?
- The speaker mentions twice that she knows the person who comments on her appearance–why do you think this matters to her?
- Are there ever times or contexts when it’s okay to comment on someone’s appearance? Are there specific kinds of relationships that make it possible? Why or why not?
- What might the person taunting the speaker have been trying to communicate? Can you imagine a more appropriate way to communicate that?
- If you had an opportunity to meet with either the speaker or with the one who taunts the speaker, what would you want to say?
Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.
Transcript for Why Do You Look Like Such a Little Boy?
I’m relatively out in my identity as queer on this campus. And whether or not I’m out there are assumptions made because of my hair length, because of the way I dress in clothing that might be identified as male or maybe people can’t tell. A lot of students come from backgrounds that tell them a very binary understanding of gender, of male and female, and when they feel that’s challenged, they react negatively.
I was attending a dance that SALT had put on one time. And SALT is the Social Action Leadership Team. I’d say for Valpo that it’s a very—if we had to give it a term—“liberal” organization. And a guy I know rather well, after the dance we went to celebrate someone’s birthday. And I was wearing suspenders, a tie, slacks, just to have fun at the dance. He came up to me and he was just like, “Little boy. Little boy. Why do you look like such a little boy? What is this?” And it was really hurtful because I know him, and we interact on a friendly basis, but for him to come up to me and just be like, “Hey, little boy. Why are you dressing like a little boy? Little boy…” I was like what are you getting at? I couldn’t even understand why I threatened him so much when I was wearing, like, obviously not what would be defined as female clothing in our culture, yet then he can interact with me on such a friendly level when I might just be wearing a t-shirt or whatever. It was obvious he was really uncomfortable with the way that I was dressed.
And that’s shocking, but I think that happens a lot where students are okay with the idea of difference in gender and difference in sexuality, and they’ll say, “Well, it’s fine, I just don’t want to hear about it. I don’t care about homosexuals as long as I don’t have to hear about it. I don’t care… it doesn’t bother me.” But when students interact with that on a personal level, I think they find their assumptions about gender and what it means challenged, and that’s frightening for them.