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Little Brother and the Genderless Monster.

2009 March 11
by Alexandra Funk

Recently, my nine-year-old little brother had a short story assignment on monsters for his third grade class. For the short story he had to make up a monster that fit a few parameters like: a certain shape, color, etc and then of course, write a story about his creation.

When he got the assignment back, my mother was shocked to see that he did VERY poorly (normally little bro is a very good student). Immediately looking to read the comments next to the grade, I saw that he lost most of the points for not referring to his monster as a he/she. Instead, he decided to refer to it as “it.” Having a gender assignment was not one of the specified requirements.

Does this bother anyone else? I have a very strong desire to go down to that school of his and teach his teachers a little something about gender theory . . . and mythical creatures. Bah. Well, I won’t actually do THAT, but I will attempt damage control with little bro. I wonder if he would have lost just as many points for a none gendered robot?

Looking back at my own childhood experience, I still remember assigning genders to colors and numbers (just like some foreign languages and I can still recite their assignments for you). I used to think this was a really funny stupid fact about myself when I was younger, but now I’m starting to wonder why I decided to do that in the first place.

One Response
  1. Baibh Cathba permalink
    March 11, 2009

    Actually yes. It does bother me. There is a long history of messing around with gender and the idea that there are more than two genders throughout the history of human beings.

    The Hijra of India, Fa’afafine of Polynesia, Sworn virgins of the Balkans, Berdache of America, Neter of Ancient Egypt, and a variety of others are recognition of more than one gender. (Just as speculation, I think “neuter” may have evolved from the concept of “neter”, no actual data to back that up.) In fact, in the culture of the Na in China, there are no fathers.

    Also, what about Eunichs? Are they men, women, other, etc? Are homosexual people their own category? What then of the transgender community? How does this gender binary apply to bisexual people? What of those who are born hermaphrodites? Those without genetalia? Maybe your younger brother’s teacher ought to take some of this into consideration.

    And in an oft-used “gender role” story of my childhood, I thought it was normal to be homosexual and very worriedly “came out straight” to my parents. They were highly amused, but it says something about gender norms and sexuality.

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