To My Cousin Nolan

I find it remarkable that it’s 2016 and yet gender roles are still so concrete. Sure, we’ve made strides toward gender fluidity — take Jaden Smith, for example. However, the majority of people still seem to subscribe to the same old gender roles that we have always been confined to. Bearing that in mind, I wrote the following poem. Please note that I do not seek to criticize anyone here, but rather to comment on the negatives of the social construct of gender roles.

For Nolan, My First Cousin Once Removed, Age Five

Did you know that men can be Covergirls now?
It’s true – James Charles, at 17 years old
was the first male Covergirl, which sounds like
an oxymoron, but when you think about it,
it’s 2016, and gender roles are social constructs,
and if a guy wants to wear lipstick or paint his nails
or wear a dress or do any number of “feminine” things
then he should. Anyway, you probably don’t remember
this, Nolan, but when you were just three years old,
maybe younger, (back when you weren’t sure of who
I was and called me “Uncle Becca,” which I thought was
cute but others thought was offensive), you went with me
and your (Great) Uncle Peter to the Giant Tiger, mostly
because I wanted to go but also so we could buy you a toy.
We said that you could choose any toy you wanted,
but what we really meant was any toy you wanted
within reason, because my dad has money but not
that much money. So we walked up and down their
limited toy aisles, waiting for you to pick something,
and finally, in front of the dolls and stuffed animals,
you stopped. Pointing your finger at a Bratz doll head
meant for putting makeup on, you said, “Can I have that?”
and I thought it was fine, because really, it was 2014,
and why shouldn’t a little boy be able to put makeup
on a doll’s face if he wants to? but your Uncle Peter just kind of
laughed it off and said “Why don’t you pick something else?”
in a tone that implied “I am not buying you such a girly
toy.” So you did – you picked a Hulk doll (sorry, action figure)
much more suited for a little boy like you. When you
were four years old, you got two puzzles for Christmas.
On the front, one had a picture of a boy, and one had a picture
of a girl. Guess which one you didn’t play with? I’m not sure,
Nolan, when you changed from the little boy who could play
with anything into the little boy who could only play with action
figures and race cars and toy guns, but what I am sure of is that
the memory of those two puzzle boxes will always stand out in
my mind – one so worn that it had to be taped together,
the other in pristine condition, barely ever used.
I remind you of this, Nolan, because it’s 2016, and
James Charles is the first male Covergirl, and he has
647 thousand followers on Instagram, and he is breaking
barriers within the gender role that you, refusing to play
with a puzzle because it has a photo of a girl on it, are so
clearly confined to. And I want more than anything for you
to realize that it’s 2016 and there are at least 647 thousand
people who, if they could turn back time, would go back to
the Giant Tiger off Wyandotte Street on that cold day in
December and just buy you that f*cking Bratz doll makeup head.

– – –

As seen here on Odyssey

Becca Jean

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