Breaking the Normative Narrative

During this class, I learned about a thing called “normative narratives”. I hadn’t heard of that term before, but looking into it, we are all surrounded by these normative narratives. Whether it be within our class, or based on the colour of our skin, these normative narratives are everywhere. In this post about the normative narratives we’ve discussed in class and on our blogs, I will be talking about gender. Despite us all having different experiences in life, one thing females can all relate with is discrimination and sexism used against us. 

i) In my story, Mud Tracks, I recollect the memory of being ridiculed by other girls because I enjoyed playing in the mud. I had always seen myself as a tomboy, and looking back on my childhood, I found that to be true. I hated going to church on Sundays because my mother forced me to wear dresses and pantyhose, while rainy school days were my favourite. My time to shine were on those days where I got to get my corduroys all muddy and splash around with the boys in my class.  

In Jessica Yuyi’s story, Get Out of the Water, she recalls the memory of going to the swimming pool and swimming just like the boys, yet this woman ridicules her because she doesn’t believe a girl should be doing what the boys are doing. “I kept thinking about that moment when the woman pointed me out. Did I do something wrong? Why could other boys swim in the pool but not me?”. The similarities between our stories are striking, since both involve us being tormented because of the activity we were doing and how others didn’t believe we should be doing that.  

In Esther’s story, Girly-Girl Lessons, she talks about how she and a group of friends at a party intend on being taught how to be girly-girls from an older girl. This older girl turns out to be more of a tomboy, however she teaches them anyways. From the way they talk, dress, and act, the girls practiced on becoming society’s view of the “perfect little girl”. However, Esther thinks about how she is both a tomboy and girly at the same time, since both aspects of her personality appeal to her. ““I’ve always been both!” Mom says. “I loved playing in the dirt, but I loved dressing up. No one said you had to be one or the other.” This is the moment I decided that I could identify as both a Girly-Girl and a bit of a tomboy. I’ve identified myself in this way ever since”.  

In all three of our stories, the normative narrative seems to be that girls need to be society’s image of a perfect little girl, girls who love Barbie dolls and dressing up all pretty. Jessica and I were ridiculed because we participated in activities deemed to be boy’s activities, and Esther felt as if she needed lessons in becoming the perfect girly-girl.  

  1. ii) I didn’t feel the need in finding another story, since Esther’s is the perfect example of breaking that normative narrative. In her story, she recounts the moment she realized that she can be both a tomboy and a girly-girl at the same time. If society could just come to that realization as well, then many different problems would be solved easily. However, things like that aren’t solved that easily. 

From other stories I’ve read on this topic, Esther’s stands out more than others due to the fact that most stories written were about conforming to one personality trait or another. I’m guilty of that, since I wrote about being a tomboy and hadn’t even mentioned myself being a girly-girl. However, Esther’s story goes more into depth about how society wants a girl to be versus your own feelings about your personality. The internal conflict someone can feel about something like that can give a more personal feel to how they once saw themselves.  

All in all, this normative narrative can be broken. This topic is not only about how girls can dress and act in different ways, but can also be viewed as girls not being able to participate in “male” activities. For centuries, the president of the United States has been a male, but who says a woman can’t do the same job just as well, or even better? The classic movie A League of Their Own looked into helping women in the sports world, yet a women’s baseball team or league still doesn’t exist. To conclude my post, I will leave with a quote from Esther’s blog post. 

“I loved playing in the dirt, but I loved dressing up. No one said you had to be one or the other”. 

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