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If you’re not familiar with Yohio, he’s an awesomely talented, teenage, Swedish musician, who taught himself fluent Japanese to rock out J-Pop style.
Oh, and he does it all dressed up like a pretty doll.
Check out his music vid and tell me this isn’t hot…
Now I’ve introduced Yohio, let’s backtrack a little to a couple of events that have stuck with me. The first is a personal experience from a local fair I was at this year. I was selling off some of my “seconds” products cheap at a community market, and this gorgeous boy, probably about 4 years old and dressed as Superman, was fishing through the “treasures” (his word), the basket full of my art pendants that had slight flaws. He’d picked out one of Bloddeuwedd, who he called the Pretty Lady, and was admiring it when his mum came up. She sighed, and reluctantly agreed to get one for him and pick one for his brother, seeing how attached the boy was to the Treasure. But she said he couldn’t have Bloddeuwedd, his dad wouldn’t like him to have that one, they had to find something better for a little boy. They spent 20 minutes negotiating to try and find a compromise, something he liked but that wasn’t too girly. He kept asking if he could have the one with the pretty lady.
When they finally decided, the mum paid and left, and the boy lingered, looking back at the first one he picked, the one he really wanted. I gave it to him for free. And he gave me a massive hug in return.
I felt crushed that such a sweet, sensitive little boy was going to be brought up to think he can’t express any feelings or desires that might seem too girly.
It reminded me of this amazing blog from Nerdy Apple about her 5 year old boy who wanted to dress up as Daphne from Scooby-Doo for Halloween, and the response that it got- http://nerdyapple.com/my-son-is-gay/
People don’t think twice when women dress as men, either in day to day life (women in pants is so normal now it’s stranger to see them in skirts) or for costumes. But for a man or boy to dress like a girl? Society still seems to think there’s something wrong with that.
As a writer, a woman, and a feminist, I’m always interested in the concept of Strong Female Characters, but too often in stories, this is boiled down to a female character being “kick ass”- she’s violent, tough, and displays characteristics of a stereotypical Male character. I don’t like this concept that women have to be like “men” (I’m using the cultural stereotype of “men” when I say “men”) in order to be strong. I also don’t like the reverse implication that having characteristics considered to be womanly is somehow weak.
And there’s the horrible underbelly of it all- That it’s seen as good for women to aspire to being more like men, but it’s not OK for men to want to be more like women. It reeks of the notion that women are inferior to men.
This is such an antiquated view it makes my head hurt, and I know that I’m just as culturally brainwashed. I’ll dress my little girl up in blue and go out with her, but I know if I had a little boy, I’d be much less likely to dress him in pink and go out. But at least I’ve realised it, and can try and change, and hope that the next generation have a better view of gender equality.
And so, this is why I love Yohio. This guy does what he wants to do, dresses how he wants to dress, is brave with his style and committed to his art- now THAT is a strong character.