I didn’t start to question my gender until I was writing a creative nonfiction essay on Dragon Ball Z. I’m a writer before anything else and I knew that Dragon Ball Z shaped my perceptions of heroism, as well as what it meant to be a woman. I spoke to my older brother over the phone when I was initially conceptualizing this idea and though we rarely talk now (and never about queerness), he agreed that DBZ shaped his understanding of what it means to be a man.
This creative nonfiction essay seemed initially simple: DBZ taught me internalized misogyny. I learned womanhood from its absence and learned to abhor femininity because I understood it to be the antithesis of heroism. The women of DBZ are not the heroes. They were the shrill screaming mothers (Chi Chi), the hysterical girls (Videl), the sexy ladies who are also shrill and hysterical (Bulma, especially in Dragon Ball, the prequel series). Why would I ever want to grow up into one of them?
This was especially true because my older brother was my greatest influence as a child. I would do anything to be his friend and playmate and strive to be his equal. We would play Dragon Ball Z in our backyard and spend hours training where we ran around the yard (or the basement when the weather turned cold) punching and kicking each other. I was his sparring partner and he was as close to the heroism of DBZ as I could imagine. And best of all, I wasn’t a girl when we sparred; I was a warrior. I was his partner and I understood that I was the exception to the rule. Our games of training did double duty: he trained me to not be feminine. If I were to be too feminine, too girly, I would be out. As a child, long before DBZ wormed into my brother’s muscles, my only bargaining power when we argued was that if he didn’t treat me right, I would show him. I would become girly and then who would he play with?
And so it’s difficult now, in questioning my gender as an adult, to know whether all I’m really questioning is ingrained misogyny.
Is the issue that I don’t want to be a woman, or that I’m not a woman and never was?
This blog is a place to find out. I want to get used to they/their pronouns in a place where I can explore and determine what I’m feeling.