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Binary Slam

Amoylan's picture

So this post sort of relates to a conversation we've been having in all of our classes not just the most recent ones. The sex we are assigned comes with gender roles that are forced upon us and carried through generations. the realtionship between father and son is one that is extremely different from the relationship between mother and daughter. I came across a video of a poetry slam in which Lily Myers performs for Wesleyan University her piece entitled "Women Shrinking" she addresses the roles of gender in their family and how there is such a divide betwen the men and women in her life. Her gender roles were inherited and as she so wisely states "inheritance is accidental." I've attached the video of her performance, it is truly powerful.

See video


samuel.terry's picture

I too found Myer’s piece

I too found Myer’s piece powerful. She says at one point “woman shrink to make space for the men around them.” I found this particurly interesting, the idea of gender in relation to the consumption of space. I think in both the corporeal and socially constructed sense men treat the consumption of space as a physical assertion of power and unconstrained privelage--the claiming of something that is theirs by right and without limit.  On the other hand, Myer’s mother—and by extension (inheritance) Myer’s herself-- questions “how much space she deserves to occupy?” I wonder is this not a more universal experience? The commodification of women’s bodies? Space is something that is allocated for utilitarian purposes. It would seem a woman is constantly self-regulating how much is absolutely necessary or how much she has earned? This constant self-regulation is, as Myer’s suggests, inherited. Shrinking is systematically learned behavior: cross your legs, fold your hands, speak only when spoken to and never shout, be modest, self-sacrificing, and most importantly thin. Myer’s makes this connection as well, a woman’s occupation of space and her obsession with size. What an inheritance, huh? In a capitalist society obsessed with the idea that bigger is better a woman’s corporal manifestation--her body-- is told to be as small as possible. This fits rather well with the discourse of woman as a marginalized identity, quite literally there just doesn’t seem to be enough room. 

(think I accidently submited this as a visitor)

MargaretRachelRose's picture

Breaking the Binary

     I’m so happy that you shared this! It really is powerful, and valuable in our discussion because so much of what we talk about is how much gender influences our lives. Lily Myers has so many extraordinary and insightful points. I really liked what she said her brother being taught how to emit, while she learned how to absorb. That really illustrates the stereotype women are meant to be reserved by nature while men have more freedom to enact their wants and ideals. I feel as though stereotypes are born out of reoccurring, relatable facets of human nature. In comparing her to her brother she is addressing both sides of the binary.  

     I also found that part where she said something like “when you sit across from someone enough, you pick up their habits” interesting. This enforces the idea that there is a social binary because growing up in this polarized society we are taught what boys are supposed to like, act like, and wear and then how girls are supposed to act, dress, and think. Inheritance is accidental because what we know of gender is imposed on us whilst we are at out most impressionable. Myers is talking about being burdened by the generations of unchangeable thoughts and actions that have been instilled in her mother and their mothers. But by realizing all of these things, she is presenting her own perception of the mold she’s been fit into, but she’s also breaking that mold in a very powerful way.  

     Really enjoyed this Slam Poem. Thank you for sharing it, Amoylan!