There is something I would like to share with all of you, readers. I’d like to talk about a conversation I had this past week with a new coworker and friend, J. During our dinner hour (as J and I munched on some delicious falafels and chicken kebabs), we began to discuss how certain persons at work appear or act uncomfortable around J.
To provide some background, J and I work as ushers/concession at a theatre venue located in downtown Toronto. Most of us are just getting to know each other and J is an intelligent, fantastically outgoing and friendly person. He also loves to wear makeup and nail polish, to talk about flat-ironing his hair (and how it might be misbehaving that day) and is open and all-embracing about being gay.
J is not a caricature and there are several overlapping issues at work here, but I feel that the negative reactions are predominantly stemming from his transgressions of accepted gender and sexual norms. There is also something else happening here and I think that it has to do with the pervasiveness of gender norms and assumptions around the liberal arts.
There exists a societal assumption that the liberal arts and the work environments they provide are intrinsically more liberal, open-minded or accepting of differences in comparison to other work environments. While this assumption may be true to certain extents and with regards to particular issues (such as the importance of the arts), the securitization of J’s appearance has made me question such an assumption.