I’d like to take a break from my Wonder Woman series to discuss an item that came across my newsfeed. Actually, it’s not something I’d “like” to do. I’m trembling and I feel physically ill just reading the news reports but this is something that we need to talk about.
An 11-year-old boy from North Carolina named Michael Morones attempted suicide by hanging himself after being brutally bullied for being a Brony. His stepfather, Shannon Suttle, explains that “Michael was upset because the kids were calling him gay for liking a girls’ TV show… He said to us that the other kids were telling him he was gay for loving Pinkie Pie and they were trying to make him feel ashamed for being gay. We said that we didn’t care if he was gay or straight; he was our son and we would love him.”
Michael is currently unconscious and unable to breathe without assistance. If he wakes up, it’s reported he’ll likely be blind.
This is what happens when society insists on enforcing archaic and arbitrary gender roles (not to mention sexual prejudice). I normally focus on the harm the patriarchy causes women (for obvious reasons) but this shit isn’t just a “women’s issue.”
You see, this is the way the patriarchy is “supposed” to work and it’s fucking terrifying. A patriarchal society certainly aims to constrain women in draconian gender roles but it has tidy little boxes for us guys, too.
Gender roles are social constructs. While these social norms can be (and are) imposed formally through legislation, they’re mostly enforced by informal means. That means when someone like Michael “steps out of line” by watching My Little Pony, it falls on the good little foot soldiers of the patriarchy to stomp out the perceived aberration through alienation, social shaming, and physical threats and violence.
This is gender segregation at work.
Next time someone tries to argue that stringent gender roles aren’t a big deal, tell them about Michael Morones who hung himself from his bunk bed railing because the patriarchy refused to tolerate his love of a show about friendship and tolerance.
If you’re able help offset the financial cost of Michael’s care and hopeful rehabilitation, please do so at at the Michael Morones Recovery Fund.