‘Boy or girl?’ That’s the first question that gets asked about us the moment we are born. The answer ends up dictating just about everything about our lives. Whether male or female, gender restricts us into predefined moulds. Yet most of us are unaware of these unspoken social or cultural codes that accompany our biological sex.
There are few (if any) books that talk to young adults about gender in a sensible manner. Which makes Gender Talk: Big Hero, Size Zero something of a trailblazer. Matter-of-fact in tone, it starts with what gender means and goes on to analyse how it makes a difference in how we live our lives. ‘Imagine you’re on another planet where no one even knows what a boy or girl is,” say the authors, Anusha Hariharan and Sowmya Rajendran. ‘Are there things you would love to do or stop doing because out here nobody cares and there’s no pressure?’
As social norms and popular culture keep reminding boys and girls, men and women the right way to be, what clothes to wear, how to sit, what to like and what to do, it’s ridiculously easy to lose sight of what we truly want to be…. This makes sifting between fact and social conditioning a frustrating exercise. Gender Talk: Big Hero, Size Zero is an attempt to provide young readers a lens to understand this difference.