Transforming gender norms, one story at a time

Gender norms divide us. Stories unite us.

Stories help us imagine the world we want to live in.

Tell us yours.

Guidelines

The G Word is your word on gender. Whoever you are, and wherever you fit in out there, you fit in here . The stories at The G Word come from people across all gender identities and sexual orientations. They are about any experience you’ve had with gender in your life, and all the norms, stereotypes, expectations, and challenges it comes with—from job choices to “small” everyday moments of inequality or aggression to extreme moments of actual violence.

So we ask you: what happened? Was there a time when you felt constrained by traditional gender norms, and/or a particular moment when you decided to go against the norm? A story from your childhood, from school, or parenting? Harassment or discrimination at work or school or on the street? A time you faced violence in your home, in a relationship, or in a public place?

And: what’d you do about it? Did you come out regretful, or triumphant—or some of each? What do you wish could be different, about what happened (if anything), or about the world it happened in? We invite you to envision and describe a future without rigid norms around gender. A future in which we can all be equal and safe, our authentic selves.

Stories about what?

Everyone has a story—epic or everyday—about coming up against gender-based norms that perpetuate inequality, discrimination and violence. About the world we live or grew up in, where (though many things have been changing fast) people are often viewed, treated, or told to behave a certain way because of societal norms around gender— the way a man or a woman is “supposed” to be, with little room for anyone in between.

We’re looking for authentic, emotional stories that could be small moments or life-changing situations. They do not have to be epic drama. They could be a decision point, a moment. We’re looking for (1) what happened, (2) what you did or didn’t do about it, and (3) how it changed you. What new actions did you take? What new insights did you have? Did you shift the way you treat others—or yourself? Extra credit: (4) Did this story, or the act of telling it, contribute to your vision for a world less constrained by gender norms? (That is…a better one!)

We are looking for stories that capture:

  • Facing and/or transforming gender-driven expectations by parents, peers, employers/colleagues, coaches, and cultural messages in general. Example story: “Growing up, I was bullied a lot because I really enjoyed singing. I’ve been a tenor for as long as I can remember, so having a high voice made the bullying worse. I stuck with it because it was my release. I got a rush whenever I performed in front of people, like a running back in a touchdown. My music teachers and mom always encouraged me to continue because I should do what I love and not worry about what others think. Now I’m 19 years old and am a choral music education education major. Now I know that playing football or powerlifting doesn’t make you a man, it’s doing what you love no matter what people say that makes you a man.” –Don
  • Committing, being party to, and intervening in, gender-based discrimination, violence, or micro-violence. Example story: “I sat in a room with a partner and a colleague and we discussed how a female colleague only got promoted because she was meeting a female quota. I just sat there and said nothing. I still regret it.” –Jorge
  • making choices about conforming, or not, to norms—and the outcomes of those choices. Example story: “I am a straight man. I used to have long hair and whenever I went to a part or crowded bar, countless men would inappropriately just dance up behind me, thinking I was a girl–I would usually just turn around and the men would be very surprised and would apologize (I don’t think they would be so quick to apologize if I were a woman). Since then, I have been very conscious about my own actions and the effects they may have on not just women, but all people.” –Jo

Your story doesn’t have to be about being a victim, or a hero. We have all played some version of both these roles—and many others in between. Your story may (and likely will) not be only about gender, since our gender identities intersect with and are inseparable from who we are in terms of race, orientation, class, religion, nationhood, and more. You don’t have to have done the right thing; you don’t have to share with an agenda or end with a moral about doing the right thing—Your story should just share a bit of real life, real complexity, real challenge, real choice—the real you.

We invite anyone who shares a story to also share their vision of the future–what are some norms you want to see in the future? By imagining, articulating, and sharing our vision, we can begin to manifest a world that is better for everyone.

Inspiration.

Need some inspiration for your story? Some ideas:

  1. How you responded to being teased for throwing, crying, or anything-ing “like a girl.”
  2. When you were told you’re not masculine/feminine enough, and how that affected you.
  3. A time you were held back or discriminated against at work. How did you deal with it?
  4. You saw someone catcalling or harassing another person, and wish you’d done something about it.
  5. How you faced violence within your home or family and grew from the experience.
  6. Something happened to you because of your perceived gender that you hope won’t happen to anyone else.

Instructions.

When you’re ready to tell your story:

  1. Click on the big red button, “Tell Your Story.”
  2. Pick a format. Do you want to share your story in words, photo, or audio?
  3. Choose a theme. (You can choose from some broad, universal themes we have chosen).
  4. Tell your story by answering these questions: What happened to you? How did it change you? What is your vision for a better future?*
  5. Pick one or more topics that apply to your story. You can also add your own custom topics.
  6. Give us your name, email, and age. You can stay anonymous. Just make sure to check the right box and give us a pronoun or alter ego to use in place of your name.
  7. Upload an image (even if you have a written or audio story). It doesn’t have to be of you. Just something you like and own.
  8. Once we approve your story, we’ll send you an email with a unique link you can share. DO SHARE IT WITH YOUR NETWORKS!

Can’t think of a story right now? Don’t worry, there’s a lot more that you can do at THE G WORD.

  • EXPLORE. Read a story and follow the thread to read connected stories.
  • COMMENT. If you want to show your support for a story you read, or if someone’s story made you think of an idea for creating change, write it in a comment.
  • ACT. Interested in knowing what more you can do to make gender-based violence unacceptable? Check out our active campaigns here.
  • GET HELP. If you or someone you know needs professional help dealing with an incident of discrimination or violence, click here.

*If you use the name of someone you know in your story, do make sure you have their permission before you do. Otherwise maybe you can consider using their initials.

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