Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Malaysiana: Cheering for Cheer 2010

Sometimes, I like to take note when boys are doing the smashing of the gender binary. 

There is a national cheerleading competition every year here in Malaysia, which got its start several/a few years ago (depending on how you calculate time - I know its first year was before I left for Canada, so that's quite a long time from my perspective). I've never actually seen it in person, but there's always one splash page in the newspaper, featuring the teams in some sort of cheerleader-y pose, with the name of the team and what school they're presenting. 

The first year this happened, I noticed that there was an all-boys team, and I thought, that is so awesome! Good for the boys. I hope they do their best. And from what I read later on, they certainly did. 

There are a lot of gender stereotypes floating around, many of them stemming from the West, about how men should act and what women should (not) do. I've noticed that some of them just don't have any roots here, like women taking husband's surnames and staying out of tech jobs, so, it doesn't really surprise me that much that cheerleading would be seen as somewhat feminine but not locking out boys entirely. But I was still very impressed, because we do get some North American influences, and that there are more all-girl cheerleader teams than all-boy ones shows that. 

This year, out of eleven teams featured in the national newspaper I was reading, three of them are all-boy teams, one of them is the male counterpart to an all-girl team from the same school. 

It's not perfect, obviously, because there'll always be some residual ideas and stereotypes that even the teams will hold on to. But I think it's a nice start, seeing boys and girls cheerleading, competing and having fun with it.

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