Thursday, 10 July 2014

Glove Puppet Gender Identity

As some of you may know, Herself is a physiotherapist. Sometimes she has patients (she hates it when I call them 'wellness customers') that can strain a PT's ability to cajole them into doing their allotted exercises. In a giggly fit of foolishness a few months ago, the two of us imagined using a glove puppet assistant on the ward, pour encouragez les patients. Said puppet would have a cutesy Sesame Street voice and be sad (cue down-turned hand) when exercises were not complied with, and happy (cue joyous jiggling and cries of 'Yayyy!') when they were. Much like the emotional blackmail of the Bad Idea Bears in Avenue Q.

Fast forward a couple of months to Herself's birthday and and I present her with Petey Pig the physio's pal, outfitted in a proper wee tunic by the talented Ada Infinity.

Petey, geddit? Like Beattie in the British Telecom ads. Oh, please yourself.
This week, Petey's assistance with a recalcitrant younger patient was requested by one of Herself's colleagues, and he was duly paraded through the ward to the amusement of all. Yesterday I asked how Petey Pig was doing, and I learnt that that she is now called Physio Pig by the therapists on the ward.


At first I was annoyed; how dare these people not only rename, but regender our pig? How dare they inflict their notions of identity on our porcine pal? He doesn't want to be female! Clearly he's a boy - he's called Petey! Do you see?

But then I thought, waitaminute. Wait a root-grubbing minute. Wasn't that exactly what I was doing in the first place? Imposing my choice of identity on him/her/hir based on a cute pun? I'm just as guilty. Who knows what damage I've been doing with my narrow notions of glove puppet gender?

Better by far to let Petey/Physio/TBC Pig choose their own role, whether it be male, female, somewhere in between or something else entirely. So tonight we're just going to have to sit down together and explain that it's OK to be whoever you choose, and not to let other people decide for you, even if they created you, clothed you and provided you with rudimentary animation and a squeaky voice.

Then tomorrow we'll have to discuss the physical challenges of only having two fuzzy fore-trotters and no back legs, not mention having a big hand up your bottom.

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