The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

PRIDE hosts Gender Bend

The music boomed from the Milner patio. Some people crowded around the entrance to escape the heat caused by too many active bodies crammed into too small a space. Others loitered to show off skirts that hung over hairy legs, baggy pants that clung low on narrow hips, feet balanced precariously on heels, and beards painted over hairless lips.According to Pride, they have hosted the Gender Bend every spring semester for at least eight years. This year, it was held at the Alumni Gym on April 9. Dozens of male students teetered around in heels and showed off their girlish figures in tight dresses and low-cut skirts. Women gelled their hair back or stored it in a hat while donning baggy pants and large shirts.

“People secretly enjoy dressing in drag,” first-year Adrienne Mattson-Perdue said with a shrug.

More than drag, the Gender Bend is a time for personal expression. Students took a night to play with their day-to-day gender expression, giving a direct example of how much of gender performance is merely costume.

“This is one of the few times throughout the whole year that people can feel comfortable dressing as the other or even the similar gender,” said Caiden Hogan, junior and active member of Pride. “In our society, we don’t get very much acceptance or ability to dress as the sex that we weren’t born into.”

While this is the generally expected form of dress, there were also many students who attended the dance dressed in accordance with traditional gender constructions. Last year, there was a little disagreement with this, particularly aimed at girls who dressed in hyper-feminine clothing such as lingerie and corsets.

“If they are just wearing lingerie, then I do feel that is a huge disrespect,” Hogan said.

“I don’t find it offensive or against the original idea,” said senior Wayne Flenniken, who dressed in feminine clothing last year. “But, at the same time, I personally don’t identify with another gender other than the binary system.”

“I think girls use this dance to dress in the lingerie and corsets because it is an excuse to dress sexy,” an anonymous first-year said. “They aren’t really following the purpose of the dance if they just use the opportunity to look good.”

Sophomore Audrey Henneman expressed her opinion on the issue.

“I don’t think it is disrespectful at all,” she said. “If men want to dress in guys’ clothes for the dance then it should be fine. The point of the Gender Bend is to come as any gender you wish. It is however you want to express yourself.”

One facet of the issue was the definition of gender as a socially constructed concept and whether students can dress only as the opposite sex to “bend” their gender.

“I don’t feel like you are obligated to go as the opposite sex,” said Nicole Guilfoyle, sophomore and member of Pride. “That reinforces the notion that gender is binary.”

“I know that gender being binary is what we are raised to believe,” junior and President of Pride Brian Daniel said in an E-mail interview. “But I have met some people, both at Guilford as well as the Greensboro community, who do not identify with either gender.”

Though Daniel did not feel that a male or female dressing as their gender was a sign of disrespect, he did say that the purpose of the dance had been skewed in recent years.

“I understand that there has been some confusion and even some anger in response to our ‘proper dress requested’ line on our fliers,” Daniel continued. “We acknowledge that the request was quite ambiguous, but the organization felt that such a request should be made for this year’s dance in light of the Gender Bend’s meaning that has been lost these last couple of years.”

“It is important for us to realize that some people can go home after this, take off their clothes, and be comfortable with going back to the gender in which they were born,” Daniel explained. “At the same time, there are some others who (cannot).

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