Things I Saved From a Skip: 2 – Debbie For Girls 1981
Ever since the humourless, ancient overlords of patriarchy (Boo!) first set traditional gender roles in stone, there have been heroic subversives (Hooray!) who've dared to defy such crippling restrictions. One such radical was, of course, Derek's sister Suzi, of "Don't Laugh at Suzi" fame. Here follows her greatest adventure, taken from the skip-rescued pages of Debbie for Girls 1981.
While her female schoolmates trade smelly rubbers and fancy notepaper, independent Suzi mopes about the playing fields watching the lads stand around a football.
Her presence does not go unnoticed or uncommented on. All those long, solitary hours spent leaning against a wall with her hands thrust firmly in pockets may have paid off.
While this brutal rebuff isn't quite shocking enough to make Suzi withdraw her empocketed hands (before pressing them to tear-stained eyes), it does cause her to despair of her gender entrapment.
Refusing to surrender to this sense of hopelessness Suzi proceeds to (optimistically and desperately) follow the boys hither and yon – earning the following savage put-down.
Ouch. "If only they'd understand how much I want to play football", she thinks, gazing straight into the camera (and straight into the soul of the moved reader).
A short while later and the (relatively) kindly and sensitive Dave spies our heroine displaying some silky ball skills – hands (once again) glued to pocket interiors.2
As astute observers will have noticed, Dave is male and (by the look of him) in his early teens. Given these facts, we should treat the literalness of the words "Suzi's pretty good with that football" with several pinches of salt. A more accurate translation of that thought bubble might be – "I'd very much like to vigorously kiss and cuddle Suzi".
Says he to her, "Where did you learn to play like that?". Says she in reply, "Oh just by watching you boys play, and I sometimes practise here alone". And why, in case we need reminding, is she forced into this lonely activity?
Yowsers. Just when you're beginning to think that the story's punchline will involve gender reassignment surgery, in steps Dave to offer something pitched halfway between reassurance and condescension.
Skip forward to the day of the big match. Disaster strikes! At the playing field Derek breaks the bad news to distraught teammates – "Jimmy can't come. He's ill in bed". Who will take his place? Dave provides the (obvious) answer – self-loathing Suzi!
In spite of the lads' hostile incredulity (and the absence of pockets in her shorts), Suzi leads the team to glory.
Not a thing of beauty. A goal-mouth scramble; a static (Zombie-like) defence; an unorthodox, straight-legged toe-poke – but (as the fella says) they all count.
Final score? 3-2. "Suzi's the champ!", cries a fickle youngster. The socially constructed barriers that separate and segragate the sexes have been triumphantly demolished. The world is forever changed.
Except, of course, it isn't. Reactionary editorial forces at Debbie HQ have baulked at the possible implications and pressed the reset button.
Phew! With her silly, tom-boyish flirtation out of the way Suzi is free to let her hair down and allow her true self to shine forth. Gone is the "rebellious" leather jacket and out of the pockets (at last) come the hands. The mystical fathers of patriarchy smirk down from their kingdom in the clouds. All is right with the world. Let's boogie.
- Her brother Derek, it would appear, is an enthusiastic advocate of the "Girls are twittery simpering idiots" school of thought. [back]
- Recurring motif this. [back]
January 4, 2009