This week my class decided to violate a gender norm. It was unanimous in my group. As soon as we sat down the group had volunteered me to hold hands with another guy in the group. There was no discussion, no debate, dudes were holding hands. We decided this is a gender norm because in lots of foreign countries men hold hands quite often, it is seen as a sign of trust. At first I was reluctant, but then I realized that this was the point of the exercise. That the pressure to not want to hold hands in public with another guy was socially constructed, and I would be no different after the activity was over. The scene was slightly hilarious. Me and James are not small guys, we are both well over 6 foot tall and over 200lbs. We knew we were gonna draw attention to ourselves. We decided to wait for a busy time on campus and we decided a route for James and I to walk. We left heading west out of the EERC towards the MEEM. As soon as we stepped out of the door of the EERC we noticed a middle aged guy immediately did a double take. He kept looking at us, shaking his head and looking back at us. He was fixated on us until our route doubled at the MEEM back towards the library. When we entered the library, James and I both noticed a student worker at the IT desk audibly say “What the fuck, are they holding hands?”. There was a middle age woman at the desk as well. She looked up smiled and looked back at her work, seemingly unfazed. We also got a lot of dirty looks in the library, lots of people tapping their friends on the shoulder and pointing us out, The observers let us know afterward that there were a lot more people staring after we passed by them.
After the experiment was over, we decided to go and talk to the workers at the front desk of the library. They had seemed to notice the jig was up. So we went over to the fellow who decided to be so audible about his disagreement, he said, and I quote “I didn’t even notice them”. It was all the group could do to keep from laughing. I find it funny that when he thinks me and James would just keep walking he would have the courage to be so vocal about his disdain, yet when confronted by us again he wouldn’t own up to it.
In conclusion I have found that two men holding hands in public is not socially normal on campus. This is an obvious conclusion, but however should be made. The real conclusion for me was people’s effort to not be noticed. Many people looked up at us walking then looked straight back down or the other way they did not want to be seen looking like they were against what we were doing. Even when they audibly opposed like the guy at the IT booth, when he was confronted he said he did not notice. This is what struck me the most. In my opinion if you don’t like something, say it, don’t say something and then act like you didn’t to seem politically correct.