Male Cheer

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Being a male cheerleader is tough. Not only is cheerleading physically demanding, but I am constantly bombarded with gender stereotypes, especially from my counterparts. On numerous occasions, my peers have taunted me, “Guys are not supposed to be cheerleaders!” And, my response would always be the same: “You guys are just jealous, because I get to hang out with twenty-eight girls.” To be honest, although I do get discouraged by my peers’ mindless remarks at times, cheerleading makes me happy not only because I really do get to hang out with girls, but because it provides me with a privilege that I never had in Korea; the opportunity to stand out. By all means, I am proud of my heritage, but my six years of local Korean education had been unbearable; identical school uniforms, regulated hair lengths and a plethora of standardized tests. Yet, the most agonizing part of this was the fact that I was not given the opportunity to express my uniqueness and creativity. I felt like a wild monkey encaged in this restricted system that merely emphasized uniformity, if not, conformity. However, and most fortunately, all this changed when I entered the unexpectedly competitive, yet exhilarating world of cheerleading. To some, cheerleading may merely be a recreational activity, but to me, it is an integral part of my life—an important medium to freely express my individuality. On stage, all the stunts, jumps, back flips, and dances granted me the opportunity to show the crowd what I am capable of doing. My movements were made with careful attention, yet, with relentless energy, as if I meant to break all the gender stereotypes and uniformity around me. The time clock starts the moment we step on the mat, and we have three minutes to perform with every last breath. For me, these three minutes are the longest three minutes, but at the same time are the shortest. I want it to end quickly because the routine is tiring, but at the same time I want it to last forever. I look up...
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