He’s Wearing a Dress

  • Jennifer Burke


This chapter features the reactions of first graders to 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert. The first graders struggled with understanding if the protagonist was “really” a boy or a girl. Analysis of these responses revealed that the students’ discourse was trapped by the male/female gender binary. Since discourse is constrained by language, at times everyone became tongue tied over pronouns. Occasionally children laughed, smiled, or giggled thinking this book was intended to be funny. Their dialogue is an example of what Bronwyn Davies (2003) calls gender category maintenance work, a response to actions that challenge society’s hegemonic construction of gender.


  1. Davies, B. (1989). Frogs and snails and feminist tales: Preschool children and gender (1st ed.). Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  2. Ewert, M. (2008). 10,000 dresses. New York, NY: Triangle Square.Google Scholar

Related Further Reading

  1. Connell, R. W. (1996). Teaching the boys: New research on masculinity, and gender strategies for schools. Teachers College Record, 98(2).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Burke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Early, Middle, and Exceptional EducationMillersville UniversityMillersvilleUSA

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