Analysing Gender Roles in Billy Elliot
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Analyzing Gender roles in Billy Elliot
Billy Elliot, directed by Stephen Daldry, is a film taken place in England during
the mining workers riot. Set against the background of the 1984 Miners Strike, Billy
Elliot is an eleven year old boy who stumbles out of the boxing ring and onto the ballet
floor. He faces many trials and triumphs as he strives to conquer his familys set ways,
inner conflict, and standing on his toes!. Between Billy and his family the relationship is
a complete exemplification to the idea of gender role stereotypes. With Jackie (his father)
being a typical hard man who sees no prospect outside of the mining industry, and
Tony (his brother), who possesses a great deal opposition towards the deeply taboo art of
male ballet. The conflict of gender role expectations is amplified during the course of the
movie as Billy becomes more and more involved in ballet. The viewer can therefore
understand the fact that Billy faces a major challenge as far as gender roles are
concerned, yet he nonetheless chooses to break the barrier.
Gender roles can be defined as the behaviors and attitudes expected of male and
female members of a society that act as rules that dont exactly include Billy due to his
personality. The unspoken rules that we ourselves have created over time. Such rules give
Jackie powerful illustration to the stereotypical psyche of male roles in society. His
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identity as a miner of North England during the miners strike and ex-champion boxer
already reverberates the fact that he holds very traditionalistic male values. He literally
cannot perceive life outside of the mining industry “Why would I want to go to London?
there are no mines in London” In effect, when Jackie sees his son Billy in dancing school
behind his back for the first time, there is major repercussion, “You, out, now!” He then
drags Billy back home and informs him that “Lads do football or boxing… or wrestling,
Not friggin ballet”, expressing his views of male gender role. Billy NHMJBL `questions
him “I dont see whats wrong with it”, to which Jackie replies “You know quite nicely
whats wrong with it” Jackie expects his son Billy to realize the fact that ballet is
supposed to be a pastime for girls or poofs (English slang for somebody that can be
considered a homosexual). Benjamin Spock a gender role researcher states that “Many
parents encourage and expect boys to be more active, to be more rough-and-tumble in
their play than girls. A boy who does not like rough play (and so goes against the gender
role he has been assigned) may be labeled a “sissy.”” Thus Billys father is hesitant to
the fact that according to his view he will be labeled nothing more than a “wuss”. Jackie
expected his son to act in a “manly” fashion by participating in sports such as boxing. By
participating in ballet Billy was going against all the beliefs his dad had about gender
Billy not only shares many issues dealing with his father but also with his
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pompous brother Tony. Like many other people Tony has a macho muscular view of how
men should act. “In ways that show they are physically and emotionally toughened (e.g.,
not showing pain, keeping emotions locked inside)” (BNET research center) are what
Tony believes to be the behavior men should have. The expression of opposition is
shown in various situations such as when he finds out about the matter regarding ballet.
Upon which he laughs and expresses “you have to be joking” revealing how he thinks
that the mere fact is impossible for a boy. Many of Tonys remark towards billy are
mocking and insulting to begin with “shut up you shrimp get your own milk” which only
get worse after learning about ballet. Such hardships are one of few that Billy faces
throughout the film.
Even though the problems for Billy are seemingly impossible to overcome the
protagonist persists. At first even Billy himself had doubts about his choice “Only puffs
do ballet” and took time for him to accept “Just because I do ballet does not mean im a
puff”. Facing his inner conflict is the main plot of the story. Slowly but surely Billy

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Gender Roles And Billy Faces. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from