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The recent episode Dragon Quest contained a number of messages. Many people picked up on the identity aspect of the story. Just because Spike was a dragon doesn't mean he needed to act like one. What some people missed was the gender message.

To recap the episode, in the beginning, Spike is shown in a "girly" apron and handing out treats he cooked.
Spike giving cookie to Applejack S2E21

Spike the chef.

Spike was mocked by some of the main cast for this. Later, Garble and the other dragons considered him wimpy and non-dragonlike because he was not skilled at the rough and tumble games they played. Finally, when Spike refused to break the phoenix egg, he resolved his rejection of the dragons' way.

The teenage dragons enacted hegemonic masculinity. Garble, the leader, was as close to hegemonic masculinity as you get. He was domineering, strong, confident, assertive, and a leader. Spike, by contrast, was none of these. He was, in comparison, feminine.

Spike's dragonness (an allusion to masculinity) was challenged by the dragons. He needed to prove himself to them to gain status as a dragon (masculine). Only a legitimate dragon was able to bestow this upon him;
Spike is the winner S2E21

Masculinity attained.

he was unable to claim it without validation. Spike attained his masculinity through performance. Indeed, we say that gender is done; gender is attained, not ascribed.

Finally, Spike rejects his identity as a dragon. In other words, he rejects hegemonic masculinity and accepts his own form of masculinity. Though Ponyville is not devoid of gender or the policing of gender (as seen by the teasing Spike got), it is not as rigid as the dragons' society.

The message I took from this episode was to accept yourself for who you are. Accept your identity and embrace it.
Spike admiring himself in a mirror S1E25

Spike is Spike.

Male MLP:FiM fans, like myself and many others, can never attain hegemonic masculinity as we embrace something decidedly feminine. This episode applauds people like us and all those who approach queering of gender.

EvergreenFir 22:49, March 22, 2012 (UTC)

For note, gender is not sex. Gender is not sexual orientation. Gender is a performance we do and a status we attain. If you don't know much about gender, this diagram explains it fairly simply.