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Femininity and Masculinity: Gender Issues

Subject:

Language Arts  

Grades:

11, 12  

Title – Femininity and Masculinity: Gender Issues
By – Arelis Ruiz
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts
Grade Level – 11-12

Femininity & Masculinity – Gender Issues Club

Club Type: Critical thinking
Eligibility: Teacher recommendation required
Meetings: Once a week

Introducing the F & M Club:

  • As a critical thinking club, the F & M Club will provide relatable resources through which students can practice abstract reasoning in their quest to understanding gender related topics.
  • Topics covered throughout the course of this club are mainly issues that stem, in one way or another, out of sexism.
    • Through the F & M Club, students will exercise their ability take an objective point of view in the discussion and understanding of heavy, and at times, emotionally stimulating topics.
    • Students will develop an eye for recognizing gender issues in the media through its portrayal in music videos, advertisements, political cartoons, and writings.
    • Incorporated resources, thinking guide worksheets, and club discussions are designed to work together to gear students toward comprehending club concepts.
    • Club sessions are designed to encourage students to make connections between provided information and their own developing ideas.
  • The F & M Club addresses heavy interconnected issues such as sexism, sexual objectification, gender roles, effects of sexism on men, rape, and prostitution.
    • By providing a safe and fun environment the F & M Club will facilitate students’ ability to look beyond morbid issues. Instead, students’ primary focus will be directed toward drawing analytical bridges in relating club discussions to real life.
    • Students will be encouraged to question issues and its significance to the real world in order to understand issues as problematic matters.
  • Student’s comprehension of the overall objective behind essential questions is fundamental in reaching club goals.
    • Questions are designed to complicate student’s thoughts and to encourage them to think beyond club topics and to make analytical connections.
    • For example: Can everyone’s personalities and attitudes fit within socially constructed gender roles?
    • In answering this question students will be able to put their own personalities and attitudes into perspective and realize that perhaps gender roles are meant to be overstepped.
  • One of the most defining goals of the F & M Club is to help students achieve, through their own learning process, a healthier and more accurate understanding of femininity and masculinity.
    • Through this process students will be able to gain a clearer understanding of who they are as individuals, apart from socially constructed gender roles.
    • By acknowledging the limitations of gender roles, students will be better equipped to question portrayals of sexuality in the media as well as in everyday life.
  • Aware of the mass media exposure that high school are susceptible to on a daily basis, the F & M club works to provide critical lens through which students can make judgments in identifying negative or positive media messages.
    • The F & M Club is composed of lesson plans, that accumulative, creates a learning experience that can be beneficial to students across school districts, cultures, and experiences. Therefore, as long as students have access to media, student can find benefits in joining the F & M Club.
    • Moreover, while in the process of making connections students will also be encouraged to engage in class discussions, thus sharpening their communications skills.
    • By cultivating essential skills, the F & M club can serve multidimensional purpose while maintaining its focus on sexism and other gender related issues.

Assessment of the F & M Club:

  • Club success will be measured by students’ ability to demonstrate understanding of club concepts.
    • Club leaders should look for improvements in speech and communication skills as well as students ability to reference back to previously discussed topics and issues.
    • Students should express their ability to understand issues discussed in club meetings as problematic interconnected topics that may derive from sexism and construction of gender roles.
    • Overall students should demonstrate ability to make connections and build bridges in their understanding of sexism, sexual objectification gender roles, rape and prostitution.
  • Students should become more willing to participate in club activities and discussions.
    • Club activities and club discussion performance is essential in establishing a relationship between students and club leader.
    • This relationship will serve as a guide in determining what concepts students may be struggling with therefore providing club leaders with clues in determining what lessons may need redefining.

Session 1: Discussion of Femininity and Masculinity

Lesson Goals:

  • Get students to think about the ways in which they understand femininity and masculinity.
  • Help them reach the realization that not everyone fits perfectly into what has been socially constructed for their particular gender.

Essential Question: Can everyone’s personalities and attitudes fit within socially constructed gender roles?

Student Objectives:

  • Students will be able to view gender roles as socially constructed ideas.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to question gender roles and social expectations.
  • Students will acknowledge that not everyone fits into narrowed gender roles.

Learning Activity/Club Discussion:

  1. Hand out Gender and Personality Trait Worksheet for completion
  2. Discussion of Gender and Personality Worksheet:
    • How closely do these personality traits resemble you as a female/male?
    • Do you have personality traits that were mentioned for the opposite gender?
    • Can boys have feminine qualities and girls masculine qualities?
  3. Further Discussion of Gender and Personality Trait Worksheet:
    • Collect assignments and ask for four volunteers (preferably a mix between male and female students).
    • Randomly hand each volunteer a personality trait assignment from one of their peers and have volunteer read the list out loud.
    • Ask students to guess whether the list was written by a female or male peer.

Learning Plan:

  1. This worksheet is designed to work as an icebreaker for the club and will allow for interactions between the students in order to create a comfortable learning environment.
  2. Students will learn from each others’ response.

Contents and Resources:

  • Gender and Personality Traits Worksheet
    (Note: gender personality trait worksheets are available on the internet or through your school counselor )
  • A discussion of worksheet

Session 2: Femininity and Masculinity in Music Videos

Lesson Goals:

Get students to think expansively about the ways in which music videos may encourage positive and negative representations of femininity and masculinity

Essential Question: In what ways can music videos provide a negative representation of gender?

Student Objectives:

  • Students should be able to consider the ways in which music videos may objectify or devalue women.
  • Recognize that music videos may provide a misrepresentation of men and women.
  • Students should be able to consider the ways in which music videos may portray men as dominant figures in aggressive roles.

Learning Activity:

  • Music Video Discussion
  • Hand out Thinking Guides:
    1. What personality traits can you assign to the females in the music video?
    2. What personality traits can you assign to the males in the music video?
    3. Do you think this music video provides an accurate representation of each gender? Why or why not?
    4. What is masculinity according to this music video?
    5. What is femininity according to this music video?

Learning Plan:

  1. Provide current relatable music videos.
  2. Give students tools to better understand the portrayal of femininity and masculinity in music videos

Contents and Resources:

Preparations for next club meeting:

Have students bring an advertisement that raises a sexist issue.


Session 3: Inequality in Advertisements

Lesson Goals:

Students will be exposed to an advertisement that subordinates the male gender encouraging students to take on a different perspective in their quest to understanding sexism.

Essential Question: In what ways can advertisement encourage inequality and sexism?

Student Objectives:

  • Demonstrate active criticism.
  • Students should be able to communicate their ideas and opinions.
  • Demonstrate ability to make connections in order to form an opinion.

Learning Activity/Club Exercise:

Discussion of advertisements:

  1. Have students briefly discuss the issue they found in the advertisement piece of their choice.
  2. What issues does this advertisement raise?
  3. Is it more of a women’s or man’s problem?

Voodoo Winter Hosiery Advertisement Worksheet:

  1. Did you find this advertisement offensive? Why or why not?
  2. Would it make any difference if roles were reversed and a man was holding the leash instead? Why?
  3. Is there any irony in this advertisement?
  4. Is there any symbolism in this advertisement?

Learning Plan:

  1. Make students slightly uncomfortable with issues related to inequality, encouraging students to question its components and significance.
  2. Encourage students to look beyond images to find meaning.
  3. Encourage active criticism as well as provide insights to real complaints and outcomes.

Contents and Resources:

Voodoo Winter Hosiery Advertisement Worksheet

(Note: The ad is available on the internet, but it might just be better to describe it to your students – it features a woman from the torso down walking two naked men on leashes.)


Session 4: Complicating Femininity and Masculinity in Cartoons

Lesson Goals:

  • Expose students to real issues related to gender and have them think critically about sexism, inequality, double standard, and the objectification of women.
  • The purpose of this lesson is to provide a more concrete base knowledge for students.

Essential Question: What gender related issues can you find in political cartoons?

Student Objectives:

Gain a better understanding of why issues such sexism, inequality, double standard, and the objectification of women are problematic.

Learning Activity/Club Discussion:

Cartoon Worksheet Groups :

  1. Break the class into seven groups and assign each group a cartoon worksheet
  2. Each group will tackle different topics related to gender roles and sexism.
  3. Encourage class participation.

Cartoon Think Guide:

  1. How do you feel about this issue?
  2. Is it more of a women or a man’s problem?
  3. Why do you think this has become an issue?
  4. How could you argue against this issue?

Learning Plan:

  1. Use humorous cartoons to expose students to real issues.
  2. Students will learn from each other’s response.
  3. Practice team communication skills.
  4. Create fun environment.

Contents and Resources:

Note: Teachers can create this worksheet by searching the internet for cartoons about the seven topics listed below and printing the think guide questions below them.

  • Cartoon Thinking Guide – Construction of Gender Roles
  • Cartoon Thinking Guide – Over Sexualized Women in Media
  • Cartoon Thinking Guide – Women and Relationships
  • Cartoon Thinking Guide – Questioning Sexism
  • Cartoon Thinking Guide – Degrading Women
  • Cartoon Thinking Guide – Misinterpretations
  • Cartoon Thinking Guide – Objectification of Women

Session 5: Masculinity and Sexism

Lesson Goals:

This lesson is designed to make students aware of the ways in which sexism may affect both genders.

Essential Question: In what ways can sexism affect men?

Student Objectives:

    Students should be able to take on a more critical perspective on gender roles, relationship advice, and the expectations placed on men.

Learning Activity/Club Discussion/Club Exercise:

How Sexism Hurts Men: “Undateable”

  1. What are do’s and dont’s for men?
  2. What advice do parents tend to give their male children?
  3. What kind of expectations do the media and society place on men?

Sexism, Strength and Dominance: Masculinity in Disney Films

  1. Hand out Masculinity in Disney Films Thinking Guide
  2. Have students read through questions before playing video on projector.
  3. Go over questions on Thinking Guide and encourage class participation.

Learning Plan:

  1. Provide relatable information.
  2. Students will learn from each others’ response.

Contents and Resources:

  • How Sexism Hurt Men: “Undateable” discussion
  • The Sexism, Strength and Dominance: Masculinity in Disney Films YouTube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CWMCt35oFY
  • The Sexism, Strength and Dominance: Masculinity in Disney Films Thinking Guide
    (Note: Masculinity in Disney Films is a popular topic on the internet. We suggest reading several of the short essays and making your own thinking guide from them .)

Session 6: Advertising Rape

Lesson Goals:

The purpose of this lesson is to encourage students to make connections between the portrayal of sexuality in the media and the real world.

Essential Question: What connections can you make between the portrayal of sexuality in advertisements and rape?

Student Objectives:

  • Students should be able to reflect and make connections between the Richmond Gang Rape news piece and the Dolce and Gabbana thinking guide.
  • Demonstrate improvements in ability to communicate ideas.
  • Show more confidence in partaking in class discussion and in expressing opinions.
  • Students should be able to consider the ways in which advertisements may portray men as dominant figures in aggressive roles.

Learning Activity/Club Discussion:

Richmond Gang Rape News Piece :

  1. Who were the attackers?
  2. The attackers dominated and used their strength towards the victim; can you describe their actions as a form of aggressively expressing their masculinity?

Dolce and Gabbana Thinking Guide :

  1. What is going on in this advertisement?
  2. Does this image glorify rape? Why?
  3. In what ways can this type of advertisement affect the ways in which people understand interpersonal relationships? Why?

Learning Plan:

  1. Students will learn from each other’s response.
  2. Connect club issues with real news.

Contents and Resources:

  • Richmond Gang Rape 911 Caller Speaks: Margarita Vargas Heard About Attack, Reported It  Huffpost Los Angeles
  • Dolce and Gabbana Thinking Guide
    (Note: this offensive ad is also available on the internet, but again we suggest just telling students that a famous designer label uses rape scenes to sell product and ask their opinions. )

Session 7: Sexual Objectification

Lesson Goals:

Understand sexual objectification as a problematic issue that encourages inequality by portraying women as sex objects devoid of personality, sentience, and other human characteristics.

Essential Question: In what ways can women be sexually objectified?

Student Objectives:

  • Understand that there is more to a situation then what is openly exposed.
  • Students should demonstrate ability to assign human characteristics and emotions to objectified women.

Learning Activity/Club Discussion:

The Harlem Dancer by Claude McKay:

  1. How does this poem make you feel?
  2. Why do you think the dancer in this poem is working in this nightclub?

The Harlem Dancer Critical Essay:

  1. According to the critical essay, what is the difference between the dancer’s public and private self?
  2. How does the speaker view the dancer?
  3. How does the audience view the dancer?
  4. How is the dancer sexuality objectified?

Learning Plan:

  1. Sharpen student’s ability to analyze and read poetry in order to further develop their critical thinking skills.
  2. Broaden student’s perspectives.

Contents and Resources:

  • The Harlem Dancer by Claude McKay
  • The Harlem Dancer Critical Essay by Arelis Ruiz

Session 8: A Look into Prostitution and Sex Work

Lesson Goals:

Understand prostitution as a system that objectifies women by making them objects of sexual pleasure.

Essential Questions:

  • In what ways are sex workers objectified?
  • What challenges do sex workers face?

Student Objectives:

  • Students should continue to demonstrate ability to assign human characteristics and emotions to objectified women.
  • Understand that many sex workers are manipulated into prostitution through psychological, physical, and financial pressure.
  • Understand that many sex workers may view their job occupation as empowering.

Learning Activity/Club Discussion:

Star Tribune: A Way out of Prostitution

  1. Why do you think sex workers are at such high risk for sexual and physical abuse?
  2. Why would an assaulter think its ok to rape a prostitute?
  3. What type of external pressures may keep sex worker unable to break away from this lifestyle?

Who’re You Calling a Whore? A Conversation with three Sex Workers on Sexuality, Empowerment, and the Industry:

  1. In what ways, according to the article, can sex work be viewed as empowering?
  2. What arguments can you find against this idea of empowerment?
  3. Were you surprised by this article?

Learning Plan:

Broaden students’ perspectives.

Contents and Resources:

  • Star Tribune: A Way out of Prostitution by Pat Pheifer
  • Who’re You Calling a Whore? A Conversation with Three Sex Workers on Sexuality Empowerment, and the Industry by Susan Lopez, Mariko Passion, Saundra

Session 9: Club Visitor

Note from LessonPlansPage.com: Be very careful with this session. Check references from other school districts or clubs that this speaker has appeared at. Be sure to get approval from parents/guardians, principal, and school board.

Lesson Goals:

Expose students to real people who have dealt, in one way or another, with the effects of sexual objectification, and/or sexism.

Essential Questions:

  • In what ways are sex workers objectified?
  • What challenges do sex workers face?

Student Objectives:

  • Students should demonstrate ability to understand concepts/challenges discussed by visitor.
  • Students should demonstrate ability to make connections between previously discussed issues and concepts/challenges discussed by visitor.
  • Take part in providing a comfortable environment for visitor.

Learning Activity/ Visitor:

“Jane Doe” – Exotic Dancer

Learning Plan:

Provide students with an unforgettable learning experience.

Contents and Resources:

Signed testimony of “Jane Doe” experience as an exotic dancer.

  • This testimony is not to be distributed to club.
  • Club leaders should use this testimony as an informative outline of what “Jane Doe” will be discussing.

Preparations for next club meeting:

  • Ask students to bring an image of a role model that take on or express healthy, admirable, and/or respected feminine or masculine qualities.
  • This role model can be a family member, friend, celebrity, historical figure, teacher, or any other person or figure.

Session 10: Redefining Femininity and Masculinity

Lesson Goals:

Help students established a healthy definition of femininity and masculinity.

Essential Questions:

  • How would you define masculinity?
  • How would you define femininity?

Student Objectives:

  • Students should demonstrate ability to create their own unique definition of femininity and masculinity.
  • Students should demonstrate confidence in their definitions.

Learning Activity/Club Discussion/Club Exercise:

Role Model:

  1. How does this person take or express healthy, admirable, and/or respected feminine or masculine qualities?
  2. Do you see this person as a healthy role model for children? Why?

Redefining Femininity and Masculinity:

  • As a class, come up with a new and unique definition for femininity and masculinity that everyone can feel proud of.

Learning Plan:

  1. Create fun environment.
  2. Create a memorable moment.
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