Teaching TSP is very happy that Girl w/Pen has joined TSP’s Community! Of course, we’re happy for many reasons, but one that we must highlight is the fantastic amount of teaching resources that can be found on the blog. Here’s an example, posted by Girl w/ Pen’s Deborah Siegel last month, which could easily be adapted to the classroom.
Start by giving your students this short, in-class quiz.
1. Children rarely have a firm sense of what “gender” they are until they are how old?
a) 1 year
b) 2 years
c) 3 years
2. This past holiday season, which country produced a toy catalog featuring a boy cradling a doll and a girl riding a race car?
a) the US
3. True or false: In a study of 120 pregnant women conducted shortly after women learned the sex of their baby, those who knew they were carrying females described their fetuses’ movements as gentle, quiet, and rolling while those carrying males described kicks, jabs, and a saga of earthquakes.
Then, to get the answers and learn much more, watch this TED Talk in class.
Below is an activity I’ve seen used a few different ways. The activity helps to illustrate the issue of mate selection for forming a family; it also gets students thinking about gender, sexuality, and the life course.
First, have students think about their expectations of what their immediate family will be like someday. What are their plans for the future? Or, if they are already married or in a domestic partnership, what is their family like?
Then, have students draw a future mate randomly from the list below, which has been adapted from several versions of this exercise. The trick is that the draw is indeed random, so there will be same-sex, interracial, or other couples.
A middle-class, white man who travels three weeks each month for his job and has three kids from a previous marriage of whom he has custody. Currently, he has a live-in nanny but would rather have a full-time parent in the home for his kids.
A wealthy, African-American woman who owns a publishing business in Chicago.
A working class, Latino man from Costa Rica who wishes to live near his family in his home country.
An upwardly-mobile white woman who wishes never to have kids or at least not to care for them herself. (If you want kids, you will have to be the sole parent.)
A female, Presbyterian minister whose first job assignment is in central Kansas.
An African-American male professor who has tenure at Harvard.
A English man who wishes to live in the US but cannot get residency for 3-4 years as a result of the immigration waiting list for English citizens into this country.
A white, male Florida “cracker” whose family has owned a fishing business in Everglades City for two generations. He plans to adopt the business in five years and needs to continue working for the business until that time.
Martha Stewart’s sister, a middle-class, white woman who plans to be a homemaker.
An Indian woman (US resident) whose parents are planning to arrange a marriage for her with someone other than you.
Students must suppose they will fall in love with this person within five years and plan to form a family with them. Then, they should think about the following questions:
How will their future plans be affected by this selection? What will their other family members think? Where will they live? What about kids? What is the likelihood that they would actually consider marrying this person?
Check out the myriad posts on Soc Images about marriage and family, and consider coupling one or two with this exercise!
As the holidays draw near, it seems fitting that several of this week’s citings were about toy stores. One of the citings, found here, was about a Swedish company that is working to eliminate gendered toys. The other, found here, focused on class and toys.
Below is an expanded version of a related activity (that we posted about briefly in the past). This activity focuses on gender and toys, but you could also include class and toys (or ask the class to read the second citing listed above as part of the discussion after the activity).
Go to a local toy store or department store, and bring something to take notes. While you are there, take detailed notes about the following:
*Can you tell if there is a boys’ section and a girls’ section? How do you know? *If there are boys’ and girls’ sections, how do they differ? (Think about the number of toys, colors of toys, types of toys, etc.) *If there are boys’ and girls’ sections, how are they similar? *Do the toys seem to encourage different types of values? *Do the toys seem to encourage different roles for boys and girls? *What other differences or similarities do you see?
Students could bring their notes to class for group discussion and/or write a paper based on their findings. If they write a paper, be sure to ask them to give detailed descriptions as well as link their findings to material covered in class (and turn their notes in with the paper).
Doing some last minute planning for my Sociology of Gender course this summer, and happened upon a Toddlers and Tiaras episode (which I know is old news for most people!) but I had never actually watched it. Very interesting. And would be great for discussion in the classroom on the sexualization of children.
The Society Pages’ first White Paper, published earlier this month, focuses on the intersections of politics and sport. White Papers are in-depth explorations of relevant topics in the social sciences and will be an ongoing part of The Society Pages. We recommend using this White Paper, “Politics and Sports: Strange, Secret Bedfellows” by Kyle Green and Doug Hartmann, in your classroom as a great overview of the politics of sports…and the sport of politics.
This easy-to-read and informative paper explores many topics relevant to your students. Here are a few:
Do sports play a role in maintaining racial stereotypes, in particular the athletic prowess and intellectual deficiency of black men?
Similarly, how do gendered stereotypes of ability and interest in sports get reproduced? And how can such stereotypes be understood damaging for women?
Should sports be understood as a site where boys learn how to “perform” a hegemonic brand of dominant and physical manhood?
Are sports the “opiate of the masses”—something mindless to occupy the working class’s time and energy, which might otherwise be invested in creating drastic political change?
How can we understand the infusion of sports language and metaphors in politics? Why do politicians use such language and what are the possible repercussions of this type of language?
How should we understand the display of anthems, flags, and military personnel (or fighter jets) at sporting events of all kinds (e.g. standing for the national anthem)?
Should tax dollars be used to fund professional sports stadiums? How has this taken-for-granted link between state government and for-profit sports teams been formed?
I just had to repost this video, shared on Sociological Images –a National Geographic documentary which genders animals’ sexuality. It’s worth the watch! (read the whole post here!) This would be an effective video to show in a section on normative gender roles, illustrating the broad reach of our deeply held notions of appropriate masculinity and femininity and the dangerousness of deviation.
by Kia Heise and Hollie Nyseth, Nov 8, 2011, at 12:40 pm
Magazines geared towards teens are some of the best examples of illustrating gender norms for students new to Sociology. We recommend this activity for an Intro to Sociology class or to begin a course on the Sociology of Gender:
Send them home with a worksheet with these questions repeated 4-6 times so they can answer them about each image/article they find:
1. What message does this image/article portray about femininity or masculinity?
2. Do you believe this message has the potential to be harmful to young men or women? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?
3. Imagine you are talking to your younger brother/sister/cousin/daughter/son about this image or article, what would you say?
Have them bring their examples into class and form small groups for a “Gender Workshop” (this could definitely work in a large class!) They’ll take turns describing their finds to the other members of the group. After they’ve all had their turn, they’ll have a guided discussion about their experience, addressing these questions in a small group discussion:
1. What was this experience like for you? Was there anything surprising about looking at these magazines in this way?
2. Do you believe that absorbing gender norms like the ones discussed today could have negative consequences for young men and women? If so, how? Give examples:
3. Whose responsibility is it to manage such messages about gender norms? The publishers of the magazines? The authors of the articles? The advertisers? The parents of the teens? The teens themselves?
by Hollie Nyseth Brehm and Kia Heise, Oct 11, 2011, at 08:13 am
Photo by Kristine Oplado via flickr.com
When I took my first sociology course my freshman year of undergrad, I had no idea I would enjoy it more than the biology courses I was taking for my major. But, I loved it. In fact, I can still remember the simple classroom activity that caused me to rethink my major.
Our professor asked us to visit a toy store (or a store with a fairly sizeable toy section) and write a short reflection paper about the differences we saw between toys marketed for boys and toys marketed for girls. She asked us to pay attention to the packaging (What types of colors are used? Who is depicted playing with the toys?) and the toys themselves. Afterward, students discussed their findings in class, and it was clear that many of the students really enjoyed the activity. We then discussed gender and gender socialization, and even though I don’t study gender, the way sociologists examine what most people take for granted had me hooked.
by Kia Heise and Hollie Nyseth Brehm, Oct 3, 2011, at 04:28 pm
Students love to analyze popular culture because it allows them to think about and write about the music, movies, TV shows, or books that they already love (or love to hate!) A fun way to use popular culture in the classroom is to have your students re-examine one of their favorite shows, movies, albums, etc. from a sociological perspective.
We recommend using Rebecca Hayes-Smith’s book review “Gender Norms in the Twilight Series” as a guide for your students (from the Spring 2011 issue of Contexts). Have your students read and discuss this short review and then go out and write one of their own!