The Gender Lense
To understand that Scotland has a dominant masculine culture, some places more than others and we are all part of promoting it regardless of what gender we identify as. It doesn't have to be that way.
Put the stickers on one lense of each pair of glasses and remove the other so that people can see each other with one eye. Put the glasses in a box and invite group members to pull out a pair and put them on. (If you don't have glasses, just give out cards, or hold-up a sheet or card with a different gender role on it.)
The handout link gives you a range of statements to ask. If you identified as the gender on the glasses you are wearing, how would you feel about doing any of the following (there are more examples on the handout):
- Wear the colour pink
- Play rugby
- Get emotional and cry
- Work in an underwear shop
- Take a rotweiler dog for a walk
- Carry a bag over your shoulder
- Buy sanitary towels for a friend
Now, talk about why some roles fit and others don't. Is it weird to think about it from a role that you don't identify with? Would you be dominant or subordinate in that role? Are there times that we expect people to live up to stereotypes that they would prefer not to conform with? Why are some things acceptable for one gender and not another? Do we every feel trapped by our gender stereotype?
End by encouraging people to role play how they would encourage a friend to 'go for it' if they wanted to do something that goes against their gender identity. Let the group come up with their own ideas of things they'd like to try but were too afraid, because they were the wrong gender.
Research by the Criminal Youth Justice Research Centre in Scotland found that as well as young men carrying knives out of fear and boredom, young women in Scotland carry knives because they are threatened by the male dominated environment they live in. They try to adapt to become more like men as a form of self-protection. When we think about masculinity we need to think about how everyone perceives each other, not just stereotypes of men and women. Changing the way we see gender will allow us to be true to ourselves, improve the way we treat people and change the way that others see and treat us.
You are welcome to read the Improving Gender Balance Scotland report by Education Scotland in the link. You can also watch the Upworthy video on how one school changed attitudes.