Monday, March 1, 2010

Taming of the Shrew and Gender Defined


After assigning new roles and reading act one, scene one of The Taming of the Shrew, we engaged in a bit of a discussion about gender and what makes up our conceptions of gender. Gender is a huge issue in this play. Already, we've seen Bianca praised for acting like a good, quiet catch and Katherine threatened for being loud and outspoken. This play was written four hundred years ago. How much of what we're seeing in this play relates to our notions of gender in 2010? We need to have a talk! For this discussion, we first created a definition of what the word "gender" means to us. Here goes:

Gender is an understanding of where you fall on the boy-girl scale. It can be represented by your physical parts, but is also in your mind. You are the gender you think you are.

I thought that you all explained gender and boiled this subject down in a pretty intelligent manner. I was impressed. After this, I separated you into two groups, based on the gender you identify as. So, there was a female group and a male group. I asked if we needed any other groups, but you all were satisfied with these two. I then asked you all to brainstorm/ take notes on this topic:

What makes a girl/ woman?
feminine
weak
butterflies
nerdy

flowers
pink
longer hair
emotional

good penmanship
"sluts"
"cougars"

how we dress

fashion
caring about appearance

talkative

cliques

artistic

intelligent

mothers

librarians
less sexually active

clingy

pure

unwed mothers have baggage

What makes you a boy/ man?
sexually aggressive
laborers
trucks
liking women
die younger
easily amused
impatient
hunting
fishing
outdoorsy
careless most of the time
party animals
good aim/ hand-eye coordination
masculinity
body language
strength
more sexually active

Obviously, these lists led to an amazing discussion. For the discussion, I asked each group to highlight their top four items. You then explained to the other group why you chose those words/ phrases as important in identifying your gender. Then, I asked each group to choose one identifier from the other team that they either thought held true to their perceptions of the "opposite" gender or that they thought was incorrect about the other gender. We did not finish our conversation today, but we've build a base for our study of gender as it relates to Shakespeare's play and your lives.

No comments: