Isn’t that when a man dresses up as a woman?

It was Friday, lesson 5.  The first week back after the holidays was a scorcher.  Our rooms go from pleasantly warm to Primark sweatbox by lunchtime. Children and adults alike are ‘well-done’ by the end of the day.

Added to that Year 11 are on the big countdown. You can’t walk down a corridor without spotting a member of SLT carrying out a Year 11 intervention. I know that my Year 11 lessons are going to be ‘checked’. Not because I am a worry, but to ensure the children are taking the exam prep as seriously as us grown ups are.

Thank the good Lord that no one came into my lesson p5 yesterday.

In the world of checklists, tick boxes and interventions it would have been an epic fail.  The LO was “How do I study an unseen text?”

The starter task was – can you define the following terms:

  • Feminism
  • Sexism
  • Misogyny
  • Gender equality
  • Gender stereotypes

We were going to read the Emma Watson speech – analyse the persuasive techniques and look at the various responses.  This is the text we were due to read that lesson.  Gender – Emma W

We never made it that far. We did not get past the starter task.  This year 11 class is small, 11 students, 8 boys, 3 girls.  Absence is high. Motivation to succeed is also high – now. But knowledge and skills are still being developed. They are weak and slow readers. More often than not, they misunderstand what they read and they understanding is coloured by misunderstandings of the world as a whole.

This class thought that feminism was when a man dresses up in women’s clothing.  So that’s where we started. Here’s what came next.

The history of gender in England – from chattels and the value of virginity, through to 1970s feminist thinking.

We talked about why women were treated differently and why it still happens. Many of the boys openly recognised their own biases, but also admitted they had never considered whether it was wrong for a newspaper to print images of topless women.

We talked about sexism in school, in the workplace and in society. And they learnt the word ‘discrimination’ which they had all heard before, but thought it meant something to do with crimes.  Which, now I think about it, it kind of does.

Then we talked about the oppression – new word – of women in different countries. About FGM, which they had never heard of and were horrified by. The age of consent and inheritance via the male line. We discussed activities that are considered female and why that is.

How to tackle the problem of people’s attitudes and thoughts, when something has been that way forever. We learnt the phrase ‘status quo’.

We talked about misogyny and how it’s funny that men can have such cruel thoughts and ideas about women, and still want them sex (and cooking!).

And we asked ourselves if sometimes we have thoughts and ideas that are sexist or discriminatory.  Then we talked about how unfair it is to label other people.

After watching this, we discussed whether it’s important for men to take action as well as women.

We finished with the word “they” and how it is perhaps one of the most dangerous words in the English language.

One hour later and I hadn’t helped them get ready for their Exam, but I am hoping that I helped them get a little bit more ready for life.



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