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Learning Gender Roles: Boy/Girl Gender Socialization Exercise
This activity continues self-reflective processes as participants write and share short reflections about how their gender identities were informed through childhood messages about what it meant to be a boy or a girl (also adaptible for race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, religion, and other identifiers). This activity can be used to introduce a discussion on gender socialization and oppression, setting the groundwork for maintining a focus on talking about issues from one's own experience instead of their perceptions of the experiences of "those people."
Preparing and Assigning:
Ask participants to write a short (1 - 2 page) reflective piece on their childhood memories and experiences which helped shape their gender identities and expressions. (You may need to assign this during a meeting or two prior to when you want to facilitate a conversation about it.) Ask them to address what messages they received as children about what it meant to be a "boy" or a "girl." Also, ask them to discuss who sent those messages (parents, teachers, coaches, other kids, etc.). Be clear that this is not to be an academic piece, but a reflective effort regarding their own experiences.
In order to ensure that everybody has an opportunity to share her or his story, break into diverse small groups of 8-10 if necessary. Give participants the option either to read their pieces or to share their pieces and reflections from memory. Ask for volunteers to share their stories.
Questions to facilitate a discussion after everyone has shared:
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