The first activity we did today was really interesting. It was so real. We addressed some really big issues regarding gender roles in society and expectations both genders are pressured to live up to. We got in to small groups and with a large piece of paper we wrote things women were expected to be in a box and how they're treated if they act "outside the box." Some common words in the box were: dainty, well mannered, and submissive. The most used words outside the box were: gay, boyish, and sloppy. Then we did the same exercise for acting like a man. We considered the expectations that men have and if they fail to reach them, what they're called or how they're treated. Men were often called gay or a pansy if they didn't act "manly" as described in the box.
A common thread among both activities was "gay" as an insult. This trend sparked a very interesting conversation in which we discussed why being feminine or gay was considered an insult. We discovered how many double-standards there are for men. In addition, we talked about why women were put in these roles initially. We weren't able to come to a concrete conclusion because the issues were very hard to talk about and frankly, a little confusing.
In the last half hour before lunch, a young women came to talk to us about her experience in politics and how she got where she is today. She was very active in high school and worked on student council in college. Now, she works for Brown University and is running for City Council. And after lunch, we had another speaker, a former student of Kisa's. She talked to us about her Action Plan and how she went about carrying it out. She also gave us advice about the presentation this coming Friday. I asked her about the Q&A portion of the presentation because that's what I am most nervous about. She assured us that once you get in the groove and start talking about something you're so passionate about, everything else falls to the side and you're completely comfortable.
We left our first week of class with a long but exciting to-do list. I can't believe the program is already half way through but I'm excited to see what next week brings.