Learning to live with what you're born with/is the process,/the involvement./the making of a life. — Diane Wakoski, American poet and essayist, in The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems
IN TODAY'S SESSION... the children learned from our fourth Unitarian Universalist Source, "Jewish and Christian teachings which tell us to love all others as we love ourselves," and explored gender stereotypes through a story based on Jacob and Rachel, from Hebrew scripture. While we may wish to believe the damage of gender bias belongs to the past, there is still much to be learned about gender identity. We talked about gender as a feature of identity we find on a continuum, rather than a binary (male/female).
Another topic explored today is one of expressing emotions. The group role played expressing emotions and how they react to those emotions.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. The story "The Strong Man Who Cried" challenges gender stereotypes. Jacob cries whenever he sees something beautiful. Rachel would rather tend sheep than work in the home with other women. Use this story for a teachable moment in your family. Ask about Jacob and crying. Ask about Rachel and the way her father responds to her. The children learned that this story was written a long time ago, when gender roles in many cultures were strict. Ask children whether they notice any ways people act or things that they do because of their gender at home, at school, or in the media. Name specific people who do or do not fit a gender stereotype. Talk about how a gender stereotype can hurt everyone—the person whose behavior does not fit it, as well as people whose behavior does seem to fit. Talk about how stereotyping can prevent people from giving and receiving the love and acceptance we all deserve.
Family Discovery. Try this session's Faith In Action activity at home, with items you have around the house. If more than one gender lives in your home, examine who plays with which toys. If there is only one gender represented, what toys do you have? Are any toys which, according to stereotype, "belong" to the other gender? Invite everyone to play with a toy they do not usually play with.