The gender lense

Scotland has a dominant masculine culture, and in some places it's stronger than others. We are all part of promoting it regardless of what gender we identify as. But it doesn't have to be that way.

What you will need

You will need...

Timing: 15mins

  • A few pairs of cheap sun-glasses (optional). Really big ones from the pound shop will work well.
  • Stickers with male/female/ lesbian/gay/ bi-sexual/ trans-sexual / non-binary (not male or female).
  • Print-off or link to the handout.


Start by...

Put the stickers on one lense of each pair of glasses and remove the other so that people can see each other with one eye.

Put the glasses in a box and invite group members to pull out a pair and put them on.

If you don't have glasses, just give out cards, or hold up a sheet or card with a different gender role on it.

The handout link gives you a range of statements to ask. If you identified as the gender on the glasses you are wearing, how would you feel about doing any of the following (there are more examples on the handout):

  • Wear the colour pink
  • Play rugby
  • Get emotional and cry
  • Work in an underwear shop
  • Take a Rottweiler dog for a walk
  • Carry a bag over your shoulder
  • Buy sanitary towels for a friend

Middle bit...

Now, talk about why some roles fit and others don't.

  • Is it weird to think about it from a role that you don't identify with?
  • Would you be dominant or subordinate in that role?
  • Are there times that we expect people to live up to stereotypes that they would prefer not to conform with?
  • Why are some things acceptable for one gender and not another?
  • Do we ever feel trapped by our gender stereotype?

End by...

End by encouraging people to role-play how they would encourage a friend to 'go for it' if they wanted to do something that goes against their gender identity. Let the group come up with their own ideas of things they'd like to try but were afraid to because of their gender.

Research by the Criminal Youth Justice Research Centre in Scotland found that as well as young men carrying knives out of fear and boredom, young women in Scotland carry knives because they are threatened by the male-dominated environment they live in. They try to adapt to become more like men as a form of self-protection.

When we think about masculinity we need to think about how everyone perceives each other, not just stereotypes of men and women. Changing the way we see gender will allow us to be true to ourselves, improve the way we treat people, and change the way that others see and treat us.

You are welcome to read the Improving Gender Balance Scotland report by Education Scotland in the link. You can also watch the Upworthy video on how one school changed attitudes.

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