Today, I had my last elementary classes of the year, yay. It feels like a big accomplishment, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. (Mainly that 45 children is far too many for a foreign language class.)
We closed out the year by selecting and performing fairytale-type stories in groups. The children chose their own groups, and chose between one of five story adoptations, authored by yours truly of course. They practiced for a couple of lessons, and today was the performance (complete with simple props.)
I give you this background because I was surprised when a fight broke out in one of the groups over who would play Mama Bear from Goldilocks (whin co-worker kept referring to the play as Goldenlicks…) I mean, they could have chosen a play without gender specific roles (like The Three Billy Goats Gruff) or one I had done two versions of (The King’s/Queen’s New Clothes,) or they could have revised it to Papa Bear and Uncle Bear; it shouldn’t have been an issue. But for whatever reason, these boys chose this particular play, practiced it for a month, and starting crying over it TODAY.
Dealing with the boys and their fragile ego issues consumed me at the time, but now I’m more bothered by something else.
What about all the girls in that class, who saw two boys literally come to blows and then dissolve into pouty tears for twenty minutes over having to play a fictional female role? This same role that they are born into. Two teachers jumped in to talk to the boys, but what about the girls? What message does it send to them? Are we giving them any counter-messages to celebrate womanhood?
And what about me? Or you? We, who grew up at a time when people threw around with abandon terms that equate being a woman with being fickle or silly or nonsensical or weak? How has that effected us? Are we damaged? Or has it, to the contrary, made us strong?