The New Zealand musical comedy duo Flight of the Choncords has a great lyric, “You are so sexy you are making me a sexist.” The line points to the complicated discussion of Men and “Sexism.” What is sexism exactly and when are men being “sexist?” What is the difference between being honest about sexual attraction and objectifying someone? How should a guy respond to sexism? This session will introduce the idea of thinking critically about gender and media and help students to understand the Jewish value of debate.
- To increase awareness of sexual prejudice
- To develop ways to reduce or eliminate sex-role stereotyping
- To develop ways to promote gender equality
- To think about and discuss past experiences in order to better understand gender inequalities
The physical in this session is visual — thinking about how you see the world.
This activity requires a small mirror, a ball, and a wastebasket. The object is to throw the ball into the wastebasket by turning your back to the wastebasket and only using the mirror in your other hand. One person moves the wastebasket into different locations and the ball is thrown multiple times. You can set it up to create a point system however you like.
#1 Set Inductions
- How many squares do you see?
#2 HSBC Bank Advertisement
You can choose an image from those found in this article:
- Which side relates to you more?
- What is the point of the ad?
- Is gender part of this ad? How so?
#3 Media Clips That Put Gender in Perspective
- Pepsi Commercial 1950’s:
- Dorito’s Commercial 2009:
- Who are these ads aimed at?
- What does the ad say about a stereotypical woman?
- What does the ad say about a stereotypical man?
#4 Sexism in Video Games
- Is this clip funny, or is it “making fun” of a serious issue?
Sexism is defined in the following way:
- prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially discrimination against women
- behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex (Merriam Webster)
- Based on this definition, are these video clips sexist?
Jewish Texts on Multiple Perspectives
Make your ear like a basket for grain and acquire a heart that can understand the words of the scholars who declare a thing unclean as well as those who declare it clean; the words of those who declare a thing forbidden and those who declare it permitted!
—Numbers Rabbah 14:4
Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? One who learns from all people, as it is written (Psalm 119): “I have gained understanding from all my teachers.”
Like one sword sharpens the other, two scholars sharpen one another.
—Talmud, Ta’anit 7a
- According to these texts, is it better to study alone or with other people?
- According to these texts, is it better to have one teacher or two?
- What do these texts tell us about Judaism?
- Personal Inquiry
Think about someone you know well who thinks very differently than you do. What have you learned from that person? Think about a time when you challenged someone’s way of thinking. What did the person learn from you?
#5 Sexism in Jokes
This video pokes fun at sexism in jokes and also delights a bit:
As an alternative, read these two jokes aloud:
- What do you call the useless fleshy tissue that surrounds the penis?
- What do you call the useless fleshy tissue that surrounds the vagina?
- Have you heard sexist jokes? Where were they told?
- Why did you think that the people who told them tell them?
#6 Male/Female: Laughing at Gender Stereotypes
Clips from the comedy troupe: Harvard Sailing Team
- Girls will be Boys:
- Boys will be Girls:
- Nicki Minaj on being “bossy”:
- Guys Guide to Hugging Guys:
Potential set-up for discussion of Genesis text/Midrash:
Some people try to make us think that women and men are different species. (like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.) In Judaism, women and men are not seen as different species… in fact, they are seen as once being part of the same being.
So Elohim created the adam in the image of Elohim, in the image of Elohim God created the being; male and female God created them.
The first half of the verse implies that the Creator formed a single human being, while the concluding half of the verse implies that the Creator formed two human beings—one male and one female. How is that possible? The verse is therefore revealing to us that the adam was first created as a single androgynous being with two sides, and the Creator later separated the two sides so that they could be separate beings—male and female.
—Genesis Rabbah 8:1
- What are ways that you could use this text to counter stereotypes?
- How might this text be used to justify stereotypes?
This could be done in pairs or small groups. Choose one of the following questions:
- Has anything ever bothered you because you thought it was sexist? How did you deal with it?
- Have you ever been called “Sexist”? Why were you called sexist—do you think it was fair? What did you learn from this?
- Have you seen someone be objectified? What happened? How did the person feel? Did anyone say something about the incident?
End with the communal prayer about speech:
Elohai, ntzor lishoni meirah, usefatai midabear mirma.
Elohai, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from lies.
Hebrew has two words for “language”: lashon and saphah. These two words, Rav Kook explained, correspond to two aspects of speech: the inner meaning of our words—the message we intend to communicate—and their external “attire”—how our words are interpreted by others.
Lashon literally means “tongue.” As indicated by the tongue’s location inside the mouth, lashon refers to the inner intent of our speech. Saphah, on the other hand, means “lip.” This is the external aspect of speech, how it is understood by others. This aspect is called saphah since the lips help form the sounds of speech outside the mouth.