Today students will build their archetype of the American woman. As we move into units on African literature, I want to provide them with an opportunity to discuss gender roles in American society before we try to tackle gender roles in a non-western context.
However I want them to first consider how they individually perceive and conceptualize women. So, the first thing I show them is the bing.com commerical that highlights woman in 2013. I tell them to consider the rhetorical triangle. I draw the triangle on the whiteboard. I always tell my students to think of the rhetorical triangle as a pyramid, if they can wrap their minds around the audience, context, and purpose, the message or theme will jump out at them. I want them to determine what is the message of this commercial. What does it say about women? And, perhaps, I would ask them why celebrating women would make people give up google for bing? (RI.9-10.6)
Next, I tell the students to consider the women they know. I ask them to list all of the attributes and responsibilities of women in America. I say that they have three minutes to make their lists. It gets them focused when they think they have a time limit. However, I watch them and wait until I see them start slowing down and looking at each other's lists to call time (W.9-10.10).
Next I ask for volunteers to share their lists. As a student reads off his/her list, I write the information on the board. I have specific groupings in mind. However I have not written the groups on the board. I don't want the students to be influenced by my perceptions and organizational style. My very broad categories are: Home, Society, and Biology. I specifically say that at this time, I do not want them to explain their roles. We will get the the reasons after we have completed the list. After my first volunteer has read his/her list, I choose another volunteer and add to the list. As the number of new roles for women dwindle, I ask if anyone has anything to add. Finally, I write the categories on top of the lists and ask one more time if they want to add anything.
Now that everyone has a chance to review the lists. I develop some questions to get them to analyze the different perspectives that have led them to define the roles of women in this context I want the to justify their own views (SL 9-10 1d). The first question I ask is, what women where you thinking about when you wrote your lists. Based on how they answer this question is how I frame the rest of the questions. I want to make sure I am sensitive and respectful to the women my students see as influencing them.
I ask if it is necessary for women to be wives and mothers? I ask them why they are so focused the biology of women. This can lead to more student based discussion on the influence of social media, the reasons girls care more than boys about appearances, and why girls invite judgement?
Finally, I have my students read "Why I Want a Wife" By Judy Brady. This essay was originally published in 1971--the year I was born. It outlines why a working mother would want a wife to talk on various responsibilities that she feels belong to her, but she somehow neglects or is tired of doing on her own. I chose this essay because in 2014 most mothers are working mothers. I am interested to see how they perceive the evolution of women in American society over the last 40ish years (RI.9-10.10).
They have to answer the six comprehension/rhetorical structure questions at the end of the essay. These questions as them to consider Brady's purpose and how the structure advances that purpose (RI 9-10. 6). Addtionally, one of the questions asks if the perception of women and the role of wife has changed since this essay was written. I have high expectations on how my students will answer those questions.
Buscemi, Santi V., and Charlotte Smith. "Why I Want a Wife by Judy Brady." 75 Readings plus. 8thed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996. 451-54. Print.
With a few minutes to go, I let the students know that if they have finished the essay and questions to please put them in the tray. If not, it is homework. Also for the next class, the students need to read, "Her Three Days" by Sembène, Ousmane and answer the study questions at the end of the story. "Her Three Days" focuses on a woman who is the third wife in a polygamous marriage. It is the story that will transition the class to non-western literature.
Sembène, Ousmane. "Her Three Days." Tribal Scars, and Other Stories. Washington: INSCAPE, 1974.N. pag. Print.