Saturday, July 24, 2010

Monsters Vs Aliens, My Big Fat Greek Wedding & Junior: Gender Roles

You can't miss any of these movies. They're all great. Talking about gender roles is always a recurrent conversation topic in the classroom, so here is what I use with my students.

A. Read the statements about some physiological differences between males and females below and decide if they are more suitable to man (M) or women (W).

1. ( ) They generally live longer.

2. ( ) They have lower basic metabolism.

3. ( ) Their teeth last longer

4. ( ) they have larger stomachs, kidneys and livers.

5. ( ) They have larger lungs.

6. ( ) Their thyroids are larger and more active.

7. ( ) Their blood contains 20% more water.

8. ( ) They are 50% stronger

9. ( ) Their heart beats more rapidly (80 beats a minute against 72 of the other sex).

10. ( ) They tolerate higher temperatures whereas the other sex tolerates lower temperatures.


1.W 2. W 3. M 4. W 5. M 6. W 7. M 8. M 9. W 10. W

B. Now read the statements below about the differences in gender between males and females. Write T if you think are true and F if they are false.

1. ( ) Teachers usually give more attention to boys.

2. ( ) They are more patients with girls.

3. ( ) Girls are usually more praised for their neatness of work than accuracy.

4. ( ) Girls excel until they are teens, but they have a drastic drop of self-esteem when they are 14 or 15.

5. ( ) Men's greatest stress is the work role.

6. ( ) Women's greatest stress is the family role.

7. ( ) Men are more emotionally expressive.

8. ( ) Women have more difficulty expressing feelings.

9. ( ) Men have a more unsatisfactory relationship with children.

10. ( ) Women are less happy with marriage.


1T, 2F, 3T, 4T, 5T, 6T, 7F, 8F, 9T, 10T

C. Check the items you think apply to the following questions. Justify your choices.


- Genitals?

- Chromosomes?

- A sense of being a man or a woman?


(a) Childbearing

(b) Wearing trousers

(c) Preparing meals

(d) Going out to work

(e) Cleaning the toilet

(f) Car maintenance

(g) Fighting

(h) Getting drunk with mates

D. Read the idea below and decide if you agree or disagree with it. Give examples to support your point of view.

All societies have different roles for each sex. By following a role, people are able to advertise what sex they are to others – in the absence of being able to show their genitals or secondary sex characteristics. The conclusion is that although we seem to need to have gendered roles for people and rely on some of them to have a sense of being a proper member of one of two sexes, they are mostly arbitrary –created according to how society needs to divide responsibilities between people.

E. Discuss these questions in small groups and justify your answers.

1. How would you feel about being consistently identified and treated as the opposite sex?

2. What happens to people who don’t conform to the appropriate roles? In what ways might the rules be
broken? Are some transgressions viewed as more serious than others? (e.g. Men cross-dressing vs women wearing clothes made for men

3. Why are people more upset by some transgressions than by others?

4. Why do many people hide their real likes and dislikes? For example, in Brazil, many men don't admit they like following soap operas. Why do they do it? Think of other examples.

F. Watch the segment from the animated movie Monsters Vs Aliens and answer the questions:


1. Describe the scene.

2. How do the male and female character behave in the situation of the segment?

3. How do they conform to the gender roles defined by your culture? Do they behave the way they are expected?

G. Now watch the segment from the move My Big Fat Greek Wedding and answer the questions.


1. Describe the scene.

2. What are the male and female roles in Greece, according to the segment?

3. How similar are these roles compared to your own culture?

4. What do you think of the gender roles of that society?

5. What would you like to see changed in the gender roles of your society? Explain it.

H. Finally, watch the segment from the movie Junior and discuss the following questions.


1. What unusual gender role did you identify in Schwarzenegger's character's behavior?

2. Make a list of some female's role that he seems to have.

3. Make a list of some male's role that his character seems to have.

4. How different would male and female roles be if man could actually have babies? Would there be any difference? Explain it.


  1. Hi I was just wondering if there was a way to download these video segments from your page? I tried keepvid but there doesnt seem to be an option. Any help would be much appreciated as it is a great lesson plan!

  2. Hi,
    Please read the post below. There are instructions on how to download the segments, OK? See you.

  3. Thank you so much for your posting... this is exactly what I was looking for.

  4. Great to hear that. I hope it works well. See you

  5. Hello! I love all your lesson plans, and I definitely wanted to use them in my class. I tried to use Realplayer to download the video segments, but it tells me that they can't be downloaded from your site. Any suggestions? Please advise! Thank you again for posting wonderful ideas!

  6. Thanks for your words. it is probably the web browser you are using. If it is Mozilla Firefox, it must be version 3.5. The updated one does not have a working compatibility with realplayer. The other ones, explorer, google chrome should work.Otherwise, I don't know what could be happening.

  7. Great lesson this one. Ties in nicely to the IELTS gender equality topic. Thanks Claudio.

  8. I just wanna say THANK YOU for your great work you are doing. I love your web page and often direct my students here.

  9. Hi, Claudio, first of all, congrats for the wonderful site, and thank you for so many great ideas. I always check you blog when planning my lessons. I'd like to know the reference for activiy B above. Thank you.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Thanks,
    Adapted from It is a collection of readings and textbooks, though. This is just one of them.