Thoughts on Gender Leadership Class

It’s my first week of the new semester, and once again, I’m energized by my classes. Yes, I’m the professor, but I swear I get a lot from the students like energy, ideas, thoughts. I’m teaching a new class this term, one that dear Ruth O’Keefe (who passed away last semester) was going to teach. It’s called “Gender Leadership”. It’s (honestly) an honor to teach it for her. I wasn’t given much more than a title to go on, so I’m creating the class day by day, based on what discussions are generated in class.

We’re starting with looking at the difference between the words “Sex” and “Gender”…and then charted stereotypes of the sexes. I’ve already learned (or became aware of) the spectrum of diversity in people. We are such complicated creatures. We’ll be reading “Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality” by Anne Fausto-Sterling. Already, it’s pretty enlightening.

The students seem particularly keen on discussing the emotional differences between men and women and why they exist. Nature? Nuture? Culture? The first topic to write about: Write About The Moment You Realized Your Sex. I was curious to see if there was a defining moment when the students realized they were a boy or girl or who they’re drawn to sexually. Most students can’t remember a time of realization; it’s just something they know. It could also lead to some interesting discussions on sexual preference. Is it something you choose or something you just know?

My first realization was in 6th grade, during a competition with Olympics of the Mind. I was an awkward girl. Very homely. Feathered hair. Boys didn’t like me. And then at the OM Competition, a boy noticed me. We hung out. We high-fived. And at the end of the competition, he asked if he could kiss me. “Sure,” I said. We kissed. Fireworks!! (Or hormones) Then he asked my name. “It’s Tanya,” I said. He looked at me blankly. “My name is Erin,” he said. Wait a minute! She said! We both freaked. Turns out we were both homely awkward girls, and thought the other was a boy. Gender confusion indeed.

Tangent there.

Back to the class.

Is there a War of the Sexes?

I’m also looking for more questions, and I’m asking you, dear reader, to submit one. What’s something you’ve always been curious about in regards to gender or the opposite sex? If you could pose a question for discussion, what would it be? I’d like to know how men think about relationships. Is it just sexual? Is there more than that? Do they think about it? I’d like to know why we seem to have a Rule Book in how men and women are supposed to act. We all know the stereotypes of Manly Men and Flowery Women, but is this TRUTH or is this suggested by our culture?

I don’t know. I may not even be qualified to teach this course. What I can do is ask questions, pose ideas, get them writing, and bring in some books in and movies.

Seriously, though, if you want to help, submit your question below. I’ll ask my class and keep you posted on our discussions.

And, yes, we’ll be moving into leadership too….but not for a few more weeks.