Start by reviewing the activity and what
people learnt about heroes and heroines and then go on to talk
about stereotypes in general and how they influence people's perceptions
- What kinds of people are heroines and heroes? (Ordinary men
and women? Kings?) What did they do? (Fight? Write poems?) How
did the participants learn about them?
- What were the differences and similarities between the two
lists of characteristics?
- What values do the heroines and heroes stand for? Are these
values the same for both, or are there differences?
- What do people understand by the word, "stereotype"?
How true are stereotypes? Are stereotypes always negative?
- Do you personally, and people in your society in general,
have general stereotypes and expectations of men and women?
- Do participants feel limited by these expectations? How?
- Does the list of characteristics produced in this activity
reflect traits that some might describe as national characteristics?
- To what extent are social and cultural barriers in general
the result of stereotyped thinking?
- In what ways does gender stereotyping deny people their human
- Stereotyped expectations often act as barriers to both men
and women limiting life choices and options. What gender-related
barriers have participants experienced? In the home, school,
club or work place?
- What can participants do about these barriers? Can they identify
strategies to break away from cultural norms and values related
to masculinity and femininity?
Tips for facilitators
This is a very good activity to do in a multicultural setting
because the cultural element may become more apparent.
At point 5 in the instructions you should accept all contributions
from the small groups and write everything onto the flip chart.
If someone suggests terms like "feminine" or "masculine"
you should accept them at this stage and return to them in the
debriefing when you should discuss the meanings of these words.
When working in youth groups it is likely that you will want
to work with other types of heroines and heroes, for example,
characters in comic books and films, pop, film and sports stars.
You could start the session reading comics and then brainstorm
the characteristics of the characters. Alternatively, you could
put up posters of pop or sports stars and ask people to write
speech bubbles or add drawings. If you leave the question, "who
are your heroines and heroes?" completely open, you may find
some interesting surprises that make for fruitful discussion.
Suggestions for follow-up
If the group would like to look at human rights heroines and
heroes, then do the activity "Fighters
If you want to look further at the effects of stereotyping
heroes - or ordinary people, then you may like to do the activity,
"Labels" in the all
different all equal education pack .
Ideas for action
Make a personal pledge to be more aware of stereotyping in your
daily life, especially that which leads to prejudice, both by
others and (inadvertently!) by yourself.
A stereotype is a generalisation in which characteristics possessed
by a part of the group are extended to the group as a whole. For
example, Italians love opera, Russians love ballet, young people
who wear black leather gear and ride motor bikes are dangerous
and people who are black come from Africa.
There may be confusion about the words, sex and gender. Sex
refers to the biological differences between men and women, which
are universal and do not change. Gender refers to social attributes
that are learned or acquired during socialisation as a member
of a given community.
Gender therefore refers to the socially given attributes, roles,
activities, responsibilities and needs connected with being men
(masculine) and women (feminine) in a given society at a given
time, and as a member of a specific community within that society.