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The Social Justice of Gender Stereotyping

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Sammie Kenny (Cole)

on 25 August 2014

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Transcript of The Social Justice of Gender Stereotyping

The research is directed towards the infamous Walt Disney. Children around the world spend many hours a day reading Disney based literature, often associated and supported by watching Disney media, such as movies and cartoons.
The art of acquiring literacy is not only the capacity to read and write, speak and listen, but illustrates the individual's ability to use these skills to shape the course of their life in society by being able to communicate effectively with others and to understand written information (Inglis & Aers, 2008). In society, literacy is political whereby the dominant group tries to install their viewpoints on others. Critical literacy is transformative. It provides a means to break the dominants of society viewpoints and lets people challenge, evaluate and reflect on the world around them (Roberts, 1998).
How the topic links the vision, principles and Values in the New Zealand Curriulum
Confident – Students become positive in their own identity
Our topic allows students to learn that the way they are portrayed in the media is not necessarily true, and therefore helps them to affirm a positive identity as a female.

Lifelong learners – Critical and creative thinkers
• We are educating children to become critical thinkers through the use of literacy activities.
• Inclusion – the curriculum is non-sexist, non-racist, and non-discriminatory; it ensures that students’ identities, languages, abilities, and talents are recognised and affirmed and that their learning needs are addressed.
• We are affirming that what children see in the media is not necessarily true. Girls do not have to be perfect princesses and boys do not always have to be the heroes. We are giving children a positive view of gender and educating them to not be sexist themselves.
• Equity – through fairness and social justice
• Through our topic we are exploring themes related to fairness and social justice.

Social Justice
Social justice can be described as the equitable treatment of all people, enabling equal distribution and opportunity in society to support human rights. Additionally, it is the commitment and responsibility we have to each other to defend the right for freedom. This is done by creating a society that distributes resources un-biasedly and is democratic (Bell, 1997). However, the influences on social justice are globalised and market driven turning people into victims by constructing multiple and biased messages against them (McInerney, 2012). Furthermore, resources can be unequally divided by the dominant society who dictate where fund allocation is distributed, such as in housing and schooling (McInerney, 2014). This allows those from minority groups to believe the have less opportunities and rights in society. (Millar, 2014)
Using post-modern picture books to create a positive change from the oppressive stereotyping promoted in children's literature
The Social Justice of Gender
Stereotyping in Picture Books

This presentation exemplifies the effects children's literacy has on social injustice and oppression of gender stereotyping.
Females are stereotypically defines as the weaker sex while men are perceived as strong within the gender construct, and rather than try to 'fix' them to fit into society their supposed roles are only further ingrained through literature, peer, teacher and parental actions.
This is a vicious cycle, as children see men and women conforming to various social roles based on gender and then the child defines themselves by their gender. They learn through observation that girls behave in certain ways and boys in another and then use this to influence their own behaviour.
This presentation provides evidence that children's literature is one of the greatest impacts on how children perceive the real world, form identities of who they wish to be and dictates how they will exist in society. It will also critically challenge the oppressive ways of thinking and doing by presenting a constructive outlook on how critical literacy and post-modern picture books are enabling children to see a less biased point of view, where it is acceptable to challenge the status quo of society, questioning the given, in this case, gender stereotyping.
Thank You
This presentation was brought to you by:

Heidi Darrah
Lucille Millar
Sarah Hastie
Sam Cole (Kenny)

Gender is defined as the relations between men and women but is not determined alone by biology, but is created socially. It is a central principle of society, and often governs the processes of production and reproduction, consumption and distribution (Bravo-Baumann, 2000). Gender issues focus on men and women and on the relationship between them, their roles, control, separation of employment and benefits (Bravo-Baumann, 2000). Additionally, gender affects children, families, and many other aspects of life especially where different societies and cultures, classes, ages and over history often have had conflicting viewpoints (Bravo-Baumann, 2000).
Is this what we want our children reading?
Freire's Theory
According to Roberts (1996a) ‘Freirean educationalists’ recognize and promote the idea that change in traditional literacy is inevitable and of utmost importance towards social justice. Social justice involves being ‘critically literate’ and this requires critical questioning and changing the overriding conditions of dominating oppressive perceptions within a democratic society. It allows for both female and male gendered individuals to have the opportunity to read and learn, and construct their relationships within a socially just society (Giroux, 1987).

Freire (1996) stresses the importance of engaging in books as a means toward social justice. At the core of Freire's theory, Te Kotahitanga strategy and critical literacy, is the notion that exchanging of ideas is the approach into the realistic and changing world of the learner. It is up to teachers to find socially just ways of guiding learners, to their own real world.

In their writing on Paulo Freire, Rugut and Osman (2013) explain the relevance of Friere’s theory in today’s classrooms. They claim the teachers job is not to provide answers, but to help children to form their own opinions through critical thinking and this is what Friere termed conscientization (Freiere, 1973, as cited in Rugut & Osman, 2013). Freire’s theory focuses on the oppressed, in our case women, who think of themselves as ‘less than’. This is because they are conditioned to believe that values and behaviours of the dominant group are the correct ones (Rugut & Osman, 2013). Given how popular Disney is as a global entity and the power they have through the media to portray such stereotypes they can be seen as our dominant group who show what women should be like; weak, and in need of a prince.

Social Learning Theory
Social learning theorists suggest that children are extremely influenced by what they, see, read and hear within the world around them. Children’s literature embedded within media such as Disney movies and picture books, have represented male and female in deliberately and offensively stereotype conducts.
From a feminist point of view, effective discourse and change to gender stereotyping in children’s picture books, would be to create liberated roles for females and more diplomatic and genuine roles for males (Renzetti & Curran, 1992).
Social learning theory suggests that gender behaviours are learned through observation and imitation, and that masculine or feminine behaviours are either rewarded or punished. Behaviours are modelled by various means; be it through watching family member, in the neighbourhood, on television, or by peer groups (Santrock, 1997). It has even been suggested that fathers behave differently in front of their sons in comparison to their daughters (Huston, 1983, as cited in Santrock, 1997).

Critical Literacy Theory
Critical literacy helps learners be more mindful of their own views, values and beliefs, enabling them to feel confident to speak out in regard to issues of social justice, within a democratic society.
According to Soares and Wood (2010) critical literacy encourages learners to develop critical awareness and empathy for others, allowing the deconstruction of social biases that may arise within literature, or classrooms. Dewey (1916) maintained that schools should corroborate numerous opportunities for students to learn the realisms and challenges faced within a power driven society. This involves embedding critical literacy across all learning areas of curriculum delivery.
Wineburg and Martin (2004) suggested a beneficial approach to critical literacy is through social studies, encouraging learners to be critical thinkers and inquirers of the past, present and future. Cardiello’s (2004) instructional model should be displayed in classrooms, and referred to through instructional approaches for learning objectives. The model will help students recognize and consider life issues, when reading critical literature in social studies.

Feminist Theory
Disney and Gender
The Disney Effect
Feminist theory can be defined as the supporting of equality for women and men. Often the feminist theory supporters strive for gender equality by expanding human traits that often go against the status quo. This can exemplified by an inequality in income, educational, and job opportunities for both women and men.
Key Terms
Social justice - Justice in terms of the sharing of wealth, opportunities, and rights for people within a society.

Oppression -The authority or power in a troublesome, cruel, or unjust manner.

Gender stereotyping- The preconceived ideas of society where males and females are subjectively allocated characteristics and roles determined and restricted by their sex.

Critical Literacy - Critical literacy encourages readers to evaluate texts and offer strategies for uncovering underlying messages.

Postmodern picture books - are a genre of picture books, characteristics by characters and plots that include self-referential elements, which challenge gender stereotyping and traditional story lines.

Children’s media - refers to various means of communication.

Society - The community of people living in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, and organizations.

Discourse - written or spoken communication or debate

Gender - being male or female and more typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones.

Notes on the Topic
Traditionally, oppressive gender stereotyping have continued to influence children’s perceptions of the real world, as the stories have become more describing of what female and male stereotypes should be, instead of who they can be. The social injustice nature of gender stereotyping in children’s literature has been a basis of literacy inquiry for over twenty years (Demarest & Kortenhaus 1993). Gender stereotype in traditional children’s picture books influence the growth and progression of children’s ‘gender identity, restricting possibilities in development self-efficacy (Creany, 1995)

Postmodern picture books are an effective means for critical thinking and classroom discourse, in relation to what are the socially accepted ‘rights or wrongs’ of children’s everyday lives (O’Neill, 2010). The infamous Disney was one the biggest culprits for providing literature and picture books which condoned gender stereotyping. Postmodern picture books have enabled young impressionable learners to be more critically literate, and question the oppressive gender norms of society.

Level 4: Year 8
Comparing and Evaluating Text using a social justice theme of stereotyping

A comparison of texts and pictures from a traditional picture book and a post modern picture book. Students evaluate the text and images from the Paper Bag Princess (postmodernism) and Cinderella (traditional) in groups and compare how these images and texts have changed over time. Students focus on the differences and the similarities of the stereotypical images and messages that are being portrayed in the literature (Switala, 1999).
Activity One
Activity One Achievement Objectives
English - Listening reading and viewing
Purposes and audiences
AO1 - Students will recognise and understand how texts are constructed for a range of purposes, audiences, and situations
AO2 - students will identify particular points of view and recognises that texts can position a reader
AO1 -Students will recognise that there may be more than one reading available within a text

Speaking writing and presenting
Purposes and audiences
AO1 - constructs texts that show an awareness of purpose and audience through deliberate choice of content, language, and text form
AO2 - conveys and sustains personal voice where appropriate.

AO1 - forms and communicates ideas and information clearly, drawing on a range of sources
AO2 - adds or changes details and comments to support ideas, showing thoughtful selection in the process
AO3 - ideas show increasing awareness of a range of dimensions or viewpoints.
Activity Two
Multiple Perspectives and Authentic Voice

Resource: Children’s picture book – Aladdin from Disney Storybook Collection

The story is read as a whole class.
Independent activity work will have the students working and discussing together in two groups.
Provide students with open-ended questions, first introduced out loud, and then modeled up on white board.
Ask students questions such as
· What did the writer want us to know or find out?
· From a ‘social justice’ point of view, how would you describe the author?
· Whose view of the world is the book not representing?
· How can we provide ‘voice’ to those who are made quiet?
(Soares and Wood)
· Students are required to find their own authentic voice, girls, and boys in reflection to the lead characters Aladdin and Jasmine, through discussion and debate.
· Brainstorm ideas on how to create a postmodern picture book version of Aladdin, promoting social justice in gender stereotyping.
Achievement Objectives for Activity Two
Processes and Strategies
AO: Students are learning to think critically about texts with increased understanding and confidence.

Purposes and audiences
AO1: Students are learning to recognize and understand how texts are constructed for a range of purposes, audiences and situations.
AO2: Students are learning to identify particular points of view and recognize that texts can position a reader.
Image Reference














Bell, L.A. (1997). Theoretical foundations for social justice education. In M. Adams, L.A. Bell, & P.Griffin (Eds.), Teaching for diversity and social justice: a sourcebook. New York: Routledge

Bravo-Baumann, H. 2000. Capitalisation of experiences on the contribution of livestock projects to gender issues. Working Document. Bern, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Ciardiello, A. V. (2004). Democracy’s young heroes: An instructional model of critical literacy practices. The Reading Teacher, 58 (2), 138-147. Doi:10.1589/RT.58.2.2

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education. New York: The Free Press.

Giroux, H. A. (1987) Introduction, in: P. Freire & D. MACEDO, Literacy: reading the word and the world. London: Routlidge.

Inglis, F. and Aers, L. (2008) Key Concepts in Education, London, Sage

McInerney, P. (2012). Rediscovering Discourses of Social Justice: Making Hope Practical. In B.Down & J.Smyth (Eds.), Critical voices in teacher education: Teaching for social justice in conservative times. Dordrecht, NY: Springer.

Millar, L. (2014). Mini Essay One: Social justice and literacy, Palmerston North: Massey University

O’Neill, K. (2010). Once upon today. Teaching for social justince with postmodern picture books. Children’s Literature in Education, 41, 40-51

Roberts, P. (1998). Extending literate horizons: Paulo Freire and the multidimensional word. Educational Review, 50(2), 105-114.

Rugut, E.J., & Osman, A.A. (2013). Reflection on Paulo Freire and classroom relevance. American International Journal of Social Science, 2(2), 23-28

Santrock, W. J. (1997). Life-Span Develpoment (6th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Brown and Benchmark.

Soares, L. B. & Wood, K. (2010). A critical literacy perspective for teaching and learning social studies. The Reading Teacher, 63(6), 486-494.

Switala, K. (1999). Feminist theory . Retrieved from Centre for digital discourse and culture: http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/

Wineburg, S., & Martin, D. (2004). Reading and rewriting history. Educational Leadership 62 (1), 42-45.
TKI. Principles (2007). Retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum/Principles
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