The Soul of Gender Group Guide

Volume V, Number IV

Artwork by Anya Dunaif

KidSpirit’s bold exploration of the “The Soul of Gender” reflects both the changing landscape of today’s culture and the eternal questions of our relationship to self and the other. From a look at gender roles in society, religion, and media to inner inquiry, this issue reveals the commitment of KidSpirit’s writers and artists to once again get below the surface.

1. Many writers reflected on how gender is viewed through the lens of their heritage or family life. Misbah Awan writes about the hijab in Muslim culture; Nimai Agarwal talks about gender roles in the Hindu Vedas; and Kacey Sorenson describes her and her mother’s roles as women in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Have you been shaped by your background to think about gender roles in a certain way? How so? This could be the influence of a religious background, or the way your community views gender roles in school, sports, or work. Do you think the influence has been positive or negative? What would you like to keep about your heritage’s view of gender and what would you like to change?

2. Two writers looked at portrayals of gender in the media at large. In the feature article “Masculinity on Television,” and in the media review of Miss Representation, Sidarth Jayadev and Gemma Laurence describe how portrayals of masculinity and femininity are manipulated to suit imaginary depictions of men and women. Do you watch a TV show or have you seen a movie or read a book that you think portrays your gender accurately? What was it and what did the author, director, or actor do right? How do you think different forms of media can change their portrayals to become more accurate?

3. In her PerSpectives article, Dr. Elizabeth Debold writes that our inner core is neither male nor female. She says, “To find out who you really are, I’d like you to try something. Sit up straight and close your eyes. Open up your attention and awareness, wide, wide, wide. Does it have any end? Can you sense the infinite — a ground of awareness that goes beyond your body, beyond the room, and out beyond the furthest reaches of the cosmos?” Dr. Debold says that this is your spirit — your core self. What do you experience in this experiment? What sense of self do you have? What images or thoughts come to mind?