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Helping young people see that they do not have to follow the leader when it comes to treating others according to stereotypes6.2: Helping young people see that they do not have to follow the leader
when it comes to treating others according to stereotypes
In 2000, the UK-based Leeds Animation Workshop (LAW) took on what they
subsequently described as ‘one of the most difficult projects we have ever produced’.
They aimed to make an animated video covering issues of gender-based violence among
adolescents and how often this results from stereotyping and a feeling that you have to
‘keep in line’ or risk being seen as ‘different’ or difficult.
A 12-minute animated 16mm film (distributed on video), in colour, that aims to explore thesubject of gender-based violence and the way it often arises out of a fear of being seen as ‘different’ from the pack and from stereotyping of both sexes. The video also touches brieflyon discrimination towards homosexuals and how this is reinforced by abusive use of the label ‘gay’. It is intended for use in group discussion with a facilitator who may be a teacher, ayouth leader or another suitable person who knows the issues.
A full-colour postcard reproducing a key image from the film, to reinforce the centralmessage that young people should not feel they have to ‘keep in line’ – that they should be brave enough to pull away from the group if they do not agree with what the group is sayingor doing. The card can be used by young people as bookmarks, to send to friends, to share with school friends as a way of opening up discussion on the topic, or for many other uses. Itis a visual ‘signal’ reminding about the contents of the video and reinforcing the reactions to A resource booklet to accompany the video to support teachers, group leaders, youth groups and others using the video. The booklet contains explanations and ideas, facts and figures,discussion points on the topic, a reading list and contact information for organizations that A leaflet explaining the video project, giving details of how to get hold of copies and generally to be used for promotional purposes so that interest in the video would be as wideas possible.
The project also produced press materials to support the launch of the video and anevaluation questionnaire to guide them in their work in future.
How the materials were put together
Discussion with local partners on the project indicated a shortage of audiovisual materialsthat examined the ways in which gender is significant in relation to harassment, double standards, sexual stereotyping and violence within schools. ‘Gendered violence’ includesverbal, psychological and physical violence resulting from the social construct of gender.
LAW also spoke to educational professionals who thought that there was a particular needfor material targeting the 12-14 years age group. The video has also proved to be suitable for use at the top end of primary schools (ie 10-11 year-olds).
LAW started by reviewing existing literature on the subject. They then spoke to their local, national and European partners as well as other experts in the field of education and gender.
The research and storyboard processes fell into two distinct phases as the first storyboard was rejected by several of the local partners. It had been in the form of a traditional narrative, with a central protagonist. Eventually it became clear that this would not represent the range of experiences that needed to be included in the film, through just one viewpoint.
For this reason LAW eventually decided to use the concept of a television magazine programme and in this way to explore a range of problems.
Developing the message was an exceedingly complicated challenge. LAW soon realized
that they could not just show boys bullying girls because of preconceived notions of what‘manly’ and ‘womanly’ mean because, apart from under-playing the complexity of gender- based violence, that would also risk alienating all the boys watching the video! It is not assimple as that. Eventually, the partners together worked up the idea that the central message should be ‘you don’t have to keep in line’, that is that you can stand up for what you believeeven if the majority seem to think something else. They reinforced this message through the very eye-catching image that was eventually reproduced on the printed materials: one of themale characters of the video is seen ‘pulling away’ from the other boys because he has found the courage to speak out against their bad treatment of the girls.
Animation was considered a particularly good format to use to get these messages across,
because it allows complex and difficult ideas to be explored in a simple way. It also has greatappeal for young people and is not culturally specific. Because the characters effectively ‘talk’ without moving their lips in synchronization with the speech, the video can be reproducedwith different language soundtracks.
Quantities produced: LAW has to date distributed more than 600 copies in the UK and
Europe on a not-for-profit basis. The video is still being actively promoted and education authorities, individual schools, social services departments, child welfare agencies, women’said refuges, child protection committees and victim support organizations have either bought LAW contact details: the ‘Tell It Like It Is’ project was coordinated by Janis Goodman, Tel and
Fax +44-113-248-4997. he LAW website is:
A few comments:
LAW pointed out that they failed to raise extra funds on this project to be able to disseminate more videos free of charge to key organizations. They think this is probablybecause ‘gendered violence’ is seen as many organizations as an aspect of bullying that does not merit focused consideration. Once LAW then made it clear that they were going toindicate the specific differences between male and female behaviour, the project was seen by funders as being too challenging and problematic. This is a great pity because, clearly, theproject has succeeded in producing a very useful tool to prompt relevant discussion of this issue, which is a challenge all over Europe.
LAW also regretted that they did not have sufficient funds in the original project budget to synchronize the soundtrack into more European languages, as they feel this has limited theEuropean impact of the project. On the other hand, they are aware of organizations in at least two other EU countries that are seeking funds to be able to work with LAW onlanguage versions of the video.
TELL IT LIKE IT IS VIDEO SCRIPT
JINGLE/ANNOUNCEMENT: Tell it like it is!
MS PRESENTER: It's time to TELL IT LIKE IT IS! Hello and welcome to the show where we like you to say
what's real y on your mind. This week we're visiting St. Ereotype's High School, and asking students there
to - Tell It Like It Is!
MR PRESENTER: So, first meet Darren and Sharon. Last week, we asked each of them to make a video
diary. Now we'll look at what they've done.
MS PRESENTER: But to see how well they understand each other, we're going to turn off the soundtrack
they've recorded, and get them to do a commentary for each other's. So, here's Sharon's video diary - and
Darren will talk us through it!
DARREN: Oh - er - this must be her room. She's up early - must take a long time getting ready. She's
weighing herself - all girls care about is what they look like. This must be her sister and brother. Now she's
on her way to school. She keeps seeing people she knows. She's not taking the short cut through the
park. Here she is at school, going to chat to her friends.
MR PRESENTER: Thank you Darren! Now - did he Tell It Like It Is? This time, we're going to hear what
Sharon was saying - so let's turn up the sound. [Alarm clock rings]
SHARON: I have to get up early, because I've got lots to do before I go to school. I try to diet and look my
best, so people don't call me names. My mum's gone off to work so I have to get my little sister and brother
ready and take them to school. There's the usual hassle from men in the street. I don't go through the park
because a girl got attacked there. Here's Rosa and her mates checking everybody out; and Rozzer's crew -
I try to steer clear of them.
MS PRESENTER: Thank you Sharon for Telling It Like It Is - now you can talk us through Darren's morning!
SHARON: Ooh, he stays in bed late. There're his feet! Here's his mum telling him to get up. He's well
looked after. Having a chat with his dad. Nobody's hassling him in the street. Now he's arriving at school -
and here're his friends.
MR PRESENTER: Thanks Sharon - now let's turn up the sound and hear Darren Tell It Like It Is.
DARREN: Time to get up. Wish it wasn't school - but it's great having the video camera. Mum won't let me
interview her - says she's too busy. Dad's not impressed about my video diary. If I was picked for the team,
that'd please him - but there's no chance. Better not be late for school. Sometimes it feels as if everybody in
the world is bigger than me.
MS PRESENTER: Thanks Darren and Sharon! You've shown that we don't know what you think until you
MR PRESENTER: You both seem to have quite a lot of worries - is this unusual?
MS PRESENTER: No - Listen to what these young people have to say:
(Voice 1): My school's great - everyone likes it. Where's my Prozac?
(Voice 2): School is a nightmare, from which one day I will wake up.
(Voice 3): School's all right, except when people laugh at you.
MR PRESENTER: Okay, now it's time for our regular Ask Around session - so first, over to Sharon again.
SHARON: While Mr Oldsworth gave their homework back, I asked some students what they were learning
MR OLDSWORTH: Right, boys first, Ahmed, Atkins, Barker, Brown.
SHARON: .Sunita is learning that girls aren't expected to do anything important.
MR OLDSWORTH: Don't come to school again looking like that.
SHARON: Jim is learning that he can't be who he'd like to be.
MR OLDSWORTH: Boys - you're letting a girl beat you again!
SHARON: and Maxine says she's learning about authoritarian institutions and how they use gender
divisions as a hierarchical means of control.
MR OLDSWORTH: All right Maxine we know you're not just a pretty face.
DARREN: In Biology, I wanted to ask students what they feel about growing up. Ms Newsome said it was a
good idea, because feelings are important. .Phil's suddenly the tallest in the class, and he feels
embarrassed. .Laura feels it's al happening too fast, and boys make jokes about her.Liam's worried that
he's being left behind, and girls laugh at him. .Chloe's feeling stressed because she's grown out of two
pairs of trainers just in this lesson. It is double science, but all the same.Everyone's pleased they're
growing up, but nobody wants to be the first, or the last. Someone has to be, though.
MS PRESENTER: Yes, we can see bodies changing - but not what's beneath the surface. What about all
those feelings? How do teenagers manage their emotions?
CAROL: I exercise four or five different ones each day.
CARL: I've got lots of emotions but I don't like to show them all in case people laugh.
MR PRESENTER: We advise an all-round approach to keep you emotionally fit. Now, here are some young
people trying to practice their social skills.
BEN: Look, I'm training to be a man, so I have to borrow things, like your pen -
BEN: and your ruler - and I have to call you some rude names –
BEN: It helps me look rough and tough.
BELLA: Well, I suppose you could do with some help.
BEN: Thanks. Er, bitch.
BELLA: I'm training to be a woman; but people exploit you and call you names - is there anything else I
MAXINE: Don't worry - just be an assertive woman and insist on respect!
MS PRESENTER: Perhaps growing up is harder than it looks.
SHARON: It's not easy, working out who you are, who you want to turn into - no wonder some kids like to
stick together. I think this is what they call peer pressure.
MR PRESENTER: That's right! Now it's time to take another look at your video diaries.
DARREN: These are Rozzer and his crew. Some kids think they're scary.
ROZZER: What you filming us for?
CREW MEMBER 1: You'd better watch it!
CREW MEMBER 2: You gay or something? [aside] – oh no, I can't believe I'm talking like this. I'd like to try
that camera myself.
DARREN: Sure - have a go!
CREW MEMBER 2: But I might do it wrong and look stupid. I'll just stay here.
DARREN: OK - whatever.
ROSA: What's fat Sharon doing now?
POSSE MEMBER 1: Who do you think you are?
POSSE MEMBER 2: Don't point that at me!
SHARON: OK - whatever.
ROZZER: Anyone here think they're clever? Anyone trying to be different?
ROSA: Anyone want to think for themselves?
ROZZER: Keep in line! Anyone here who's gay? Anyone want to be a hero? Make my day!
CAROL: Why should we keep in line?
PHIL: What's wrong with being gay?
ROZZER, ROSA, et al: Whoops! Whoa!
SHARON: I've always tried to keep in line.
MR PRESENTER: But maybe you don't need to.
(Voice 4): I don't take any notice of what people say.
(Voice 5): What's worst is some of the boys shouting things and trying to grab you.
(Voice 6): I hate being called names.
MS PRESENTER: Sometimes people don't really say what they mean. So, Darren and Sharon are going to
MOZZER: Hey you! [whistle]
DARREN: Mozzer is attempting to conform to a masculine behaviour pattern.
MOZZER: Get over here!
DARREN: He thinks women want to be dominated by brute force.
MOZZER: I know what you want!
MARIE: Give us a break.
DARREN: Please will somebody show him a better way of being masculine?
RACHEL: Does this look ok?
SHARON: Rachel and Marie are attempting to conform to a feminine behaviour pattern.
MARIE: Too tarty.
SHARON: As girls they know they are judged by their appearance.
MARIE: Not tarty enough.
SHARON: This can be tricky.
RACHEL: Oh, that'll do. I'm off abseiling.
SHARON: There are ways to be feminine and still have a good time.
MR PRESENTER: How do young people work out how to become men and women? Choosing a role
model can help.
MS PRESENTER: But some make an unfortunate choice.
DARREN: Take Rozzer for instance.
ROZZER: Right, let's show the girls who's boss. Here comes one now. [shouts] I know what you are!
CREW MEMBER 3: [aside] I wish I could get out of this gang.
MR OLDSWORTH: What's all this?
ROZZER: We were only joking sir.
MR OLDSWORTH: Right, that's enough horseplay - move along.
ROSA: Look, Jenny's covered in mud. What's she been up to?
CAROL: She's just been bullied: it's not her fault. Let's go back for your stuff, then we'll tell Ms Newsome.
ROZZER: [shouts] Dirty cow!
PHIL: Leave her alone. You can't treat people like that.
CREW MEMBER 3: Yeah, let's leave off.
MR PRESENTER: This school is starting to get its act together.
SHARON: Yes, things are beginning to change now!
LAURA: I won't laugh at you if you won't laugh at me, ok?
MAXINE: We don't have to put up with abusive behaviour or gender stereotyping.
ROSA: But I still want to look nice.
MAXINE: That's okay.
ROZZER: And I still want to bully everyone so I can look big.
PHIL: That's not okay. Find other ways of getting people to look up to you.
MR OLDSWORTH: Boys, you're letting Maxine beat you again!
JIM: But, sir, we don't see learning as a competition. School's a collaborative experience for us now!
MR PRESENTER: Well done! Your school has won a week's skiing holiday!
MS PRESENTER: That's all for now, but don't forget - next week we might be coming to your school - so be
ready to Tell It Like It Is!
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