Refusing gender stereotypes

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Unit 1 - | Corpus Sujets - 1 Sujet Refusing gender stereotypes  

Séries générales • LV1



Formes de pouvoir



Sujet zéro

Séries générales • LV1

Text 1

The boy who danced ballet

His name was Clarence Miller, and I can’t think of a single person in Dover City who could stand him. It wasn’t that he was bad looking. I mean, Clarence wasn’t Robert Redford1 or anything, but he wasn’t creepy. He didn’t wear funny clothes or smell bad.

But, in Dover City, roles were clearly defined from the moment you were potty trained. Girls were sweet and docile and wore pink ribbons and grew up to be retiring wives who catered to their husbands’ indifference. Boys, on the other hand, were brash and played football and were masculine down to their jockey shorts. And grew up to be smug, self-righteous husbands. You had one of two choices in Dover City: you could conform and be accepted, or you could be different and weird.

I chose the former. I cringe to think of it now, but I mean, what’s a girl to do I smothered my literary talent beneath course after course of home economics2 which I secretly loathed. And I let the guys that I knew I could beat trounce me on the tennis court. That was one of the rules girls learned early: always let the man win, which was why there was so many 7-month babies.

Yes, I conformed. I was everything a girl should be: modest, reason­ably pretty, smart, but not too smart. And I was going with the varsity quarterback, Greg Wilkes. Greg had everything Dover High expected a guy to have: looks, a kind of bestial charm, and a killer instinct on and off the football field. Ironically, it was through Greg and his “pass plays” that I found out about Clarence.

It was after the last game of the season. We were on the hill where everybody parked. I asked Greg to simmer down for a few minutes. I knew it was a beautiful game and all, but I wanted him to talk and think about something else for a change. And he says something like “well criminy3 Cathy, what do you want me to do Would you rather have me take ballet lessons like that fruity Clarence Miller Dancing. Jeez.”

A theatrical presentation, I know I saw Gypsies, 1983, the work of many young writers, adapted by Tom Erhard.

1. Robert Redford: 1980s actor known for his good looks.

2. school subject: including cooking and sewing.

3. well criminy: exclamation of surprise.

Text 2

Britain’s women boxers set to punch their weight

Nicola Adams and Natasha Jonas have made history by becoming the first British women boxers to qualify for the Olympic Games.

At their state-of-the-art gym in Sheffield, Britain’s elite amateur boxers see shadows of the past and a silhouette that hints at posterity. High above the walls of the gym’s three rings are posters of all 22 British post-war boxing medallists – all men. Beneath the post­ers is an outline of a fighter, and a message: “This could be you… impossible is nothing.”

Not so long ago, it was indeed impossible that a woman could join this roll-call. Now, with women’s boxing about to take its place in the Olympics for the first time and Team GB’s elite women’s squad winning medals in tournaments across the globe, it seems highly likely.

The girls train from Monday to Thursday as well as Fridays and Saturdays by themselves. The days are long: Tuesdays, for instance, start with plyometrics1 and a run at 7am, followed by a strength and conditioning session. Then after lunch the girls hone their technique and spar – including with the boys in the squad. Often they do not finish until 6 p.m. “We treat our women as boxers full stop,” Cullen says. “As things stand, not many people know about these girls but they are going to be big names. And if they do as well as I think they can, you are going to see an influx of women boxing. It will be massive.”

And Nicola Adams is quick to give short shrift to those who say women shouldn’t box – either because of the potential health risks that come with being smacked forcefully in the face, or because they think a women’s place is in the home, not a boxing ring. “Look, times have changed and it’s about equality,” she says. “Women should be able to do any sport they want, whether it’s previously been male dominated or not.”

“You know, every day I walk into the gym those pictures of past Olympians inspire me,” Natasha Jonas adds. “These are people who have come from the same place I have, worked as hard as I have, and they’ve reaped the rewards. Soon I will have my chance, and I plan to take it.”

Adapted from an article by Sean Ingle on 10th May 2012,

1. plyometrics: ensemble d’exercices de musculation.


Text 1

1 Write one short sentence to identify the narrator, include the following information: name, sex, objective of the narrative.

2 The text introduces two other characters: Clarence and Greg.

1. Describe how they are linked to the narrator. (15-20 words)

2. What activities do they enjoy (15-20 words)

3 According to the narrator, what characteristics and interests were expected from boys and girls




Characteristics, personality

(at least 3 quotes each)


(at least 1 quote each)


4 Say whether these statements are true (T) or false (F). Justify each time with a quotation from the text.

1. The narrator conformed to expectations of her sex. 3e5a2896db4c46eb2e00b0aabab2e7d3.pnga5d273021d379d544449bfc684b93ede.png

2. Looking back, she is proud of this. 8160eb4ac7bf6ce6c0b3fd38cd653d6f.png347d44b8a94a8c4aa3b33743bb02002d.png

3. She was an average tennis player. 1c6d615655f70bc9c18e671e24100dee.png2edaae50e2f0b9d3c4d422bcab96f38e.png

4. She preferred cooking to reading at school. 315530de1c2e5d7edefa70b560c5030c.png817742fc28bcdabfd3129107e0288696.png

5 Focus on the two boys again. Justify with elements from the whole text.

1. Choose an adjective which best describes each of them (write short portraits, 15 words each):

masculine – modest – different – creepy.

a) Greg is… .

b) Clarence is… .

2. How are they treated by society (20-30 words)

Text 2

1 What type of document is this

1. An extract from a novel.

2. An online newspaper article.

3. An extract from a biography.

4. A tweet.

2 Find out more about the people in the article.

1. Name the two athletes.

2. What is unusual about these two athletes

3. Why is 2012 an important year for them (10-15 words)

3 Say whether these statements are true (T) or false (F). Justify each time with a quotation from the text.

1. They have only female role models. f0eb9bff5b9524093ec4762a99aa3c32.png41565a51e0155f17987ee4178f6bb15d.png

2. Men and women are treated equally in this sport. 8bb7c3ded6e53b52b83eaf52225d4488.png744416ff484b5f6e456392d79169c07b.png

3. Men and women never train together. eb22d8bfcd2a784b90aaa35dd65ae319.png210093ffa534912e4d4e1560888abe90.png

4 Who or what do the following pronouns and adjectives refer to

1. “At their state-of-the-art gym” (l. 4).

2. “their technique and spar” (l. 18-19).

3. “they think a women’s place” (l. 27-28).

4. “they’ve reaped” (l. 35).

5 Explain in your own words why the posters on the wall mentioned in line 6 and in the final paragraph are important to the main characters. (20-30 words)

Both texts

What do Clarence, in the first text, and Nicola, in the second, have in common (25-30 words)


> Do both subjects. Write about 250 words.

1 Imagine the speech Nicola made to encourage young athletes to take up the sport on returning to her club after winning her gold medal at the Olympics.

2 Discuss one of the following statements from the texts.

1. Boys and girls have one of two choices: “you could conform and be accepted, or you could be different and weird.”

2. “Women should be able to do any sport they want.”

Texte 1


I know I saw Gypsies réunit de courtes pièces traitant des difficultés et malheurs de l’adolescence. Elles sont issues d’un concours de création littéraire de lycéens. La compilation a été réalisée par Tom Erhard, professeur d’université de l’État du Nouveau-Mexique.

Pour en savoir plus :

Le thème

La pièce de théâtre dont est extrait le document traite des normes sociales et obligation de s’y conformer tandis que certains choisissent de préserver leur liberté. La narratrice est une adolescente qui cache ses capacités, autant intellectuelles que sportives, afin de se conformer à ce qui est attendu d’une fille, et ainsi être socialement intégrée dans son lycée. Elle évoque un élève de sa classe qui, danseur, ne se conforme pas au modèle social du garçon.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To stand, l. 2 (supporter)  creepy, l. 4 (bizarre, qui met mal à l’aise)  potty trained, l. 6 (propre, qui ne porte plus de couches)  to cater to, l. 7 (pourvoir aux besoins de)  brash, l. 8 (effronté)  jockey shorts, l. 9 (caleçon)  to cringe, l. 13 (avoir envie de rentrer sous terre)  to smother, l. 14 (étouffer)  to loathe, l. 15 (détester)  to trounce, l. 16 (écraser, battre à plates coutures)  varsity, l. 21 (équipe de première catégorie)  to simmer down, l. 26 (se calmer).

Texte 2


The Guardian est un quotidien britannique fondé en 1821. Orienté centre-gauche, il fait partie de la presse de qualité. Sean Ingle est un journaliste britannique. Il est rédacteur sportif pour le site web du Guardian depuis 2004.

Pour en savoir plus :

Le thème

2012 est une année historique pour la boxe féminine puisqu’elle a vu la discipline entrer aux Jeux Olympiques. Sean Ingle présente dans cet article deux boxeuses du nord de l’Angleterre qui vont y participer. (L’une d’elles remportera la médaille d’or.) Il explique que les temps ont changé, l’attitude vis-à-vis des femmes pratiquant ce sport a priori considéré comme exclusivement masculin a évolué.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

State-of-the-art, l. 4 (dernier cri)  a roll-call, l. 11 (brochette de sommités)  squad, l. 13 (équipe)  to hone, l. 18 (affiner)  to spar, l. 19 (s’entraîner au combat)  to give short shrift to, l. 25 (expédier quelqu’un sans ménagement)  to smack, l. 27 (frapper)  to reap the rewards, l. 35 (être recompensé).

Les points de convergence

Les deux textes présentent des personnes pratiquant une activité qui n’est généralement pas associée à leur sexe. Mais si le garçon qui a choisi la danse (premier texte) est mis à l’écart de son groupe, les femmes qui pratiquent la boxe (second texte) obtiennent une reconnaissance sociale.

Le sujet d’expression 1

Pistes de recherche

Nicola Adams a gagné la médaille d’or aux Jeux Olympiques : une première mondiale, dont elle doit être très fière. Elle a certainement conscience de combattre également les préjugés et de contribuer à changer l’image de la boxe comme sport exclusivement masculin. Dans son discours elle s’adressera directement aux jeunes athlètes présents mais elle remerciera aussi ceux qui lui ont permis de réaliser son rêve.

Vocabulaire utile

To be proud (être fier)  to make a dream come true (réaliser un rêve)  ­narrow-minded (à l’esprit étroit)  to be committed to (être engagé)  no matter what (peu importe)  rewarding (gratifiant).

Le sujet d’expression 21.

Pistes de recherche

Toutes les communautés imposent des « règles » auxquelles il convient de se conformer pour en faire partie. Vous pouvez centrer votre réflexion sur les milieux de l’école ou du lycée, communautés dont le fonctionnement reflète bien celui d’autres groupes sociaux. La pression y est permanente, il s’agit pour les jeunes d’adopter les normes du groupe pour s’intégrer et se faire des amis. De participer à certaines activités qui sont valorisées dans tel ou tel lycée. Dans ce contexte, être ou se sentir « différent » peut être très angoissant dans un âge où on se construit. Ceci oblige souvent à choisir entre : soit suivre son propre chemin et se trouver de fait à l’écart, soit renoncer à son identité et faire comme « tous » les autres.

Vocabulaire utile

To frown upon (désapprouver)  to stray from (s’éloigner de)  to fit in (s’intégrer)  to make waves (créer des remous)  the plot (l’intrigue)  to make a stand (lutter)  to follow one’s own path (suivre sa propre voie)  to follow the crowd (faire comme tout le monde, suivre la foule).



Text 1

1 A woman whose name is Cathy, is reminiscing about her adolescence: specifically about gender roles in her home town and how boys and girls were expected to behave.

2 1. Clarence Miller is a classmate of Cathy’s whereas Greg Wilkes is her boyfriend from high school.

2. Clarence takes ballet lessons whereas Greg is a quarterback in the school (American) football team.





Characteristics, personality

(at least 3 quotes each)

“brash” (l. 8), “masculine” (l. 9), “bestial charm” (l. 22), “killer instinct” (l. 22-23)

“sweet” (l. 6), “docile” (l. 6), “modest” (l. 19), “reasonably pretty” (l. 19-20), “smart (but not too smart)” (l. 20)


(at least 1 quote each)

“(american) football” (l. 9)

“tennis” (l. 16)

“home economics” (l. 15),

being “everything a girl should be” (l. 19)


4 1. True: “I chose the former (conform and be accepted)” (l. 13).

2. False: “I cringe to think of it now, but… what’s a girl to do” (l. 13-14).

3. False: “I let the guys that I knew I could beat trounce me” (l. 15-16).

4. False: “I smothered my literary talent beneath… home economics which I secretly loathed” (l. 14-15).

5 1. a) Greg is masculine: he is everything a boy is supposed to be.

b) Clarence is “different” because he doesn’t conform to convention and has an unconventional hobby.

2. Greg is treated like a hero: he is a varsity quarterback and is obviously popular and well-accepted. Clarence on the other hand doesn’t fit in, being considered as different and weird.

Text 2

1 2. An online newspaper article.

2 1. Nicola Adams and Natasha Jonas.

2. They are female boxers.

3. Because they have qualified to take part in the Olympic Games. (It is the first time female boxing has taken place at the Olympics.)

3 1. Wrong: “those pictures of past Olympians inspire me” (l. 32-33) “all men” (l. 7).

2. Right: “We treat our women as boxers full stop” (l. 20).

3. Wrong: “including with the boys in the squad” (l. 19).

4 1. Britain’s elite amateur boxers.

2. The girls’ (the female boxers).

3. People who don’t think women should box.

4. Past Olympians.

5 They are posters of former champions. It gives the girls inspiration that they too can become champions if they work hard enough.

Both texts

They both practise physical activities that are unconventional for their sex: Clarence has a stereotypically feminine hobby (ballet) and Nicola practises a sport that many people consider to be exclusively for men (boxing). They are breaking away from social norms.


1 Guidelines

This summer I had the privilege to qualify for the Olympic Games and represent my country against the rest of the world. I am one of the first women ever to box at the Olympics and I can’t begin to explain how proud I feel. I have worked so hard for so many years: training on the one hand andfighting prejudiceon the other hand and now my dream has come true.

I want to thank my trainers and sparring partners at the club in Sheffield who have supported me, if I hadn’t been treated as ‘one of the lads’ I don’t think I could ever have got to where I am today. If I’d listened to girls at school or narrow-minded members of the community who said boxing was too violent for girls and that I would be better off taking a ballet class perhaps I would have given up.

But I’m here today to tell you that times have changedand that I am the proof. Anyone who tells you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl or because you’re a boy is a liar! If you work hard and are committed to your dream you can achieve it no matter what anyone tells you. Boxing is an extremely rewarding sport: physically and mentally. You learn to control your aggression, evacuate your stress and stay super-fit: whether you are a boy or a girl makes no difference. Remember: impossible is nothing!

2 Guidelines

1. Every community has social etiquette to which its members are expected to conform. Small provincial towns are more traditional than big cities and tend to frown upon anyone straying from common attitudes. Being at high school is alreadya stressful experience: the idea of fitting into a social group and making friends is not an easy task especially if you are different. Effective­ly, conforming is the easy option. It means following the crowd and doing the same as everyone else, not making waves. Go to the cinema and watch any teen movie today and this seems to be the plot line: a new kid arrives at school who is different from the others. He or she has to fight to fit in, usually changing their identity and adopting the social norms around them. The twist often comes when they refuse to fit in and take a stand by claiming their individuality and it all turns out well in the end. Of course, life isn’t a movie and fitting in at school is extremely important for all students whether they admit it or not. It is very hard to feel ‘different’ and ‘weird’ and teenagers can be very cruel towards those who don’t conform.

The question isn’t whether to conform or not, it is rather to follow one’s own path or to follow the crowd. The latter is much easier on the surface but the former is the acceptance of one’s identity. Only you can choose…