Summary: This brief South Park clip offers a satirical look at gender socialization. In the beginning of the clip, the girls are coached on phrases they can use to get things they want from their husbands. These messages imply that all women want clothes, cars, and vacations from their husbands. This illustrates how women are taught to be dependent on their husbands. This is reinforced later in the clip, when the teacher says to Kenny that he should leave the class because he’s not likely to marry a rich man. The teacher then says that Kenny should transfer to shop class, terrifying him with masculine images of tools, drills, and saws. These two different gender stereotypes show how society categorizes people based on gender: the teacher, like society, insists on dividing her students into two categories, those fit for shop class and those fit for Home Ec. It also shows the negative consequences of forcing people into one of these two genders by depicting Kenny’s dilemma. Despite being a boy, he prefers to engage in feminine practices, and he is socially penalized for mixing gender in this way. Both authority figures and his own peers expect him to conform to a rigid gender binary. The clip can be used to challenge students to think about the way society links behavior to specific gender, how people are penalized for transgressions, and how this encourages people to follow traditional gender norms (thereby making gender look "natural"). Instructors may also want to pair it with this South Park clip showing the gender socialization of boys in shop class.
Submitted By: John McNamee and Jona Koplow