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…The “Be A Man/Woman” poem assignment originated from a powerful in-class discussion that we had about gender and masculinity. In my 12th Grade Creative Writing Class, largely due to the influence and materials of one of my incredible mentors, Daniel Gray Kontar, we have recently been examining Feminism and Hip-Hop. We are learning to identify poetic and literary devices through the analysis of classical poets and Hip-Hop poets. We are looking at the larger conversation that occurs in R&B music amongst emcees. We looked at ’80s and ’90s hip-hop feminists and we are now looking at and discussing the feminism and anti-feminism of Nicki Minaj. We are talking about objectification and authoring our own identities. We are talking about the double standards and negative connotations that come with women “acting like men” and vice versa. We began this unit by watching the documentary film MissRepresentation in order to provide context about how gender is portrayed in the media.

During one of our discussions about gender expectations and slut shaming, one of my senior girls says, “A master key is a key that can open any lock. That’s how we treat boys having sex. But, a lock that can be opened by any key is a bad lock. That’s how people look at girls.” Brilliant. Devastating…

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