Rites of Passage

Posted on: 19th January 2015

Last week one of the Teen Spirit volunteers had the task of introducing the idea of rites of passage around the world to a group of members choosing to attend this session.

The aim was to get members of Teen Spirit thinking about society’s expectations and assumptions about the roles of women and men. This obviously generated some heated debate and produced some critical assessments of these expectations and assumptions, which varied depending on each individual’s beliefs. Each participant wrote down some “gender expectations” that they themselves had experienced, or were aware of, and placed it into either the “female box” or the “male box”.

The session generated in-depth, mature and reflective discussions that resulted in various themes emerging. One key theme that came up was a recognition of the need for self-respect as a prerequisite to getting respect from others which links back to this month’s theme; self-esteem.

Rites of Passage

Following these discussions the group watched some clips of different rites of passage around the world. A theme that presented itself here was how different cultures test ‘manhood’ and ‘womanhood’. Here’s an example of one that they watched involving biting ants as a rite of passage into manhood in the Amazon.

What assumptions and expectations have you experienced because of your gender? Which would you like to change?


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