- Awareness of different Christian views on the roles of men and women.
- Awareness of modern Christians who have worked to oppose gender prejudice, and Jesus’ treatment of women.
- Reflect upon the varying amounts of coverage of male and female sports in the media.
- Analyse the arguments for the disparity of payment and media coverage of male and female athletes.
- Reflect upon the male/female pay gap in other forms of employment, and analyse whether or not it is unfair to women.
- Evaluate the extent to which male and female stereotypes have a basis in real differences.
- Consider the teaching of the Bible concerning men and women.
- Evaluate the extent to which Christianity is a cause of liberation or discrimination for women.
Ask the students if anyone can name the England cricket captain for the World T20 series. When you get the name ‘Eoin Morgan’, tell them that he wasn’t the captain you meant. (Some students might claim that Alastair Cook is the England cricket captain. Cook captain’s the men’s Test and One Day International side, with Morgan taking charge of the T20 team – the form of the game that this lesson focuses on. In either case, avoid giving too much detail of why Cook is a wrong answer until you reveal that you were looking for the captain of the women’s team). Drop further hints, such as saying that the captain has led the side since 2005 and that they also captain Kent. If the students still haven’t worked out what you are talking about, explain that you are looking for the names of the England women’s cricket captain. The correct answer is Charlotte Edwards (cricket).
If any of the students complain that you didn’t say you wanted the names of the women’s captain, point out that neither did you say you wanted the name of the men’s captain – the students just assumed that was what you wanted. Ask the students why they made that assumption.
Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be looking at different attitudes towards men and women, in society, sport and in the church. You are also going to be exploring different Christian perspectives about the differences between men and women, and the roles that they might take in the church.
Tell the students that Maria Miller was appointed as the Government’s Culture Secretary in September 2012 until April 2014. Ask the students if they can guess what her first Tweet was in that role. Explain that during the World T20 Cricket tournament, Miller Tweeted as follows:
Well done to Eng women’s cricket team! But big disparity in allowance/prize £ between them + men not right.
Ask the students to guess the respective living allowances (an amount paid to each player per day for food and other living costs) and prize money for England’s male and female cricket in 2012. Once they have guessed, give out the article Maria Miller says ‘big disparity in women’s cricket pay “not right”’ from the BBC News website and ask them to read through it to discover the answers. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19755799
Ask the students if they were surprised to learn that men were allocated £61 per day for food, etc, while women were only allocated £37. What justification could there be for such a difference?
Point out that the prize money for the winning teams of the men’s and women’s tournaments are also widely divergent: The winning men’s team in 2012 shared £616,000 (around £41,000 for each of the 15-man squad) whereas the successful women’s team shared only £40,000 (around £2,600 each).
Ask the students if it is fair that there is such a wide difference between the male and female cricket captains’ salaries. Why do they think this difference exists? Why does this pay differential continue in football and cricket, whereas in some other sports it does not? You might like to point out that in 2007, Wimbledon introduced equal prize money for the men’s and women’s singles.
You may want to introduce some or all of the following quotes as students discuss the reasons for the pay disparity:
‘I don’t have a problem with the discrepancy between the prize money for the men’s and women’s World Twenty20 competitions. Being brutally honest, you have to look at what brings in the money. Do the TV companies pay all this money to watch the women or is it to watch the men? I’m a fan of women’s cricket and I want to see it promoted, but it’s generally still a part-time sport around the world.’
(Alec Stewart, BBC pundit and former England Men’s Cricket captain, quoted in the article cited above)
‘There’s an evolution in some sports where individuals can shine, like in athletics and in swimming where people can make their mark. But the media should really be answering the question; until they get the coverage they’re not going to get the sponsorship and earn the money. That’s all there is to it. In New Zealand, women’s netball players get prime-time coverage, so they earn the money.’
(Alan Pascoe, former Olympic athlete and chairman of Fast Track, a sports marketing agency.)
‘If you look at sport as a whole, the physical output of women is often comparable to that of men. But commercial factors have an impact too, and it is a case of whether you are going to get as many bums on seats at a women’s football or cricket [match] as you would for men. There is an argument to say that if the games were properly advertised and promoted, that might be the case. The 2008 women’s FA Cup final, played in Denmark, attracted 35,000 spectators, which is high in anyone’s book. That said, if you directly compare top-level men’s football with top-level women’s football, there is a big difference in the pace and physical nature of the game. Personally, I find top-level women’s football less exciting.’
(Andrew Augustus, director of the Proglobal sports agency.)
Pascoe and Augustus quotes taken from the article Sexism in sport: It sidelines Britain’s World-beaters (Independent on Sunday, 22nd March 2009)
You could print out copies of the article for the students as an alternative to feeding the quotes into the discussion.
You could also refer students to research from the Government’s Women and Equality unit, which has calculated the average difference in pay between women and men in equivalent jobs to be 12.6%. While this is considerably less than the difference between elite sportsmen and sportswomen, it is still a significant difference. Do the students think this difference to be fair? What reasons do they imagine are behind that difference?
Now ask the students whether they think that men and women really are different. Is there anything that men can/should do that women can’t/shouldn’t? What about vice versa? Are men and women different in terms of how they react to things? Or how they tackle problems? Once the students have thoroughly discussed these issues, ask them whether the difference has to result in inequality?
Read Genesis 2:18-25. Explain to the class that the Hebrew word translated as ‘suitable helper’ literally means ‘one of like eminence’ – in other words, an equal partner rather than a subordinate. Christians believe that humans – men and women – are equally valued by God, and that both are made in his image (see Genesis 1:27). Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage observes that God did not make woman ‘out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.’
Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to look at Genesis 3:16-19. Explain that this section follows Adam and Eve’s disobedience in eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge, and shows God’s punishments for each of them. Ask the students to identify how the punishments for Adam and Eve differ from one another. Why do they think the punishments are different? Is this fair? You may want to explain that the phrase ‘Your desire will be for your husband’ in verse 16 (NIV) means a desire to rule over the husband, rather than being cursed to fancy him (some women may argue that fancying men is a curse, but that is not the original meaning of this passage, nor within the scope of this lesson to consider!).
Bring the students back together and let them feed their findings back to the class. Draw out from them that although Christians believe that men and women are equal in the sight of God, that does not mean that they are the same as each other. It may be helpful to point out that Jesus was a radical in the area of the treatment of women – it has been said that no other figure in the ancient world came close to affording the level of respect and honour that Jesus had for women. In a culture where women were frequently seen as being the property of either their father or their husband, Jesus treated them as individuals. Careful reading of the Gospel accounts makes it clear that a number of Jesus’ friends and followers were women, and his creative response when confronted by a group of men who claimed to have caught a woman in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11) shows his concern with allowing the unfortunate woman maintain some sense of dignity. Similarly, there are numerous New Testament references to women who had a prominent place in the life of the early church (Romans 16 provides several examples of this).
SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:
Set the task of writing a speech for a debate on the subject ‘This house believes that Christianity is a liberating influence for women’. Students should be encouraged to engage with both points of view in coming to their own conclusions. The following websites may prove useful in providing differing viewpoints for the students’ research:
YOU WILL NEED:
- News reports and articles concerning male and female pay differentials and roles.