ESSAY #2: GENDER ROLES
None of us would consciously have know it then, but what we were seeing, that great
empty space in the center of the floor as fearful as a trapdoor, was the great division
between the sexes. (Essayist Anna Quindlen reflecting on her first junior high dance)
Sex refers to the biological categories of male and female; gender refers to cultural
norms of masculinity and femininity. To say that you’re a member of the female sex is
simply to say you’re a woman. To say that you are a member of the female gender is to
say that you behave the way a woman is supposed to behave. Sexual differences can only
be accommodated; gender differences can and do change. (Essayist Wendy Kaminer
defining gender in “Let’s Talk about Gender, Baby”)
On our journeys of personal growth, we determine much of our identity by our gender
and how we respond to gender roles. As we interact at school, home, at work, in our
communities, and at social occasions, we make observations about gender and how forces
around us construct our sexual identities. An expository essay is an effective means of
articulating our ideas on these powerful forces and raising awareness of how gender
issues influence our lives. By raising awareness and consciousness on gender roles,
issues, and controversies, we empower ourselves and each other to lead rich, full, and
authentic lives. Gender matters!
Write a 750 word thesis-controlled expository essay exploring a focused topic of interest
to you on gender. By an expository purpose, we mean an essay that informs and
explains. “To inform” means to give information. For example: Today more women
enroll in college than men. “To explain” means to clarify, enlighten, interpret, account
for, and raise awareness about. Therefore, to explain why more women are in college,
you might say: Today women want to assert their independence and secure high paying
jobs requiring a college degree.
Once again, the audience is our English 1301 class (a supportive community of writers).
However, you might want to narrow your audience to either the men or the women in the
class. Custom design your content to meet the needs of your particular audience.
Your tone (and persona) might be, for example, one of concern, humor, or anger.
Carefully examine your attitude towards your subject matter as well as your audience.
Strategies that help you accomplish your purposes of informing and explaining are
exemplification, definition, comparison/contrast, classification, and process. You might
use only one of these strategies as a primary strategy to structure your organization and be
reflected in your thesis. Consider the word “feminist.” You could give examples of feminists
you have observed. You could define the word “feminist.” You could compare and/or
contrast two feminists. You could classify feminists be creating three or more groupings of
feminists. (There are man different kinds. A new kind that has recently emerged is the “eco-
feminist.”) You could give the process in which someone becomes a feminist.
Jeff lindemann, English 1301 with The Writer’s Presence 1
However, you might choose to write a multi-strategy essay, one that incorporates several
strategies (possibly including narration and description from Essay #1) to help you support
your expository thesis.
Each type of essay purpose requires a different kind of thesis. Your thesis for an expository
essay will be different from the thesis you wrote for your memoir. Possibly, your thesis
might suggest a strategy such as comparison/contrast, definition, classification, or example.
Whether or not you use a single strategy or multi-strategy approach, your thesis will reveal
the main point of your essay.
As you develop your thesis, turn to primary sources: your own personal life experiences
and observations/eye witness accounts. In addition, you might also incorporate results from
personal experiments, surveys you have constructed and given, and interviews that you
design and conduct. You can also examine works of art, advertisements, news reports, letters,
objects, photographs, case histories, works of literature, public opinion polls. These kinds of
sources are called primary sources.
As you write this essay, do not consult any secondary sources: books, magazines, journals,
web sites. The focus is on YOUR present/recent observations, experiences, interviews, and
Our motto for essay #2 on gender is “Don’t tell the reader what the reader already knows.”
Give your reader significant, valuable, and interesting content with your own fresh,
thoughtful insights. Raise our audience’s awareness and consciousness about a gender
issue. Although you can write on a gender stereotype, by all means do not find yourself in
the position of promoting a stereotype on gender.
When you submit your essay, include your (1) final draft on top, (2) any creating and
discovery activities such as lists, freewrites, and discovery drafts, (3) planning page, (4)
rough draft with markings, and (5) self/peer critique response sheet.
The self/peer critique page is included at the end of this handout. Remember, this
self/peer critique page is also my evaluation/grading criteria.
Jeff lindemann, English 1301 with The Writer’s Presence 2
ESSAY #2: GENDER ROLES
Writers make some fundamental decisions before they write their drafts. These decisions
include (1) specific purpose, (2) audience, (3) tone/tones, (4) strategy/strategies, (5)
tentative thesis, and (6) optional outline.
1. What is your specific purpose (or purposes) for writing this essay? Recall that
your essay is expository so you want to inform and explain some focused aspect
of gender. Also remember that you want to raise awareness/consciousness of your
audience. Flesh out your specific purposes:
2. Who is your audience? Are you writing to the men in class? The women in class?
Both men and women?
3. What is your tone or tones that you intend to use? Are you angry? Concerned?
Jovial? Outraged? What other word or words might you use to express your
attitude about your subject and about your audience?
4. What strategy (a primary strategy) and secondary strategies might you use?
Will you write a multi-strategy essay? Consider narration, description, examples,
definition, comparison/contrast, classification, and process as your strategies.
5. What is your tentative thesis, one that will probably undergo revisions and fine-
tuning as you explore your topic and write your draft.
6. (Optional) Outline your essay on the back of this planning page. Consider your
outline a scratch outline or skeleton outline of sub-points or sections of exposition
that will support the main point(s) of your tentative thesis.
Jeff lindemann, English 1301 with The Writer’s Presence 3
SELF AND PEER CRITIQUE GUIDE/CHECKLIST
Essay #2: Gender Roles
Name: _______________________________________ Date: ____________________
1. _____ Does my essay have enough content (750 words or no more than three
double-spaced pages typed in Times Roman pt. 12)? If not where can I add
content or take content away?
2. _____ Is the content interesting? Does it inform and explain (the expository
essay)? Does the reader learn something new or receive a fresh perspective on an
old topic? Remember the motto for essay #2: “Don’t tell the reader what the
reader already knows.” Raise awareness!
3. _____ Does my essay have an engaging and appropriate title? If not, what might
be some other possibilities? (You might want to give the essay a read through
before commenting on the title.)
4. _____ Does the essay have an engaging introduction? Might another strategy of
introduction work better? (See The Little Brown Handbook on ideas for
5. _____ Does the essay include an effective thesis that lets the reader know what
focused topic on gender the essay is about? If the essay is organized by a primary
strategy (such as comparison/contrast) does the thesis suggest this strategy?
6. _____ Does the essay have effective organization for the subject matter and
purpose? (Think in terms of architecture, plan, and sequence of ideas.)
7. _____ Does the essay contain some topic sentence paragraphs with (1) strong
topic sentences with controlling idea(s), (2) plenty of development, (3) unity,
and (4) coherence achieved with transition words, pronoun reference, and
repetition of key words?
8. _____ Do sentences in the paragraph contain appropriate emphasis by placing
important information that supports the controlling idea in main clauses and
minor information in phrases and dependent clauses?
9. _____ Is some paragraph variety achieved with any of the following options:
transition paragraphs, short simple sentence paragraphs, rhetorical questions,
and/or dialog paragraphs?
10. _____ Does the essay have an effective conclusion? Does the conclusion point
back to the introduction to “frame” the essay?
11. _____ Does the essay contain sentence variety (simple, compound, complex,
12. Does the essay contain correct and effective diction (word choice): imagery,
connotation, figurative language, and strong verbs?
13. _____ Does the essay contain sentences with correct parallelism if used?
14. _____ Do the sentences exhibit correct modification (avoiding the dangling
modifier and misplaced modifier)?
15. _____ Do the sentences contain correct subject-verb agreement, pronoun-
antecedent agreement, pronoun reference, and pronoun case?
16. _____ Is the essay free from fragmented (unless intentional fragment for
dramatic effect), run-on, and comma spliced sentences?
17. _____ Does the essay contain correct punctuation and spelling?
18. Here are the names of my peer critics:
Jeff lindemann, English 1301 with The Writer’s Presence 4