Lesson 2: Gender Roles and Gendered Space

Lesson Information

About this Lesson:

In the previous lesson, students looked at images of people interacting within and across gender groups and made educated guesses about their meanings. This lesson provides students an opportunity to explore gender in the Arab world through the film Masquerades (Algeria, 2008), directed by Lyes Salem. As students watch the film, they are encouraged to consider the way in which males and females behave and interact and how those behaviors differ based on their setting.

In the Arab world, gender dynamics differ greatly in public and private space. Male and female roles and interactions in the home, for example, are very different than what one might observe on the street or in a cafe. Clarifying the expectation that public space is where men dominate and private space is where women dominate can help students understand that gender roles are not simply about who has power, but that there are times and places appropriate for each gender to use his or her power. You may want to guide students to see that the home and the street are not the only examples of gendered space. The film also provides a cafe (men’s domain), a salon (women’s domain) and a wedding in which the women celebrate together inside and the men celebrate together outdoors.


200 minutes (4 class periods)

In this lesson, students will:

  • watch Masquerades (Algeria, 2008), directed by Lyes Salem.
  • create skits that demonstrate gender dynamics in the Arab world.

Enduring Understandings

  • Gender roles are dynamic and change depending on setting.
  • Traditional gender roles are negotiated and contested in a variety of ways.

Curriculum Framing Questions

  • How does gender impact someone’s voice and agency in the Arab world?
  • What insights can Arab literature and film offer about gender roles in Arab culture and how individuals experience them?

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • analyze the dynamics of gendered interactions in the film Masquerades (Algeria, 2008).
  • simulate conditions that display gender dynamics of the Arab world.

Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning:

  • Appropriately place visible and invisible aspects of a single gender role as it is depicted in Masquerades (Algeria, 2008) onto an iceberg diagram.
  • Create and dramatize a situation which demonstrates gender roles in the Arab world.

Curriculum Standards Information

Reading: Literature:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

History/Social Studies:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

Reading: Literature:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

History/Social Studies:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Materials Needed in Class:

Masquerades (90 minutes)

Can be purchased here for $3.00
Iceberg worksheet

Implementation Overview:

Click here to download PDF version

Day 1 and 2


Divide students into two groups and distribute the Iceberg Worksheet to each student. Assign one group to take notes on the behavior of males in the film and assign the other group to take notes on the behavior of females.


Show Masquerades (Algeria, 2008). Remind students to take notes throughout the viewing on both days.

As you’re showing the film, you may want to focus on the following scenes to highlight and discuss the gender dynamics:

  • 11:00-12:04: El-Hajja defies the boundaries of “masculine” space because her age trumps her gender.
  • 15:36-18:30: Nadia’s wedding is held in two spaces (separate parties for men and women). This scene also depicts male children celebrating with women because they have yet to reach puberty and join the men’s party.
  • 32:00-33:00, 36:20-38:11: In these scenes, rumors are spread in single-gendered spaces.
  • 43:24-44:46: Mounir and Habiba discuss their separate responsibilities in solving their social problems.
  • 56:20-1:03:18: Private and public spaces are demarcated for men and women in these scenes, and single-gender groups hold discussions that could not happen in mixed-gender groups.
  • 1:19:10-1:20:55 – Once again, El-Hajja’s age outweighs her gender as she confronts a group of men in the street and stops them in their tracks.

Day 3 and 4


Have students gather with their assigned group and allow them 10-15 minutes to compare notes and debrief.  Ask them to answer the following questions at the bottom of their iceberg worksheet:

  • What did you observe about the behavior of different genders in the film? What are your reactions to those behaviors?
  • Did the film present you with underlying (invisible) values? If yes, what are the invisible values and corresponding behaviors?


Bring the students back together, and ask them to share their iceberg notes with each other.

  • Ask students what they observed:
    • in single gender interactions
    • in cross gender interactions
    • in the power dynamics (space, age, gender, class, language)


Divide students into small groups of 4-6. Instruct students to create skits that demonstrate gender dynamics in the Arab world based on their observations from Masquerades. It is up to each group to decide the setting and the characters of the skit. They should include at least one single gendered interaction and one cross gendered interaction.


Give students time to prepare their skit and present it to the class.


Use the following questions to lead a discussion after the skits:

  • What happened in these skits?
  • How would the skits be different with different (gendered) characters?
  • How would the skits be different in different settings (changing the public and private element)
  • Would these situations play out the same way in an American cultural context?