Labeling

Notes: 
  • In this session, the facilitator should try and use those labels that are commonly used in the community to refer to men and women.
  • At the end of the session, the facilitator should explain to the girls that after the sessions they should not continue to poke fun or ridicule each other using the labels they were assigned during the activity.
  • Write up the labels on small cards or paper that can be pinned or pasted on the participant's back. Examples of labels commonly used to address women and men in the community include 'simple', 'fast or loose', 'homely', 'whore', 'item', 'lesbian', 'rowdy', 'pansy', 'romeo', 'roadside hero', etc.
  • You can prepare more than one card with the same label.
  • The facilitator should also participate in the activity as a participant.
Materials: 
  • Card Paper
  • Sketch Pen
  • Safety Pin
  • Marker
  • Board
Time Required: 
One hour
Objective: 
  • To recognize how personal characteristics and traits are transformed into labels and how they impact on an individual's self-esteem and potential.
Instructions: 
  1. Ask the girls to stand and pair-up with the person sitting on their right (or left).
  2. Hand each participant the folded card/paper chit on which a ‘label’ is written and tell them not to show it to their partner.
  3. Then ask each participant to pin the chit on their partner’s back so that they don’t know what is written on the label but all the other girls can see it.
  4. When all the girls have a label pinned on their back ask the girls to walk around the room so that they get to read each other’s labels and then behave with each participant according to the label/word stuck on her back but without telling her that label/word. 
  5. After 15-20 minutes of this activity, ask each participant to sit down and guess the label that has been pinned on their back by taking clues from the behavior of fellow girls.
  6. Ask the girls to share with the group how they felt as a result of the reactions and behaviour of other girls towards them ‘based on their label’. Discuss this in detail. Then, using the questions below, guide the discussion. At the end of the session, reiterate how labels and stereotypes originate and how they affect people in their personal and social lives.
  7. To close the session, emphasize the importance of ‘unlearning’ some of the ways that we interact with others so that we are not being judgmental and using labels to stigmatize or discriminate against people because of their class, caste, race, skin color, sexual orientation and other characteristics. It can also be pointed out that such actions may also be perceived as violence against a person.
Discussion Questions: 
  • Do you think this activity is related to our everyday lives, and how or how not?
  • What other examples of labels do you know that are used commonly for women and men in our society or community?
  • Are labels usually used to signify negative or positive traits? Give examples of some positive and negative labels.
  • What do you think are the pros and cons of labeling people?
  • How do labels affect relationships between people?
  • How do we encourage the use of labels in our everyday lives?
  • Are labels usually used for men or women or both?
  • Sometimes we enjoy giving labels to some people, so why should we stop?