When I started SGM, I imagined having female clients who wanted to talk about topics that their “normal” English classes never taught them.
Indeed, when I worked at an English school, I had a lot of colleagues (English teachers) who said that they felt embarrassed whenever one of their students made a sexual mistake in English, because they didn’t want to explain to the class what it really meant.
However, I’ve never had this embarrassment. If a client says something that is sexual, but they have no idea, then I think it’s better to let them know right away, so they never say it again. At least, when it's not the intention!
On the other hand, I also believe that adult women need to know how to talk about certain things in English, otherwise they won't have a personality. I believe that adult women want to know how to talk about them but are too shy to ask. So they need exposure to people to speak with in English that are not afraid or embarrassed of these topics. Adult topics. Lady topics?
But wait… what are lady topics? Don’t people of all genders talk about the same things?
Theoretically yes. But in real life, being born a woman has historically made us more vulnerable. And because we live in a male-dominated society, anything that directly affects our lives as women are considered “lady things”. Things that men don’t want to hear.
This became obvious when I was fortunate to teach a group class of six women. Because I’m not shy, these women learned how to express so many things. Things that make us complete, adult women.
And no, we did not talk about boys and giggle. Not all women are even attracted to men. These women just wanted to talk about their daily lives as mothers, as working moms, as women trying to make a good life for themselves and the obstacles that they face along the way. They wanted to talk about their bodies, and their health without shame or judgment. They just wanted a chance to talk about their daily experiences. In English.
One day, a man joined our class to “test the level”. The school administration said that he did an English test, and he was going to join our class to see if it felt right.
All of a sudden, the class dynamic changed. Even though there were seven women in the room and one man, everything that we said had to be “controlled” so that the man would feel more comfortable in the room. We were not being ourselves.
The school wanted to test for “level”, but actually gender was the issue.
Imagine if there were seven men in the room, but only one woman. There would be ZERO effort to make her feel more comfortable.
The topics that impact a woman’s life are not taboo. Women’s topics are human topics.
But since we haven’t reached that equality in the world yet, women often feel like what we want to say is not important. And maybe that's why women are more afraid to speak not only in English, but in general.
Other than practicing English in general, I also want SGM to be a safe space to talk to me about the topics that concern us as women, without fear or embarrassment.
P.S. I understand that depending on who you are and the culture you come from, talking about things that are “too personal” too fast is not normal. It of course takes many people a lot of time before feeling comfortable divulging information, and that’s okay. These ladies were in my class for over a month before they felt comfortable with me, my teaching style, and each other. We were all strangers at the beginning.
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