In the 1980's in NYC I first heard someone use the term "she-roes" to emphasize the role of women in history and society. Not being so interested in the concept of "heroes" -- I believe with Debs that people have waited too long for some Moses to lead them out of bondage, waiting for a Joan of Arc to lead us out is equally problematic -- I didn't think much about the term. But it stayed in my mind, like an advertising jingle or a virus. The fact is, I use figures like Debs to orient myself, to represent my aspirations, to express that which I dream of being in some way. It is also true that men occupy most of those positions. Just look at the quotes I choose for this website. So, there is reason to identify my she-roes and practice finding myself in them.
This activity, adapted from the "Who am I?" game I learned at Kani Club, asks people to think about women whose accomplishments they respect or value, historically or today, fictional or non-fictional, and share that respect and admiration.
Standing in a big circle, the joker explains the task: think of a woman whose contributions or accomplishments you respect or value -- a "she-ro" if you will.
When a player has thought of a "she-ro", s/he steps into the middle of the circle and briefly pantomimes the person chosen. (For example, if the person is Harriett Tubman, you could pantomime helping slaves escape.) The others have to figure out who the person is.
If people do not know the "she-ro" you are portraying, they can give up -- asking the actor to explain who the person was. The joker should check-in to see if everyone is ready to give up. (It is one virtue of this game that people may have to try for some time, to work hard at communicating and be patient with not knowing and not being able to explain. The actor often has to stop what s/he is doing and take a different approach.)
When the joker feels the game has been played long enough, s/he checks-in with the participants: are we ready to wrap this up?
De-brief: what did you see? Who were our "sheroes"? What do they have in common? What differences are there? How many did you know? Why? Was it difficult to think of people? Etc.
The de-briefing is a good example of why questioning has to be real, not manipulative or instructive. The de-briefing must not be used to lead people by the nose to some message, but instead to understand what we have done and seen.
In this game not everyone has to participate. You are not called on, you have to step forward. This provides some space for people who do not feel ready to participate, or just don't have an idea at the moment. It also gives people the space to put themselves forward, to become assertive (and gives eager participators a good chance to practice inhibition).
This can be used for any discriminated or ignored group, as a way to call our attention to those who are invisible. The ones in darkness who are not seen when the light is focused on dominant groups. Obvious examples involve race, ethnicity, region, etc. One could also use it to think about who is seen/unseen in any community or institution.