Making Men: Unpacking Sex, Violence, and Power

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Standards for this Guide

Read Making Men in the Magazine


The harsh reality is that most high school students encounter sex and violence, separately or together, in some form every day. The majority of students already have an intense familiarity with the realities of sexual violence, whether through oft-cited statistics, media representations, or personal experiences. And despite adults’ concern over this state of affairs, communication between adults and adolescents around these topics is at best strained, and more often entirely absent.

Teachers who choose to courageously step into this communication void become powerful allies to their students, as they help them unpack the potent cultural myths and paradigms that both shape students’ burgeoning sexual identities and perpetuate cycles of violence. When students study the relationship between sex and violence critically, they become empowered and transformed as they recognize that:

The cycle of violence begins with myths or misinformation, stereotypes or a biased history. . . . The cycle continues as myths are validated and reinforced by institutions, culture, media, family, religion, and friends and then become socialized into the cycle. [When students see] that once myths are socialized, and if not adequately deconstructed, the cycle can be internalized, causing misinformation and myths to later become truths . . . the internalization of the myths may lead to behavior that is prejudiced, oppressive, and even violent, thus completing the cycle. (Stacy Miller)

In these lessons, students will read and study the essay “Making Men” and use it as an entry point for social critique and the exploration of past and present realities of sexuality, violence, family, gender, power, culture, and values.

Note: This essay addresses mature themes and uses mature language with regard to sexuality and violence. In particular, paragraph 30 contains an explicit reference to a sexual act. Two PDFs of this essay are included—one containing the original text in its entirety, and an edited one omitting the text of paragraph 30.


Standards met through this curriculum

Learning Outcomes/Essential Questions

Students will:

  1. Use textual evidence to analyze argument techniques and structure.
  2. Explore issues of sexuality, violence, family, gender, power, culture, and values, while demonstrating their ELA and history/social studies skills through reader response, argument writing, and/or discussion.

Essential Questions:

  1. What does it mean to be “masculine” and “feminine” in our culture, and what are positive and negative aspects of these identities?
  2. What is “rape culture,” and how does it affect both men and women? Whose responsibility is it to change this culture and in what ways?
  3. What are the social constructs and judgments that justify sexual violence against women in our society? How can we best address these constructs and judgments in order to establish equality and safety for all people?
  4. How do we distinguish between exhibition and invitation? When it comes to school dress codes and teen fashion, is “a bare leg [ever] . . . just a bare leg?” Why or why not?
  5. How does the hypersexualization and hyperviolence of modern-day American culture affect men, women, and children? How can we replace the harmful aspects of our culture with more empathy and compassion?

Depth of Knowledge (DOK)

Levels 1, 2, 3, 4

For more information on DOK, see DOK Slide Wheel


Computers/devices with which students may produce and publish their writing (optional)


Download All Files for this Guide (zip file)

Writing Scoring Guides

SBAC Explanatory Writing Scoring Guide

ODE Informative/Explanatory Writing Scoring Guide (English)

ODE Informative/Explanatory Writing Scoring Guide (Spanish)

ODE Writing Scoring Guide in Student Language (English)

ODE Writing Scoring Guide in Student Language (Spanish)

Social Science Scoring Guides

ODE Social Science Scoring Guide (English)

ODE Social Science Scoring Guide (Spanish)

ODE Social Science Scoring Guide (Russian)

ODE Social Science Scoring Guide in Student Language (English)

ODE Social Science Scoring Guide in Student Language (Spanish)

ODE Social Science Scoring Guide in Student Language (Russian)


  1. Review all resources and decide which components you will include and how many lessons to allot for this curriculum. (Note: Almost every component can be used as a stand-alone piece or combined with other components.)
  2. Read and take notes on the “Making Men” essay.
    Choose which version of the essay you will use (abridged or unabridged). The abridged version omits Paragraph 30, which makes an explicit reference to a sexual act.
  3. Review and prepare your chosen handouts.
  4. The argument response component can be extended into a formal argument writing assessment. If you choose to do this, decide what formatting, length specifications, and writing process steps you will require for this assessment.
  5. Preview and prepare optional extensions. Determine students’ background knowledge of the topic of sexual violence from both historical and current perspectives, and consider incorporating some introductory information as a scaffold to the “Making Men” essay. You may want to pre-teach related concepts using information from one of the following resources:
    Sexual Assault Statistics from RAINN
    How did rape become a weapon of war?
    Rape: Statistics and Related Reading

Reading Strategies

  1. Model and instruct students to use the AVID® Marking the Text strategy as they read the text.
    1. Before reading, number the paragraphs. (A paragraph begins at any break in the text, even if it is not indented.)

      Note: If you choose to use the abridged version of the essay (without Paragraph 30), note that the omitted paragraph has been replaced by the following text: [Paragraph 30 has been omitted from this version of the text. Mark the next paragraph as Paragraph 31 for continuity.]
    2. While reading, circle key vocabulary, dates, names, places, events, and important numbers/statistics.
    3. After reading, go back and re-read sections, underlining strong images, descriptions, dialogue, and author’s reflections.
  2. While reading, pause at various places and model the think-aloud strategy to demonstrate comprehension/summarization of the text.
  3. TAG Option: You may choose to give advanced readers the SOAPS Text Analysis handout for tracking the author’s argument and purpose during their reading. Students’ observations using this strategy can be incorporated into later lesson steps, such as discussion and writing responses.

Instructional Plan


  1. Introduction:
    Tell students that they will be reading and discussing an essay that addresses sexual violence. It may bring up strong feelings and reactions in some students, so encourage them to communicate with you if they need support during and/or after the lesson(s). Remind all students to do their best to stay present in the process and practice respect and empathy for the variety of responses that may surface.
  2. Optional: Introduce background information on the issue of sexual violence using optional extensions. Conduct a brief journal reflection or discussion around this information before moving into the next lesson steps.

    Possible journal/discussion questions:
    • How common is sexual assault in the U.S.?
    • Who are victims of sexual assault?-
    • Who most often commits sexual assault?
    • What are the effects of sexual assault on victims?
    • How can sexual assault be prevented?
    • What helps victims of sexual assault recover?
    • How has rape been used as weapon throughout history and how is it still used in current times?
    • What cultural attitudes and beliefs perpetuate a culture of sexual violence?

    Possible information sources:
    Sexual Assault Statistics from RAINN
    “How did rape become a weapon of war?”
    Rape: Statistics and Related Reading


  3. Vocabulary (optional differentiation):
    1. Frontload vocabulary and concepts from the essay prior to reading. Provide definitions or ask students to look up and record definitions. As an alternative, delay adding definitions until after reading, and ask students to use context to determine preliminary definitions as they read.
    2. Ask students to identify and circle vocabulary words in the essay as they read.
    3. After reading, review and clarify vocabulary words, and ask students to write down the sentence from the essay that uses each word.


  1. Argument analysis:
    Present the argument analysis handout and discuss the aspects of the author’s argument students will be asked to look for: Opening, Claim/Thesis, Warrants, Evidence, Reasoning, Concession, Rebuttal, and Conclusion. Pre-teach these concepts as needed if students are not already familiar with them.

    Offer the following differentiation options depending on students’ reading and analysis skills:
    • Level 1 (Introductory): Opening, Claim/Thesis, Evidence, Conclusion
    • Level 2–3 (Intermediate/Advanced): All of the above plus Warrants, Concession, and Rebuttal

    The elements of Level 1 alone can present quite a challenge to students, especially given the implicit and sophisticated nature of this essay’s argument. Students should only move on to Level 2–3 elements once they feel confident with Level 1. The scaffolded argument analysis handout can be used to assist with students’ engagement with any part of the argument in the text.

    You may also choose to use the “Vivid Verbs” handouts to help students try new language to describe the author’s argument.
  2. After introducing the reading strategies you will use, read the essay with students or ask them to read silently. If reading aloud, pause to review, synthesize information, and model note-taking at various points during the reading process.

    Give students time to review the text and add more quotations and responses to their argument analysis handouts. Consider using a think-pair-share or mini-discussion as an informal assessment of reading and responses.


  1. Argument response
    Present the argument response handout and guide students through the steps of constructing their own arguments in response to the essay. As noted in the handout, it may help some students to focus on their feelings that the essay prompted, whether positive or negative. Instruct them to return to those parts of the text and re-read the author’s words to look more deeply at what triggered their feelings. Are their feelings related to strong agreement or disagreement with the author? Help students use the handout to identify these feelings, then connect their feelings to their own position on the issue.

    Remind them of the importance of supporting their feelings and opinions with evidence. If students struggle to justify their feelings, it may be necessary to guide them to specific parts of the text, and perhaps only focus on a single line, phrase, or word. Ask them to think carefully and consider what it is about that part of the text that makes them react strongly. Sometimes using a causal line of reasoning can help: “So when you read that line, you thought or felt what? And what did that make you think of? And what did you think/feel next?...[and so on].” Help them make connections to any background/outside knowledge they have on the topic.

    If you choose to extend the argument response handout into a formal argument writing assessment, discuss the specific requirements you have set, along with the timeline and any steps of the writing process (pre-writing, drafting, editing, revising, publishing) students might complete. Give students time to brainstorm and share their ideas during the pre-writing stage, and use think-pair-shares, exit slips, and/or other methods as informal assessment.
  2.  “Making Men” post-discussion (optional extension):
    Ask students to prepare all of their notes and previous work on the “Making Men” essay. Share the discussion rubric and give students additional instructions on discussion expectations and format. Set up instructional time to include discussion preparation, the discussion itself, and de-briefing after the discussion. You may want to have students turn in their notes for a writing portion of the overall discussion grade.


ELL and SPED Supports: Scaffolded assignment options, vocabulary, reading strategies

TAG Extensions: Leadership opportunities during discussion and/or Socratic Seminar, SOAPS Text Analysis handout to use during and after reading, Level 2–3 assignment options, additional resources/related reading, optional extensions

Assessment/Student Performance Tasks

  1. Argument analysis/reader response and discussion (Formative)
  2. Argument response/argument writing assessment (Can be used as formative or summative)
  3. Post-discussion (Can be used as formative or summative)

Additional Resources/Related Reading

News and discussion around this issue continues to evolve. Check credible sources for the most current and reliable information.

Sexual Assault Statistics from RAINN

How did rape become a weapon of war?

Rape: Statistics and Related Reading (Reading packet and printouts)

The Careless Language of Sexual Violence

TIME Magazine Person of the Year 2017: The Silence Breakers

Dear Men: It’s You, Too

How Should We Respond to Sexual Harassment?

Optional Extensions

Mothers to Daughters

The Rim of the Wound