Gender Barriers Inside Sports Essay

1262 words - 5 pages

Gender Barriers inside Sports

Throughout the history of sports, there has always been a gender barrier. There are certain sports that are aimed towards females and others that are directed towards males. When men or women enter a non-traditional sport for their gender, it is not widely accepted. However, there are those few athletes that pave the way for the rest and eventually our society will change and accept the new ideas in sports. Some people will always make judgments about the athletes who cross that gender barrier. At the same time there are others who will respect and look up to these athletes as role models who they will someday follow.

In the movie Pumping Iron II, women bodybuilders are faced with judgments about their sexual orientation just because of their physical appearance. There is one character, Carla, who is always shown with her mother and sister, but never with a boyfriend or husband like the rest of the women. She does not feel the need to defend her sexuality and the audience never questions it, because she is more feminine than the other competitors. She wears girlish clothes and has a feminine face and hairstyle. Carla is also shown as a synchronized swimmer, which is an elegant and graceful sport. The manner in which she moves and her body frame differ from the rest of the women. One of the more "mannish" looking characters in the movie is Bev. Bev is the competitor with the most muscle. Her features, her hairstyle and her clothes are not as feminine as Carla's. Therefore, her sexuality is questioned. It is unfortunate that society links women's sports with mannishness and mannishness with lesbianism (Cahn 328).

There are not only stereotypes of women in sports, but also of men. What is your reaction when you hear of a male ballet dancer or a male in synchronized swimming? Many would say that he must be a homosexual. Many young boys are faced with this thought every day, because they are males participating in non-traditional sports for their gender. Just as society does not agree with women in men's sports, it does not look highly upon men taking part in women's sports either. In the article, Stereotypes Are Often Overrated, a young boy named Daniel Hile who is a sophomore in high school had always wanted to join ballet, but never did. Instead, he picked Tae Kwon Do and weightlifting, which are considered to be more masculine sports. He says that ballet is not accepted in his close-minded and conservative hometown and they stereotype male ballet dancers as being homosexuals (Stereotypes). Another ballet dancer named Julio Bragado-Young who is 20 years old, says that he was always teased in school, because of his love for dance. "Jocks would call me fag, sissy, pansy and stuff"(Stereotypes).

Bill May, a 21 year old from Cicero, NY, has always wanted to compete in the Olympics for synchronized swimming. However, it has always been strictly limited to females only. Fortunately, on September 14, 2000,...

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