Women and girls aren’t doing enough sport, apparently. The speculation as to why has taken the form of “women worry too much about how they look when doing sports”. Samara Ginsberg from The F Word gives her opinion on this explanation. I take a rather different approach.
In order to find a culprit for this too low percentage of women in sports, I’m going to use Ockham’s Razor. Which is a posh way of saying that usually the simplest answer is the right one. So, here it goes. If women aren’t into sports, couldn’t it be because, ehm, sports SUCK? Because they do. A big one. And I think it must have to do with the way that sports were conceived in the first place. Once upon a time, at the dawn of humanity, no form of amusement was available for people to engage in their idle time. And so they created sports. However, the sharp feminist observer will be able to spot the truth behind this little tale. That most likely, when sports where created, society was already a patriarchy, and so the creators of sports were men. Not just men, but men in a patriarchy, who tend to have certain characteristics, markedly differentiated to those of women. We continue to live in a patriarchy, men are women are still differentiated, and as a result we could expect that men would be the ones who enjoy most that which has been created by them and for them. Of course this idea is overly simplistic. I am aware that what has defined “man” and “woman” throughout history has changed. But the principle still holds. Men are raised into competitiveness and aggressiveness; women are raised into the opposite. And on top of that, we have the reality that men and women’s bodies tend to differ naturally, that’s without interference from culture. Specifically in regards to muscles: men’s are shorter, women’s are longer and more flexible, etc.
Onto the practical reality. We tend to think of sports as gender neutral, when in reality they are everything but. They are created around those things that men are naturally better at, endurance, strength, and around those things men are raised into, aggressiveness, competition. And those sports in which women are naturally better at, for example gymnastics, in which the capacity to bend at odd angles is far more important than, say, stealing a ball from a “rival”, are valued much less.
Bear in mind that I am not saying that all men are naturally aggressive and competitive, neither am I saying that women are naturally NOT. And I am in no way implying that no woman could possibly enjoy male-designed male-aimed sports. All I want is to do is suggest a few reasons why there aren’t hordes of women who find the appeal in, say, spending their time running after a ball in order to win over someone else.
Update: Yahoo-AH! Check it out! Apparently I am not the only one following this crazy line of thought. Someone who knows far more than me has also pointed it out, though applied to a completely different situation. Quoting
“Suggs is right to raise questions about women’s sports’ uncritical adoption of “the male model” of sports. Sport sociologists have documented the many ways that men’s college sports reflect and perpetuate many of the most negative aspects of narrow conceptions of masculinity (including violence to self and others) and promote values of commercialization that are antithetical to what many see as the mission of university life.