Sporting Diversity: The politics of difference and identity.

Essay by bartvanUniversity, Master's July 2003

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Reading Response #2

Sporting Diversity: The politics of difference and identity

A. Sexuality and the Organization of Women's Sport:

Since the introduction of women in sport, women have struggled for equal rights and opportunities within an environment driven by male domination and masculine values. In order to gain acceptance by their colleagues, coaches, and the media, women must fit a profile that reflects appropriate behaviors and appearances based on characteristics of hegemonic femininity. However, the world of sport is based on the ideals of strength, power and aggressiveness. Women are forced to balance both of these expectations. "They must be physically and mentally strong, yet also portray an image of vulnerability to be perceived as feminine." (Krane 122)

Women's sport is constructed and maintained by white, powerful, men. The organization of hegemonic femininity in sport is a result of masculine values and ideals. "On one hand, men denigrated (women) for not being as big and strong and playing as well as their male counterparts.

On the other hand, if men found the quality of play acceptable, they criticized women's behavior and looks as 'masculine'." (Krane 123) It seems as though women are in a lose-lose situation. Upon achieving a feminine appearance in sport, women are sexualized, trivialized and devalued. However, if women excels at athleticism and is able to compete at the same level as a man, or their bodies become 'too muscular', they are often accused of being a lesbian (Krane 122).

Female athletes are aware of the expectations and pressures to portray an appropriate, heterosexual image. Lesbian athletes often conceal their identity to avoid potential discrimination and prejudices that are present in their strictly heterosexual environment. They fear scrutiny from the media, fans, officials, coaches, and even their teammates. In the video on homophobia and women's sport,