A Recent Example of Women Defying Stereotypes

By Chris Murray

For many years in the past, women have been seen as the “weaker” sex. They have been denied many rights through the years, such as voting, working, and taking part in sport. Statistics done by “Pay Equity of Ontario” show that in 2011, men were being paid 26% more than women for the same jobs. Although women may not yet be on the same level as men as far as wages and some other areas, there are definitely more and more women participating in sport and leisure activities as the years go on.

An example recently popped up in my life regarding gender differences in sport. I currently play, as well as referee intramural basketball every Sunday night. I play in a men’s intramural league, and referee both men’s and women’s games. The men’s league has twelve teams registered, whereas the women’s league has only four. As discussed in class, this gives an example of how particular sports seem to be male dominated. In the women’s league, there are two dominant teams and two teams that are less strong. To avoid blow-out games, the organizer fixed the schedule so that the two strong teams play against each other every week, and the two weak teams play against each other. The problem with this is that it has gotten very boring for the women, and they have begun to not even bother showing up to basketball. This has caused some of the women on these teams to be upset, because they go to the gym on their Sunday night expecting to play, and are told that the other team did not show up so there will be no game. Since the women’s teams barely ever show up, the two strong women’s teams decided to join up and form one team and play in the men’s league. I feel that it is a good thing that they are not intimidated to join the men’s league, since they know that they are talented players. The negative side is that there are now only two teams left in the women’s league, so it will probably be disbanded.

The women’s team was scheduled to play their first game in the men’s league recently, and I was assigned to referee the game. I was telling the men`s team that they would be playing the women’s team that night and the first comment from one of the players was “well we better not lose to girls”. It really shocked me to hear him say that because I thought that this younger generation was beginning to get away from sexism. It made me realize how prevalent that sexist talk still is. Being unhappy about the comment and knowing the skill of the women’s team, I told him that he better wait until he saw the final score to talk. Sure enough, the women beat the men’s team in a close game. Despite the size difference, the women won based on being far more skilled. I thought this was an excellent example of women defying stereotypes. They showed that they are not to be looked down upon simply because of their sex, and maybe now the men’s teams will take them more seriously.

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4 responses

  1. Excellent post Chris!
    The circumstance you shed light on really speaks to many of the constraints women face in sport participation. As you noted females are often marginalized and constrained from participation in sport. For example, an external or environmental constraint would be the lack of opportunities available to females interested in more competitive leisurely pursuits. Another constraint that exists for females is intrapersonal in nature. For instance, University females may feel reluctant to participate in intermural sports because of body image anxieties. Moreover, based on the women expressing boredom in regards to their involvement in their league leads me to conclude they experienced constraints to enjoyment. Unfortunatly, negative experiences often deter continued partici[pation.

    Your recognition of the use of sexist language is very perceptive! The male-centric language has become so engrained in society that we barely notice anymore. I am happy to hear that the women were successful playing in the men league. This is a domain in which they can resist traditional gendered stereotypes. In order to pave the path to a more equal society it is important to make stories of women negotiating barriers public. Moreover, I think offering more co-ed experiences from a young age will help to ensure that young boys do not percieve girls to be the ‘weaker’ sex.

    Hannah

  2. Great post, Chris! This is an enlightening example of how far society has come to have women participating in sport but also how engraved stereotypes and gender identities are in everything we do.
    I have been involved in a few intramural sports here at the university. For co-ed sports, there are a minimum number of girls that need to be included. This always seems to be a struggle and the same girls always end up going out just to meet the minimum requirement. Getting people involved in intramural sports is a challenge especially with early morning games on Sundays, schoolwork, and other commitments.
    This difference in men’s and women’s participation can be seen in many facets of society, like you mentioned, and influences leisure pursuits as a result. Females could avoid participating due to body image anxieties, as Hannah mentioned above. I have found that girls are more likely play in a game if other girls are also going. You are more willing to take a risk when there are others around who know just as much or play just as well as you do. Being the only girl on a team, the differences between guys and girls is highlighted.
    Having more co-ed games and teams from a younger age might better address the stereotypes and sexist language engraved in our society as well as show that both boys and girls are fully capable of playing the sport. This may also encourage girls to step up and become more fully involved in scoring within the game.

    -Andrea J

  3. Great post Chris! The examples you used were definitely eye opening as I thought the sexism was close to disappearing. I agree with your statement about how the younger generation was getting away from sexism, but turns out it still exists. I am involved in intramural soccer here at UNB and I agree with Andrea’s comment about having a minimum amount of girls that need to be included. For soccer, being a co-ed sport, I don’t think there is a requirement to include girls because several teams are only male dominated. Some girls have stopped showing up because the male dominated teams are too aggressive and don’t take into account that it’s only intramural. Some of the girls feel as though they are in the way but all they want to do is participate in a friendly game of soccer and have fun doing it. I have even heard some of the guys on the other team say “they have 3 girls on their team, this is going to be a joke”. This shocked me because I thought being at university, they would change their perspective about women.

    Even in today’s society, some individuals believe women are still the weaker sex. I don’t agree with that because they can do all the sports men can and are still discriminated over playing the same sport. The rules in some sports for women are different, such as hockey with the no checking rule. Last year, a male university hockey team didn’t do well in their standings and the female team made it to nationals. There was more of a fan base at the women’s games than there were at the men’s games. I’ve heard people say that the girls team will get “killed” at nationals because they aren’t as good as the other teams. They may not have won but they played the best hockey game out of the whole season and the rink was sold out. This just goes to show that female sports are just as fun to watch and to ignore the stereotypes of being the weaker sex.

    I’m glad that more women are participating in sports and defying stereotypes. It’s good to hear that the women’s basketball team is being successful in playing with the men’s league. It would be very interesting to hear the guy’s comments after the girls beat them. I hope he has a different perspective on women because just like you said, they are just as skilled as the men, and in your case, they were more skilled.

    Zoran V.

  4. Interesting read, Chris!

    This post relates back to one I recently read posted by Molly. The fact that women are often perceived to be the weaker sex, and that they are not as good at certain sports. Also, it relates to the key point brought up regarding should co-ed be implemented into the sports curriculum from an early age?

    I was happy to reach the end of your post to see the women won the game! It goes to show that people should respect athletes, regardless of sex. This example shows that an all-women’s team can win against a men’s team. It would be interesting to see if any of the women took part in co-ed sports in school, or if they were restricted to an all-women’s class.

    Sexism is a big issue within sport, and people often use it in daily activities without even noticing. An example of this is a conversation I was having a few weeks ago, and someone made a comment with regard to the Women’s Soccer Team. It was an older woman, and she stated “I was actually surprised at how many goals the women scored this year. It is not very common to see that many go in the net”. Her comment took me back, we as women, are being drawn into using the stereotypical views which are reflected on us, through the effects of society.

    The point raised by Zoran regarding the intermural teams, as we have discussed in class a lot of women take part in leisure activities for more of a social aspect. Maybe because their friends do not want to take part is it restricting how much they participate too. We also discussed how men are more competitive, this could be another reason as to why females do not want to participate. They may just prefer something more recreational.

    Laura

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