Sociology 2259 Lecture Notes - Secondary Sex Characteristic, Sex Assignment, Lpga

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9 Feb 2013
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Gender, Sports, and Deviance
Biological Differences or Deviance?
The institution of sports represent a society that is incredibly divided in terms of gender
World of sports is predicated on the idea of biology
Sex-segregated sports require governing “bodies” clearly and accurately
Why? So that males and females are placed into distinct categories of sports
Separation of the sexes via physical education classes
Prior to puberty, there are minimal physiological differences between girls and boys
Among children, girls tend to be taller and stronger than most boys their age
At all stages of development, females as a group tend to be more flexible and have better
balance than boys
So why do sports become engendered from such an early age?
The socially constructed idea of what it means to be a boy playing sports ad what it means
to be a girl playing sports
Based on he idea that biology separates girls and boys and there are normative idea on what
it means to be a male or female playing sports
About the body that you have and there are different expectation depending on whether you
are male or female
Construction of Deviance
Even within the sexes, there is an increased focus on biology
Ex. Males' sports sometimes divide participants by height or weight
Why? To overcome obvious differences in abilities that arise from physical parameters
Similar to dividing sports participation in general between the sexes...dividing within the sexes
is embedded with social value
Ex. The heavy weight boxing champion has greater status than the lightweight
“The Muscle Gap”
Idea that men are seen as being stronger and therefore should be in their own group
Rationalizes and institutionalized idea of normality if deviance in sport—Ex. Easier rules for
girls because it is assumed they can't handle the same amount of physicality
Women, in terms of sports, are always seen as less capable
Sports in our society maintain the status quo where the men are seen as the norm
Sports are structured along a gender/sex divide—men against women, women against women
This is typically justified by the “muscle gap”
Often results in “easier” rules for women's sports
Similar to the world outside of sports...the source for female subordination is located in the
female body
Phenomenal female athletes often dismissed as anomalies --> seen of something atypical
Phenomenal male athletes seen as dominating the sport
The realm of professional sports further supports this gendered divide --> especially the
Constructing Deviance or Fair Play?
Sports governing bodies (ex. International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Association
of Athletic Federation (IAAF)) use sex-testing procedures to verify professional athletes
Wouldn't want to disrupt “fair play”...
The notion of “fair play” maintains that every player is in their “normal” category
This allocated a lot of power to sports in governing bodies:
What the bodies should look like
What standards those bodies must conform to
Vaginas Over Here, Penises Over There!
Scientific and medical procedures used to test participant's sex
Types of sex-testing markers:
Internal reproductive organs
External genitalia
Secondary sex characteristics
Doesn't recognize the complexity of biological sex determination
1/2000 people in our society are intersexed
1/200 births have some sort of sex anomaly
Transgender and Transsexual Athletes
People who don't fit neatly into the “male” or “female” categories further challenge sports
binary classification
Often have to choose a “side” to compete in professional sports—no category in between them
Since 2003, IOC Medical Commission: “any person who has undergone sex reassignment
surgery before puberty should be accepted in sport under the new assigned sex”
If underwent surgery after puberty, only eligible to compete under the following conditions:
Surgical anatomical changes complete (inside/out)
Legal recognition of assigned sex
Hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex administered in a verifiable manner and
for a sufficient length of time to minimize gender-related advantages in sports competitions
Gendered Dress Code?
Socially constructed appropriate dress code for male and female athletes
Female athletes usually tend to wear more “feminine” outfits or are scantily-dressed
Whereas men competing in the same sports have less revealing outfits
Ex. Volleyball, figure-skating, field hockey, cheer-leading, tennis, golf, etc.
The gendered dress codes for sports speaks to the mount of respect and seriousness accorded to
those playing the sport
What are we focusing on? The outfit or the sport?
Gendered dress codes for sports are based on cultural ideas about “normal” and “deviant”
femininity and masculinity
Sports commands strict dress codes that verify ones “proper” gender at first glance
Gender performance is an integral part of sports competition—the idea is that even in the world
of sports you must DO your gender
Gender acts as a master status particularly in sports
Sports participation is filtered through the lens of gender
The body embodies the rules and constraints of society and is used to justify gender
The Gendered Language of Sports
What are the connotations behind statements such as:
“You throw like a girl!”
“You play like a guy!”
Sexual orientation often gets conflated with gender and sports ability
Gendered nature of team names
Sports rules wreak of gender
In female sports leagues, the term “women” is always indicated
For men, they are assumed to be the norm, the universal standard
“The Lingerie football league has become the ultimate fan-driven, live sports phenomenon—
blending action, impact and beauty!”
Role of the Media
The media popularizes sports
The media plays different roles in facilitating men and women's athletic careers
The media is essential to women's athletics careers—in a sense, they almost have to sell
Being a skilled athlete isn't always enough for female athletes
This isn't so much the case for men—their skills are generally the focus, they don't have to sell
themselves as much as women do
Ex. Tiger Woods still makes a lot of money and is popular without all the media
Ex. Where would Ana Kournikova be without all her media popularity
Gendered Sports
Ice Hockey
Speed Skating
Figure Skating
Synchronized Swimming
Field Hockey
Males athletes often earn more money on average than female athletes
Is this because of a lack of skills or lack of penis?
*Blurred boundaries for many sports (Ex. Golf, tennis, and soccer)