Gender Roles Hinder Women in Sports
Gender can play a big role in the sports world. Women can feel it the most because it is a male-dominated area.
By Hailey McDonough
Women, LGBTQ+ Athletes Achieve Milestones in Sports
Throughout time, sports have been predominantly male in every aspect. Sports have been associated with the strong, muscular and competitive, which has encouraged society to create conflict and strain between all genders and sexualities who want to take part in athletics.
LGBTQ+ individuals and women still run into many challenges within the athletic world.
“I think that people who have never had to overcome anything don’t know how to overcome anything. And those of us who have had to overcome anythings, its incompentive of us to learn from it, to teach others how to do it and to spot it,” Rep. Brian Sims (D), PA State Representative of the 182nd District, said.
The Sport Journal found that before 1870, sports for women existed in the form of recreational activities that were informal, had no rules and lacked competitiveness. During this time, women were encouraged to not exert themselves in any way because it could harm their reproductive system and emotions, and also they could gain muscles that would make them manly and not attractive to men.
Women were tired of standing on the sidelines.
They wanted to be competitive.
In the early 1900s, they began to form their own club sports teams and were allowed to compete in the Olympics. According to The Sport Journal, “many men’s clubs allowed women to become associates and to participate in separate activities.” By 1936, there were sport competitions for women in college, but they were only limited to competing in games against others from their own school. “The first intercollegiate competition among women was a scheduled tennis tournament between Bryn Mawr and Vassar. It was canceled because the Vassar faculty did not allow their women’s athletes to participate in competition between colleges,” The Sport Journal reported.
As women began to participate more and more in sports, many outsiders wondered if women athletes were male imposters because they believed that no woman could be a strong athlete. This was the case in the 1936 Olympics. Runners Stella Walsh of Poland and Helen Stephens of the United States were categorized as having “remarkable athleticism, ‘male-like’ muscles and angular faces” and rumored to be men. Even after Stephens won, she was still accused of being a man by the media.
After this, the gender of an athlete became a hot topic again. This led to sports managements requiring their female athletes to prove they are actually females by having medical signed paperwork that showed their chromosomes or participating in genital checks.
For many years, female athletes have fought to have the same opportunities as male athletes at all levels of the sporting world.
“When you are younger you don’t pay attention. You would maybe notice that the men’s football players got better meals. You would notice those little subtle things. As I got older, I saw [the unfair treatment],” Jackie Neary, Title IX Coordinator at Cabrini University Athletics, said.
1972 was the turning point due to the creation of Title IX.
The law states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title IX has afforded women athletes the right to equal opportunity in sports in private and public educational institutions that receive federal funds.
Since Title IX has been in effect, there has been a dramatic increase in female participation in sports. According to Women’s Sports Foundation, this “demonstrates that it was lack of opportunity – not lack of interest – that kept females out of high school and college athletics for so many years.”
“What I have found is that the experience of a gay athlete is in some ways a kin to the experiences of women athletes. Women athletes, everyone either thinks they’re lesbians if they are really good at it or sex objects if they are attractive. For gay men, I found that people, because I’m a gay man, people would just assume I wouldn’t be good at athletics or that my focus wasn’t on the field [but] the locker room,” Sims said. “The same type of mind that thinks that I shouldn’t exist as a gay guy is the same mind that thinks that [a woman] shouldn’t succeed as a woman.”
In 2009, Massachusetts Representative, Barney Frank submitted a bill to the United States House of Representatives, that would prohibit employment discrimination based on gender and sexuality known as the The Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
This bill only made it to the Senate in 2013 but if it was passed the ENDA would have provided federal protection from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation for employees in athletics like administrators, coaches, trainers and others.
Though there are still acts of discrimination in sports based on gender, there have been positive milestones that have impacted society.
By Marissa Roberto
Created by Marissa Roberto
A Record 15 LGBTQ+ Athletes Compete in the Olympics
The 1988 Olympics became a huge milestone for LGBTQ+ athletes. Robert Dover, American Equestrian became the first openly gay athlete to compete in the history of the olympics. But why is this significant? Fast forward to 2018, which according to Variety.com, 19.8 million people worldwide tuned in to watch the Winter Olympics, which set the stage and inspired a new generation of athletes.
The athletes who are now publicly out are:
- Emilia Andersson Ramboldt (Sweden, Ice Hockey)
- Belle Brockhoff (U.S., Speedskating)
- Brittany Bowe (U.S., speedskating)
- Jorik Hendrickx (Belgium, Figure Skating)
- Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (Austria, Ski Jumping)
- Barbara Jezeršek (Austria, Cross Country Skiing)
- Gus Kenworthy (U.S., Slopestyle Free Skating)
- Cheryl Maas (Netherlands,Snowboarding)
- Simona Meiler (Switzerland, Snowboarding)
- Kim Meylemans (Belgium, Skeleton)
- Sarka Pancochova (Czech Republic, Snowboarding)
- Eric Radford (Canada, Pairs Figure Skating)
- Adam Rippon (U.S., Figure Skating)
- Sophie Vercruyssen (Belgium, Bobsled)
- Ireen Wüst (Netherlands, Speed Skating).
According to an interview with Outsports.com, Simona Meiler, an olympic snowboarder from Switzerland said, “[Athletes] have to be ready to give everything and perform wholeheartedly, and in my eyes that’s only possible if they can accept and express their sexuality. That doesn’t mean they have to blare out that they are gay. But it definitely helps if an athlete’s closer environment is supportive and encouraging.”
The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang made history because these 15 individuals had the confidence and bravery to reveal who they are and how they truly feel to the world. Even just a few years ago, this would not have been so accepted and encouraged.
According to the International Human Rights Campaign, “At the 2014 games in Sochi, seven openly LGBTQ athletes competed, all of whom were women. Russia’s harsh anti-LGBTQ agenda made public expression of support for the LGBTQ community a risk for both Olympic athletes and attendees. Unfortunately, while there are many talented and successful transgender athletes around the globe, there are no openly transgender athletes competing in the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. The same was true at the 2016 Rio Games.”
Adam Rippon has a large following, including on social media with over half a million followers on instagram. He has had
“When I was young and still in the closet, I read a lot of articles about other people and their coming out stories and I watched YouTube videos on other people sharing their stories,” Adam Rippon, U.S., Figure Skating said in an exclusive interview with Human Rights Campaign’s Mark Lee. “That’s really what made me feel okay to be myself.”
Rippon has a large following, including on social media with over half a million followers on instagram. He reminds his followers to always stay determined and humble. Having influencers such as Rippon is crucial for the development of LGBTQ milestones. “I go out there and I’m not only representing myself, I’m representing my coaches, I’m representing my country and I’m representing my teammates. So I remember that and that’s how I stay focused,” Rippon said.
By Hailey McDonough