July 21, 2008
Quick hit: recommended article on sport, sexuality and gender
Gender and sport is one of my recent key interests lately (I think this happened after the realization that sport is really about the body, and as you know, I’m all about theorizing male and female bodies!)…so check out “Patricia Nell Warren: LGBT Sports Movement Part One of Two,” and article from the Women’s Sport Foundation, via a pretty cool blog I recently found, Rethinking Basketball, providing interesting commentary on the WNBA. Some excerpts:
A lot of the homophobia directed at lesbians comes from an entrenched belief that strenuous sport will “masculinize” women. I will never forget running in the 1969 Boston Marathon, while I was still in the closet, and seeing that some of the spectators were screaming at me, “Dyke! Dyke!” I wondered why those idiots would assume I was a lesbian when they knew nothing about me — after all, I had kept my sexual orientation a deep dark secret. Then I realized that my mere presence out there on the road, in a sport reserved for men, meant that these people saw me as “masculinized”…and “masculine” is a code word for lesbian.
[…] For gay and bi men, homophobia comes from the opposite direction: the illogical and irrational belief that being gay “feminizes” you and makes you unfit for sports, especially for rough physical sports like football and ice hockey. The rhetoric of ridicule that many male coaches and athletes use — for instance, “you throw a ball like a girl” — is aimed at pushing a man to establish his heterosexuality by extreme efforts not to look “feminine.” So, for many men, the sudden discovery that a rugged, masculine teammate of theirs is gay is a horrible shock.
[…] The more I think about sports and study their history, the more I realize that homophobia is as much about gender as it is about sexual orientation. A given sport or sports body can make an attempt to codify a cultural definition of “gender,” all the way from which events are permitted to women to stipulations on what styles of clothing men and women must wear during competition, as they do in figure skating and rodeo.
Read the whole thing here.