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Why Are Female Athletes Criticised For Developing a “Masculine” Physique?

Why Are Female Athletes Criticised For Developing a \

There’s a whole host of sexist shit grounded in the notion that a man’s role is to protect women. From those blokes who pull out women’s chairs for them on First Dates to that joke my dad always tells about polishing his gun when I bring home a boyfriend, the idea of man as the noble protector is a patriarchal trope as old and tired as Arsene Wenger’s “I didn’t see it” excuse. It’s founded on one laughable assumption: that women are weak and fragile beings in need of safeguarding by strong menfolk.

The list of things we need to start doing to dismantle patriarchy is longer than England’s first pass under Sam Allardyce, but challenging notions of women’s essential frailty is a really important one. Sacking off chivalry is totally crucial – and not just because it’s 2016 and tbh there’s no need for a man to walk on the traffic side of the pavement to shield you from mud kicked up by donkeys. Saying “no thank you” to gallantry is a big deal because it involves confronting the way in which we assign strength and weaknesses based on gender. By coding strength as a decidedly masculine trait, women can in turn be dismissed for their weakness. While this might seem harmless when it manifests itself as some dude giving up his seat on the bus, it can also present itself as damagingly as failing to entrust a woman with the nuclear launch codes because you think her uterus could foster apocalyptic hysteria.

The prevalent and pervasive notion of female frailty takes on a physical manifestation in the type of bodies we assign as ‘feminine’ and those we code as ‘masculine’. The ideal woman is gentle and slight, defined by comparison to the hunk of hegemonic masculinity that exists to protect her. Female strength is scary, because it challenges the notion that women need men to protect them. Once you remove that dependency, you take away some of the power men have as the natural leaders, protectors, and owners of women.

The sports that are coded as ‘appropriately female’ correspond closely to the kinds of bodies that they build. If you don’t believe me, please consult Tory blert Helen Grant on how the key to widening women’s participation in sport is to provide “what women want”. Much like the trashy turn-of-the-millennium movie of the same name, “what women want” is apparently reductionist tropes of femininity in the form of cheerleading or some other lady-sport where you can burn calories without worrying about whether you still look fuckable or not. It’s super easy to accept a female athlete who excels in a sport that builds an acceptably feminine figure, like gymnastics or figure skating. On the other hand, women who defy femininity in their athleticism seem far less palatable to the kind of cockwombles who trash Serena Williams, Rebecca Addlington or Jessica Ennis-Hill for the way they look. Society still sees strong and muscular women as somehow unnatural for daring to inhabit a body that is coded as masculine. Why Are Female Athletes Criticised For Developing a \

The sports that are coded as ‘appropriately female’ correspond closely to the kinds of bodies that they build. If you don’t believe me, please consult Tory blert Helen Grant on how the key to widening women’s participation in sport is to provide “what women want”. Much like the trashy turn-of-the-millennium movie of the same name, “what women want” is apparently reductionist tropes of femininity in the form of cheerleading or some other lady-sport where you can burn calories without worrying about whether you still look fuckable or not. It’s super easy to accept a female athlete who excels in a sport that builds an acceptably feminine figure, like gymnastics or figure skating. On the other hand, women who defy femininity in their athleticism seem far less palatable to the kind of cockwombles who trash Serena Williams, Rebecca Addlington or Jessica Ennis-Hill for the way they look. Society still sees strong and muscular women as somehow unnatural for daring to inhabit a body that is coded as masculine.  […]

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