4 Masculinity and the culture of sport
The culture of masculinity embedded in sport is key to understanding gender discrimination.
First, it’s important to define ‘masculinity’. The term ‘masculinity’ refers to the social and biological qualities associated with being masculine or ‘manly’, and many sports can be an arena in which these characteristics are played out. For example, sport enables men and women to express aggression, competitiveness, speed, strength and skill – traits commonly associated with masculinity.
In sport, typically tough ‘masculine’ slogans are emphasised (e.g. ‘No pain no gain’). For men, sport can be a masculinising experience, which exposes them to an environment highlighting these masculine ideals through sporting experiences that emphasise a ‘mentally tough’ attitude.
The cultures surrounding sport need to be understood in order to appreciate women’s and men’s behaviours in sport. Consider whether you think men ‘own’ masculinity and whether you feel it’s acceptable for a woman to show ‘masculine’ traits, such as a ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality. This goes against traditional views of femininity, which are not necessarily positively associated with sport.
What is known as hegemonic masculinity is the most valued form of masculinity and is associated with being white, heterosexual, privileged/middle class and able-bodied. In modern society masculine and feminine traits are not considered to be exclusive to males and females respectively, but how does hegemonic masculinity lead to gender discrimination?