This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.
Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Ever since sports has been introduced into our society it has always been gender specific. Today, sports are still gender specific but not as much as before due to the change in social norms. Many people enjoy playing sports. For some it may be the competition, for others it may be for the love of the game. It has been difficult for individuals who enter non-traditional sports for their gender. Women have especially struggled with this matter until the Title 9 was issued. Before Title 9, many women were not allowed to participate in track and other sports that were not considered feminine. During the Victorian Times, women were only allowed to play sports that didn't make them look sweaty, tired or just messy. They had to stick to the norm of being conservative and looking proper. Can you imagine, they had to even wear skirts for baseball and other sports? How can you be comfortable and play well in that kind of an outfit? When it came to tennis, they had to look graceful like a ballerina. The main concern in playing a sport is enjoying it and playing it well. It never had to do anything with being part of a beauty contest. Women were given limitations into what sports they could participate in. However, realistically women were just as good as their counterpart when it came to playing sports in which they were not allowed to play.
Being a female and seriously competing in a non-traditional sport is an arduous task. Many individuals question your sexuality, race and class just because you have decided to participate in a non-traditional sport. However, the main fact that is being disregarded here is that everyone has the capability of playing any sport that they want to play. There should not be any boundaries to anything because of gender. It is unfair because there are certain things that are acceptable and unacceptable in society which puts a lot of pressure on people that are into non-traditional sports. The question is, why does being accepted matter so much in society? Why is it so hard to be accepted for something that you want to do? I mean you are not hurting anybody yet you are made to feel guilty for trying to be good in a non-traditional sport.
For this essay, I would like to use the movie "Pumping Iron" as a main example of women being involved in non-traditional sports. Most of the judges based their criteria on women who were feminine. First of all, this is a sport and what matters is how the person is dedicated to it and shows the ability of being the best at the sport. In my opinion, Bev was the true winner of the competition because by watching the film it is blatant that she was a dedicated athlete and excellent at her sport which was body building. However, because the judges didn't find her feminine enough to represent a women's body building competition, she unfortunately got 8th place. It is obvious that there definitely was bias going on in the competition. I am proud of Bev because she was being a great sport at it and even though she didn't show her devastation of being last place. She knew deep inside that she was the true winner of the competition. She truly was!!
In some cultures participating in non-traditional sports are not accepted. Many cultures are conservative and feel that participating in non-traditional sports is not a good thing. I come from a very conservative Asian society and being a part of this society means that there are certain things that are accepted and not accepted. The society I grew up in is very concerned with the things girls are supposed to do and the things boys are supposed to do. It is a modern society but with many restrictions. If I tell a member of the society that I am a part of body building, it would be the talk of the town and I would be looked down upon. However in my opinion that is wrong because what you do is no one's business but yours. There is nothing wrong with trying to be the best in something you enjoy.
The only benefits that come to mind when thinking about women excelling in non-traditional sports would be the respect that they receive from other people for being able to be just as good as their counterpart and trying something different. Being known as a woman in a non-traditional sport and having the gratification of trying to excel in it would be the benefit of participating in a non-traditional sport. Besides being good at it, having the courage and determination to participate in a non-traditional sport is highly admired and looked upon.
Being a part of this Women, Sport and Film Series class has taught me so much about the role of women yesterday and today and how I truly admire women in sports. I am not into playing sports for competition but I do enjoy playing some sports for fun. I was never part of a team sport or a team but because of this class, I am motivated to try out a new sport and maybe even a team. The women who participated in non-traditional sports have not only inspired me but made me believe that at the end of the road of every struggle, there is something great.
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