Gender Norms In Sports

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In early childhood, children have already developed clearly defined ideas of what constitutes appropriate behavior for men and women (Blackmore, 2003; Mahalik et al., 2005). These ideas, called “gender role norms,” affect the way people believe they are supposed to act, think, and even feel depending on their sex (Mahalik et al., 2005).
These norms can be learned through simple observation, such as how children of different sexes act in television commercials and what behaviors are reinforced by parents depending on their child’s biological sex. As children grow up, their knowledge on gender norms and judgments on which norms can be violated generally increase (Blackmore, 2003). Gender role norms can in turn help develop their identity …show more content…

Males mainly participate in sports that are considered more “masculine” and that often include the characteristics of danger, risk, violence, speed, strength, endurance, and challenge (Klomsten, Marsh, & Skaalik, 2005). Females usually participate in sports that are characteristically graceful, non-aggressive, and beautiful (Klomsten et al., 2005). Even male sports that have a female counterpart are often very different characteristically, like baseball and softball, for example. Just as men who like to play softball may be viewed negatively for breaking gender norms, women that prefer more masculine sports are often viewed as abnormal, manly, or even gay. The common assumption of society is that females should be heterosexual and relatively “feminine” and that noncompliance with these gender norms signifies homosexuality (Carr, 2005). These assumptions about sexuality based upon gender norms encourage the idea that bisexuals and lesbians who possess “masculine” characteristics, and gay men who possess “feminine” characteristics, are abnormal; an idea that is reinforced by scientists who search for biological differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals (Carr, 2005). Men and women may possibly avoid associations with the opposite gender traits and actions for fear of being branded as homosexual (Carr, 2005). However, in an earlier study (Falbo, 1977) it was found that people who follow their sex-type norms (masculine males and feminine females) had

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