Female Gender And Sexuality Constructed Through Sport

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How is female gender and sexuality constructed through sport?
Within sport, as throughout society, gender differences exist. The socially constructed phenomenon of gender dictates a dichotomous system whereby females are feminine and males are masculine. Focusing on females specifically, society determines the feminine traits and roles ascribed to this gender. Being domesticated, slender, passive and heterosexual are a part of the desirable appearance that society has formed surrounding femininity (Wolf, 1991). On the other side of the dichotomy is the masculine realm that sport plays into. Sport is fuelled by muscle, power and aggressiveness, which are behaviours and images associated to masculinity. Sport therefore, defies all existing female gender ideals. It would be assumed that females have no place within this institution due to the gender clash. However, female athletes do exist, and many are very successful. For this to work, sport has established and reinforced the social constructions of gender that exist in society. Female athletes are viewed as inferior and are pushed into gender appropriate sports. Furthermore, they are often labeled as masculine until they can prove otherwise, and so great attempts are made to reassert femininity. The stigma associated to being masculine or homosexual for female athletes is so great that many have become irrationally fearful of this label. The sexualisation of the female body and overt displays of heterosexuality are used in
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