Menand women are still perceived and treated differently in the world of sportssimply because of their sex.
A Substantialamount of research established on the topic of heteronormativity in sport assumesthat sport is stereotypically a masculine activity. As historically ideologiessuch as women having ‘softer’, ‘fragile’ and ‘weaker bodies’ than men increasedthe belief that women’s bodies were not suitable for sports “…which requiredphysical contact, and woman who do participate in these sports are not realwoman” (Trolan, 2013, p.219). This revealing the inequalitiesbetween both genders and the belief that sport is only considered complementaryto specifically males. Furthermore, Theberge(1985, p.198), indicated that women who participate in sport experienceconflict between their feminine and athletic roles, as any women who choose amale-identified career would be considered as a Lesbian or unfeminine, thuschallenging their identity. Due to these stereotypes,female athletes feared to participate in sport as they ran the risk of beinglabelled as homosexual.
As a result, women had to over sexualize themselves todivert from such labels, as Giulianotti, (2015, p.107) notedthat female athletes had to disguisetheir sexuality to maintain their professional careers. Conversely, whilstnumerous of female athletes are questioned and automatically stigmatised overtheir sexuality in what is perceived as ‘male dominated’ sport, male athleteson the other hand are not always questioned about their sexuality. For instance,the profile of professional Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas.
Is an uniqueexample to illustrate this point of inequality regarding sexuality. It isunique in that Gareth is an “…. Openly gay professional rugby player who hascontinued to play his sport since coming out”(Sartore-Baldwin, 2013, p.2) What isdistinctive here, is that Gareth was never questioned about his sexuality as hefitted the stereotype of a tough masculine male. Secondly, as identified in thequotation illustrated above, Gareth Thomas continued to play rugby since comingout, the difference here as Griffin, P. (1992), observed is that Lesbians are expected to maintaindeep cover about their sexuality and the need to sexualise themselves toportray a heterosexual image. Indicating, the inequality between both genders. Cahn, (1994), suggested thatwomen’s entry into sporting fraternity was considered a threat to masculinity andthe heteronormative in a sporting context.
As distinguished above thestereotypes of ‘unfeminine’ women were an attempt to dis empower women, makingthem inferior to men. Take the example of South African 800m female athleteCaster Seymena. Her amazing breakthrough performance at the world championshipsand her masculine appearance led to the “International Association of AthleticsFederations to request gender verification tests” (Woods, 2001, p.225). As therewas allegations that she was born intersex. Caster was primarily punishedbecause of her masculine traits, bringing attention that if a man wasconsidered feminine would they be treated in the same way? This proposesqueries about the equality between both genders, demonstrating that feminism isstill required in the sporting context. For instance, Giulianotti, (2015), stated that third wavefeminist may be identified as underpinning the critical analyses of genderverification tests in sport.
As vannini and fornssler, (2007) argued thatgender tests reinforce deep- seated patriarchal sex categories and discriminateparticularly againstintersex people. This demonstrating that feminism is still relevant today as itcontests the “continuation of oppressive gender ideologies” (Giulianotti, p.105)