Friday, April 10, 2009

Synchronised Swimming for Aussie Men

Sports are very much divided into gender binaries.  Though women do play all of the same sports as men, often our athletic status is devalued. This was clearly shown in the last Olympics when the media seemed transfixed on the bodies of the female volleyball players than reporting on the serious competition that they were going through.  In fact when it came to the last Olympics it seemed more an exercise in sexualizing women, than recognizing the sheer effort of will it takes to become an Olympic athlete.

Rather than recognizing that this behaviour is completely wrong, essentialist construction of women in sport continues to be perpetuated because it benefits patriarchal hegemony. The above “spoof” is not only sexist, it is completely degrading.  The idea that women can be offered as some kind of prize to men to encourage them to expand their understanding of masculinity, only reaffirms the idea of women existing solely for the purposes of male sexual pleasure.  To make sure that you get the message there are plenty of crotch shots.  That’s right real men don’t want women, they want an available hole.

The second advertisement also plays on the idea of women as reward and has the extra added bonus of being homophobic.  Yeah, two for one on the ism chart of ridiculousness. Prove you’re straight by avoiding the homoerotic behaviour sometimes engaged in by male athletes and the prize is a beautiful young woman in a bikini.  Who wouldn’t want to be a trophy for some jock out to prove his masculinity by possessing women?

This brings to mind a phrase that womanists/feminists say all of  the time, “sexism hurts men too”.  Due to the fact that we have so divided activities by gender there are many things that men may find interesting but simply fear participating in because they don’t want to have their masculinity publicly challenged.  We have made these options appear incredulous and people end up not pursuing their passions for fear of public shame.  Reconceptualising what it means to be understood as male or female would free people to truly pursue their passions in life. We have so few days and to spend them marred in fear seems like a terrible waste of the short time that we are allotted.

H/T groovyjoss via twitter



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