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Gender, Sport and

Louise Mansfield


Gender refers to the socially constructed differences between women and men, while the term “sex” is a reference to the biological and physical differences between males and females. Gender draws attention to the socially unequal distinction between femininity and masculinity. Femininity is used to describe characteristic behaviors and emotions of females and masculinity refers to the distinctive actions and feelings of the male sex. In studies of gender and sport, the concept of gender is analytically distinguished from that of sex even though the two are often used synonymously in everyday language and thought. Not all the differences between females and males are biological. But historically, ideas about the implications of biological differences between women and men have served to justify the exclusion or limited inclusion of women in sports. Such views reflect an ideology of biological determinism, where it is claimed that men, and not women, are inherently strong, aggressive, and competitive and, therefore, better suited to sports. Since the 1970s, gender has become an important category of analysis in the sociology of sport. Research has clearly demonstrated that sports are gendered activities as well as social contexts in which boys and men are more actively and enthusiastically encouraged to participate, compared with girls and women. Evidence also shows that more males ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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