Lober pages 14-15 - researchers did a yearlong study that...

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Unformatted text preview: researchers did a yearlong study that compared 66 women—21 who were training for a marathon, 22 who ran more than an hour a week, and 23 who did less than an hour of aerobic exer— cise a week——they discovered that only 20 per- cent of the women in any of these groups had “normal” menstrual cycles every month (Prior et al. 1990). The dangers of intensive training for women’s fertility therefore were exaggerated as women began to compete successfully in arenas formerly closed to them. Given the association of sports with mas— culinity in the United States, women athletes have to manage a contradictory status. One study of women college basketball players found that although they "did athlete” on the court—- ”pushing, shoving, fouling, hard running, fast breaks, defense, Obscenities and sweat” (Watson 1987, 441), they “did woman” off the court, using the locker room as their staging area: While it typically took fifteen minutes to prepare for the game, it took approximately fifteen min- utes after the game to shower and remove the sweat of an athlete, and it took another thirty min, utes to dress, apply make—up and style hair. It did not seem to matter whether the players were going out into the public or getting on a van for a long ride home. Average dressing time and rituals did not change. (Watson 1987, 443) Another way women manage these status dilem~ mas is to redefine the activity or its result as fem- inine or womanly (Mangan and Park 1987). Thus women bodybuilders claim that "flex appeal is sex appeal” (Duff and Hong 1984, 378). Such a redefinition of women’s physicality affirms the ideological subtext of sports that physical strength is men's prerogative and justi- fies men’s physical and sexual domination of women (Hargreaves 1986; Messner 1992, 164,72; Olson 1990; Theberge 1987; Willis 1982). When women demonstrate physical strength, they are labeled unfeminine: Categorizing Dif/‘ereuces/fvfaking Categories it’s threatening to one’s takeability, one’s rapeabil- ity, one’s femininity, to be strong and physically self~possessed. To be able to resist rape, not to communicate rapeability with one’s body, to hold one’s body for uses and meanings other than that can transform What being a woman means. (Mac- Kinnon 1987, 122, emphasis in original) Resistance to that transformation, ironically, was evident in the policies of American women phys— ical education professionals throughout most of the twentieth century. They minimized exertion, maximized a feminine appearance and manner, and left organized sports competition to men (Birrell 1988, 461~62; Mangan and Park 1987). DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS As sports construct gendered bodies, technology constructs gendered skills. Metaanalysis of stud— ies of gender differences in spatial and mathe- matical ability have found that men have a large advantage in ability to mentally rotate an image, a moderate advantage in a visual perception of horizontality and verticality and in mathematical performance, and a small advantage in ability to pick a figure out of a field (Hyde 1990). It could be argued that these advantages explain why, within the short space of time that computers have become ubiquitous in offices, schools, and homes, work on them and with them has become gendered: Men create, program, and market computers, make war and produce science and art with them; women microwire them in com- puter factories and enter data in computerized offices; boys play games, socialize, and commit crimes with computers; girls are rarely seen in computer clubs, camps, and classrooms. But women were hired as computer programmers in the 1940s because I the work seemed to resemble simple clerical tasks. In fact, however, programming demanded com— plex skills in abstract logic, mathematics, electrical vies ML and ~machinery, all of which . . . any 9 ed to perform in their work. Once pro— t to _Was recognized as "intellectually Eli _ " it became attractive to men. (Donato f a _ iac— _ __ , mathematician and pioneer in data pro- g, Grace M. Hopper, was famous for her :as n ,progranunmg language (Perry and Gre- y 5- L _, 86)._By the 19605, programming was split 0f more and less skilled specialties, and the entry m, into the computer field in the 19705 and er’ v». chnfined to the lowerpaid specialties. At en stage, employers invoked women’s and urportedly natural capabilities for the jobs WhiCh‘they were hired (Cockburn 1983, 1985; Onatol990; Hartmann 1987; Hartmann, Kraut, d any 1986; Kramer and Lehman 1990; Wright i a: a1. 1987; Zimmerman 1983). d- V ‘_ it is the taken-for-grantedness of such every— efi ay gendered behavior that gives credence to the le belief that Widespread differences in which 63’ Womenand men do must come from biology. To 316 _L:_t_yal<e , One ordinarily unremarked scenario: In #1 modern societies, if a man and woman who are a O couple are in a car together, he is much more d likely to take the wheel than she is, even if she is V’ the more competent driver. Molly Haskell calls 8 this taken-for—granted phenomenon “the dirty 1 little secret of marriage: the husband-lousy— 3 driver syndrome” (1989, 26). Men drive cars I whether they are good drivers or not because men and machines are a "natural" combination (Scharff 1991). But the ability to drive gives one mobility; it is a form of social power. In the early days of the automobile, feminists co—opted the symbolism of mobility as emancipa— tion: “Donning goggles and clusters, wielding tire irons and tool kits, taking the Wheel, they announced their intention to move beyond the bounds of women’s place” (Scharff 1991, 68). Driving enabled them to campaign for women’s suffrage in parts of the United States not served 15 by public transportation, and they effectively used motorcades and speaking from cars as carn— paign tactics (Scharff 1991, 67—88). Sandra Gilbert also notes that during World War 1, women’s ability to drive was physically, mentally, and even sensually liberating: For nurses and ambulance drivers, women doc— tors and women messengers, the phenomenon of modern battle was very different from that expe— rienced by entrenched combatants. Finally given a chance to take the wheel, these post—Victorian girls raced motorcars along foreign roads like adventurers exploring new lands, while their brothers dug deeper into the mud of France. . . . Retrieving the wounded and the dead from deadly positions, these once~decorous daughters had at last been allowed to prove their valor, and they swooped over the wastelands of the war with the energetic love of Wagnerian Valkyries, their mobility alone transporting countless immo— bilized heroes to safe havens (1983, 438—39) Not incidentally, women in the United States and England got the vote for their war efforts in World War I. SOCIAL BODIES AND THE BATHROOM PROBLEM People of the same racial ethnic group and social class are roughly the same size and shape—but there are many varieties of bodies. People have different genitalia, different secondary sex char~ acteristics, different contributions to procreation, different orgasmic experiences, different patterns of illness and aging. Each of us experiences our bodies differently, and these experiences change I, as we grow, age, sicken, and die. The bodies of pregnant and nonpregnant women, short and tall people, those with intact and functioning limbs and those whose bodies are physically challenged are all different. But the salient cate- gories of a society group these attributes in ways ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/15/2009 for the course WOMENS STU 01:988:13 taught by Professor Addison during the Spring '09 term at Rutgers.

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Lober pages 14-15 - researchers did a yearlong study that...

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