Title: Coming on Strong; Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Women's Sports

Topics: Gender, Working class, Social class Pages: 2 (502 words) Published: February 25, 2005
The general argument made by author Susan K. Cahn, is that in" today's' society there are women athletes who are media celebrities and a source of inspiration for many. But not long ago, being serious about sports was considered appropriate only for men and boys". Throughout the 20th century, women's increasing participation in sports has challenged our conception of womanhood. Some celebrated the female athlete as the embodiment of modern womanhood, but others branded her "mannish" which was liked to being a lesbian. Ultimately, she altered the perception of sport as an exclusively male domain. More specifically, Cahn focuses on the decades between 1920 and 1960, Cahn argues that at the beginning of the century, the debate centered on the potential for sports to impair women's reproductive capacity and to unleash women's sexuality. Cahn's research varied from organizational records, publications, to interviews; in which, helped capture this image.

19th and early ‘20s- males attitude towards the physical danger of female athletic activity '20s and '30s- physical teachers preached "moderation" downplaying or banning competitive sports '40s and '50s- attitudes that all sports were mannish and anyone who played them were lesbians '60s- Progress and acceptance

Cahn uses various examples to show the arguments and strategies used by different groups to show the cultural dissonance between feminity and women's participation in sports. Female physical educators attempted to create a separate and "moderate" sphere for women's athletics, by creating a restrictive set of rules for women's sports. Commercial sports promoters sought out the fears of the "unfeminine" sportswomen by emphasizing a sexual appeal of athletes. In both of these cases that goal was to show that sports could actually enhance women's fitness as mothers or their attractiveness a mates. Another one of the books strengths focused on ways class and race intersected with gender. For...
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