Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Breaking out of Stereotypes

I was looking on the internet the other day and came across this article on female body building. I find this to be a great discussion topic, because so many people have so many different oninions on the sport and the women who participate in it. I could not post the article, so I did a review of the article and here is what I found.

Article: “Big Freaky-Looking Women”: Normalizing Gender Transgression Through Bodybuilding- Shelly A. McGrath & Ruth A. Chananie. Sociology of Sport Journal, 2009, 26, 235-254

“I think femininity exists on a continuum and I think that society can accept women I would say like one or two standard deviations from the normal curve, but those who are the outliers, when you get closer to the plus three and you are kind of skewing stuff—I think that is when it becomes a problem” (Carla 2009 pg.1). This to me is a great quote to introduce the article I chose in female bodybuilding. Female bodybuilding is a difficult thing for many people to understand. No one seems to understand why women want to build their muscles and look like “men.” But little do they know that there are many other reasons why women like to build up their bodies, and this is what the article “Big Freaky-Looking Women” is trying to explain.

“Big Freaky-Looking Women” is an article that conducts a study about how gender violations through rebellion with some gender attributions in female bodybuilding. In other words, the researchers are trying to understand why it is that women want to break out of the gender norms and build up their bodies like men.

The structure of this experiment is using ten participants who are all involved in bodybuilding. Theses ten women are between the ages of 21 and 37. Seven of the women are Caucasian, one woman is African American, one if Ghanaian, and one more is Palestinian. All of these women participate in bodybuilding at the amateur level. These girls have a range of body building experience from a few weeks, up to eight years, and were all competing at the college level when this study was taking place. This article uses semi structured in-dept interviews from all ten of its participants, as well as observation of all the women as well.

Through the rashers interviews, and observation the found that many women participate in body building, because it “experiencing bodybuilding as personally Empowering, difficulties in balancing requirements and expectations of muscularity and femininity both in competition and in everyday life trivialization of the labor involved in female bodybuilding and reinforcement of patriarchal standards of femininity” (Shelly A. McGrath 2009 pg. 8). All in all what theses findings show is that women, of this sample of women, that they “violate” the gender stereotypes because it makes them feel powerful, in control of their minds and their bodies. In addition even though the women had to be considered gender rebels in this article, they still went against the norm to do what they wanted/needed to do to empower themselevs.

I think that this is not the most reliable study. I feel this way because this study only used a very small sample of female bodybuilders. In addition the body builders even though the experience varied slightly, they were all at the same level within the bodybuilding world. Therefore this study is based on a small section of female bodybuilders. What about the women who compete at the highest level? There reasons for participation in this sport could be completely different form these amateur women that this study was conducted around.

On the other hand this study is one of the first of very few studies that looks into what drives women to participate in body building. This experiment is good because it allows us to get into the heads of ten women who do body build, and it helped us to better understand why women participate in this sport.

The implications that can help us from this article are that it shows that women who body build and just like you and I. They do not wish they were men; at least that is what this study shows. I believe that is what most people think who look at female body builders that they only do this because they wish they were men. This is the stereotype we seem to always come across when bodybuilding and women are put together, and I feel that this article does a great job of breaking through the stereotype and showing everyone that women participate in body building for the same reasons that you and I play our chosen sports.

No comments:

Post a Comment