When it comes to science and the logic behind gender norms, there has always been a clash. There are many reasons behind this, but one of them is the patriarchal systems that exist in many different societies. Systems like these perpetuate the idea that women are less strong than men, both in the body and the mind. But these are easily dispelled when applying even the simplest of intellectually sound logic.
This all began to change in the 1970’s, when gender politics continued to evolve. There was a significant shift in gender roles and identity, and this was reflected in the toys that were marketed towards girls and boys. Prior to this decade, toys were typically marketed towards specific genders, with dolls and kitchen sets marketed towards girls, and action figures and construction sets marketed towards boys. However, as society began to challenge traditional gender roles, many toy manufacturers began to produce gender-neutral toys that could be enjoyed by children of any gender.
This change in marketing strategy was largely driven by the feminist movement, which argued that gendered toys reinforced restrictive gender roles and limited children’s opportunities for self-expression and exploration.
The quintessential battle of the sexes is even harder to iron out when it comes to topics like sports. While there may be some gender differences in sports participation and interest, these differences are likely due to a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors. One theory suggests that men may be more interested in sports due to their higher levels of testosterone, which is associated with greater competitiveness and risk-taking behavior. However, this theory is controversial and has not been fully supported by research.
Another possible explanation is that sports have traditionally been viewed as masculine activities, and cultural expectations may influence the extent to which men and women participate in and enjoy sports. Additionally, the socialization of boys and girls may differ in terms of exposure to and encouragement of sports.
History has shown that when societies and cultures make a larger effort to even the playing field and expose girls to sports at an equal rate of boys, female participation in sports increases drastically. This is evident in examples like Title IX, a critical piece of legislation that has helped to level the playing field for women in sports. Before the enactment of Title IX, female participation in high school athletics was a mere 7 percent. However, as a result of Title IX, this number has increased to 42 percent. This significant increase in female participation in high school sports has had a profound impact on the lives of young women across the country.
Title IX was enacted in 1972 and prohibited gender discrimination in educational programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. This included athletics, which had long been dominated by men. Title IX required schools to provide equal opportunities for female athletes, which led to the creation of new teams and the expansion of existing programs. As a result, girls across the country have been given the opportunity to participate in sports that were previously unavailable to them.
Yet, there are still some who will argue that men are more heavily geared towards sports from an evolutionary perspective. This is all subjective, though, based on the type of sport being discussed. Many sports do engage in activities that would translate well in a setting of warfare and battle – tackling, running, rough one-on-one contact with a direct opponent, and launching weapon-like objects like a javelin or discus. These skills would have been essential for men to master and effectively perform in many cultures and societies throughout the centuries, while those same cultures would have likely been structured with women protecting the children and presiding over the homestead.
So there is some plausible argument to be had that, from an evolutionary standpoint, men have evolved to naturally be more prevalently involved in sports. While this may be the case for many cultures historically speaking, some could argue the opposing argument, as there are plenty of societies that were defended by armies of all female warriors.
Regardless of the many different factors that could be defended or disregarded regarding men and women in sports, one thing can be laid to rest. The times reflect, as well as the minds of those evolving towards a more equitable future, that both men and women should have equal footing, opportunity, and resources to both pursue professionally and enjoy organized sports and recreation.