Template:Cleanup-rewrite Template:Nofootnotes Since women's participation has greatly increased in many sports formerly considered masculine following the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the stereotype of the lesbian athlete has become more prominent.[citation needed]

History Edit

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive any federal funds. Between 1970 and 2001 there has been a 468% increase in the number of women participating in college sports. After World War II the stereotype emerged even more than before. Through the 1910s and 1920’s there was an ongoing debate about how sports could damage female reproductive ability and how sports unleashed heterosexual passion. It was thought that physical activity would interfere with menstruation and increase women's libido. In the 1930s, the lesbian stereotype began to arise and accusations became harsher as time went on and women became more prominent in athletics.[citation needed] Now sports have become a way for lesbians to socialize and recognize each other. Women’s teams usually tend to be more accepting in their social attitudes towards other player, which makes women more comfortable with coming out. Also, this has been extremely beneficial for those women who do not play sports, but are still homosexual because it is easier for them to come out too.[citation needed]



Female athletes are sometimes labeled as ‘butch’.[citation needed] The fact that some high-profile women athletes, such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, are lesbians, may have led fans, coaches and athletic directors to infer that the majority of female athletes are lesbians. In 1972, ninety percent of all women’s sports teams were coached by women, but today this number is below forty-nine percent. Perhaps because of the increasing competitiveness of women's college sports, more and more male coaches are being appointed to coach women's teams, often bringing with them their experience in the highly-competitive arena of men's intercollegiate athletics. Since lesbians make up at most 5-10% of the female population, the source of traditional stereotypes of female athletes tending to be lesbians is unclear. Although, the homosocial nature of team sports along with "situational homosexuality" which sometimes occurs, may contribute to this stereotype.

Homophobia Edit

For further information, see: Homophobia

Several studies have shown that women are less likely to be homophobic[citation needed]. The NCAA addressed this issue and believes that many athletes are uncomfortable with being labeled as gay or bisexual so will not openly fight homophobia for fear that they might out themselves.[citation needed]

Code of silence Edit

Some articles and studies say that in women’s athletics there is a code of silence that must be honored. Lesbians are not to be spoken of or speak in general for fear that fans will abandon the game.[citation needed]

Participation Edit

Girls fears of homophobia can contribute to some girls not participating in athletics. A different study said that women playing sports puts a question on their heterosexuality. The author of the study said that girls who dared to sweat and become dirty had to overcome the perceived dividing line between being a pretty girl who prizes her physical appearance and a strong, athlete girl who emphasizes physical power and skill.[citation needed]

Media CoverageEdit

Media coverage of women’s athletics may pressure women to create an image of heterosexual femininity and create a socially attractive image. Many lesbian athletes feel they cannot come out as a lesbian which creates a “culture of the closet”. Female athletes on the professional level that exhibit the norms of femininity and conformity are more likely to be popular in the media.

Situational HomosexualityEdit

For further information, see: Situational sexual behavior

Many female athletes are associated with masculine stereotypes and are surrounded by women for long periods of time if they are active in their sport. This may bring on situational homosexuality for some. The phenomenon is not necessarily related to the gay community, but perhaps due to the fact that women are surrounded by the same sex for extended periods of time.[1] Team sports such as basketball, rugby, soccer, and football may create a team dynamic favorable to exploring one's sexuality. A study done in France showed that women who participate in team sports tended to have fewer relationships with men even if they were heterosexual.[citation needed] This was because the women felt that it may disrupt the “homosociability” of the team and the social bonds that tie the team together.

Coming out as a homosexualEdit

For further information, see: Coming out

Coming out as a female athlete is more accepted than a male athlete.[citation needed] Groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Athletes Association seek to make it easier for lesbians to come out by providing a variety of services such as a peer support group composed of homosexual athletes, coaches, athletic directors, and counselors.

Notable lesbian, gay and bisexual athletes Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. glbtq >> social sciences >> Situational Homosexuality

Additional references Edit

  • De Jong, A. (April 13, 2005). "Female athletes face lesbian stereotypes". Daily Bruin; UCLA
  • Elling, Agnes, De Knop, Paul,and Knoppers, Annelies. “The Social Integrative Meaning of Sport: A Critical and Comparative Analysis of Policy and Practice in the Netherlands.” Sociology of sport journal. 18.4 (2000): 414.
  • Goldman, Tom. (2005 April 21). “Attitudes may be changing in locker rooms about gay athletes”. National Public Radio.
  • Hawes, Kay. The Scarlet Letter Of Sports. The NCAA News.
  • Hoffman, Tyler. What Does It Mean to Be Gay In Sports? Canada Newswire Ltd. June 20, 2005.
  • Knight, Jennier L, and Giulaino, Traci A. Blood, sweat, and jeers: the impact of the media's heterosexist portrayals on perceptions of male and female athletes.
  • Mennesson, C & Clement, J. "Homosociability and Homosexuality: The Case of Soccer Played by Women". International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 2003, 38, 3, Sept, 311-330.
  • Plymire, Darcy. Forman Pamela. Speaking of Cheryl Miller: Interrogating the Lesbian Taboo on a Women’s Basketball Newsgroup. National Women’s Studies Association Journal. 2001.
  • Shakib, Sohaila. Female basketball participation: Negotiating the conflation of peer status. The American Behavioral Scientist; Jun 2003; 46, 10; ABI/INFORM Global pg. 1405.
  • Wright, Jan and Clark, Gill. "Sport, the media and the construction of compulsury heteosexuality: a case study of Women's Rugby Union." International Review for the Sociology of Sport. Vol. 34, Issue 3, p. 227-243.

External links Edit

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