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Discuss how feminist theory can help explain women's experiences of health and or sport.

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Introduction

Discuss how feminist theory can help explain women's experiences of health and or sport. Within this essay I am going to discuss how feminist theory can help explain women's experiences of sport. I am going to give a brief outline of four feminist perspectives and then look at how some of the perspectives help explain women's experiences of sport, specifically Formula 1 motoracing. Feminism is concerned with understanding the oppression and trying to put right the inequalities of women, in an essay entitled What is Feminism? Rosalind Delamar suggested that "at the very least a feminist is someone who holds that women suffer discrimination because of their sex, that they have specific needs which remain negated and unsatisfied, and that satisfaction of these needs would require a radical change (some would say a revolution even) in the social, economic and political order". (Delamar in J Mitchell and A Oakley eds, 1986:8) (Introduction to Sociology, O'Donnel, M p189). There have been no female drivers in Formula 1 since 1992, even though 48% of the 30-million licenced drivers in the UK alone are female. I am therefore going to look at how women are viewed and portrayed within the context of F1 racing from a feminist perspective and try to understand why no women are involved at the present time. ...read more.

Middle

Femininity is also based on sexual attractiveness, bodyshape for example, the dominant ideas of society that conclude women should be thin, that women's bodies are weaker and less able than men's but can be moulded and objectified in the media and on television to fit in with what society considers to be the norm. The hegemonic markers of masculinity on the other hand are all the exact opposite of femininity, that men should be hard, strong, aggressive,competitive, etc, that it is a mans natural role to compete with others, to be the dominant power. In motoracing the skills required are "strength, stamina, concentration, competitive will, quick reaction/reflexes, excellent eyesight,cardio fitness, leanness and more to be a world class championship-calibre race car driver. Yet none of these qualities are defined by gender" (www.lynstjames.com/lynstjames/ecclestone). Unfortunately in a patriarchal society nearly all these skills are linked to the hegemonic markers of masculinity. The image of F1 (Formula 1) is that of a glamourous sport with a playboy image, the racing drivers are seen as rich and flamboyant, on a par with movie and popstars. This attracts a lot of media attention to the sport as well as to the private lives of the racing drivers themselves. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion I have looked into and tried to establish reasons for there not being any female racing drivers in F1. I have suggested that this could be down to the portrayal of women within the realms of F1, that women are viewed as sexual objects and that any participation of women in the role of race contender could be trivialised and undermined by this imagery. Also gender stereotyping, cars and racing are viewed as a male domain and from a young age children are guided into the areas that are typically viewed as male and female, these socially constructed gender roles therefore guide children in to what is acceptable for boys and girls, that certain sports are not seen as being feminine, like motor racing for example, and girls should not be encourage by being given cars to play with. So, until the boundaries of stereotypical gender roles are broken and all children are encouraged to fulfil their potential, no matter what direction, women will not be encouraged towards male dominated sports. The lack of any role model for budding female drivers to aspire to may have a negative effect on the sport, by not breaking down the barriers and prejudices around F1 and allowing women through on to the circuit the sport is cutting itself of from half the population. ...read more.

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