Athletes and masculinity

March 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

I had an idea about the comments athletes make about women in the locker room, however, Don Sabo’s essay was somewhat surprising to me.  I figured that men talked this way about women in the locker room after they had sex with women.  I was not prepared for his discussion of the ways sexual activity was rewarded and celebrated when it was violent, abusive, or exploitative.  I was really surprised to read the part about the players who got drunk and did some very wrong things to women.  I do remember, though, as a freshman at Purdue, I had a friend who was pledging at a campus fraternity.  He said that there was a board that had every brother’s name and how many women they had had sex with.  Each new pledge was also looked upon to provide that information.  He said he felt uncomfortable because that was disrespectful to women, but he said that he did not feel comfortable telling the other guys that he felt that way.  I also wonder how many of these encounters are exaggerated or completely fabricated by men in the locker room.

I had not really considered the idea of sex as a sport.  This analogy is logical in the way Sabo explains it.  Men often use the same language to talk about sex as they would when playing a sport.  That can take the personal or intimate aspects away from sex, and make it simply a power struggle, wherein the masculine man can prove his masculinity by continuing to “score” with many women.  Back to my friend and the fraternity set up, he said that there was no reward or celebration for a brother who had sex with the same girl many times, only points for having sex with many different girls.  This plays into Sabo’s idea that men are disregarding their needs in order to prove themselves masculine to other men.  Like the “Men and women are from Earth” essay points out, men do have a need for intimacy.  They are also capable of being sympathetic and having emotions.  However, since these characteristics are often attributed to women, men in these locker room talks do not acknowledge that those are traits they posses or even want to posses.

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