Personal Foul: Sexism

Ellie Sullivan

Comp Lit 203

17 February, 2017

Throughout history, women have been undermined socially.  Many jobs are considered to be a “man’s job” and sports are included in this.  The rational for this is that women don’t have the physical capabilities to perform the tasks that men do.  Sarah Thomas, the pioneer woman NFL referee, is currently breaking stereotypical gender boundaries.  She’s doing this not only for herself, but for future generations as well.  This is most evident in Thomas’s proclamation that, “[She] refuses to accept that being an NFL official is a man’s job and wants to show her daughter that she can be anything she wants to be”.  The Keywords essay “Gender”, relates a similar perspective to Thomas’s.  In class we discussed that an important aspect of gender is performativity.  We are all born with a sex of either male or female defined solely by genitalia, but gender is all based on performance.  Unfortunately, gender roles have been classified as either black or white when in reality they are neither black or white, but rather many shades of gray. In this class, we have referred to gender as intersecting with other categories of identity such as age and dress.  American Girl books that we have read in class further our idea of the stereotypical American Girl.  In Meet Kirsten, the main character, Kirsten, is given a dress and dolls to play with as soon as she moves to America.  As a young girl, she is already told how to act in order to be viewed as a girl when in reality a girl can act, dress and play with whatever she desires.  Relating back to Sarah Thomas, the focus of this post, we can see that she wants her daughter to have the opportunities that Kirsten did not.  She wants her daughter to have the freedom to be her own person without the constraints of being our society’s stereotypical “American Girl”.  Dresses and frills don’t define girls, but rather individuality and potential.

3 thoughts on “Personal Foul: Sexism”

  1. I strongly agree! I think it’s great that women are starting to be more involved in “mens jobs. ” Personally, I do play a sport that most people would think is more “masculine,” so I feel like I can relate to Sarah and what she is doing for the sports world. I believe every girl should have the opportunities to do anything that they want. I like how you related this to Kristen because she was seen as more of the “typical girl.” I also really liked the ending sentence, this was extremely clever!

  2. I think that it is great that women are branching out and doing jobs that were typically known as “men’s” jobs in the past. Even as a women when I saw a female referee I was shocked. I feel that it is sad that myself and I’m sure many others, were shocked at this site. It should not be an odd thing to see a women as a referee. It should never have become an idea that there are gender specific jobs. I hope that women continue to break the norms and that someday it will not be a shock for someone to see a women doing any job.

  3. I resonate with this on a personal level. I am not a football ref, but a basketball and track official. It is far and high if I see another girl official in the sport, and I have yet to work with one as my partner. It always comes up how they do not see many women refs around. The responses are from both ends of the spectrum. My partners tell me they hope I continue on with the officiating because their isn’t many women involved. Then I have coaches that disagree with my calls, and their first reactions are to tell me I don’t know the rules because I’m just a girl. Didn’t really know that had anything to do with making my calls, but to them it does I guess? One of the best parts of being a girl official though, is many times I have coaches, or girl players themselves, come up to me and say how excited they are that they finally have an official that is a girl like them! That makes it worth it. It really helps me forget about all the gender stereotypes, and lets me keep going because I know I have some little girls looking up to me. But, that fact that we have very few female refs in sports that women actually play shows just how much the idea that women can’t do what men can do, hasn’t gone very far.

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