Girls’ sport and the male gaze

As the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation today urged schools to provide more girl-friendly sports and sctivities – like Zumba (yay!) – i experienced first hand this morning how the “male gaze” can transform everyday activities, turning a class of grown women into a bunch of unco-ordinated girls.

Busy-ness over the last few weeks means i haven’t had my zumba fix. So today being the first chance to do so, i hurried down to the local village hall and got gyrating. Glorious!

Our dance mistress, Siobhan, was mostly playing favourites – so not the embarrassment of my trying to catch up with a load of new stuff that the rest of the class now knew by heart. And cause they were favourites, i was able to let go and enjoy.

There we were…about twenty of us dancing more or less in time…when the door opens and…a MAN walks in. Yep: zumba – at least out in the wilds of Lincolnshire – is very gendered.

He was there to do something technical and electrical: so nothing to do with the class. He had only to walk from the door on one side of the hall to the door on t’other and get out his box of tools and…

well: when a woman arrives late to class…or when i or anyone else wanders in and crosses the room, no-one takes a blind bit of notice.

This morning, however, for some strange reason, the class just fell apart. There was a sense of rhythm being lost: of neat and tidy dance co-ordination giving way to fluttery chaos.

It happened the first time he appeared. Happened again as he walked back across the room and ever so slightly as he re-appeared. Wow!

I’d never seen the class do that before.

A little bit later, he went out to his car and returned….walking thru the door just in time for one of those musical passages where we’re doing nothing much apart from circling our hips in a way that SOME observers might consider to be ever so slightly erotic.

A friend confided after: “I just couldn’t: i KNEW he was going to walk back in when we were doing that and i couldn’t do it with him looking on”.

So there you have it. Not altogether sure WHAT the “it” in question might be. But there’s definitely something there, and it probably is relevant to the debate kicked off about women in sport.

Reminds me, ever so peripherally, of an all-women event i attended a year or so back, which involved flash cotton and not a lot of body cover. All perfectly good natured fun – and quite impossible, i think, had blokes been present.

Though maybe not quite classifiable as sport.

jane xx


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    eclectic chicken said,

    what do you expect from the half of the gender binary who can share one portion of chips between six… you’re all bonkers

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