Helen Grant, sports minister is in the news today talking about how to get more women into sport. Her plan seems to be to get them to do ballet or roller blading so they can look “feminine” and “radiant” – or maybe they could just stand on the side lines looking pretty and keep fit by cleaning the boys kit?
“Some girls may well not like doing very traditional hockey, tennis or athletics, others might, so for those who don’t want to, how about considering maybe gym, ballet, cheerleading?” she said.
“You don’t have to feel unfeminine … There are some wonderful sports which you can do and perform to a very high level and I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.”
Im spitting. SPITTING with rage. Shall we encourage our boys into football so they can look masculine? Or into boxing so they can be manly? Only boys mind, we definitely shouldn’t let our princesses partake in anything so uncouth!
Speaking of consulting women as to what they want, she said “whether it’s a Zumba class or a game of rounders after they’ve dropped the kids off.”
Because come on mummies, you have nothing better to do. Go and have a dance class, you can look amazing and do the housework later! Leave all that horrid ‘work’ stuff to the men, they are better at it. You should make sure you keep fit but ensure you shower and put your face back on in time for your husband getting home from work. And get that dinner on the table at 6pm!
My daughters current hero is Jenny Jones, we are taking her for a snowboarding lesson next week as she has been so inspired by the athlete. She doesn’t like her because of her make up, or her ‘radiance’ – she likes her because she kicks arse, she is an amazing snowboarder and won a medal at the olympics.
I feel that Im constantly fighting against poor body image messages that bombard my 11 year old. Things ARE better and there are some fantastic female role models but its this easy and relaxed sexism is everywhere, from pink toys for girls and blue for boys at an early age, to padded bras for children and music videos that are sexualised and promote an image that women must show their breasts and dance provocatively in order to make it.
Our Sports Minister is suggesting there are girls sports and boys sports. Surely there are just sports, some kids will like contact sports, some will like boxing, rugby, football, dance, snowboarding, rollerblading or athletics. Some of these kids will be male and some female, we should be encouraging all of them to participate in whatever sports they enjoy.
I know there is a problem with teenage girls hitting an age where they drop out of sports, but rather than trying to funnel them into ‘feminine’ sports maybe its worth looking at the reasons why they stop? Perhaps it is to do with a negative body image that has been drummed into them for years? I hated PE at school and the reasons were that I wasn’t particularly good at group/competitive sports. I found it embarrassing to be in a big group and being the person who couldn’t do it and I also despised the PE kit, no one feels good in PE knickers…
I also find the idea that ballet or roller blading are ‘girly’ sports that are about you looking radiant really offensive. Ballet dancers are committed, hard working athletes who devote their lives to perfecting their art.
And if you have ever seen a female roller derby you’ll know that these are strong women who are competing hard, I doubt their bruises and injuries are particularly radiant to the minister…
Sport is sport. I think its really important to encourage youngsters to be healthy, if exercise becomes a habit at a young age it is more likely they will continue into adulthood. But let’s encourage them to partake in physical activity that they enjoy. If that is Zumba, then fantastic! Enjoy it, work out, love the benefits of your body being healthier and fitter, don’t do it because you want to look pretty.
Love Sam x