Gymnastics By: Janine Swart, Maggie Jensen, Blake White, Jeff Brinton

Are women more at risk in areas of society, such as sports, that are traditionally “for men”?

Let's Start from the Beginning

  • Gymnastics was originally introduced by the Greeks, along with other forms of physical exercise
  • Modern gymnastics began to take shape in the late 1770's in Germany. Friedrich Ludwig Jahn is often considered the "father of modern gymnastics"
  • Men's gymnastics first made it to the Olympics in 1896, and women's joined in 1936

Evolution of the Sport

Women's gymnastics first joined the Olympics in 1936, with an all-around competition. It wasn't until 1952 that separate events were added. There has been a clear progression of the sport on the women's side. It has progressively gotten more physically technical and athletic. One of the strongest witnesses of this can be seen in the floor exercises.

Little Bit of Background

Rhythmic Gymnastic Basics

  • Combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance and appartus manipulation
  • involves the performance of five separate routines with the use of five apparatus; ball, ribbon, hoop, clubs, rope—on a floor area, with a much greater emphasis on the aesthetic rather than the acrobatic
  • only available to women

Artistic Gymnastics Basics

  • Men - Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars, and Horizontal Bar
  • Women - Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, and Floor Exercise
  • Men: 6 events , Women: 4 events

Differences in Competing

  • share only two common events - the vault and floor
  • only women perform on the floor to music
  • Women's routines tend ​to be more artistic and dance like.
  • Men's routines are meant to display strength

Male vs Female Uniforms

The contrast is noticeable with women wearing a leotard that barely covers the buttocks and long sleeves. The men wear long pants and tank tops. For the same sport these uniforms could not be more different.

Men's uniforms are simple and practical. The women's uniforms are much more elaborate. Makeup, jewelry, and glitter are worn by nearly every female gymnast at the Olympic level. In the most recent summer games team USA leotards had 5,000 crystals ― each.

Objectification by the Media

For years the media and general public have been over critical of women in this sport and their physical attractiveness. Popular website made the following remarks regarding the women gymnasts participating at the Rio Olympics:

“Her simple blue and red kit had no embellishment whatsoever and didn't even have sleeves - looking more like a swimming costume than a show-stopping leotard.”
“Her salmon pink and white leotard failed to complement her skin tone”
“With an unattractive teal hue and a rhinestone-covered collar, Australia's Larrissa Miller turned heads for all the wrong reasons when she took to the bars on Sunday.

"A Girls Sport"

Society has been taught to think of sorts in terms of “genderedness”.

  • Men are encouraged and taught to participate in strenuous, aggressive, competitive teams sports.
  • Woman are commonly steered towards individual aesthetically pleasing activities such as gymnastics.

Athletes who break this ideology often get teased by from a young age. In recent years woman are becoming more accepted in “masculine sports” men have not yet bridged the gap. They are not near as accepted in what they call “woman’s sport”. Many male gymnasts are bullied or looked down upon by their peers, as gymnastics is largely seen as a sport traditionally “for girls”.

It is not uncommon for a university to have a women’s gymnastic team, but many schools have disbanded their men’s team.

How has the NCAA’s culture of genderedness in sports shaped society?

Abuse in Gymnastics

Gymnastics creates an environment that focus on achievement and disregards your own sense of right and wrong. Abuse in Gymnastics ranges from emotional, physical and even sexual. In an investigation conducted by shows how these young children can get put into a unhealthy environment.

Jennifer Sey Former US National Gymnast in a article published in the New York Times talked about her experience from club level as a child all the way to when she was a National icon in the sport of Gymnastics

Age doesn't help most of these gymnasts are still 14 to 16 and fully don't understand... might be confused about whether to speak up for themselves when they've been mistreated or may be scared.
When I was training, I blackened my eyes when I fell on my head on the beam after fasting for three days before a competition. “I don’t coach fat gymnasts” was a common refrain from coaches antagonizing me about my weight.
At one point, I required monthly cortisone injections to limp through my floor routine.After I broke my femur at the 1985 world championships, I had the cast removed early under pressure from my coaches so that I could train for the next national championships. I competed and won, but not without breaking the opposite ankle in the process.

IndyStar previously reported that top officials at USA Gymnastics, one of the nation’s most prominent Olympic organizations, failed to alert police to many allegations of sexual abuse that occurred on their watch and stashed complaints in files that have been kept secret. But the problem is far worse. A nine-month investigation found that predatory coaches were allowed to move from gym to gym, undetected by a lax system of oversight, or dangerously passed on by USA Gymnastics-certified gyms.

At least 368 gymnasts have alleged some form of sexual abuse at the hands of their coaches, gym owners and other adults working in gymnastics in the last 20 years.

USA Gymnastics Dr. Lawrence Nassar faces 22 counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. More than 80 women have come forth, and more coming forward daily

Are women more at risk in areas of society, such as sports, that are traditionally “for men”?


Created with images by K.M. Klemencic - "DSC_1663"

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