The Encyclopedia of Gender and Society defines hegemonic masculinity as a set of practices and societal norms that are seen as “masculine” and that are dominant in society. Hegemonic masculinity is a gender performance and regulates what it is to be a real ‘man’. Hegemonic masculinity is seen as the ultimate form of masculinity, one that embodies aggression, competition, physical strength, power and dominance. In the reading Gender: A Sociological Reader, Connell articulates that “the most important feature of contemporary hegemonic masculinity is that it is heterosexual, being closely connected to the institution of marriage; and a key form of subordinated masculinity is homosexual”.
In the YouTube video ‘Commercials that show Hegemonic Masculinity’ a series of advertisements are shown that portray hegemonic masculine men as men that don’t cook, men who smell like other men and men who are ultimately the heroes of the day. Hegemonic Masculinity is prioritized frequently in advertising, television and film. This can be seen in the YouTube video ‘Hegemonic Masculinity in Surfer Magazine’. The video shows how hegemonic masculinity is represented in a surf magazine, in which men are rewarded for their masculine behaviour, while women who present the same type of behaviour have their masculinity downplayed.
Hegemonic masculinity can be seen in many public spaces such as in the workplace and in sport. The website Emasculated states that “in business, it is expected for a man to be the head of the company” and that in sport “ideal masculinity is usually portrayed through athletes who are powerful, popular, successful, and married to beautiful, popular women”. As hegemonic masculinity continues to dominate throughout our culture it’s important that we are aware of the way our bodily practices and gender normitivity contributes to the power it holds.
You know you’re a hockey fanatic when you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the game you just played or the nightmare you just had about having 45 players for a team that only requires 11. Maybe that’s just me. As an athlete and a coach, I’m often left wondering what influence does my gender have on my athletic opportunities? And why do I have to wear a skirt? And why do girls have to have club approval to play in the mixed team?
In the YouTube video titled ‘Gender Issues Sport Science’ it is revealed that “women don’t have equal opportunities to play, nor do we have equal pay” in sport. Everywhere we look, sport is dominated by male coaches, male commentators, male umpires and male fans. In an arena fuelled by hegemonic masculinity, women athletes are often overlooked or sexualised to ‘tolerate’ their participation in sport. The YouTube video ‘Gender Inequalities in Sports’ assesses the effect that the sexualisation of female athletes has on women as athletes, role models and supporters. The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) reveals that the sexualisation of women in sports goes beyond the media’s representation of female athletes to where the very sports themselves deliberately sexualise women. For example, the ASC exposes that women’s beach volleyball “has introduced uniforms intentionally to focus attention of the athletes’ bodies rather than for any technological, practical or performance enhancing reasons. Women must compete in bra-style tops and bikini bottoms that must not exceed six centimetres in width at the hip”.
Inequalities in sport go far beyond the sexualisation of women, where the very gender of an athlete is challenged. In the blog post ‘Defining Gender in Sport’ Natalie Reed questions the efficiency of gender verification. She notes that “throughout the decades of gender testing being a common practice, it never once revealed a male athlete as a woman in order to cheat. In every single instance it was a result of intersex conditions”. Not only does the gender of an individual define their status as an athlete, but their sexuality does too. In the reading ‘Sexuality as a Structural Principle in Sport Participation: Negotiating Sports Spaces’, sport is identified as a heteronormative activity in which homosexual athletes are underrepresented in both mainstream and traditional masculine sports. As sport continues to thrive in our culture, it is important that we start to close the gap between gender and sexuality inequalities.