Gender Roles and Gender Discrimination in Sports

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The Pakistani culture, for generations has solely been based on the gender discriminatory system of patriarchy. The common conception of the male being the dominant and supreme member of the family, whilst the woman always being regarded as the inferior sex has greatly affected feelings of self respect and self worth in women. In today’s era gender roles and social norms dictate our way of living, our ways of dressing, communication and interaction with others to such an extent that some people put up facades in order to conform to society’s prejudiced expectations.

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Now a days our lives are governed by gender roles, which unfortunately begins from a very early age. Since childhood we are indirectly taught by media, cartoons, and even story books that male is the superior sex while the female is usually locked up and helpless in an abandoned tower; this scenario creates a mental image in our children that man is predominant to women in not only the manner of physical strength but intellect as well. Additionally, today’s toys also place high standards in regard to appearances of both genders, for instance the ‘Barbie’ doll gives girls the assumption that in order to look attractive they need to have the perfect hair and body, similarly the action figures played with by boys give them the notion that boys should always be aggressive and ready to throw fists at each other. In relation to this, children from a young age are usually fed with false ideas in association with their genders, such as the famous saying that ‘boys don’t cry’, which instils in young boys the mind set that they should not show emotion but always act rough and tough; on the contrary girls are always taught to act petite and delicate which results in them not learning how to fight for their own rights or even their own safety, furthermore girls from a very young age are taught to never say no to their elders regardless of any circumstances, this gravely affects their future when they are unable to refuse disgusting or revolting tasks handed to them.

Apart from this, not only women but men as well are influenced by gender roles. The dreadful concept of ‘masculinity’ has moulded the attitude of today’s men into being stern and self-asserting. Any man who does not uphold these devastating standards is mocked and made fun of. Due to this many fake a thug attitude and end up being bullies, hence rather being the hunters than the prey. In short, these ideals created by gender roles result in the decay of one’s self esteem and self-confidence which can have some fatal consequences leading up to the deterioration of mental health causing depression which could result in suicidal thoughts and other such cases.

In this era, discrimination and bias is not only based on the binary genders aka masculine and feminine, but is even faced by the non-binary genders (gender queers) that are outside the cisnormativity. It can be debated that a non-binary coloured woman will not receive the same respect or opportunities as a privileged white woman. In the case of Pakistan the status of a woman differs on the basis of class, financial background and social status. A woman from the rural areas will not have the same freedom as a woman living in the urban areas. Similarly, a woman of a middle or lower class family will not have the same opportunities as the woman of an elite class family. Normally women of rural areas and/or of lower class families are forced to leave their studies unfinished and are dragged into arranged marriages in which they have no say, after which they forced to live their lives as housewives with their only purpose of life being giving birth and taking care of their children.

In the field of sports as well gender roles play an essential role. In the society of today a male sportsman is given more fame and acclaim than a woman sportsman. One of the main culprits of this is the media which advertises and shows channels of male sportsmen only. The lack of media coverage for female sportsmen results in less viewers and sponsors which eventually leads to a major gap between the pay/earnings of a man sportsman as compared to that of a female sportsman. “ In the social context, Pakistani women lack social value and status because of negation of their roles as producers and providers in all social roles. The preference of sons due to their productive role dictates the allocation of house hold resources in their favor. Male members of the family are given better education and sports facilities and are equipped with skills to compete for resources in the public arena, while female members are imparted domestic skills to be good mothers and wives.” Due to the lack of leadership and decision making skills Pakistani women sportsmen lack the confidence and skill required to move ahead in the field of sports. “Gender stereotypes have pressured women and men to behave in certain ways in order to satisfy the expectations of society, which has limited female’s involvement in physical activity and sports, especially activities that are vigorous in nature).” Such behaviour has led to the development of an inferiority complex among women due to their portrayal as inadequate in most fields of life. Not only is the current participation of women in sports extremely low, but no proper steps are being taken to encourage women to take part in sports and sport related matches.

Thus in order to change this harsh of our country we should rapidly increase the status of women in our society. Instead of using them only as birth machines, they should also b given an equal say in the decisions of the family. Moreover the voice of women as a whole should be enhanced giving them equal opportunities in all fields of life. ” Organizational change is particularly important, including changes to organizational cultures, values, norms, rules and procedures. Practical aspects organizational change can be critical to ensure women’s full involvement, such as establishing appropriate meeting schedules and provision of childcare. Since the representation of women in Pakistani sporting organizations is currently low, men in leadership position have a major responsibility for promoting and sustaining the required standard of Pakistani women’s sports participation.”

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