In recent weeks, after discussing the differences in PE practices based on gender, we at Maroon considered the repercussions of these standards (see “PE Handball Unit Causes Controversy” on page 1). As both SHS students and Maroon continue to debate these rules, new questions regarding the varying gender expectations arise. Do differences in gender standards have to have negative connotations? Could these standards actually appeal to many students, especially female ones?
The PE department states that their rules encourage participation and safety for the girls. And perhaps, there is truth in this claim. Would female students rather play without these rules? Would they really wish to become more involved in PE class? Moreover, how can we discredit a rule of PE class if it has merit? In fact, Maroon feels that this stereotype may be justified. It may be more appealing to many students than they might realize.
In considering the implications of the PE standards, we looked at current student attitude towards and behaviors in PE class. Many students lack interest. They do not participate nor do they come prepared to class. If the student body is so uninvolved in gym, why would the new standards bother them? In fact, the students’ disinterest may be the cause of these standards.
In addition, many female students have voiced concern when playing in competitive games with male students. Some are opposed to playing in the goal for fear of contact with a flying ball. If anything, the different rules protect girls. It allows girls to sit down when the boys are playing competitively. It forces the girls to catch the ball and thus receive participation credit without actually having to move. Furthermore, female students may participate aggressively in their team sports, but show little desire to participate in PE. Therefore, why would the students object to these rules, which accurately respond to their roles in PE? Because they are sexist? It may be easy to throw around that “hot” word, but perhaps SHS students use it too freely.
SHS students seem to pride themselves on pinpointing something as “sexist” or in calling themselves “feminists.” We wonder if students know what these terms truly mean. It seems as if the students view these words as “cool.” Although it is actually cool to be a feminist, most SHS students are not earnestly active as advocates of feminism. They use these terms, instead, to discredit PE policies, without taking the label “sexist” seriously. In PE class, students quickly turn on their teacher, calling him or her “sexist” without considering the purpose of the rules. These students seem to care less about the implications of these rules and more about their symbolic meanings. They turn on the standards, without considering that these stereotypes may have been caused in part by their own actions. Thus, we at Maroon argue that not only could these terms be misused, but also that these rules in PE class may contain some validity.
In the end, if you are looking to improve your PE experience, perhaps you should look internally. These standards merely uphold your pre-prescribed attitude towards PE. Whether you are disinterested in the class or are uncomfortable playing handball, you are promoting the continuation of gender-specific rules. Thus, if you want change, we encourage you to take some responsibility by participating in class. However, if you do not want to participate, how can you expect change? If you are not willing to fix your own behavior, perhaps you should consider where the true problem lies: in the “sexism” or in your disinterest?