Monday, November 07, 2011

Gendering Leisure

TheWife and I took the short people rollerskating yesterday. Everyone had a good time, but noticed something odd. The place was 4:1 girls to boys. I had noticed something similar, although not that stark at other roller rinks. When did skating become a girl thing?

It is interesting what leisure time activities that are male-dominated elsewhere have become female dominated here. When you have 4-6 year old daughter, you are expected to do the ballet/tap dance class. Think of all the great tap dancers that come to mind -- all male. No boys in tap classes.

Once they turn 5 or 6 for the next several years, it is an expectation that you will put your daughter on a soccer team. Soccer is to young girls what little league used to be for boys, just a natural part of American life. Soccer is a male game everywhere else on planet earth, and while the men's game here is certainly growing (among young men who are clearly not manly enough to play American football), it is a regular part of the life of young American girls.

Theater classes, again, virtually no males. No one looks at leading men in Hollywood, take, for example, Rock Hudson, and thinks he's anything but a model of masculinity. But acting classes and drama productions have to regularly deal with interest from few young men.

Later in life, when women want to stay in shape, many will think of yoga classes. The famous yogis are men (or male bears in Jellystone), but yoga instructors are almost universally female as are the classes they teach. Yoga is gendered here.

It is odd and sad in this age of obesity how many active activities boys are culturally discouraged from. Why is it that we've gendered certain leisure time hobbies?