Week 11- prompt 3- Rector

Let’s face it… when it comes to females participating sport, according to many people, hair does still matter. The reading for last week, “Hair Still Matters,” focused on this issue that has become somewhat of a stigma within women’s sports today. This reading discussed the ideas concerning the relationship between hair, femininity, and sexuality as women and girls answered the question of whether or not hair is associated with femininity. Some people may admit that, some people won’t admit it, and some people truly do not focus on women’s hair while they participate in sport, which is the way it should be. However, it seemed that most women in this reading agreed with the fact that hair does still matter.

Diane, a 50-year old retired material handler said, “Right or wrong, you’ll say stuff like that’s a feminine cut, that’s not a feminine cut, or whatever. I think to the extent that you have this long flowing hair that’s perceived as very feminine, And the shorter you go, the less feminine it seems to be. So I definitely think that there’s some association with that.”

But why do these women say this and think this way? It’s simple. These’ women’s beliefs have been created through the mainstream media and other external forces that have repeatedly told them that this is how they should think and see things.

As a result, many people associate certain hair styles with femininity. If it was the case that hair truly didn’t matter, women would not spend as much time as they do coloring, straightening, curly, or lengthening their hair. It’s a fact. Many women are uncomfortable and self-conscious about their hair unless they have “altered” or “perfected” it in some way.

This past year an African American female Olympic gymnast, Gabby Douglas, stood up to this stigma. The young Douglas competed and earned a gold medal, earning a lot of media attention. However, it was her “nappy” short hair that caught many headlines as well. People critiqued her hairstyle and compared it to her teammates. But Douglas is an African American, and her teammates are white. How could she possibly have the same hair as them? Yea, her hair was different. But that really shouldn’t have mattered.

To me, this is a different situation than in many of the stories shared in “Hair Still Matters.” In Douglas’ situation sports are involved I think it was a low blow to call her out on this physical attribute that is really out of her hand. In situations where women are dressing up and trying to look pretty, hair may matter. But in situations where a lot more important things are on the line (an olympic freaking gold medal), hair should be the least of people’s worries.


Week 11- Boys and Field Hockey-Meade

After reading “Field Hockey: Fairhaven’s  Jamaul Jones thrives in girls sport” its states the benefits and the downfalls of letting males participate in female sports.  These gender differences and views are shown in the heterosexual matrix that we have been talking about in class.  The role of men in women’s sports has shown to be a very controversial issue.

Would it be that big of an issue for women to be playing in a men’s sport?  Yes in a different way.  The female playing or participating in the male sport would be looked at as weak and other players and parents would feel as if the girl would get injured or hurt.  This instance on the other hand, where Jamaul is playing in a female sport (which stated in the article originated and was played by males in kilts) is looked at as being stronger, faster and more aggressive.

This also shows the focus on the heterosexual matrix, because Jamaul played a sport that was played by females there was rumors around school and the field hockey community that Jamual was gay.  He was looked at by other male athletes as being weak and slow, all because he was playing and participating in a female sport. After trying field hockey Jamual realized that he loved the sport and was very aggressive in his first season.

Jamual realized that he was playing with women and figured out how to control himself while playing with his teammates and other women.  The heterosexual matrix shows that his beliefs as being a male shows that he has views just like other males, even though he was playing the sport with the women.  He realizes that if he played to his full potential he wouldn’t be able to physically compete with females.

All in all the heterosexual matrix is always in the back of everyones minds.  This article shows that both males and females have like views about how males and females can participate together in sport.  The views that females will always be the weaker sex will always be apparent.

Prompt 3- Campobasso- Gabby Douglas Hair

If you picture an Olympic female athlete, there are a few things that come to mind. She looks strong and she is muscular. And both of those characteristics are something feminine is not, according to predisposed gender norms. As we discussed in class, it is difficult for pro female athletes to be accepted for their physique. If you think about Serena Williams she has a very muscular body in comparison to a smaller, much less muscular looking tennis player, and as a class it was decided that the smaller, more petite athlete would be the more desirable ‘woman.’ Or at least men would consider her more attractive. This is something that has angered many women in our society for quite some time. For so many women, it is so hard to look like the female model you see in fashion magazines. Dominant culture gender characteristics are based on historic ideas of what a feminine woman should look like: tall, thin, petite, weak, hair combed, makeup on, etc. And then advertisements and the media have taken this image and engrained it into the minds of our culture, that anyone who does not look like this is then not considered feminine. But these ideas and these images discount so many real women who live in society today. These images discount race, and the different body types that make up the women in other races. These images discount social class and the fact that some people might not have the funding to look like a supermodel all the time. And lastly they discount different cultures, and what might be considered feminine to them. Just because a woman does not embody the feminine characteristics of a white woman does not mean she is not a real woman. This past summer the United States was very lucky to have the ‘Fab Five’ gymnasts competing on our side. Gabby Douglas was one of the team members of the Fab Five who won a gold medal for the United States, yet the many Americans were fixated on something other than her athletic ability. They were more focused on what her hair looked like than her performance in the actual Olympics. The 16-year-old Olympian sported a slicked-back ponytail with a few clips, much like the other gymnasts she was competing against. According to the men and women complaining, her hair looking ‘unkempt.’ Being a female athlete, or any athlete for that matter, your hair is not the first thing on your mind especially while competing. Douglas even commented on the criticism saying ‘Are you kidding me? I just made history. And you’re focused on my hair?’ She makes a great point too. Her hair should not be the focus of the American people who are supposed to be her biggest supporters while she is competing.

Week 11: Prompt 3; Varner “Hair Shouldn’t Matter”

In today’s society, many children and sometimes even adults idolize athletes to great extremes. Sometimes they dress like their role models, sometimes they decorate their living spaces with posters and pictures of their favorite athletes. But what do these individuals really see in these athletes? Is it their athletic skills or their physical appearance? In many instances, people would admit that it has something to do with how their favorite athlete looks on the outside. Seeing how their role models dress and present themselves is a major factor as to why they idolize these individuals so much.

As we have read in the “Hair Still Matters” article for class, the way a female athlete does her hair is a deciding factor for her sexuality/femininity. An older female adult told his in the article that she felt the most sexy when she had long hair and had it put up in a certain fashion. It was also discussed that females are thought to be lesbians and “masculine” if they have a short, butch cut. There are no distinct rules that says that a short haircut signifies lesbianism and masculinity or long, flowing hair signifying heterosexual feminism. It is how today’s society views and determines this that makes these assumptions debatable. For many people, these assumptions are argued against and inevitably causes blunders against individuals of all race, sexuality, social class, and gender.

One of the recent stories that introduces the influence of hair on individuals is the Gabby Douglas issue from the 2012 London Olympics. Gabby Douglas is a 16 year old gymnast who participated in these Olympic games and performed a record breaking performance and stunned all of the viewers. But, of course, there were still critiques of  her appearance and looked beyond her athletic ability to the style of her hair. As a young black woman, the texture of Gabby’s hair makes it a bit more difficult for her to style it just like her teammates, who wore it in a slicked back ponytail. The simply style of this ponytail makes it looks as neutral as possible for all hair types and Gabby Douglas did a fine job of pulling it off took look just like the other four girls’. After Gabby had won an Olympic gold medal, the social media world fired up and criticized her “nappy” style pony tail and drew attention to her racial stereotype. What most people saw as she performed was her outstanding athletic ability, not her hairstyle. Her idolizers see her as one of the most amazing gymnasts to have ever performed on the Olympic stage and look past her race or her simple hair type.

The critiques of Gabby Douglas chose to look at her hair as a determinant of her sexuality and gender in sport. This idea says that if a person wears their hair in a “masculine way”, nappy, short, braids/beads, then they are putting off a masculine physique to the sporting world. When a woman has her hair in this way, they are trying to show their masculine/homosexual side. For a woman to be heterosexual/feminine in the sporting world, she has to wear her hair in a done up ponytail, showing her long locks, and not portraying any sort of masculine style. I do not agree with these stereotypes at all. In athletics, the way a person does their hair should be done for comfort and to avoid distraction. There is no reason that a girl should be viewed as masculine or lesbian if they want to pull their hair back out of their face, even if it may look somewhat masculine for a short time. This should not be a determinant of their permanent sexuality. Gabby Douglas was wrongly assessed by her hairstyle at the Olympic games, and this should be a lesson for future criticism of female hairstyles in the sporting world. “Hair Shouldn’t Matter”.

Note: photograph taken from: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/style/Gabby-Douglas-on-cover-of-December-Essence-So-glam-.html

Prompt 1 Jonathon Hotchkin


The heterosexual matrix is the way society orders people’s masculinity or femininity through sexuality. The article about Jamaul Jones shows us that there is no escaping the influences of the heterosexual matrix.

Jamaul Jones is a boy whose friends convinced him to try out for the field hockey team at his high school his junior year. At the high school level there is only girls field hockey, so because of Title IX and the “Open Access” clause in Massachusetts allowed him to play. Some of the people at his school when they first heard about this thought he was gay because they thought all sports played by girls were feminine and a boy playing a feminine sports is gay through the heterosexual matrix. However anybody that knows anything about field hockey knows that it is a very physical sport and not a traditionally feminine sport.

Once people began to become comfortable with the idea of a boy playing on girls teams then more boys played and made people start to question whether boys should play with them at all. It started out with them thinking a boy shouldn’t play a sport for girls, but now it is are the boys too good to play with the girls. People think because a couple of boys are on teams that are doing good that boys are too good for girls. This discredits all the girls that are trying hard on those teams to get them where they are today. The people think that the boys are masculine, so they must be better than the feminine girls. Some people are trying to get boys kicked out of field hockey because they are “better” and it takes opportunities away from girls who want to play.

K. Pugh – Week 11 Prompt 1

Gender and sexuality plays a large role in athlete’s lives.  Many athletes are often questioned about their sexuality by society and are limited to experiences due to their gender.  Our society believes that feminine women are inferior and weaker than men and in need of protection.  The ideal masculine man is both physically and mentally strong.  The dominant sexuality in our society is heterosexuality, and we link both gender and sexuality together.  The heterosexuality matrix emphasizes both gender and sexuality in sport.  We use it to organize sport based on the ideologies of gender and sexuality. 

The story about Fairhaven’s Field Hockey team is an example of how the heterosexuality matrix can impact one’s ability to play sports and society’s view on the issues of gender and sex.  First, the high school only clearly has sports segregated based on gender.  Field hockey was meant for girls, just as football was meant for boys.  The reason sports are separated by gender is because of the belief that women and men are physically different.  It is believed that women don’t have the same ability as men; they are not as capable to do the things that men can do.  This leads to the idea that if women are very talented or are playing a man’s sport then they must be masculine and therefore homosexual and vice versa for men.

In Jamaul Jones case he played on the field hockey team, which is meant to be an all girl sport, his peers assumed that he was gay.  Many people were also upset because they believed that there wasn’t a level playing field because of the belief that men are better than women at sports.  They believed that the boy players were taking away from the opportunities of girl players.  Whether it is a spot on the team or a goal during the game.  Due to Title IX there cannot be any discrimination on the basis of gender, therefore it was allowed for him to play with the girls.  Our society has gender segregation in many different ways, but due to heterosexuality matrix athletes can face difficult situations when it comes to gender and sexuality in sports. 

Week11 Prompt 1 – Sam Danzinger

The heterosexual matrix can be defined basically as the social demand of masculinity and feminism through different actions and practices. After reading the article about Jamaul Jones playing field hockey, he seems to be defying these social notions. Men are supposed to show off masculinity while women are expected to act femininely. Well at first glance, Jones may be doing both.

Jamaul Jones fell in love with the sport field hockey when he was a junior in high school. Field hockey is known as a predominantly female sport, at least in recent years. It actually started as a male sport in Europe, but has evolved into a female sport in the US. Well Jones tried out for his school’s team his junior year and ended up making the junior varsity team. Jones he never had any other motive to join than besides the fact that he loved the sport. Since the team was all girls though, this brought up criticisms and questions.

On the field Jones could be quite aggressive. He would accidently run into girls on the field or would be holding the stick wrong and accidently hit them. This would sometimes end up injuring his opponents. This, as a result, caused his opponents to target him on the field as well. Since field hockey is seen as a girl’s sport many were concerned that Jones was playing. Since he’s a boy, through the heterosexual matrix, he should be much stronger, faster, and more athletic than the girls. His masculinity was a fair disadvantage to the girls. But if you take off those heterosexual matrix goggles, you can see the whole picture. Just because Jamaul is a boy does not give him an advantage. The girls he played with had much more experience from playing the sport longer. He was an amateur and he was equal on the playing field with the girls, and maybe even under some of their levels of play. The mere fact that he is a boy means nothing,

After joining the team, questions about his sexuality also arose. Many students started making comments and rumors that Jones was gay. Jones stated that he didn’t care what others think of him, but that still doesn’t make it right. Since males are thought of being masculine, when one joined an all girls team the assumption that the boy must be gay was made. When a male shows a hint of feminism he should not automatically be assumed to be gay. If his peers took the time to actually watch a field hockey game they would see that it is not a feminine sport. Yes girls predominantly play it, but it is actually a very physical sport. One could argue that the girls playing it are actually displaying masculinity.

Overall, the heterosexual matrix can be a very exasperating concept when it comes to sport. The way people are assumed to act because of their gender is very strict. When one acts outside of that distinct role many brouhahas may arise. I think Jones is a great role model to people that it is ok to go against the norms. Just because he plays on an all girls team does not make him any less of a man or less masculine. Defying socially constructed concepts can be quite extraordinary and show people it’s ok to do what you lov

Prompt 3 Kevin Brumond

Hair matters to everybody in the world. It gives them a sense of individuality that they can change like their clothing. Hair still matters in sports, especially to African American athletes where traditional cultural styles like corn rows, braids, and beads are incredibly unique. But why do successful athletes have to be under a microscope because if their hair? Gabby Douglas was victim of such criticisms. Gabby won the all-around gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. But she was criticized for the way she wore her hair. The media overlooked her fantastic accomplishments at her young age because of her hair, which was described as “nappy”. This media firestorm ensued shortly after day 1 of the all-around event.

Why criticize an athlete’s hair and overlook their great achievements? According to our class notes, African Americans, according to society, are believed to be better natural athletes than white people. Also, men are believed to be better natural athletes than women. This puts Gabby in awkward position in society. She is believed to have a natural advantage and disadvantage according to society. Therefore, the media went out of its way to criticize her hair style. Women take comments about their physical appearance completely to heart. But Gabby shrugged it off. But why the criticism? This is related to the fact that African American hairstyles are not of the “norm” of white society. If a white individual were seen wearing their hairstyles of a traditional African Americans, they would be heavily scrutinized by the media. Since African Americans wear their hair in braids or corn rows, they are penalized in the sporting world because they are not conforming to the social norm that society has taken upon itself to construct. Society should be less worried about the hair of athletes. Their accomplishments, just like everybody else’s, should be recognized and awarded.

This idea of hair and why it is still important further reinforces the socially constructed idea of race into American society.

Zoeller: Week 11 Prompt 3

Hair has played a big role for female athletes in sports, in regards to femininity and sexuality.  As we have witnessed in class, it has been used as a means to decide if someone is homosexual or heterosexual and even lead to someone’s removal from the team.  This is where different power lines come into play, as racialized hairstyles have also played a role in forming judgements of ones sexuality.  When women basketball players have gotten kicked off the team for being lesbians, the basis of judgement has often been from the hair.  Beads, braids, and cornrows have been some of the hairstyles featured in the African American culture.  At the same time, in sports, these hairstyles are often said to be ones that homosexuals have.  This can be very discriminatory to the African American race when they are automatically judged as being homosexual for having a hairstyle that is popular among their culture.

Gabby Douglas was a key example of how hair still matters for female athletes.  After winning a gold medal, they focus was not on her achievements or how hard she worked, but it was on criticizing her hair.  Although, this has literally no correlation to how she competes people find it equally as important, or more, topic of discussion.  When you type “Gabby Douglas” into Google the first subject that comes up underneath it is “Gabby Douglas hair.”  The emphasis put on female athletes hair and how it should look is so high.

On our softball team, and almost every softball team in the nation, there is a stereotype that the straight players wear bows in their hair and the gay ones don’t.  This stereotype has actually influenced a lot of my teammates in how they should wear their hair.  They feel they need to define their sexuality by either wearing bows in their hair or not, even if that is not what is most comfortable to them.  Some will even wear bows in their hair if they don’t want others to know their sexuality.  Instead of being able to play the game and not worry about our hair, we need to make sure it is long and flowing with a pretty ribbon on top.  My aunt’s new husband asked me last year at Christmas if I was “still wearing a bow in my hair.”  The reality was, he could care less if I was wearing a bow, but he was asking what my sexuality is.  Hair has become a huge source of determining one’s sexuality, and for one to say that it is not still an issue today is absolutely clueless.  Women athletes are constantly being judged as masculine or feminine as it is, and hair is just another tool for viewers to claim someone’s sexuality.

Lindsey Hafer: Week 11 Prompt 3

Hair, no matter what gender, race, social class, etc. one comes from, represents a part of everyone’s individual identity. How a person chooses to style, cut, or decorate their hair says a lot about someone in a non-verbal way. Since hair is an aspect of a person’s body that can be hard to hide, it can sometimes bring critiques from the outside world. An example of this happened to Gabby Douglas, an African American gymnast from America, who unintentionally drew an immense amount of media attention to her hair/hairstyles during the Olympic Games. Despite her gold-medal achievements, charismatic personality, and superior competitive skills, some people viewing her performances were ultimately focusing on her cosmetic appearance… not her accomplishments.

According to “Hair Still Matters” by Ingrid Banks, the racial language that sportscasters have used regarding black athletes hair directly coincides with the awe and uneasiness the white population has against African Americans, more specifically their hairstyles and what they could potentially represent. African Americans commonly braid, bead or cornrows their hair which to some seems intimidating because it distinctly separates them from common white stereotypes/hairstyles. From our “Class Notes”, we have learned that African American people are acknowledged as having a race versus white Americans because being “white” is the norm in America. It is an unmarked category of race because it is not a minority in this region of the world.

Hair still matters because it is a distinct marker of race. As described in our “Class Notes”, African American people, according to our society’s stereotypes, are presumed to be better athletes than white people and women are presumed to be less athletically inclined than men. Gabby Douglas, an African American girl, fits into a weird position in our society because of these generalizations. Since Gabby Douglas is an African American girl and an excelled athlete, the media and others may have felt threatened by her dominance in the Olympics thus tried to break her down.  A successful way to do that would be to attack a girl’s appearance. Gabby Douglas was the first African American woman to win the all-around individual title in gymnastics. She made a name for herself as well as African American gymnasts everywhere.

Ingrid Banks relates hair and its significance to the sporting world once again in her article “Hair Still Matters” when she says, African American athletes have been and still are being penalized in sporting situations for having certain trademark hairstyles (braids, beads, cornrows), because they are not adapting to white societal standards. In a society where whiteness is privileged, any person deviating from this norm could be scrutinized by the public or media. Focusing on the differences between races hair styles and hair in general helps further keep the issue of race alive and pertinent in our current society. If Gabby Douglas had been white, this situation may have been totally different or never have happened in the first place.

Here is a picture of how Gabby Douglas’ hair was styled during the Olympics:


Here is an article about Gabby Douglas’ response to her hair scrutiny: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/06/gabrielle-douglas-responds-to-hair-criticism-what-s-wrong-with-my-hair.html