The interest in researches dealing with the women sports in general, and in gymnastics in particular, could improve our proper knowing the social culture aspects effecting the gymnastics spreading and development. The comparison between (Czech) sample) and (Libya) sample will help getting acquainted with the positive social culture aspects in spreading and developing the gymnastics.
Goals of research
1. What are the gender relations in sporty in general republic?
2. What are specific features of female sports in some Arabic countries?
3. Differences between situation in female gymnastics in Libya and Czech Republic?
Chapter 2 Theoretical frame
A sociological introduction: Gender relations and sports If you go to most local libraries in most countries of the world and look at the sports books, they will almost certainly be predominantly about men. If you go to a university library, the books of the writing in sport history and sociology assumes male standards. Watch on your television to look at sports programmer and it is the same story: you can be almost sure to see male rather female performers, male coaches, male trainers, male umpires and referees.
Gender and gender relations are very important topics for those of us who study sports in society. We face generally the fact, that most sports around the world have been defined as men‘s activities, why half the world’s population in some extent has been excluded or discouraged from participating in many sports through most of the twentieth century, and why there have been such major changes in women’s participation since the mid of 1970s.
When people discuss gender relations and sports, they usually focus on issues related to fairness and equity, as well as to ideology and culture and religion. Fairness and equity revolver around topics such as:
Sport participation pattern among women
Gender inequities in participation opportunities, support for athletes, and jobs in coaching and administration
Strategies for achieving equal opportunities for girls and women
Ideological and cultural issues revolve around topics such as:
The production and reproduction of gender logic in connection with sports
The ways in which prevailing gender logic constrains the lives of women and men and subverts the achievement of gender equity
The cultural changes required to achieve gender equity and democratic access to participation in sports
The single most dramatic change in the world of sport over the past generation has been the increased participation of girls and women. This occurred mostly in wealthy postindustrial nations. Changes have occurred in traditional, labor intensive, poor nations as well, but many factors have kept them from being revolutionary in scope. Despite resistance in some countries, girls and women around the world now participate in variety of school, community, and club programs, which did not exist thirty or more years ago.
Five major factors account for recent increases in sport participation among girls and women:
Governmental equal rights legislation
The global women’s right movement
An expanding health and fitness movement [an emphasis on the development of physical strength and competence]
Increased media coverage of women in sports (36:202-208).
We face in many places of the world and in many aspects in our lives a backlash or strong resistance among those who resent changes favoring strong women, because some men privileged by the prevailing gender logic in society see strong women as a threat. They adore “good old days”, when men played sports and games and women watched and cheered them on. Generally we also face an under representation of women in decision/making in sports and have a continued emphasis on “cosmetic fitness” reflecting a confusing cultural message that they should be “firm but shapely, fit but sexy, strong but thin”. These accents highlight thinness, bust size, waist size, lip shape, hairstyles, body hair removal, complexion, allure, and the clothes and accessories that together “make” the woman. Girls and women also hear that physical power and competence are important, but they see disproportionate rewards going to women who look young and vulnerable.
In spite of the fact that more women are participating in more sports than ever before, and in spite of significant number of feminist interventions into sports theory, much more attention is still given to the role of sports in the lives of men than to the importance of sports to women. At the same time we can claim, that sports are increasingly implicated in social construction of womanhood, but the role of sports in lives of women from global perspective vary tremendously according to a given cultural, political, social and religious settings. Most people only know about exceptional sportswomen - in Czech context for example famous gymnast Vera Čáslavská. Very little is known about the various types of women who are involved in sports, and the values that they bring to them.
It is clear that sports can be oppressive for both men and women, but Sports also have the potential to be liberating for both sexes. Sports are therefore important contexts for feminist intervention. However, redefining relations of gender has important implications for men as well for women. Discussing problem of position of women in sports means to distinguish between relevant situations in recreational leisure sports and high performance competitive sports. Power and performance sports are grounded in the values and experiences of men, and they imply evaluative standards that work to the disadvantage of women. But highly appreciated women athletes are challenging these standards and establishing new ways to be excellent on playing field without violent or physically overpowering opponents. These new ways of playing sports are beginning to make sense for many people, but others continue to insist that, as long as women can’t outplay men, they do not deserve the same support as men receive.
Inequities in participation opportunities continue to exist in international sports. There are still fewer sports for women than there are for men in the Olympics and other international events. Although important changes have occurred since the early 1980s, women athletes remain underrepresented in international competitions. Equity sometimes is difficult to achieve because of fundamentalist religious beliefs in certain countries. For example, strict Islamic beliefs forbid women from publicity to exposing any surface of their bodies to the sight of men. Women in traditionally catholic nations have not faced moral restrictions, but they have lacked power and resources to make choices to play sports, and they have had far fewer participation opportunities than men have had. Women in traditional and poor societies often face barriers that preclude or discourage sport participation, as well as limit the extent to which any women could take sport seriously enough to train at an elite level. These barriers are both ideological and structural. In other words, they are related to ideas about what is and is not appropriate [ideology] and to the availability of opportunities and resources to take advantage of them [social structure].
Opportunities to play professional sports have always been scarce for women. Until recently, many people did not believe that spectators would pay to watch women play anything but “ladylike” sports in which they competed alone (golf) or with nets separating the opponents and preventing physical contact (tennis). Participation opportunities for women will never match those enjoyed by men until ideological and cultural factors such as these still prevailing are challenged and changed.
Discussing a phenomenon of sport participation of women in sports means also to mention some theoretical sociological aspects of the problem. So we face an existence of cultural ideology referring to sets of interrelated ideas that people use to explain behavior and social life. We are aware of the general fact that ideology (as well as religion) is so deeply rooted in our cultural being that we seldom think about it and almost never raise questions about it. We just take it for granted and use it as a form of “cultural logic” to make sense of the world. This is also the case with gender ideology. Gender is one of the fundamental organizing principles of social life, and gender logic influences how we think of ourselves and others, how we relate to others, and how social life is organized at all levels, from families to societies. It influences what we wear and eat, how we spent our leisure, how we present ourselves to others, and how we think about and plan for our future. An – of course – how to respond to dynamics of the world of sports. Most people in many societies take gender logic as a “given” in their lives, they do not question it because it is so deeply rooted in their psyches, way of thinking, in their fundamental values and in the way they live their lives.
The tendency to ignore our ideology and its impact on how we see and think about sports is a problem when we deal with fairness and equity issues. This is because complete fairness and equity cannot be achieved in sports unless we change the gender logic that has been used in the past to organize, play, and make sense of sports. Therefore, it is important to critically examine the prevailing gender logic in society, its impacts on our lives, its connection with sports, and some strategies for changing it.
Sports have been important sites for activities preserving gender logic in many cultures. The meaning of gender and its application in people’s lives have been symbolized and powerfully presented in the bodily performances that occur in sports. Man’s achievements in power and performance sports have been use an evidence of man's aggressive nature, their superiority over women, and their rights to claim social and physical space as their own. Big, assertive, tough, and powerful male athletes are symbolic proof of traditional gender logic. But in some cases, women athletes have even encouraged people to raise questions about validity of two – category gender classification system (with dominance of men) and to rethink the meaning of gender in society.
Regarding to gender logic in sports we have to mention sports feminism too. Very broadly saying we face theoretical and practical endeavor or movement aiming to ensure equal rights and interest of women in society. Some of the first feminist interventions in sports sociology occurred in North America during 1970s. A number of books were written about a position of women in sports at that time which, although mostly weakly theorized, represented an important reaction to the form of male dominance and adoration of masculinity in sports. The important impact of feminist intervention into sports sociology has been to uncover ways in which men’s power over women in sports has been institutionalized., it has provided a practical and symbolic challenge to male privilege which resulted in a general recognition of gender as a basic category of analysis, and it has raised consciousness about the complexities and contradictions of gender relations in sports theory and practice.
The dominant pressure in sport feminism is the desire for equality of opportunity for women in comparison with men. It is an incentive which is based on the belief that, although male power in sports predominates, it is not inviolable. (43:25-32).
Liberal feminism is essentially pragmatic. Sport activists have struggled to put the theory of equal opportunity into practice, and they have achieved tremendous successes, especially in the last decade. There is no doubt that in advanced industrial countries, more sports are now more accessible to more women than ever before. Liberal feminism also implicitly rejects biological explanations for non-participation and embraces the belief that if women are given the opportunity they can participate in the full range of sports those men enjoy: “Equality is a right, not a privilege” (50:31).
Women’s sports: A historical looking back
As a consequence of the fact that organized sports form by women in most countries and most cultural backgrounds in history were for the most part separated from men’ s sports, it was very easy to define them as qualitatively different, in tune with conventional ideas about “femininity” and “masculinity”. It is generally evident, organized female sports tended to accommodate to traditional biological assumptions, rather than openly challenging them (Hargrove's). For different reasons separate sports for women provided the historical basis for the idea that there should be “feminine-appropriate” sports and “masculine-appropriate” sports: The pattern of sex-role stereotyping was established. The early history of separate sports for men and women throughout Europe and North America provided a practical and ideological foundation for separate sport to continue.
Some feminist sports groups insist that characteristics of male sports are reactionary and undesirable and they argue that women should not emulate men’s sports, but should build instead alternative models which are intrinsically more humane and liberating. This expression of separatism focus on male/female distinctions. Those women who argue for separate sports for themselves do so because they feel their oppression as women: They believe that their common interests transcend differences and that independence from men is self-realization (Birrell, Richter, and Theberge). Cultural dimension favoring the argument for separate development is supported also through the establishing of single-sex organizations competing with mixed organizations. Such “positive action” organizations provide particular benefits to women in practical ways – the provision of closed space for women in the form of women-only sports sessions is increasingly popular. The opportunity to be in the area with other members of their own sex is a “luxury” which many women seldom enjoy. But we have to warn: The philosophy of separate development tends to exaggerate the overall extend of sexism. In sports – as in other areas of life, there are numerous, different male/female relationships and there are situations where sex and sexuality, as well as, for example, age, ability, ethnicity, or class are unimportant. And above all: Gender relations have changed historically and culturally and are changing now. It is mostly believed, that separatism in its aggressive form celebrates rigid divisions and stereotypes which limit both sexes. And explanations of women’s oppression which emphasize biological differences make a number of theoretical omissions – some of them ignoring economic, political and ideological ones (43:34).
Looking back to the history of women’s sports, we can conclude that most dynamic feminism arises from personal experience and the most radical challenges for women’s sports have been practical ones. History of women’s sports namely can provide an understanding of the origins and causes of women’s subordination in sports, and of the nature of resistance to change and struggles for change. A historical perspective is very useful for understanding of the origins and causes of women’s subordination in sports, and of the nature of resistance to change and struggles for change (Kaplan, Messer, Sabo).
Every form of sports feminism is implicated in the elimination of gender oppression, yet until recently there has been only a weak connection between feminist theory and practice. Now mostly experiences of sportswomen (performers, administrators, coaches, etc.) are helping theoretical development. Theory is influenced mostly just from this side of the problem. In spite of the fact that sports feminists in general share experiences and meanings which unite them as a group, there are also plenty of differences between them. It reflects the fact that in addition to gender also such important factors as a class, age, disability, ethnicity, marital status, occupation and sexual orientation affect women’s involvement in sports. Black sport feminists and lesbian sport feminists, for example, argue that power and oppression in sports derive from race and sexuality, as well as class and gender, and that their specific needs should be taken into account.
The essence of sport feminism is the belief that sports can be enriching, positive experience with the potential for women to gain physical confidence and a sense of enjoyment and personal satisfaction. In such context prevailing values and structure of power also play important role. The choices facing sport feminists are similar to those facing their involvement in other aspects of culture:
1. Co-option into a male sphere of activity.
2. A separatist all female strategy.
3. A co-operative venture with men for qualitatively new models in which differences between the sexes would be unimportant.
Above mentioned attitudes to reality of sport scene depends also on given culture, political systems and economic setting. We believe, that accent on co-operative activities, including regulations and controlling sport competition in order to maximize its “valuable” elements and minimizing aggressive, male-dominated, destructive, competitive model of sports. Greater autonomy for women on the field of sports means above all higher chance and practical possibilities to share pleasure of free harmonizing sport activities to improve the quality of life on the personal as well societal level.
Sport had not been at the beginning phase of feminism regarded as a part of effort to improve the status of women. Nevertheless, because sports are intimately connected with the physical body – the most conspicuous symbol of differences between the sexes – their development represented new and important form of freedom. We agree with the opinion of many scientists describing historical aspects of position of women in sports: Whereas men were identified with culture, and their roles at work and in other spheres outside the home, women were symbolically aligned to nature, and to their reproductive roles and positions as wives and mothers in the home. Men were mostly characterized as naturally aggressive, competitive and incisive – well suited to the nature of the games field and sports in general. In contrast, it was – and in many respect still has been – popular idea that women were inherently emotional, co-operative and passive and therefore unsuited to take part in strenuous physical activities and competitive sports (52:40)
The most significant biological differences between men and women are connected with procreation. Women menstruate, bear children, suckle them, and go through the menopause. Men do not. However, although these essential biological differences need not prevent healthy women from exercising (except for short periods during a pregnancy and following the birth of a child), they have provided the major justification for limiting women’s participation at all times of their life-cycle. In many cultures and during even modern period of time we have to face biological determinism. Biological ideas were used specifically to construct social ideas about gender and to defend inequalities between men and women in sports. Social Darwinism and its key notion of the “survival of the fittest” introduced into discussions a position of woman in sports new impetus: Such evolutionary theory was employed to justify “maternity as the highest function” of womanhood – essential to the healthy progress of the nation. Many famous scientists of the 19th centuries even believed that excessive mental labor for women had a detrimental effect on their physiques and reproductive functions. Famous sociologist Herbert Spencer from such point of view strongly supported the monogamous nuclear family, and argued that women should be relieved of duties outside the home so that all their energies could be devoted to child-bearing and rearing.
General social and cultural progress of 19th and 20th century step by step reflected also new attitudes to relations of women to sport activities. An increasing number of physicians took the view that gentle forms of physical exercise, if taken in reasonable amounts, would aim women’s health and ability to bear healthy children. More and more for example medical gymnastics and massages became established forms of exercise for fit women. Swedish gymnastics, devised by per Henrik Ling, was in this context accented as a system of free-standing exercises, based upon physiological principles and as a form of positive aid to health, and as a form of therapy, applied to specific needs of women. In European context towards the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century there was a boom in numbers of clinics, gymnasia, health spas and seaside holidays, all subscribed by the middle classes? It was also time of a proliferation in the numbers and types of personnel employed to deal with the “health problems” of clients, including a new range of medical semi-specialists such as dietitians, masseuses and remedial gymnasts. The variety or treatments available extended a choice to middle-class women and provided expensive antidote for their “sickness” and boredom (43:49-50).
Historical reflection of women’s position in sport activities accents also the fact that the steady expansion of women’s employment before the First World War was the most concrete impact of the redefinition of their social position and of their increasing independence. There was a significant increase in the numbers of middle-class girls taking-up a professional training or some form of employment, not only as a precautionary measure to safeguard of their futures, but increasingly as a means of achieving some degree of personal fulfillment, or with a commitment to leading a worthwhile life. Nevertheless, in the public image, the woman’s work-role was always secondary to the role in the family as wife, mother and housekeeper. Regarding middle-classes and bourgeois “ladies”, even after the turn of the century, in America and Britain many middle-class women remained expensive, unhealthy and immobile showpieces and all forms of female “sports” or “physical recreation” complemented the middle-class conception of ladylike behavior. The emphasis was on family-centered entertainment, characterized as “conspicuous- expensive - recreation”, in which women played prescribed roles as “conspicuous consumptives”. Such role reflects the characteristics of passivity and subordination, with little hint of energy or independence. Women played “gentle” respectable games, exemplifies by croquet and its indoor “parlor” derivates and, respectively, gentle forms of tennis and badminton. In Britain mainly croquet about middle of 19th century worked as a new model sport: it was a social (formerly an Irish peasant game) which could be played by both sexes in a suburban garden (43:53).
Engravings, prints and photographs provide some of scant evidence available that the model of the conspicuous sporting lady prevailed into the twentieth century. Women from the middle and upper class would be seen in flamboyant wasp-waisted dresses, displaying themselves as ornamental, inactive players, or the race-track or cricket ground sitting in the stands or mingling in the crowds. Real sports were uncomplicatedly symbolically male (38:80).
Sport starts also important socio-economical symbolic role: Private courts denoted social ambition and status, and for example tennis became a mania for the affluent. Playing games was a new and enjoyable way for middle-class women to display their talents as “cultured” ladies, and since the chief objective of most daughters was to find a husband, playing games in the family setting gave them opportunities to display them to the opposite sex in a seemingly innocent and acceptable way. By the beginning of the 20th century, increasing number ladies in highly developed European countries and in North America were playing the game more actively and developing some pride in their physical skills: “The ladies tied their dresses back with an apron with pockets in for spare tennis balls and ran about with little straw hats pinned on their hair, determined to show off their athletic abilities” (49: 211).
The more women played, however, the more they got a “feel” for the physical potential – the more they were involved in the world of sport activities. Although they were limited by conventions, they began to play more energetically and to force an increasing endeavor for to legitimate female physical sportive activity. In sports, generally, and in tennis above all, women were in the fact determined and determining. Sport in this context was mostly considered as a specific form to enhance women ladylike images and dispositions. The physiological benefits of exercise were ignored: Rude health was considered to be vulgar, whereas frailty and lack of appetite were viewed as attractive and normal. Exercise was undertaken in self-conscious manner and in the restrictive clothing of the time. Images of femininity embodied in conspicuous recreation in the home and in private girls’ schools mutually reinforced one another (43: 54 -55).
Strong socio-cultural development of European society at the beginning of 20th century brought many changes for women in general and for their position in sport too. The growing demands for an education for girls become closely linked to advances in female sports and physical education. Such a process probably did more to legitimate more active forms of sport and exercise for women than any other factor. Teaching changed from being to be passive part of “men world” to being a respectable person absorbing manifold aspects of harmonic development of human being. As a reflection of such process at the late 19th and early 20th century in England were opened the specialist colleges of physical education for girls. In European context the formative phase of women’s sports was closely associated with the development of higher education for women, in particular with the colleges of physical education and several prestigious universities. More and more accent was oriented to opportunities for girls enjoy spontaneous, playful exercise (typical for boy sport activities). In this context it was also accented that the habit to play with zest at the game and practice sport in more bracing and recreational way could play for girl’s also positive role regarding their sounder and more rapid mental improvement. The existence of failures in girls’ health was also more and more related to the neglect of physical training and ignoring of physical education (47; 128)
Such positive tendency reflected by the 1860s scientifically respected sentiment “a sound mind in a sound body”. It was more and more argued a Hellenic “healthfulness” combined with virtues courage, self-reliance and honor for women too: Second half of the nineteenth century was a time of rapid social and cultural transformation, part of which was changing experience of being a women. Physical education in schools and colleges in England and many developed European and American countries, like other aspects of education was affected by popular ideas about the social position of women and, at the same time, was a force for changing them.
The development of education for women was a prerequisite for the development of sports. The majority of women’s sport, in their institutionalized forms, occurred in the education system and particularly in the specialist colleges of physical education and in the universities. Many of the sports clubs were started by former college and university students and the majority of the members of the first national teams were from the schools, colleges and universities.
Female physical education and sports were influenced by a combination of factors including the changing position of women in society, the general debate about exercise for girls and women, what was happening in physical education in boys’ schools, and the opinions of educations, physical educators, doctors, etc. Physical curricula in girls’ secondary schools and increasing numbers of sports and leisure pursuits were becoming available to women outside the education sphere.
Physical education became an integral feature of curriculum in increasing numbers of elite girls' schools from middle of the nineteenth century. In many European and American countries were established special women sportive organizations and clubs: In Czech context “Exercising club of Prague girls and ladies” was established in 1869. At the London Collegiate School Miss Buss advocated a range of activities constituting a program of physical education for girl’s school. She built and equipped a gymnasium with an unusual range of apparatus including a “giant stride”, parallel bars and wall-mounted ladder. She also supported pupils in swimming, dancing and outdoor sportive activities. The girls by 1885 were able to participate in a fairly informal and spontaneous manner in games that they were familiar with as aspects of bourgeois home recreation – ninepins, badminton, fives, battledore and shuttlecock. By the end of 1890s, the games played at the North London Collegiate School included tiled hockey, netball and tennis. Most schools at that period of time included forms of gymnastics as well – girls were encouraged to exercise on the ground of health. The sensitivity to health was a way of dealing with medical opposition to female education, and helped to alleviate anxiety about the undue strain of academic work upon the female constitution.
A number of public boarding schools for girls in England modeled themselves closely on the boys’ public schools. In many ways they came closest to achieving the wishes of feminist pioneers who wanted an education for girls almost identical to that of boys. Games-playing became more and more popular for girls – at the end of the 19th century many schools in Britain declared strong progress in gymnastic and in many forms of exercise which would have been unimaginable for them only a few decades before, and which were still inaccessible to most girls in British society. In many ways, games-playing in the girls’ boarding schools had taken on the characteristics of what used to be an exclusively male phenomenon and one which just as fiercely continued to embody an idealized image of masculinity. Because of their radical significance, team games for girls had to be justified and defended (43: 64-66).
Growing sport activities of girls in such way provided the setting for girls to emulate certain physical and moral characteristics previously ascribed exclusively to males. Some form of gymnastics, together with organized games, became consolidated into a formalized system common to the majority of elite girls’ schools by the turn of the century. More than thousand three hundred women teachers in Swedish gymnastics were introduced in Britain thanks to famous propagator Martina Bergman (later called Madame Bergman Österberg) into nearly 300 schools.
The Swedish system was theoretically formulated on “scientific” principles which afforded it immediate status and credibility as a healthy activity. More and more interest groups – doctors, teachers, military men, industrialists, philanthropists and social reformers – were the advocates of physical education also for poor. An interest was accented in physical education for varied reasons – to promote health, to encourage military preparedness, to improve industrial efficiency and to foster social order. Swedish gymnastics was probably able and in proper way - accenting harmonious development of whole body - to be adapted for these diverse objectives. Swedish gymnastics represented an advance for working-class girls who had no other opportunities for physical activity in school. It had a certain aesthetic “feel” and appeal that was a qualitatively new experience for them.
It accented to effort, exactness, detail of action, and perfection of style, so that an movements were executed in precise unison (for example six exercises for 7-year-old children consist of hips firm, feet closing and opening, trunk bending forward and raising, foot placing sideways, marching, arm bending upwards). Like drill, Swedish gymnastics was cheap, safe and easy learned. it was a suitable method of controlling large numbers of children, and its ritual nature made it unifying experience. In 1883, a display of Swedish gymnastics performed 100 poor London girls became an auspicious event, attended by numerous dignitaries including the Prince and Princess of Wales, lords and ladies, bishops and clergy, military personages, politicians, mayors, sheriffs and educationalists (46:.114).
The Swedish system, playing in the past so important role in women sports, received legitimacy through the support of ruling class figures, but in many respects was an effective means of social control with an ideologically subordinating function. It was strongly associated with discipline and was also only one form of exercise on curriculum for girls in most state elementary schools, whereas in private schools for middle-class girls Swedish gymnastics was treated as part of a wider range of sportive activities, and therefore commanded a less central position in the physical educational program. In elementary schools the size of classes averaged around sixty, so that the fundamental issue was one of order and discipline. For girls in elite schools where classes were small there was a greater focus on the body as a mechanism for health, on the relationship to intellectual skills, and ultimately to the social position of the girls in society. The Swedish system of gymnastics provides an example of the way ideology is inscribed in social practice, lending itself to different interpretations in different contexts.
Sport activities of women had been most visible in England, country called as a “cradle of modern sports”. Although most sporting and recreational clubs were for boys and men, and there was limited provision for girls and women, the new female physical education specialists played an important role in this sphere. Especially working-class girls and women were demanded to respect in gymnastics and exercise self-discipline, good behavior, smart appearance, care of the body, good posture, attention to the world of command, perfection of performance and absolute self-control all accorded with factory discipline and embodied an ascetic rather than a sensuous use of the body. Concluding the phenomenon of the Swedish system we can say that it provides a good illustration of the contradictory nature of ideology being flexible enough to be considered suitable as a mechanism of working class control, as well as being interpreted as appropriate to the needs of middle class girls, whilst presenting itself as a neutral, scientific body of knowledge.
An important role on the ground of mutual relations of sport and women has ever played the struggle over physical body. Control over its use was the issue central to their subordination: The repression of women’s bodies symbolized powerfully their repression in society. The early development of female physical education embodies conflict: a tightly defined paradigm of legitimate physical education had been established and alternatives had been opposed. The expansion of physical education for women was also internally related to the concomitant struggle of middle class women to achieve social and economic status via education and professionalization and, in contrast to the general repression of women at the time, the establishment of a physical education profession was part of the fact, that the women involved were already in a privileged social position and were concerned mainly with acquiring equal social rights with men under the existing social order. We can say that female emancipation process in sports has ever had many connotations: Above all it was inextricably bound up with and influenced in a
fundamental way by the development of the women’s physical educational profession.
By the first decades of 20th century, increasing numbers of girls and women were participating in more various and vigorous forms of sport and physical exercise. Elite female sports, like sports of other social groups, were growing and changing – not abruptly and dramatically – but as a process of adjustment and accommodation. New and new more radical forms of exercise were being formulated alongside established conservative activities and, towards the beginning of the 20th century, sports and games in Europe were becoming increasingly popular especially among women with aristocratic connections. In this way, upper-class women extended their physical horizons without threatening their existing set of social relationships with men.
Special sportive literature published at the end of 19th century in England remind us in many articles on female sports on an unusually diverse assortment of activities – riding, hunting, team-and tandem riding, tiger-shooting, deer-stalking and driving, rifle-shooting, cycling and punting – all of which are –maybe surprisingly – as desirable leisure for women. Such sportive activities had strong potential to enrich their lives, strengthen their health and improve moral welfare. Very popular horse riding and bicycle riding were believed to enhance moral and physical well being and improves the temper, the spirit and the appetite. Above all, every connotation of sporting activities of women reflected the fact that female sports should not undermine in any way a women’s essential femininity. This is especially significant in those sports normally associated with “male” characteristics (43:89).