She’s A Man?

One my most favorite movies is the classic masterpiece, She’s the Man. Starring the geniuses of Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, this wonderful story explores not only the problems that may arise when you pretend to be your brother, but it provides a tale of how far a girl will go just to do what she wants, despite being discriminated against based on her gender.

In case all of you haven’t seen it, which is a crime in and of itself, here is a summary of the movie because I cannot personally describe the beauty of this movie within my word limit. This movie changes people’s lives. It made people begin to realize that females are capable of being as good as and even better than male athletes, it showed that not every girl is destined for the life of a “debutant” – although that’s okay if that’s what you’re into – and most importantly it probably led to a rise in the sales of Gouda cheese.

Viola, the main character, is passionate about playing soccer. When her school cuts the soccer team, she realizes that there is no other choice than to impersonate her twin brother and play for the boys’ team at another school. Considering the fact that she eventually made the first string team and was considerably better than many of the players, she showed that girls definitely have the ability to beat guys in a seemingly masculine area. Once it becomes apparent that Viola is in fact a girl, near the end of the film, they do allow her to play alongside guys – and beat most of them.

So how does this relate to our discussion? Remember Caster Semenya? Once a real, live woman proves that she can be significantly better than fellow women and men at a sport, she is automatically questioned about her sex. Ariel Levy writes in her article Either/Or, “Semenya became accustomed to visiting the bathroom with a member of a competing team so that they could look at her private parts and then get on with the race”. She literally had to prove to fellow competitors that she was a woman. Even though the question wasn’t fully answered, it should matter more about who Caster thinks she is and not what doctors or other people think she is.

Both Caster and Viola experienced discrimination towards them based on the fact that they were girls. Because sports are typically a “guy” thing, it’s considered crazy for them to be better than guys, which is just ridiculous. Viola and Caster took different approaches to working past this problem. While Caster powered through and won races even while undergoing intensive tests by various doctors while also being under the spotlight by the media, Viola dressed up like her brother and pretended to be him. Both equally good approaches to working around the problem, in my opinion.

Gender roles are constantly changing as our society progresses, but it seems as though there are some things that people want to keep purely masculine or purely feminine. Why can’t there be co-ed soccer teams? I understand that there may be health concerns, but shouldn’t it be up to the players to decide what they are willing to risk? The women who are racing alongside Semenya are most likely bitter about losing and trying to find any excuse possible. They have the support of many others that believe that it shouldn’t be possible for women to be THAT good at sports. Well I say that in 2014, it’s time for everyone to realize that women aren’t only meant to be housewives, nurses, teachers, and other “feminine” things. Women have become a threat to the male population and it’s about time things get equal around here.

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9 thoughts on “She’s A Man?

  1. You said that Viola dressing up as her brother was a good approach to overcoming the problem of gender roles in sports. Does that mean you think that it’s okay for women to not embrace their womanhood and conform to being what they’re told to be? I’m all for doing whatever you need in order to reach a goal, but is it worth hiding who you really are?

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    • That’s a really great point. I meant that in a sarcastic way, I don’t think dressing up as your brother is a good was to solve a problem, but you bring up an awesome point about the movie that I didn’t even think about.

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    • I definitely agree because I was thinking the same thing as I was reading. I think a better approach would have been for Viola to go as a women to any all boys soccer team and try to play along.

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    • I’m not sure I agree with this. If Viola was willing to hide who she is in order to overcome an obstacle, why shouldn’t she? If she was comfortable embracing a ‘masculine’ role because it helped her on her way to success, then that’s her choice. Just as it should be up to soccer players if they want to risk playing a coed team, like the author says, it is up to people how they want to go about achieving their goals. If she wasn’t comfortable with that way of fighting for what she wanted, she wouldn’t have done it. She had already tried approaching the team as a talented female player and it didn’t work for her. While maybe her system isn’t one that everyone would be comfortable with, I don’t think that pretending to be a guy was a complete disregard of her womanhood or anything. She was proving a point. If we want to be equal, we should be equally accepting of whatever way people want to go about their lives.

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  2. I absolutely loved that you incorporated She’s the Man in your blog post! It’s one of my favorite movies! I’m assuming when you asked the question, “Why can’t there be co-ed soccer teams?” you meant at the professional level, because I participated on a co-ed soccer team all four years of high school (indoor soccer). It was a competitive league, but we all did it for fun. I think your blog brought up a good point that when a female athlete that is as fast and successful as Caster Semenya, people are quick to question what it is that makes her so. As if she can’t be that good on her own somehow.

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  3. I loved the connection that you made to She’s The Man. I think that the movie is a great example of what we have been talking about during class concerning gender and gender roles. I agree that in the movie, Viola makes a strong point when she decides to dress up as her brother in order to join the soccer team. I think that the fact that she has to pretend to be a boy, someone she’s not, in order to pursue her passion for soccer, highlights a real flaw in society. Women shouldn’t need to feel pressure to be someone they aren’t in order to achieve the same respect as men.

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  4. She’s The Man is a really interesting movie and perfectly embodies the ideas/stereotypes of gender roles and breaks them. In both the case of Viola and Caster, they are judged based on their outside appearance. I guess this may prove the idea that people don’t look past the surface and in many cases only use appearance as a gauge of gender and nothing else.

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  5. I really liked how you incorporated She’s The Man With this real world scenario. But towards the end you kind of lost me. Lets face the facts here, women and men should not compete along side each other. I’m not saying that to be overly sexist or chauvinist, but physically there are differences which can’t be ignored. Not taking away from the incredibly talented women athletes out there, but put the best woman in her sport up against the best man and I think we all know the outcome. Keep sports sex-seperate just for fairness and honestly safety, especially sports which involve contact.

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  6. While when you say that “in 2014, it’s time for everyone to realize that women aren’t only meant to be housewives, nurses, teachers, and other ‘feminine’ things” and “women have become a threat to the male population and it’s about time things get equal around here” I fear you are beginning to stray from the point of Caster Semanya’s story. Not to say you are wrong in any ways, shape, or form, but does the fact that other women who are losing to Semanya not believing she share their gender really imply that men are feeling that they are under attack? Her story is more about the fact that she can be better than other women and still be a woman herself, I feel.

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