Inequality by (Interior) Design

Mike Messner has written a few pieces that I do not teach courses on gender without.  One of them is an article about the opening ceremonies of a American Youth Soccer League in which his son participated–“Barbie Girls Versus Sea Monsters: Children Constructing Gender” (2000).*  What I love about the article is Messner’s simultaneous attention to structure, culture, and agency.  He does this in a way that is beautiful in its simplicity.

The following is the scenario Messner witnessed and wrote about.  The opening ceremony for this league asks players to come dressed in uniform and with banners (if they have them), and beyond attempting to create a community, the event seems designed to help the young boys and girls feel like athletes.  Each team walks around the track at the local high school football field behind their banner as they are announced.  The boys’ team that Messner…

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