Sport and recreation in the United States — страница 16

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which women often controlled, came from the material stores of wood, corn, shells, and animal hides that were used and valued in everyday life. The migration of colonists from Europe, especially Britain, and then Africa began shortly after 1600, and these people, too, fashioned a traditional, organic style of life in which sports were interspersed with ordinary tasks and rituals. Initially, women were few among the colonists, and not surprisingly, there were few opportunities for sports other than hunting and tavern games. After mid-century, however, the gender ratio gradually evened out, and a critical mass of women were present to assume their traditional roles as workers in the fields and homes and as producers of community gatherings, fairs, and family events. Some women

owned the equipment with which settlers played games, especially card games. In rural areas where harvest festivals came to be fairly common, women prepared the food that the grain-cutters would consume during the post-harvest celebration. Then, too, villages and the emerging towns became the settings for diverse social practices. On warm summer days in New England, husbands and wives fished and sailed on the numerous waterways. Towns like Boston, Providence, and Hartford offered an even broader variety of sports and recreations, ranging from dances to races to fist fights. By the early eighteenth century emerging cities were sites for public, commercial, and physical displays, including tightrope dancing by women and men. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the sporting

experiences of women of European and African ancestries, as well as recent immigrants, were far more varied than they had been earlier. Enslaved African and African American women found some solace in their brief respites from work on Sundays, in the evenings, or in the days of celebrating made possible by the observance of holidays when they danced, played simple games, and ran races. Agricultural fairs, initiated by white farmers, planters, and traders, also included contests, especially foot races, for black women who competed for articles of clothing. White farm women also made possible and engaged in an array of games, contests, and dancing at their rural festivals and family events such as weddings and funerals. Occasionally as well, women in farming communities raced

horses, even against men, and they were willing to wager on their skills. Middle- and upper-class women, especially those who either lived in or visited towns and cities, had access to the broadest range of sports and other recreations. In the South, white women who lived on plantations raced horses and went fox hunting. As did their northern contemporaries, they also attended balls, played cards, and attended the increasing array of physical culture exhibitions, which included race walking, tumbling and acrobatic displays, and equestrian shows [13, ]. Women’s sport in the 19th century The pursuit of active sports by women was not to persist, however. During the second half of the eighteenth century, a series of complex changes gradually altered

gender roles and relations. Enlightenment ideology and the emergent capitalist economy combined to redefine women's place, to move them into the home and away from public activity, and to emphasize biological differences (from men) as grounds for keeping them there. In effect, the famous "doctrine of separate spheres" drew from the same movements that resulted in a new nation and a Declaration of Independence that proclaimed "all men are created equal." The phrase was not tongue-in-cheek; even before 1800, women were seen as morally superior but physically inferior to men. The characterization lasted for more than a century and a half. The immediate impact of these changes was the movement of many, though by no means all, women off the tracks and fields and

into the stands, or out of public view entirely, unless accompanied by men. The trend was especially pronounced in towns and cities among middle- and upper-class people whose lives were increasingly shaped by commercial and industrial tasks and rhythms and who came to believe that women's central role was to bear and nurture children and families. Slave and free women who continued to live and work on farms and plantations, as well as the increasing number who joined in the westward migration, did not experience the full weight of these changes in roles and lifestyles. Indeed, the experiences of such women in 1850 more closely resembled those of their predecessors in 1750 and even 1650 than they did their urban contemporaries. They remained visible producers and consumers of