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Response to Jess Libow's Talk

k8rob's picture

Before Jess' talk (and the audience questions that followed!), I hadn't really considered the way that ideas about physical education could be used to justify the roles that women were placed into during this time. Jess talked about how, for a long time, physical education wasn't marketed to women at all, but I found her discussion of the shift from the outright exclusion of women to the use of exercise to uphold societal structures to be so interesting. For example, white women were seen to have been "lacking the strength" to be educated to the same degree as men, and women were outright told that the best form of physical education for them was housework, keeping them squarely in a domestic role. Furthermore, Black women were seen to have been physically more fit for the enslavement that they faced. All of these ideas just serve to strategically maintain the barriers that stood in the way of the shifting societal power. Even when the concept of physical movement as womens empowerment came to be, disabled women were left out. I want to know more about how physical education in America evolved over time, and how ideas about its uses fit into the social climates of more modern history.