In what ways might gender affect the distribution of leisure activities in folk or popular culture?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Gender affects the distribution of leisure activities in folk or popular cultures because societal constructions of gender have an impact on what activities are deemed to be appropriate for men and women.

In social science terms, gender is something that is socially constructed.  Every society has its own vision of what is appropriate for men and for women.  This means that gender is different from sex because sex is a physical and biological thing while gender is socially constructed.

A given society’s vision of gender roles affects the sorts of leisure activities that men and women are allowed to do.  For example, there have been many times and places when it was not acceptable for women to wear anything less than voluminous clothing in the presence of unrelated men.  This made it impossible for women to engage in things like swimming or sports in those folk and popular cultures.  Cultures also tend to prescribe what types of sports are appropriate for women.  For example, in our culture, we are only now coming to accept the idea of women playing any sorts of very rough sports.

Thus, gender impacts the distribution of leisure activities because societies use their visions of gender to help decide what activities men and women can engage in.  

michuraisin's profile pic

michuraisin | Student, College Junior | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Gender affects the distribution of leisure activities through how people view gender roles. For instance, it is commonly viewed that within a family, men are the ones who go to work and earn money, whereas women stay home to take care of the children. With that, men have a more defined and established time of when they have to work depending on their job, while women are basically on the clock at various hours depending on their children. This gives men more to participate in leisure activities once they are off work, and determine what exactly are leisure activities. For instance, bowling or golfing could be considered leisure activities, and both of these have been established as such probably more due to men than women. In fact, a study showed that men spend about five more hours a week on leisure activities than women do.

Gender roles also affect the distribution of leisure activities through what people consider masculine or feminine. Men like to look tough and be active, so perhaps watching football or going to the shooting range is something they are more likely to do, while women may be content to go window shopping. This isn't to say that each gender is limited to these activities, but that they may feel obligated to fulfill these societal roles.

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