•   
  •   

Sport From a 'pioneering' sport for women, to one overshadowed by a culture of abuse. What happened to women’s gymnastics?

23:25  10 may  2021
23:25  10 may  2021 Source:   msn.com

Phoebe Dynevor continues filming The Colour Room in Birmingham

  Phoebe Dynevor continues filming The Colour Room in Birmingham The Bridgerton star, 26, who shot to fame over Christmas for her role as Daphne Bridgerton in the show, appeared in great spirits as she filmed scenes in Birmingham on Friday.The actress sported a pair of white overalls as she laughed with her co-stars between takes while she continued filming The Colour Room on Friday.

a woman jumping into the air to catch a frisbee: Dr Georgia Cervin performed acrobatic feats as a professional gymnast. (Supplied) © Provided by ABC Grandstand Dr Georgia Cervin performed acrobatic feats as a professional gymnast. (Supplied)

Child abuse, sexual harassment and disordered eating: this is the horrifying story revealed in the recent Human Rights Commission report into women's gymnastics in Australia.

How did it come to this?

Former international gymnast and historian of the sport, Georgia Cervin, says tracing gymnastics to its roots reveals the beginnings of the dark cloud that would follow the sport.

Opening the door for sportswomen

In 1933, the International Gymnastics Federation established women's gymnastics. The first international competition followed the next year, in Budapest.

Abuse of gymnasts reported at Australian Institute of Sport over decades

  Abuse of gymnasts reported at Australian Institute of Sport over decades Former gymnasts from the taxpayer-funded Australian Institute of Sport outline allegations of child physical, psychological and sexual abuse, going back decades. The accusations come as the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) prepares to release an independent report on Monday into the practices of gymnastics in Australia.The report is expected to detail experiences of children suffering from bullying, misconduct, abuse and sexual harassment in the sport going back decades.

Dr Cervin says this was a time when, in countries around the world, people worried that women doing sports might appear "unfeminine" or too muscular, or risk harming their reproductive ability.

Gymnastics was created as a sport "appropriate for women".

It was "designed to showcase femininity", Dr Cervin tells .

But it was also "pioneering" in that it was largely controlled by women.

"There was a women's committee that decided how the sport was going to look, how it was going to be governed. Coaches had to be women. Judges had to be women," Dr Cervin says.

"It opened the door for women in sport in general, to say, 'hey, women can participate. And not only is it not harmful for women, it's actually really good for them, and they enjoy it'."

The influence of Russian ballet and circus

Gymnastics became an Olympic sport in 1952, in the same year that the Soviet Union was admitted into the Games.

Marilyn Manson denies abuse allegations from actor Esmé Bianco

  Marilyn Manson denies abuse allegations from actor Esmé Bianco Game of Thrones actor Esmé Bianco sued Marilyn Manson on Friday, alleging sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Manson's lawyer called the allegations "provably false."Manson's lawyer called the allegations "provably false.

It was also the time of the Cold War.

That didn't just impact gymnastics, but "really raised the stakes of the Games, from this kind of amicable international tournament, to this platform for proving ideological national superiority," says Dr Cervin.

By the 1970s, the Soviet Union had significantly influenced women's gymnastics, bringing two major influences to the sport: ballet and circus.

A sport that largely promoted grace and flexibility began to develop into one that was much more acrobatic, as it is today.

For Russians, ballet held great cultural prestige, and circus was an important cultural pastime; they wanted to showcase both in their gymnastics, Dr Cervin says.

"So they started to bring in a lot more of the tricks that you see [today]," she says, like flipping and contortion.

The sport was ahead of its time in encouraging women's involvement in sport, but it was still heavily gendered.

Abuse, neglect and bullying rife in Australian gymnastics

  Abuse, neglect and bullying rife in Australian gymnastics Sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins has released the findings of the report into abuse in gymnastics.The review, released today by sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins, was requested by Gymnastics Australia following the release of the US documentary Athlete A recounting young athletes’ experiences with convicted doctor Larry Nassar who used his position to sexually abuse young girls and women across two decades.

The rules of the sport remained "gender specific", Dr Cervin says, determining that women "should perform very passively and fluidly, while men should demonstrate slowness and strength".

Gymnasts get younger

The other major shift happening around the 1970s was an influx of male coaches into the sport, as sports coaching professionalised around the world, moving from a voluntary to a paid occupation.

"Men started moving into women's gymnastics around that time, because it [became] this really popular sport [with] heaps of opportunities to make a name for yourself," Dr Cervin says.

She says this "changed the dynamic" of the sport, "between who is coaching it and who is doing it".

Whereas at the 1952 Olympics most women's gymnastics competitors were women in their 20s and 30s, by the 1970s that age was dropping dramatically, with the emergence of "this idea that young girls' bodies are more neutral than a woman's body", Dr Cervin says.

"There's no breasts, there's no hips. The girls are really strong.

"So actually, [the girls] are more similar to the boys and men that the male coaches had previously been working with."

The Australian Human Rights Commission report into gymnastics proves this — when sports investigate themselves, athletes suffer

  The Australian Human Rights Commission report into gymnastics proves this — when sports investigate themselves, athletes suffer The AHRC review, and Gymnastics Australia's commitment to its recommendations, mark the first steps on what will be a painful path to change, writes Tracey Holmes.The review uncovered an environment where abuse — in all its guises — occurred because of accepted coaching practices, a focus on winning at all costs, and a complicated governance structure that is not suitable for effectively safeguarding children and young people.

Dr Cervin argues that working with fully grown adult women required "a whole different kind of expertise" for coaches, and different training regimes to account for different biomechanics: "the different body shape, the [different] strength to weight ratio".

Rather than adopt a different training regime for women, coaches sought a different route.

"The answer that a lot of coaches took was to specifically work with young gymnasts, because it's easier, and they're more like boys," Dr Cervin says.

Younger, teenage gymnasts became more prominent, and the image of the younger female body became part of the aesthetic of the sport.

"People in the sport who are older, who are capable of continuing, they [were] under this pressure to maintain a body that looked pre-pubescent in order to fit in," Dr Cervin says.

She argues that at this time a dangerous culture was being forged amongst the young gymnasts, in which girls were being "socialised to be obedient, to not ask questions, not be difficult, be really agreeable".

Whereas it became "normalised" and "accepted" that coaches need to "assertive, strong and pushy".

"As a coach, that makes your job much easier, because no-one's challenging you. They do what they're told. And so [the young gymnasts are] vulnerable to abuse, because of the way they've been conditioned to behave," Dr Cervin says.

Christian Brothers forced to increase payout to John Lawrence, who survived 'degrading, humiliating' sexual abuse

  Christian Brothers forced to increase payout to John Lawrence, who survived 'degrading, humiliating' sexual abuse WA's highest court increases the record payout awarded to an elderly man who was subjected to "degrading and humiliating" sexual abuse by Christian Brothers decades ago, in a decision lawyers say will have implications for other abuse survivors. Last year, 76-year-old John Thomas Lawrence was awarded $1.3 million in damages by a District Court judge after he testified at a trial about the years of physical and sexual abuse and other cruel conduct he endured while living at Clontarf and Castledare boys' homes in the 1950s.

Scrapping 'outdated gender ideals'

The into Australian gymnastics has made a series of recommendations, largely around the governance of the sport, and education and accountability for coaches.

But Dr Cervin would like to see reform in the sport go further.

"I would like to see 18 as a minimum age [for competitive gymnastics]," she says.

She also wants see the sport's "outdated gender ideals" addressed.

"What I would like to see is a re-framing of gender in gymnastics.

"Right now it's very binary: women do women's gymnastics, men do men's gymnastics. But instead, we could have those 10 apparatus, or 10 events, and people can self-select which ones they want to do.

"There's no reason that you should have to choose which events you want to do based on sex.

"If we just have one role for each apparatus, we almost arrive at this uniform understanding of what good gymnastics looks like. And we get rid of some of these gendered problems that we're seeing, particularly in women's gymnastics."


Video: 'These people don't care what we think and that should frighten the living out of you': Murray (Sky News Australia)

Former BBL cricketer in court on child abuse charges .
Aaron Summers, 25, has been charged with possessing child abuse material and grooming a minor after his alleged behaviour was brought to the attention of cricket authorities. © AAP Aaron Summers, 25, appeared in front of the Darwin Local Court, with police alleging that his mobile phone contained child abuse videos. Aaron Summers, 25, appeared in front of the Darwin Local Court, with police alleging that his mobile phone contained child abuse videos. Summers played one game for the Hobart Hurricanes in late 2017 as well as three one-dayers with Tasmania, for whom he made his debut in 2018.

usr: 4
This is interesting!