Fortunately, the attitude of the IOC changed within a few years, but their mind-set was not unusual for the time period. During the nineteenth century, a common belief was that men were naturally aggressive and competitive and women were emotional and passive, making men better suited for strenuous exercise and sports. Doctors argued that because of the amount of energy women expended on reproductive functions, minimal energy was left for physical, psychic or intellectual endeavors.

During the later nineteenth century, many physicians decided that gentle forms of physical exercise in small doses could aid women’s health and their ability to bear strong children. The main activities they were allowed to participate in were walking and a few recreational sports like croquet, archery, and skating. By the end of the century, a few middle and upper class women also participated in tennis and golf. Around the same time, social changes such as industrialization, urbanization, the women’s reform movements, and an alteration of the restrictive clothing women wore brought more women into the leisure sports world, which led to their inclusion in competitive sports.




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