in extreme sports, young women are shaking up the codes
Charlotte, Inès and Aude, of crew 40, on the Rose Trip trek in the Lompoul…
In the desert of Lompoul, in Senegal, walkers tread the sand of the Rose Trip trek. There are, in theory, 15 kilometers to go before the end of the day’s race. The terrain is harsh and the temperature not very mild: 42 degrees in the shade. Beneath the sneakers creaks the kindling fallen from the trees. One carefully avoids the thorns of acacias, capable of piercing a shoe.
Between two sips of water, team 40, made up of Inès, Charlotte and Aude, climbs a dune that looks like a wall. If the three young women do, like 42% of French women aged 25 to 39, sports several times a week, this is their first adventure off the beaten track in the PACA region, where they live. The opportunity to go beyond the daily release, to taste the limits of the body.
If intensive sports practice has masculine connotations, Anaëlle Malherbe, psychologist and mental trainer at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (Insep), notices an increase in female interest. For example, the French Triathlon Federation has gone from 23.3% of licensees in 2013 to 29.2% in 2023. On the Ironman of Nice in 2022, they were 14% to run.
On the sidelines of mixed events, many raids, trails and treks are reserved for women. “In these kinds of disciplines, also called exhaustion practices, endurance is one of their physiological qualities”underlines the sociologist Catherine Louveau, author of Inequality on the starting line: women, social origins and the conquest of sport (in Clio, Women’s History, 2006).
Still shaking up the codes
But “Culturally, anger, aggressiveness, endangerment are accepted for men, when the woman is the one who secures and protects”, continues Anaëlle Malherbe. Being a woman and playing sport at a high level still requires shaking up the codes, especially on the side of mothers, who can slow down the sporting commitment of their daughters.
Catching her breath after an ascent, Inès, 24, sports educator for seniors, says: “I play handball, but my mother thinks it’s not a girl’s sport. She remarks to me when I come home with bruises. There is something that is not natural for her…”
When it came to participating in this trek in Senegal, Charlotte, 27, a teacher in adapted physical activity, heard: “But wait, what are you getting yourself into?” », from his own, while that of Aude, 30, web designer, did not hide his concern. Catherine Louveau sees nothing surprising in this: “From the first physical exercise, when the children start to walk, the boys are pushed to explore space, and the girls are held back by the mothers who say ‘be careful, you’re going to hurt yourself’. »
You have 71.67% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.