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We asked a psychologist why average men believe they can beat top female athletes in their sport

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Women’s sports are gaining more respect and attention than ever before, with events like the women’s NCAA basketball championship and athlete Caitlin Clark’s jersey sales breaking records. However, high-level female athletes still face challenges from individuals who believe they can offer unsolicited advice or even beat them in their sport. This misplaced confidence and blatant mansplaining can be attributed to a combination of gender stereotypes and underlying low self-esteem, explains Dr. Mitch Abrams, a sport and clinical psychologist.

Dr. Abrams points out that from a young age, boys are taught not to doubt themselves and to show off what they know. However, this can lead to a lack of confidence and insecurity, as they feel pressure to appear knowledgeable and skilled. This can manifest in situations where men attempt to assert their dominance or expertise in areas like sports, where they believe they should excel. Unfortunately, some men may never outgrow this mindset, remaining developmentally adolescents in their behavior.

Additionally, the rise of social media and online platforms has provided a breeding ground for toxic masculinity, where individuals can hide behind anonymity and offer discriminatory or harmful opinions. This negative reinforcement and validation can then spill over into real-life interactions, creating situations where men feel emboldened to challenge or condescend to female athletes. This toxic cycle perpetuates a culture of disrespect and undermines the achievements and abilities of women in sports.

The trend of men offering unsolicited advice or believing they could defeat female athletes highlights a larger issue of male entitlement and lack of respect for women’s achievements and expertise. Despite the progress made in recognizing and celebrating women in sports, there is still work to be done in educating and changing the mindset of individuals who continue to underestimate or patronize female athletes. It is crucial to challenge these attitudes and promote equality and respect for all athletes, regardless of gender.

Overall, it is important to acknowledge and address the underlying factors that contribute to situations where women athletes face disrespect and challenges from individuals who underestimate their abilities. By raising awareness, educating others, and promoting a culture of equality and respect in sports, we can work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all athletes, regardless of gender. It is essential to foster a culture where all athletes are valued and respected for their skills, dedication, and achievements, without facing discrimination or condescension.

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