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This is a boxing headguard, which, according to the International Boxing Association, is “equipment worn on the head in order to protect it during a competition.
Adjusted to the head with velcro straps, one of the straps is located on the chin and the others on the top of the head. It prevents cuts and bruises, and its goal is to reduce the impact of a punch on the head. Made by closed-cell foam, being flexible and soft, velcro and vinyl fabric, its weight varies according to its size, going from 205 grams to 290 grams. It is usually in red, blue, or black color, the one displayed here is black.

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Sexist Concussions

Contributed by Alejandra Benítez Silva, 2018

Keywords: Boxing, Gender discourses, Sexism

Based on studies reporting that concussions are more likely to occur wearing headguards, in 2013 the International Boxing Association banned their use among elite male competitors. Arguing the lack of evidence on the effect of headguards on female boxers, as the studies only considered men in their samples, the Association still obliges female competitors to wear headguards.

The rule relating to gender-differentiated use of the headguards makes evident the existence of gender essentialist discourses in boxing used to legitimize a different treatment of women. This is problematic considering that as a consequence of the rule, female fighters may be at risk of concussion during the competitions. Based on the latter, through this rule boxing communicates at the symbolic level, that female bodies do not matter in the sport.

If boxing wants to be accessible to all and embrace equality, it must stop discriminating against women through sexist rules based on gender essentialism.