Cheating, Gender Roles, and the Nineteenth-Century Croquet Craze

Croquet has been described as cool game where the etiquette of playing the game with grace and good manners took precedence over winning, sociable play, or an overridden and unprincipled competition. It was a game that was ideal for children, old people and mixed groupings. Unselfishness, honesty and grace were requisite for a player to be allowed in the game. The author’s main thesis is, “Yet was this, in fact, how the game was played on the croquet lawns of the nineteenth century?”

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Whereas authors of croquet manuals and magazines emphasize so much on the noncompetition and social aspect of the game, visual evidence proves beyond doubt that the spirit of competition existed in any croquet match. Women especially, were known to use dishonest moves to win the game. One of the evidence provided here is the fact that wagering on the outcome of a particular game became so often.

This implied that the game that was initially meant for socialization became a gambler’s game and this intensified the spirit of competition. Women were domineered in the game; for instance, in a hearing in an international herald tribune, a woman testified that when playing the game because she had asked him whether his ball had gone through the hoop. Her husband became so annoyed that they never spoke to each other for a long time.

A game where good manners and grace was observed turned out to be unethical. This is illustrated by the notion that women had in mind when playing the game. For a woman, the tight croquet stroke could be interpreted as an act of symbolic castration of a man. Because of the way the game was played, cheating became a possibility.

For example, before taking a shot at the ball, a woman would lift her skirt suggestively, place her pretty leg on her own ball and hammer the opponent’s ball. This act tantalized and enticed male players. Women players replaced the long dresses with short tight skirts that they wore during the game. When positioning the ball, they would bend downwards in a provocative manner; this would elicit men’s’ sexual crave.

Commentators complained about the tendency of women cheating during the game. Women had various tricks among them double tapping, which acquired the slang term “spooning,” this linked croquet to sexual implication of ardent fondling.

For instance, the English champion Lily Gower, who was widely known for playing and defeating top men in the game, was found guilty of this cheating offence. However, it was ungentlemanly for men players to protest. As a result, many men opted not to play the game, an act that led to the shortage of male players.

The strength of the thesis is that it depicts the truth about the game that is different from the notion that was earlier held. A game that was believed to be solely for socialization has been proved otherwise by the thesis with the supporting evidence in the article. Although the game was supposed to be played with grace and honesty, it was marred by battles of superiority, dishonesty and gambling tendencies.

This led to many players quitting the game. The other strength of the thesis is that it has given clear breakdown of incidences that prove the game was differently played in lawns of nineteenth century. It gives the true picture of what used to happen during the actual play.

However, the thesis has a weakness in that it only criticizes the unethical part of the game. Croquet, like many other sports, has moral and ethical values, which are evidenced by the fact that it brought people together for a social gathering. People of different races were able to interact and have fun. This served to reduce social class as well as racial discrimination.

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