Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Triumph looks sexy on boys; gay on girls

Melissa Silverstein of the Women's Media Center has posted a provocative piece about women in sports, just in time for the climax of the NCAA championships:

Women's reluctance to embrace sports as fans may reflect one of the most disturbing issues in women’s sports—the hypersexualization of the female athlete. As a culture, we think it’s okay for a woman to be athletic as long as she is still feminine. Marie Harden finds it ironic: "The whole idea of athletic accomplishment is about respect for what the body can do, and the sexualization of the body undermines athletic power and accomplishment." Mary Jo Kane believes that turning women athletes into sex symbols has a powerful homophobic undercurrent. Covering women’s sports in a sexualized way, she says, may be thought to "reassure fans, corporate sponsors, officials, athletic administrators, parents and in many cases the women themselves that they are not too masculine." For similar reasons, when women get a big payday in sports, it’s not for their athletic prowess but for posing for ads or in other avenues that promote their sexuality.
A recommended read; check out the stats she gives for the percentages of women reporting sports in the mainstream media.

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