Granpa doesn’t figure skate – How are we influencing the minds of our families throughout the ages?

By Devan F.

For the most part, all of our thoughts on gender and sport come from our parents at a young age. This can be both direct and indirect – from seeing our parents taking part in a certain activity to comments such as “you throw like a girl”. They may not be aware of what they are imprinting into our minds, or even how those ideas were imprinted into their own. Until this past century or two, most people were still in the mindset of the difference between boys sports and girls sports. Now these walls have been broken down for the most part around the world, but there are still those who discriminate against individuals in a sport that is usually occupied by the opposite gender. So how did our grandparents’ view of gender and sport affect our parents, and in turn affect us?

I think the ideas of one generation spill over into the next, whether we like it or not. From observing the actions of those we see as role models, there is an imprint in our mind of what it takes to be more like them (Rowe, 1994). Two good examples of this are my great grandparents. My great grandfather was in world war two and worked on the railroads, two professions that require the individual to be strong and tough. My great grandmother on the other hand, made quilts and worked at the local soup kitchen. So for their children, the father of the house was big and rugged with a dangerous job where he could get hurt, and the mother of the house was delicate, precise with her quilting and helped others who couldn’t help themselves. That trend travelled through the family tree. My grandmother (one of their daughters) lived on a farm where she milked the cows and collected eggs, while my grandfather moved the bales of hay and collected the meat from the animals. Their sons and daughters followed suit according to their gender.

The thought that a certain sport is meant for girls or boys was fabricated through the demands of the sport. Any activity that requires an individual to be gentle and graceful must be for women because they are the ones that have grown up with women knitting and milking cows, while the rough sports must be for men because we’ve been raised to shoot guns and do all the heavy lifting. Similar to mannerisms and basic human behaviours that we pick up on from our parents as an infant, ideas about how we should behave towards certain situations are developed through observation (Pound, 2011). Until this idea is altered or removed, it will always be there in the back of our minds, affecting our every action. This preconceived idea of how we are supposed to act from our parents/grandparents combined with the social norms we are exposed to in our everyday lives will always work for or against our participation in an activity.

References

Pound, L. (2011). Influencing early childhood education: Key figures, philosophies and ideas.  Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Rowe, D. C. (1994). The limits of family influence: Genes, experience, and behavior. New York: Guilford Press.

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Gender Coverage in the Olympics

By Scott Brayall

Since the close of the Olympic games, I have been searching the web for anything Olympic related.  Suspicion arose because of general conversations in my Olympic Studies class with Dr. Fred Mason.  Curiosity peaked and I decided to look into gender coverage during the Olympics.  The first hit to come up on Google was “A Brief History of Sexism in TV Coverage of the Olympics”.  Safe to say this title is bold enough to catch anyone’s attention.  The recent, most highlighted topic was how NBC’s primetime drew immense criticism for what the commentators were saying.  During the coverage of the women’s ski halfpipe, the commentators repeatedly called women skiers “girls”.  Both men and women alike quickly took to social medias such as twitter to voice their displeasure.  I personally think my favorite tweet was by Dan Ciskey who said “Somebody please teach the folks at @NBCOlympics the difference between girls and women.  A 29 y.o. skier with kids and a bar is not a girl.”.

I found a study conducted by Andrew C. Billings and Susan Tyler Eastman who wrote about gender representation of the 2000 Olympics.  What I found actually shocked me.  This is not the first time Olympic telecasts have referred to women as “girls”. Not only did the telecasts refer to women in a demeaning way, they also commented on their attractiveness more often than they referred to men’s attractiveness.  Having missed this year’s halfpipe, I decided to watch some of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  What I noticed was when the women landed their maneuvers, the commentator made remarks such as “elegant, beautiful, graceful” whereas when men competed, the comments were “smashed the landing, stomped the landing, got huge air”.  The event was the same yet somehow they almost made it sound as if men were doing it more aggressively.

Because the clock time for televised sports during prime time such as the Olympics can take a couple years to add up (due to all the events going on simultaneously), I decided to look into the coverage of women during prime-time of the 2000 Olympics.  Although this data is 14 years old, it is sad to say that the percentage of coverage hasn’t changed much.  During the 2000 olympics the coverage time was scaled at 53% and 47%, with men’s coverage taking the majority.  The journal article also brings light to the fact that the majority of the women’s broadcast comes from sports seen as more feminine such as diving, gymnastics, swimming and not surprisingly volleyball (for the summer games).  For the winter games they show hockey, figure skating, speed skating, and some snowboard/skiing events.

After boring everyone with the statistics of coverage and demeaning terms used by commentators, you ask yourself, what does any of this matter?  The reason this matters so much is because it reinforces a stereotypical dominance that the male athletes are better than females.  Our current society is now, more than ever, geared towards trying to live healthier.  How are our mothers, our sisters and our daughters supposed to try and be active when all they see in the media is the oppression of women in major sporting events?  This definitely needs to change, because the notion that men don’t like watching women in sport can be argued.  The proof can be found on CTV news where more people took to social media on February 20th about the women’s hockey team claiming Olympic gold than about the men’s hockey victory on Friday.

References:

CTVNews.ca Staff (2014), Women’s hockey gold creates more buzz than men’s semi-final win at Sochi Olympics.   http://www.ctvnews.ca/sochi/women-s-hockey-gold-creates-more-buzz-than-men-s-semi-final-win-at-sochi-olympics-1.1699094

Feeney, Nolan (2014), A Brief History of Sexism in TV Coverage of the Olympics. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/02/a-brief-history-of-sexism-in-tv-coverage-of-the-olympics/284003/

Billings, A. C., & Eastman, S. T. (2002). Selective representation of gender, ethnicity, and nationality in American television coverage of the 2000 summer Olympics. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 37(3), 351-370.

Did You Remember to Label Your Woman Today?

By Sarah M.

I assume the title of this article spiked some interest, maybe you laughed and thought, “Wow Sarah, what an insult” or maybe you thought, “That is so true, women are labelled on a constant basis”. Either way, I assume there was some sort of shock factor in reading the bold headliner.

 I just want to say first of all, that I do realize that men are also victims in being labelled and we have to move on from doing this as well. I, however, am going to focus specifically on women being labelled which really hit home when I viewed a Pantene advertisement. In this video, a woman is “selfish” for working long hours because she is not home spending time with her children. A man is “dedicated” for working long hours so he may provide for his family.

Aside from the advertisement trying to sell their product for women’s hair, it really raises a good point on gender bias and how women are labelled in comparison to men who may be completing the same tasks. I also like that the advertisement does not lead the viewer to think that men are the ones labelling females, often times females will label other females in negative ways. A #WHIPIT movement was created encouraging women to be empowered, shine boldly, and defy labels and stereotypes which should always be encouraged until labels no longer exist.

Although this is a broad issue that happens to all women, one specific example I can think of is how this happens in sport. There is first of all the issue that “athletes” are seen as primarily male. A population of fourth- and fifth-grade girls were interviewed and “of those interviewed, 41% made direct statements supporting a posture that associated the term athlete with being male” (Lebel, 2009, p.149). Maybe this comes from the stigmatization that women are too fragile and should be at home taking care of their family.

If a girl wears stereotypical “boy” clothes and is sporty, she is, at times, called a lesbian. I still see this happening sometimes to my hockey- or rugby-playing girlfriends; why else would they be so into sports unless they want to be a male or like women, right? I can even remember once saying, “I wouldn’t mind learning how to play football”, and jokingly some friends said, “You must be a lesbian”. Ridiculous, I know, but although they were joking, it is a thought various people have and it is a label that should not be present. There is nothing wrong with being a lesbian, but just as a woman would not want to be labeled as bossy, I do not believe a woman would want a certain stigma to surround her solely due to the fact that she plays sports.

One of the articles I have read stated, “as long as the lesbian label is taken as an insult, the label maintains its power to intimidate” (Sartore, 2009, p.299). It is true that we can only be offended by what we choose to be offended about, but does this make it okay to label women playing sports as something they are not or to even label at all? If we ignore it, then is it okay? I do not believe it is okay to label someone based on their gender, race, sexual preference etc., so it is crucial that we take a stand against these stigmas. The #WHIPIT movement by Pantene is an awesome example of women taking a stand, and I believe it will help to empower women to rise above their labels. Little by little, differences will be made. I guess it’s up to each individual how they will tackle it.

Further reading:

Lebel, K., and Danylchuk, K. (2009). Generation Y’s Perceptions of Women’s Sport in the Media, 2, 146-163.

Sartore, M., and Cunningham, G. (2009). The Lesbian Stigma in the Sport Context: Implications for Women of Every Sexual Orientation, 3, 289-305.

Barbaric Men on the Gridiron

By Michael Miller

 

In the last couple weeks there has been a media frenzy regarding the sexual preference of a football star from the University of Missouri, who is hoping to be drafted in the upcoming NFL draft.  The All-American defensive end, Michael Sam, came out to the world stating he was gay. The media has been having a “field day” with the story and have been asking questions to various athletes in the NFL and other public figures as to their reactions. Players, coaches, general managers, and media have all had their opinion on the situation and for some, the feedback has been positive. However with that said there has also been negative feedback, some alluding to how potential players would feel who might have to play along side him and share a locker room.

 

Football is a sport that is all about being strong, fast and competitive. Some may say you need a killer instinct, all characteristics that we stereotype as the alpha male of our society. It is a sport of gladiators, where the players fit a certain mold of what the sport says is required to be a good/professional player, unfortunately when someone who doesn’t fit this mold, people may have a difficult time adapting to the changes. The turn of the 20th century society became obsessed with men’s competitive sports, possibly due to the fact that our society during this period was worried that the boys were becoming soft (Kian et al, 2013).

 

Football, and other sports, has had many changes that have occurred in the past, which has resolved its self in the end resulting in people becoming accepting of those changes (i.e. African males playing with Caucasian males).  Will this result in the same thing for gay men in professional football? Will players be excepting of having a gay teammate in the locker room?

 

In Kian et al, 2013 research there was an interview by a reporter in his late 40s about gay man in football. The reporter stated it may be stereotypes but he just can’t see too many gay men playing football, that football players are big, strong, barbaric men and that he believed that we would see gay men in sports, but would never see a gay man in football while he is alive. Views such as this one may be what is going to hinder gay athletes acceptance in the football as our society deems football for the straight alpha man and that it is going to be a struggle for gay men to be excepted. The reason from as far as I can gather is that society is set in their ways regarding thoughts pertaining to your sexual preference. Gay men, are typically seen someone who “takes on” more female characteristics. Our society tends to look at female characteristics as fragile and/or emotional – which are two characteristics that are not typically seen in the sport of football.

 

In my opinion and as a person who has played football my whole life I don’t know why someone’s sexual preference should interfere with his or her ability to play football. If someone is a strong player why should they be considered to be not a good fit for an organization because they may be a distraction? This has been the theme in a lot of the responses toward Michael Sam. If a player is an exceptional athlete and teammate and he is going to benefit your team’s success then why not want him on the team?

 

Reference:

 

Kian, E., Anderson, E., Vincent, J., and Murray, R. (2013) Sport journalists’ views on gay men in sport, society and within sport mediaInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport, (ahead of print), 1-17.

Men and Body Dysmorphia

Emily M.

Why is it that men and body image issues are never discussed? Is it because there is a taboo against it?  A stigma that it is a girls-only problem?  Will the man look weak or too sensitive?

From an early age men are taught that they should be the big, strong protector that will ride up on their white stallion slaying the bad guy to win the girl just like in the fairy tales.  Superhero costumes can send the same message, just a cute and fun costume for young boys or sending a deeper message saying men should strive to have a perfect physique, thin build, and big muscles.

Are men suffering in silence because they think that men should not have a body image disorder?  Is it women’s fault that men are staying quiet about their body dysmorphia?  Women have always spoken about the tall, macho man protector; like the hunter in the Palaeolithic age.  Does this make it women’s fault that men’s issues are being overlooked or dismissed?

Men who suffer from body image issues may: combat steroid use, be exercise dependent which leads to overtraining and increased injury, entertain ambiguous “fad” diets, immerse themselves in their sorrows, and/or seek refuge from public events and social gatherings.

In a book called Shattered Image: My Triumph over Body Dysmorphic Disorder, author Brian Cuban spoke about how he has suffered from body image issues since he was a child. He explains, “my mother used to say, ‘hey you dumb bunny, you eat too much'”.  This played a huge role in leading to Cuban believing he was that he was fat and stupid.  Cuban goes on to talk about how there are not many resources out there for men who suffer from body image disorders which reinforces the stigma that this is a “girl-only” problem.  One place that does focus their attention on suffering men is in Austin, Texas called Cedar Springs Austin.  Brad Kennington is the executive director and COO there and he says that those who are most vulnerable are: men who are constantly checking themselves in the mirror or weighing themselves, those who count their calories or over exercising, athletes, and gay and bi-sexual male teens.  In a recent article, Daniel Armbruster says, “While it is a topic most guys want to avoid, we were able to find a few on the UT [University of Texas] campus who would admit they probably know someone struggling with body dysmorphia. Both Kennington and Cuban say more guys must come out and share their stories if society is going to change its attitude on men with body dysmorphia” (Nov. 7, 2013).

Research done by Aaron Blashill and the American Psychological Association found that male teens who perceive themselves as too thin or too fat when they are actually at a healthy weight are more likely to develop depression.  They also found that those boys who believed they were underweight are bullied more often and most likely to turn to steroid use.  Blashill says there is little evidence-based research on effective therapy for steroid use, but also says that cognitive-behavioural therapy has been proven effective for body image and he recommends therapists to keep a mindful eye on possible steroid use.

Some statistics that I found from a study out of the University of the West of England from 2012 indicate that more than four in five men (80.7%) talk in ways that promote anxiety about their body compared with the 75% of women that speak negatively about their body.

  • 38% of men said they would sacrifice at least a year of their lives in exchange for a “perfect body” which was again higher than women.
  • 30% have heard someone refer to their “beer belly”
  • 19% have been described as “chubby” and 19% have overheard talk about their “man boobs (moobs)”.
  • 23% said concerns about their appearance had deterred them from going to the gym.
  • 63% thought their arms or chests were not muscular enough.
  • 29% thought about their appearance at least five times a day.
  • 18% were on a high-protein diet to increase muscle mass, and 16% on a calorie-controlled diet to slim down.

To me it is clear that something needs to be done about the growing rate of men’s body image issues and that we need to realize that this is not just a female issue as most would think.  Parents of those with young boys should encourage them to look beyond what they see on the outside and to learn to love themselves for who they are.

Further Reading:

Why Men Never Discuss Body Image Issues

LumberJack vs. LumberJill – Who would survive the great outdoors?

Kaitlyn W.

Before getting into detail about gender socialization, and the many variables that affect women’s decision to participate in outdoor activities, I would first ask you to close your eyes and picture the last extreme outdoor commercial or video that you witnessed. Most likely the flashback that you just had involved men participating in some form of outdoor activity. I recently attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Playhouse, which featured the best outdoor enthusiasts and environmentally conscious films from the past year, all of which lacked women’s involvement. I contribute my observation to the recent classes in gender that I have attended, which have opened my eyes to how few women there are who participate or facilitate outdoor activities.

A prime example is our local Tree-Go in Mactaquac, which includes an outdoor aerial adventure course run by males. It is not that the company only allows male employees, there is just a lack of female interest. Could it be fear, social pressures or just DNA that intimidates women from participating and leading outdoor activities? An article published in 2006, underlines studies and other written work in an attempt to explain women’s lack of desire to push their boundaries in the outdoors. The article indicates that there are technical outdoor skills that are described as “the process of manipulating equipment to accomplish a physical task in the outdoors” (Warren & Loeffler, 2006), which are intimidating to women.

It is my opinion that societal influences play a large role in how women and men perceive outdoor activities. It begins at a young age, when boys and girls are classified into two different gender groups, they are placed into activities that emphasize their differences and teach them stereotypical characteristics. A prime example of gender socialization that occurs with youth activities is the Boys and Girl Scouts Organization. In 2004 the United States provided both Scouts programs with handbooks, where gender influences can be observed on both their covers. The cover of the Boy Scouts handbook displays boys white water rafting and men mountain climbing, whereas the Girl Scouts version has a collage of feminine articles such as ballet slippers, sewing machine, clothing, art supplies and a compass.

It is these types of images and activities that influence females in believing that they are traditionally required to become domesticated. Warren and Loeffler (2006) indicate that a feminist approach to the lack of women’s participation in outdoor activities is contributed to a “historically hegemonic male-based system of outdoor adventure education”. Within society gender appropriate behaviors in children are continually praised, whereas gender inappropriate behaviors, such as female participation in male sports is socially penalized. Females are socialized as the weaker sex and when they do have the capabilities to outperform men, they are ostracized and accused of emasculating men.

Is it possible that history plays a role in where we choose to participate in physical activity? After all the outdoors has always been men’s territory, as it was their duty to hunt, build and use the great outdoors to provide for their family. My inquires regarding women and our choices for physical activity come from the development of my views on gender since I was a child. Growing up in a traditional nuclear family, which consisted of a stay-at-home mom, a working dad and a little sister, our gender roles were stereotypically defined. Both my sister and I participated in female sports, and helped mom with household duties, although we rarely had the choice or the desire to pursue more “male activities”. It was not until my late teens that outdoor activities became an interest. I have realized that there are few females who are willing to spend time outdoors, and learn physically demanding skills in order to do things without a male present.

Reference:

Warren, K., & Loeffler, T. A. (2006). Factors that influence women’s technical skill development in outdoor adventure. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning6:2, 107-119. doi: 10.1080/14729670685200791

Gender Differences in Attention of Sport Media

By Alex H.

Media is arguably one of the most influential agents for gender socialization. From morning newspaper to the late hours of Sports on the television, we are constantly kept in touch with the sporting world. Our generation can push a few buttons on our phone and find the latest highlights from the daily matches around the world.

Everyday I enjoy checking The National Post and their sport section. However, after a few gender and sport lectures, I now look at the sports section with a more critical standpoint. As I look at the different sports and leagues covered in The National Post, the first five sub-sections are; NHL, MLB, NFL, CFL and NBA. Great, they follow the “top” and most “exciting” leagues in North America. Unfortunately though, these are male-only leagues. If you click on one of the leagues, every news story will cover males playing sport. Why does the paper not follow Women’s professional basketball? Why is there so much more significance placed upon men sport?

Canada has had a steady increase in female sport participation (see Canadian Sport for Life). However, in comparison to other countries, we do not have nearly as much media coverage in terms of professional women’s sport. For example, Australia covers professional women’s sports such as netball and soccer. There seems to be more value in women’s sports in terms of media coverage than in Canada. Where does the downward spiral occur? For one thing, it does not happen because of the lack of college/university opportunities. There are policies in place that makes sure post-secondary institutions must give equal scholarships to both male and females. 

There is a link between the lack of professional opportunities and media coverage. Lack of media coverage on women’s sports leads to lack of major sponsorships. Since there is less money in women’s sport, there is little opportunity compared to men when trying to enter the profession. 

I believe there is a catch-22 situation in terms of little professional opportunity and low media coverage and women’s sport. As a boy, looking at my favourite athletes on TSN or in magazines gave me a sense of motivation as they were my role models. Since there is a lack of women’s professional leagues in Canada, girls do not have the opportunity to have the same type of role models.

Through socialization though media, both boys and girls accept and internalize the idea that professional sports is valued in the male realm. We internalize what we see in the news as we start to believe what we read and hear as true. This has led to the belief that professional sports for women is not a viable option. 

We have been so passive and inactive in terms of bringing this inequality of media coverage to the public; we have never brought this issue to the public for discussion. We must start asking questions: Why is there more media attention to men’s professional sports than women’s? Why is there less opportunities for women to play professional sports? 

If we want to change our societies perceptions concerning to inequality in sport between males and females, we must attack the issue straight on. We must look at the social determinants in society to understand why these issues occur. As an athlete, I believe it is extremely important to give men and women the equal opportunity to play sport. I believe if media can put more attention into women’s sport, there will be a greater want to participate in sport as both a profession and a leisure

Gendering Our Children

by Jason Cress

Growing up, my father worked outside the home and my mother stayed at home. She did 95 percent of the cooking and cleaning around the house. I thought this was a typical household. From the movies and television shows I watched as a child, that is how family life was depicted. Women were made for cleaning and cooking and the men were the bread winners. I think we can all attest to this crazy thought. Do not get me wrong, I appreciate everything my mom did for me; however, I think part of her wanted something else in life.

I would like to think that society has done a 360 since then and those gender roles are no longer the norm. Alas…. humankind has failed me and I think we are no different today than 30-40 years ago. I think, as a society, we want to believe we are better than 30-40 years ago.

Case in point: For a Christmas gift, someone bought my daughter a pink cleaning set. It consisted of a small dust pan, a pretend vacuum, and a pink broom. Immediately I wanted to give the gift back. During my wife’s pregnancy, we decided we did not want to know the sex of the child. My reasoning was I did not want to gender my child. I wanted to avoid the pink onesies or the blue jumpers. I wanted to have neutral colours and an environment where colour choice was not a representation of gender association. I knew the pink or blue clothing was going to eventually come, but I wanted to prolong it. I also did not want an object that depicted a gender role associated with a colour. I decided not to give the gift back or throw it in the garbage. I mean, there was no ill will on the givers part. And really, it was a play toy.

Upon closer inspection of this toy, I noticed a sticker on the broom. On the sticker it said, “Just Like Mom’s” I am not even a women and I was offended. I can only imagine what women would feel after seeing this. (I have included a picture with this post. I would love to hear everyone’s opinion of this photo). I wonder what a women during the second wave of feminism would have thought receiving this toy? Maybe I have blinders on, but I would like to think we are trying to teach our children that men and women are equal. Our actions as parents and educators shape the thoughts and beliefs of our children and lay the foundations on how they perceive men and women.

broom2broom1

The gender we assign our children at birth will match the gender they most closely associate themselves to be. There are occasions where the child will struggle to identify themselves with the assigned gender. For the most part though, parents hit the nail on the head (Ehrensaft, 2012). This ranges from the name given, the toque knitted by a family member, to the way in which people interact with the child. Moving forward, gender identity theory suggests that children will develop an understanding of their gender identity through observation and eventually imitate (Myers, 2008). As a parent, everything my daughter is exposed to at this age is within my control. While my daughter has not developed her reading abilities yet, I am sure she will soon and will understand the words on the broom. She has even begun to imitate my wife when she sweeps the floor. As my wife is cleaning up, my daughter will grab her broom and do the same. On the flip side, when I clean up, she does not pick up the broom and sweep. She is 2 ½ years old and is already identifying that pink, cleaning, and mommy are all related.

But a bigger question is how did this “toy” get past final inspection from the design team? Did a male team design this? I can with upmost certainty say that a female design team did not design this broom set. As a responsible parent trying to raise my child in a gender neutral environment, should I find out where the gift was purchased from and send the retailor an email?

I feel so strong about this issue because I want my daughters to grow up in a world where they are not segregated based on their sex or which gender they associate themselves with. I want to know that whichever profession they select, it will be based on free will and not society’s predetermined selection. I want my daughters to have the career that my mom was not able to have.

Am I a bad parent for not taking this “toy” away? Who knows? I think if I worry about every single gender stereotype or issue that arises, I will never sleep. Plus, I like the broom. It is great for getting the dust and dirt from the corners.

Further Reading:

Ehrensaft, D. (2012). From gender identity disorder to gender identity creativity: True gender self child therapy. Journal of Homosexuality, 59(3), 337-356.

Myers, D. (2008). Exploring psychology, New York, Worth Publications.

Rape Culture: Fear as a Barrier to Leisure Participation

Given where the discussion went on Tuesday re: social control and fear, I thought I would reblog a post that I did for my own blog back in September.

All Things Leisure

fear

For the last 24 hours, I’ve been bothered by a story I saw on the news last night. At Saint Mary’s University this week (in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), Frosh Leaders led students in a chant that glorified rape (read more here). A video was released of students reciting the chant. It was shocking to watch. Apparently, similar chants have been created in the past and there is some discussion in the news that similar messages are communicated on other campuses. Disturbing.

Since hearing the story, I have been thinking about the norms, values, and attitudes that were being communicated to new students and reinforced for returning students with that chant. I’ve been thinking about female students on that campus who may have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life or who already had anxiety or fear about being assaulted prior to arriving on campus (women are…

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Gender Equality in Sports: Female Athletes Inferior To Male Athletes?

by Ashley LeGresley

Although female sports have come a long way in the last century, there is still much inequality between female and male sports in areas such as coverage, salary, and the portrayal of the athletes themselves.

Any sports fan who watches sports on television can easily see that male sports are predominantly featured over female sports. With women accounting for 40% of all sports participation, one would think that female sports would air, pretty much on par with that of their male counterparts (Hanson, 2012). In 1999, female sports coverage only accounted for 8% of all sports media coverage (Hanson, 2012).

Arguably one of the most popular sports news stations, ESPN’s SportsCenter , in 2004 only devoted 2% of its’ show to women’s sports (Hanson, 2012). A 30-day analysis of SportsCenter turned up 807 stories regarding sports, 778 of these were regarding male sports, while 16 were about female sports and 13 were about both female and male sports. These numbers, truly show how female sports are depicted in the sports world, as not important.

In regards to salary, male players and teams make a substantial amount more than female player and their teams, even though they may not win as much, or win as big a title. Reports in 1998 indicated that female players made 74 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts earned (Gettings, 2013).

In 2005, Sue Bird, the top ranked WNBA player made $87 000, which according to Insidehoops.com is the top salary for the WNBA (Seepersaud, 2013). Shaquille O’Neal in that same year made $20 million. These gaps in statistics can be seen in every sport.

Female golfer, Annika Sorenstam made $1.9 million dollars for winning her third U.S Open, while Tiger Woods won $6.8 million for winning the men’s U.S Open in the same year (Seepersaud, 2013)! David Fay, the Open’s Executive Director was questioned why there was such a difference in payouts between the men’s and women’s winnings,  his response was  the men’s Open has,  “more audience members, entries and press coverage”(Seepersaud, 2013).

Lastly, female athletes are portrayed in a different light than male athletes. Female players are exploited for their sex appeal instead of their ability as a player (Hanson, 2012). Male players are shown as strong, muscular, and athletic while female player’s bodies are viewed as sex objects.

A study done in 1990 looked at male and female athletes and the location of their photo shoots; 68% of male players were shot on their court while 51% of women were shot on court (Hanson, 2012). This study then looked at players and whether their pictures depicted them in their uniforms; 93% of males were photographed wearing their uniforms while 84% of females were photographed wearing theirs. A similar study in 1990 looked at athletes’ pictures to see if they were action shots or stills; 62% of male shots were taken while they were in action, and 41% of female shots were action shots (Hanson, 2012).

As seen in Sports Illustrated, a magazine known for its articles about sports teams, and players, female athletes are rarely featured, and when they are, their pictures are not of them in an action shot on the field but of them in very little clothing or none at all, in a location far from the playing field (Hanson, 2012). Starting in 1964, the magazine started issuing an annual Swimsuit Edition with erotic pictures of female athletes, which unless the reader is aware of her athletic capabilities, would think is just a model posing. Certainly this is not women showing off their athleticism, but their bodies.

Unfortunately, if female players are not the “model” physique, or possess female characteristics, then they are considered “butch” by society and are stereotyped lesbians because they play sport and are not feminine  enough (Hanson, 2012.) I have seen this personally in my softball career. Players on my team who didn’t wear makeup or “girly” clothing were deemed butch and many students outside of the team thought they were lesbian, when in fact, they were not. The ideas and stereotypes come from the way media shows female athletes. Most of the female athletes featured in magazines or news articles are the most beautiful and sexually appealing, emphasizing on their feminine characteristics instead of their ability to play their sport.

These pictures and articles are easily read and available to younger female and male athletes. By reading and looking at how female players are depicted, it gives youth the wrong idea of how female athletes should be treated and teaches young women that the only way to get ahead in sports is to exploit your body.

For future female players to feel that they are valued as credible athletes and not just seen as females, society has to close the gap between male and female sports, making coverage, salaries, funding and how the athletes are portrayed equivalent. Media must also be very careful in how female players are depicted as this shapes the minds of future athletes and fans.

REFERENCES:

Gettings, John. (2013), The Wage Gap in Pro Sports: Will equal pay arrive for women in the sports world. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/sptwagegap1.html

Hanson, Valarie. (2012), The Inequality of Sport: Women < Men. Undergraduate Review: A Journal of Undergraduate Student Research. 13. 1: pp. 15-22.

Seepersaud, Steve. (2013), Female Athlete Salaries. http://www.askmen.com/sports/business_150/190_sports_business.html