The Double Standard

by Hannah M.

Women’s equality in sport has come a long way in recent years. We are beginning to recognize women as athletes who are strong and competitive. We are seeing women’s sport on television more than ever before and recognizing their athletic ability. This may be true, but why do women still feel the need to sell sexiness? Can’t women just be good at their sport and not need to be concerned about their physical appearances?

In class we viewed a video that analyzed this issue in more detail. The video points out that the women who are most successful in sport, tend to be very beautiful as well. If you were to flip through a sports magazine, you will find many of the women athletes in revealing clothing, if they are wearing clothing at all. The double standard placed on women athletes to be both good at their sport and sell their beauty is very evident in the media. It is rare to see an elite female athlete who can get the sponsorship she needs just by being good at sport.

In the article “Medals aren’t enough: Women Olympians still have to sell sexiness” by TIME magazine, we read that women athletes have this immense pressure during the Olympics to get the sponsorship needed for their training. According to Keven Adler, there is a very evident double standard for women athletes. He says in the article that “For male athletes, it’s primarily about their performance. And for female athletes it’s definitely as much about their looks as it is about their performance.” The article continues to demonstrate this double standard by pointing out that women in all sports feel this pressure. For instance, there are makeup seminars for rookie WNBA players to ensure that these women get the sponsorship they need to play. We never expect a man to spend hours before a game applying hair gel and covering blemishes just to get proper sponsorship. We rely on their athletic ability and talent.

Another article from the 2012 summer Olympics talked about women’s beach volleyball, and the bikini issue. There was controversy initially about whether the women should wear more due to the colder weather, but it was decided that they would wear their usual bikini attire. The athletes were okay with this decision, many saying that is how they are most comfortable when playing. The major issue came up during the games when the media coverage of the event became nearly all about the bikinis instead of the women who play it. They focused on the way these women looked in the bikinis, publishing articles like “Olympic Beach Volleyball: Great Bodies, Bikinis and More”, forgetting to really cover the actual sport itself.

The campaign “Strong is the new sexy” has a great idea behind it. It’s empowering women to be strong and muscular, not worrying about having a muscular body. In the past, a muscular body was stereotypically a male ideal. This campaign has changed the minds of women to see strong as sexy and healthy. My issue with the campaign is pictures like the following:

Strong is the new sexy

Why can’t we just see a strong woman wearing more reasonable gym clothes? I understand that “its the new sexy” but this photo really takes away from the campaign in my mind. It’s not just showing her strength, it’s showing a lot more than that.

References:

http://time.com/6714/medals-arent-enough-female-olympians-still-have-to-sell-sexiness-2/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-j-jackson/olympics-2012_b_1736415.html

Advertisements

6 responses

  1. Great post Hannah. I agree that the point of the “strong is the new sexy” campaign may be lost somewhat to the over-sexualization of the women in the pictures, but I think that has to do with the point they are trying to make. When the world is presented the images of the tiny victorias secret models on tv, this is what most people have grown to see as being sexy. This can cause the population of women to believe tat they need to look like this in order to be sexy. This ad however, shows a muscular woman flaunting her body and being comfortable with it. I think they are simply trying to give a different perspective on the ideal sexy look for a woman.

    Also, for the majority of men and women in society, a picture of a half naked girl is going to get more attention. I’m not saying it should necessarily, but it is much more out of the ordinary than someone who is fully dressed and will catch the eye of more people. The ad is acting similarly to many ads on the internet, in commercials or on billboards. It is using the sexualization of a womans body to get attention, but it is trying to use it in a positive way.

    Just an idea,

    Devan

    Also in society in todays time, the think

  2. Well said Hannah, it frustrates me to no end how sports journalist diminish the talents of women athletes by sexualizing them. Society has a long way to go before female and male athletes will ever be regarded in the same light. Muscles have always been taboo for females due to societies views on fit women as masculine and less attractive. The idea that there is a campaign like “strong is the new sexy” relays that women are trying to push against the norms although not enough to eliminate sexuality. It is a struggle for me to judge women athletes for wanting to display their bodies in magazines and news articles due to the fact that I think they should be proud of their hard work, an accomplishment such as theirs should be flaunted. Many female athletes are only doing what they have to in order to get sponsorships, what is difficult to process is the fact that male athletes are not required to place their bodies on display in order to get ahead in their sport.
    Thank you,
    Kaitlyn Willis

  3. Hannah what a great post and topic. I completely agree, why can’t women be recognized for there achievements in the sporting world instead we see them fighting for media coverage by using their looks. The points made about female Olympic athletes having to not only play or perform well but also look good doing it in order to get sponsors that are needed to get proper training makes it clear that there is sill inequality in sport. When the media covers women’s sport they rarely talk about just the sport the often will comment on there appearance also well, I though it was very interesting the point you brought up about the beach volleyball players and how they only talked about their attire. This is just an underhanded way of continuing to oppress women in the sporting world. It is clear that women are still seen in many people’s eyes as still being unable to participate in sport. This focus on women and their appearance in sport is also translating back to the youth that look up to them. It’s sending the message to young girls that you need to not only be a good athlete but you also need to look good as well for anyone to notice. This in turn creates intrapersonal constraint’s as to how young girls see themselves, which can lead to health problems and a fear of participating as they see themselves not looking the part. The new companies of strong is the new sexy is a good way of breaking down the gender stereotypical type thinking but like you said even that is being spun into unrealistic images for women. I completely agree with the points you made, hopefully soon women are seen as equal in the sporting world.

    Julie M.

  4. Hey Hannah! I think this is a great post because it really demonstrates the struggle of female athletes. They work so hard and “earn” their bodies essentially but when they want to show off their hard work they are ultimately objectifying themselves – whether they want to or not. I think non athletic women struggle with this when get dressed up to go out for a girls night (or another fancy event) or buy a piece of clothing that makes a feel sexy. We are dressing ourselves this way to feel sexy and empowered and although our intentions are not to objectify ourselves, men and other women will objectify us… It’s an unfair and very complicated place to be!
    Whether women athletes are dressing explicitly for their own personal reasons or for increased media support – I don’t think there is any quick or easy solution for it.

    Thanks for the read!!

    Victoria

    Victoria

  5. Hey Hannah! I think this is a great post because it really demonstrates the struggle of female athletes. They work so hard and “earn” their bodies essentially but when they want to show off their hard work they are ultimately objectifying themselves – whether they want to or not. I think non athletic women struggle with this when get dressed up to go out for a girls night (or another fancy event) or buy a piece of clothing that makes a feel sexy. We are dressing ourselves this way to feel sexy and empowered and although our intentions are not to objectify ourselves, men and other women will objectify us… It’s an unfair and very complicated place to be!
    Whether women athletes are dressing explicitly for their own personal reasons or for increased media support – I don’t think there is any quick or easy solution for it.

    Thanks for the read!!

    Victoria

    Victoria

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s