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The Struggles of Courageous Athletes, and the Bene
Name: Balpreet B
Date: 2002-03-01 20:28:52
Link to this Comment: 1296


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

Question 2: What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex (eg women who enter body building, power lifting, boxing; men who enter synchronized swimming or field hockey)?

Sports have always maintained barriers concerning the gender of the athletes. Women as well as men have been discriminated in sports, which have for so long been defined as a one-sex sport. For example, boxing had long been considered a sport for males only. Another example is gymnastics, which is usually considered a feminine sport, but also have male participants. However, although sports in general have come a long way in sex discrimination, keeping itself under water, it still remains a consistent problem lurking its ugly head above. There still remains costs towards those individuals who are brave enough to challenge the system , but can there also be benefits for those individuals entering a non-traditional sport?

There are many costs that both men and women must face if they want to take the challenge of entering a non-traditional sport for their gender. First, they have to bare the discrimination and criticism from the members of that sport, the press, and society. Everyone will look down on them for being "different." The press will make a mockery of them on television, in newspapers and in magazines. The spectators who go out to see that sport will not support them in what they are trying to accomplish. The only support the athlete will find is, hopefully, their friends and family. Another cost that the athlete will have to overcome is society's question in their sexual orientation. Everyone will think that the reason the athlete is entering in a non-traditional sport for their gender is because they are gay. For example, the press used to print articles constantly concerning Martina Navratilova's sexual orientation. Even though it wasn't until later that Navratilova announced that she was gay, the press would constantly berate her for her sexuality. Martina Navratilova's struggles are common for many athletes who have dared to compete in sports that were not traditionally "proper" for their gender. These are only a few costs that athletes have to face entering a non-traditional sport.

However, although there exists many costs, there are also benefits for challenging sport's prejudices. Although the majority of society will consider the actions of the athlete as demeaning and improper to the sport, there will be a small minority of people who will think of this athlete as a hero and respect their dreams. Whether it is because these men or women also have the same dreams, or because they respect the athlete's courage, the minority will give the athlete a reason to keep going. Another benefit for attempting to be a difference in the conformity of a sport is the place in history that the athlete will obtain. Perhaps the athlete will never, during their lifetime, find appreciation and respect within society, but new generations will look back in history and remember the athlete's courageous attempt to be welcome in a sport, despite the criticism. This athlete will be remembered not for the criticism, but for what he was trying to accomplish. This is definitely a benefit. When we think back at the days of Martina Navratilova, we do remember what she had to face as a tennis player, but we also remember the courage she had to keep going and playing the sport that she loves. She might have discriminated against when she was playing professional tennis, but now, she can only be respected for what she has accomplished and for her athleticism.

Being different and challenging a sport's conformity has always been a challenge to both men and women. But with all the struggles these athletes have had to withstand, they have ultimately paved a way for younger children who look up to these athletes and want to play the same sport. They make the struggle less for future generations. Although the costs of their challenge might bear heavy burdens on the individual, the benefits they receive later on, defined by future generations able to play a sport that they love without any discrimination, is worth the struggles they had to face. Because of all the athletes of the past who have dared to be different, sports have come a long way in accepting both genders, with less discrimination and prejudice. It is now common to see thousands of spectators at a women's basketball game. Women's ice hockey has been an sport at the past two Olympic games. It is because of athletes like Martina Navratilova that little girls and boys are able to play any sports that they wish. It is because of such athletes that future generations can compete in sports without discrimination and prejudice.

Girls playing with the Boys, and Boys playing with
Name: Zoe Meyer
Date: 2002-03-03 14:10:11
Link to this Comment: 1307


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

On the athletic field, in the gym, or on the ice, there have always been standards for the athletes to follow. These standards range from what type of athletic equipment is not only necessary but appropriate, to who can play when, where, and how. This last standard is the one that is being challenged the most; can men play not only on women’s teams, but can they also participate in female dominated sports without being taunted? The same goes for women, can females, without fear, really participate in traditionally male dominated sports? Although the social costs to the individual participating in the non-traditional sport are many, the benefits, if played well and correctly, can be and are quite plentiful as well.

For men, this desire to participate in traditionally female dominated sports is not quite as great as it is for females. This is because, honestly, men have a wealth of opportunities for athletics, whether it be professional or not, for every one chance women have. But, in the case that a male does want to participate in a female dominated sport, he will have a hard time being accepted, not necessarily by his female teammates, but by the society watching the sport. Traditionally, male athletes are supposed to be in rough and tumble sports. They are supposed to be hard bodied, passionate about the game, and willing to play no matter what the circumstances. Most female sports, even the female counterpart of a male sport, is less rough and tumble and less aggressive than male sports. For a man to participate in one of these sports he is likely to get laughed off the field, taunted with jeers of “homo” and suggestions that he is “not man enough” to play with the “real men” in traditionally male dominated sports. This can not only be damaging to the male playing, but it can also be damaging to the women playing. The jeers could become aimed at the women on the field or the ice and they could hint that women are not only incapable to play, but that since they need a man to join their team to help them, they obviously do not belong anywhere but on the sidelines.

This previous example is probably a little extreme, but the ideas behind it are quite real. Imagine a man walking onto the deck of a swimming pool, ready to compete in synchronized swimming. The expected first impression would be, “what the…?” because men are not supposed to be synchronized swimmers. There may not be jeers taunted at him, and he may not get made fun of, but he is not looked upon favorably by those watching the event. If, however, he is looked upon favorably, in whatever female dominated sport he is participating, the benefits could be plenty. Imagine the publicity the team would get, not to mention the only man on the team! The endorsements for athletic equipment, shoes, and many other things could support him for the rest of his life after just one year of playing. Being the only man on a professional or Olympic level team could potentially lead to more opportunities for endorsements and such than being just another member of a men’s team. This may seem well and good, but when a man “makes it big” playing for a women’s team, there is always the question and suggestion that he should then go play with the big boys. With this in mind, it is easy to see that a male’s opportunity for continual benefits from playing on a women’s team are slim. Again, this is something that is not very common for men at the professional level, or even at an amateur level because of the fact that men have more opportunities to play than women.

Women, on the other hand, often want to participate in, not only traditionally male dominated sports because, at least now there are female counterparts for them, but they want to “play with the big boys” as well. For a female to “break into” a male sport is probably one of the most difficult parts of actually being an athlete. The main argument that is used almost regardless of the sport for women participating in traditionally male dominated sports is that the female body is not made to correctly function while participating. Also, the idea that the women will lose their femininity if they play with men is another reason to keep them off the field and out of the ring. For women to be taken seriously in a male dominated sport they have to not only be the best female in the ring, gym, or wherever, they also have to be the best overall athlete.

Traditionally, women are thought of as more fragile, and less aggressive than men. With this in mind, it is clear the reasons why it is so difficult for women to participate in male dominated sports. The costs to a woman playing with a man in the ring or on the field are more numerous than simply getting laughed at and called names. Usually, to really see the extent to which women can take playing with the boys, the men will usually play their hardest, if not harder in an attempt to push the women to their limits and eventually make them quit. Also, since the woman is in a male dominated sport, the chances that there are other females out there helping “the cause” are very small which makes it even harder for her to be taken seriously.

The benefits for a woman in a man’s sport however are probably some of the greatest out there. She will not only most likely be the star and the sweetheart of the team, but she will also most likely get the most attention both in and out of the game. Also, the endorsements for a woman playing with men are unimaginable, especially with all the feminists behind her and supporting her, she will most likely never have to worry about money again. The one problem with all of this though, is that she will probably have to be defending her sexuality constantly from those that think all female athletes are gay. However, if any woman can get through the taunting, and succeed in a male dominated sport, then she truly will have “made it” in the world of athletics.

For men and women to participate in sports not traditionally dominated by their sex is probably a lot more difficult at first than would seem worth it, but in the end it could be a major stepping stone into the world of athletics as well as the rest of society. The costs to both seem, at first, almost insurmountable, but once they have become versed in the ways of the sport, the benefits out rule it all.

Lords of the Underwater Dance: Men in Synchronized
Name: Rebecca Ro
Date: 2002-03-03 16:24:40
Link to this Comment: 1309


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

In today's sports culture, the desegregation of traditionally male-dominated sports seems a natural move in the context of American society's growing dialogue on women's rights. However, one aspect of gender equality in sports which remains practically unaddressed is the issue of men's participation and acceptance in traditionally female-dominated sports. There exists a serious "cultural roadblock" (Arnold 1998) that effects men competing in sports which are traditionally associated with women and, in some cases, a legal roadblock as well. One of the most shocking examples of sex discrimination in a sporting event is faced by male synchronized swimmers. Men were until very recently not allowed to even participate in synchronized swimming events in the Olympics and other internationally recognized competitions such as those associated with the Federation Internationale de Natacion Amateur and the Pan American Games. Many opponents argue that, in a male-dominated society, issues such as the discrimination against male synchronized swimmers are simply irrelevant. However, it is important to remember that gender equality means equal rights and opportunities for both men and women.

Male synchronized swimmer in action

It is hard for many to even accept synchronized swimming as a sport. It has a 'frivolous' reputation, is included as parts of Hollywood musicals and Las Vegas shows and is viewed by many as pure entertainment rather than athleticism. Indeed, synchronized swimmers have problems being taken seriously on a variety of fronts. For example, "in 1996, the French Olympic team was banned from using a routine in which swimmers attempted to portray the suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust" (Arnold 1998). The issue becomes even more complicated when the idea of men involved in synchronized swimming is introduced. To many it is a feminine sport, reminiscent of the underwater dancing of Esther Williams and of smiling young women in coordinating bathing suits. Men appear in synchronized swimming only as a joke, such as in the popular Saturday Night Live sketch from 1984 which features actors Martin Short and Harry Shearer in lifejackets, bathing caps, and nose plugs performing an obviously ridiculous routine. "Men have never done synchronized swimming in a sanctioned competition in this country. Officially, it's got like a zero acceptance rate... Men's synchro isn't even in the '88 Olympics yet," acknowledges one character. "That's okay, because we could use the time," he then spoofs. "'Cause I'm not... I'm not that strong a swimmer" (Guest et al, 1984). This is the only exposure that many Americans have had to the idea of men participating in synchronized swimming, and it is introduced as a piece of comedy. It is a piece of comedy that comes back to haunt those male athletes who would seek to make men's synchronized swimming a mainstream and socially accepted event.

Harry Shearer and Martin Short as synchronized swimmers in a 1984 Saturday Night Live sketch

For Bill May, synchronized swimming is no joke: "He's heard it all, from comments about Martin Short's synchronized swimming skit on Saturday Night Live to the more positive spin about getting to hang out with all those girls" (Arnold 1998). A California resident in his early 20s, May is a member of the Santa Clara Aquamaids, an accomplished and well known synchronized swimming club. He is also the club's only male member. Although he has won synchronized swimming's Grand Slam at the 2000 Jantzen Nations, finished first in duet at the Swiss Open and French Open last year, and was named the U.S. Synchronized Swimming Athlete of the Year in 1998 and 1999 (Ziemer 2000) he was still barred from many international competitions until September of 2000. "'I basically see myself as any person who wanted to try synchronized swimming,' [May told ABC news]. 'When I first joined, I thought, 'This is a great sport and it's fun.' He did not have visions, he says, of becoming a pioneer, of making a statement, of going where few men have ever gone. But he hopes other men follow his lead" (Ziemer 2000). Indeed, as May looks forward to competing in the 2004 Olympics as part of a coed duet with partner Kristina Lum, many more men are taking steps to finally become involved with synchronized swimming. Men's synchronized swimming is even starting to gain respect and recognition outside of the United States. May and Lum were invited in 1998 to visit China and "demonstrate the idea of a mixed synchronized swimming pair in [that] country" (Arnold 1998), leading many to believe that the sport is beginning to develop rapidly in many areas of the world. However, even as legal restrictions on male synchronized swimmers are being lifted, cultural prejudices remain.

Bill May with fellow Aquamaid Kristina Lum

At the very least, men synchronized swimmers are something that mainstream America is not used to seeing, if not something that people consider inappropriate. Bill May's synchronized swimming club, the Aquamaids, and other synchronized swimming groups have received many promotional opportunities, such as appearing in an Aerosmith video and in advertisements for Mervyns and Comedy Central. However, May himself was not given the opportunity to appear in these ads and was specifically not invited to participate in the Aerosmith shoot (Arnold 1998). Male synchronized swimming is often associated with homosexuality, with no actual grounds for that association. The most obvious example of this stereotype is the film "Waterboys," a Japanese production which was released by Miramax in the United States last year. The piece is often labeled part of the gay and lesbian film genre and tells the story of an all-male high school synchronized swimming team. Directed by Yaguchi Shinobu, the film is a comedy which is described in almost all its reviews as homoerotic. "No one will be surprised to hear that, in a film in which boys walk round as much as possible in small tight swimming trunks, there is a wealth of gay allusions between the lines," states the web site of the International Film Festival at Rotterdam. These stereotype further hinder the acceptance of male synchronized swimming in an already homophobic popular culture, and inhibit such athletes as Don Squire, coach of the Cyprus Club in Carmel Valley, and his partner Del Neel: "Squire calls the competitive synchro world 'very political' and 'very sexist'; he claims that he and his partner... have been snubbed over and over because 'two gay men coaching in a women's sport is just not that politically popular with U.S. Synchro'" (Arnold 1998).

A scene from 'Waterboys,' a 2001 film directed by Yaguchi Shinobu

Too often issues of sexism against men get ignored in American popular culture, especially in American sports culture. The issue of men's participation in synchronized swimming is a good example of the struggles that men are currently going through in order to ensure that gender equality in the sports world applies to everyone.


Arnold, Gina. "Synch Different," Metro Publishing Inc.,, September 10, 1998.

Guest, Christopher, et al. "Synchronized Swimmers,", originally broadcast October 6, 1984.

"Waterboys (Review)," International Film Festival of Rotterdam,, 2001.

Ziemer, Tracy. "Out of Sync: Male Synchronized Swimmer Barred from the Olympics,", 2000.

Sub-Mergent Power: Struggles for Equality under th
Name: Sarah Katz
Date: 2002-03-03 18:52:08
Link to this Comment: 1310


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

In any movement by a marginalized social group to gain equal rights and recognition, there are always several factions with differing opinions of the best way to achieve the common goal. There are those who choose to work within the rules of the system as is it is already structured by the dominant social group, and there are those who choose to create their own branch, rewriting the rules to represent their own philosophies. Historically, women?s athletics have been led by the second camp; by women who demanded a philosophy of sport with a vision unique from that of men?s athletics. Women?s athletics remained, much like women as a social group, in its own separate sphere, leading its own organizational structure. But as the women?s sphere was de-mystified (Spears, 1978) in the mid twentieth century, autonomous organizational structures were absorbed under the umbrella of formerly exclusively male athletics. This is the case as illustrated by the merger of the AIAW and the NCAA.

On the surface, it may appear that full official inclusion of women?s athletics into the structure of the patriarchy would bring primarily positive results such as increased funding and greater access to facilities. However, the present, past, and future ramifications of the merger are tangled in a web of political and social significance that is not so simple to label as all positive or all negative for the advancement of women?s athletics and Feminism at large.

I will briefly trace the history that led to the creation of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) as described by Joan Hult in ?The Story of Women?s Athletics: Manipulating a Dream 1890-1985,? and then examine some of the pros and cons of the AIAW?s 1981 merger with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Hult explains that in the era between 1890-1920, women physical educators were a tightly knit, dedicated group committed to a tradition of restricted competition, self-governance, and a feminine approach to individual and team sports. They believed that all girls and women should have the opportunity to participate and enjoy sport, not only the talented elite as in the competition-driven male philosophical structure (87). Play-days and sport-days with emphasis on team building games were a means of perpetuating an image of an ideal American female athlete: feminine, beautiful, strong, yet always ?aware of her delicate reproductive system? (89).

Seventy-five years later, though much had changed, the AIAW still adhered to a more fundamental interpretation of the original philosophy of women?s athletics. It focused on a student-centered, education-oriented model that would avoid difficulties experienced by the male model from its emphasis on winning, money, and scholarships and recruitment. The AIAW maintained control over all athletic programs at member institutions as opposed to the NCAA, which was involved only in championships. As Hult writes: ?The specially designed women?s model held to a vision of student first, athlete second and emphasized the sporting experience rather than the outcome on the scoreboard and the resulting commercialization? (97).

Then came Title IX. Perhaps the single most important piece of legislation for women?s sport, Title IX demanded equal funding, access and opportunity for women?s and girl?s athletics. However, by bringing women?s athletics officially into the male-dominated power structure, it shook the alternative model the AIAW had worked to create, indirectly undermining, (while at the same time recognizing and affirming) all they had done. By 1981, the AIAW was no longer, and the majority of the leadership roles held by women, including a large percentage of coaching positions, were replaced by men as the NCAA absorbed the AIAW.

In Jean Rowlands?s 1988 address at Middlebury College, she specifies the numerous accomplishments of the AIAW in the 1970s, most notably creating 41 national championships in 19 sports, and landing a four-year TV contract with NBC. In a span of ten years, the AIAW did arguably more to carve a space for women?s athletics in the Establishment than the NCAA has in twenty. Though the merge of the AIAW and the NCAA brought immediate loss of women?s positions of power and may have disrupted the original vision the AIAW had for women?s athletics, there is yet another side to consider.

There comes a time in a movement when, in order to fully be considered on equal footing, the marginalized group must begin to advocate for itself directly within the dominant structure. Which is to say, if the AIAW and its foremothers laid the essential groundwork for the legitimacy of women?s athletics, perhaps now it is time to raise the bar. Instead of making our own rules, thereby enforcing our marginalized ?other? status, maybe now it is time to undertake the task of fundamentally altering the rules as they have been set. To play within the game, so to speak, so that one day, women?s athletics can be a full and equal partner to men?s athletics, under a common vision of sport that reflects a unified sphere and a flexible interpretation of gender constructs.

Perhaps initially the AIAW/NCAA merger was a significant step backward, but it may also have the potential for a larger step forward for women?s athletics.

One Race
Name: Emilie Kot
Date: 2002-03-04 22:28:11
Link to this Comment: 1345


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

The realm of sport is a very gender specific world. We associate specific sports with gender, for example only men play football and baseball, where women play softball and do gymnastics. Socially it is not accepted for people to break these set boundaries. When individuals attempt to fight the system, there are many social costs, for example being deemed "gay" in the most derogatory sense. However, benefits do arise in the long run, as colleges appreciate students who are willing to challenge societies' prejudices.
High school is a very transitory period for most teenagers. They are just beginning to discover who they are and what they care about in the world. Though within there are many battles for the individual, there also exist many social barriers. The "popular" crowd is generally full of the jocks. The boys who participate in sport every season: football, baseball and track, and the cheerleader girls who are petit in stature and care greatly about their outward appearance (I realize that this is quite a generalization, yet it has proven true in my experience). Somehow, it seems that these peoples' opinions always matter the most. They determine what is "in," they define "cool." Personally, I never was an active member of this crowd, though some close friends of mine were. My "group" of friends however, was fairly athletic. Practically every one of us participated in a sport, track, swimming, gymnastics, basketball, or soccer. One friend was always a bit different from the rest of the guys. While not feminine in his demeanor, he never distinguished himself as particularly "manly." For example, when one of the girls had to go to the locker room for some reason, she always asked Kawika if he wanted to come along, suddenly realizing that he couldn't. Eventually he realized that he enjoyed gymnastics and wanted to learn more about it. He began to take lessons and tried to join the school team. Sadly, there was no space for him on the team, because the Intramural League of Hawaii (ILH) had no other competing male gymnasts. He did practice with the team though. As can be expected of any news on a high school campus, the rumors began. Suddenly Kawika was gay, a fag, weak, a pussy...the list doesn't end. Shortly after he quit the team, claiming that there was no proper competition. Kai never took actions to create more competition for himself, but by the next year there were 2 new male gymnasts from schools around the state. Kawika rejoined the team.
Though on a popular level, Kawika remained less than a "guy," he experienced many benefits. Because he knew so many girls in a friendly team atmosphere, he had more invitations to our and other senior proms than any of the football players that year. Currently he is studying at Harvard; apparently they appreciated his efforts.
Another friend of mine became known for his high kick. He was a cheerleader. Interestingly, he was a very close friend with the female popular crowd (the other cheerleaders). During assemblies, the popular boys always urged him to run onstage and perform for us this infamous kick. No one really ever knew how he felt, because he always performed (perhaps he appreciated the attention). Everyone always wondered about Kevin's sexuality. He claimed to be dating a girl from some other school, but people always wondered. I now understand that it would have been difficult to "come out" at our high school. People probably wouldn't have isolated him, but he really didn't have any company (that anyone knew of). He is gay. Perhaps the college environment, or simply the newness of college allowed him to accept himself.
During summers and winter break, I work for a group photographer. He takes pictures of road races, graduations, and sports teams. One day he showed me a picture and asked, "Is this a boy or a girl?" The person was decked out in football gear with a dark tan and slick hair; totally ambiguous. I guessed male, and I guessed wrong. I later learned that this girl, the only female in ILH sports, is one of the best high school football players in the state. That is very impressive. Appearances don't matter, stamina, will power and personal strength make one who (s)he is.
In the first film, regarding women breaking into the Olympics, the first professional women in tennis were discussed. These women had to break a lot of social barriers in order to be accepted as athletes, as did the first marathon runners. Men forced the women to uphold their femininity by wearing skirts during the tennis matches. More recently, in the film regarding female bodybuilders, Pumping Iron II, the most muscular body didn't win. The character Bev molded herself to be muscular, not feminine, and because of her lack of womanliness, she lost the competition.
Men and women have social duties determined by their abilities and historical natures. Because these ideas are engrained in our heads, it is difficult to look outside the boundaries, which have been created. We must rise to the occasion, and accept the challenges these people present us with. Men should be able to take on "feminine" sports, even feminine roles, and still maintain "manliness." Similarly, women should be able to do the same. We are meant to learn from history, in order to prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes twice. We should then use these examples as learning experiences. We as a human race should strive to become one, not two separate genders within one grand facade.

One Race
Name: Emilie Kot
Date: 2002-03-04 22:30:35
Link to this Comment: 1347


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

The realm of sport is a very gender specific world. We associate specific sports with gender, for example only men play football and baseball, where women play softball and do gymnastics. Socially it is not accepted for people to break these set boundaries. When individuals attempt to fight the system, there are many social costs, for example being deemed "gay" in the most derogatory sense. However, benefits do arise in the long run, as colleges appreciate students who are willing to challenge societies' prejudices.
High school is a very transitory period for most teenagers. They are just beginning to discover who they are and what they care about in the world. Though within there are many battles for the individual, there also exist many social barriers. The "popular" crowd is generally full of the jocks. The boys who participate in sport every season: football, baseball and track, and the cheerleader girls who are petit in stature and care greatly about their outward appearance (I realize that this is quite a generalization, yet it has proven true in my experience). Somehow, it seems that these peoples' opinions always matter the most. They determine what is "in," they define "cool." Personally, I never was an active member of this crowd, though some close friends of mine were. My "group" of friends however, was fairly athletic. Practically every one of us participated in a sport, track, swimming, gymnastics, basketball, or soccer. One friend was always a bit different from the rest of the guys. While not feminine in his demeanor, he never distinguished himself as particularly "manly." For example, when one of the girls had to go to the locker room for some reason, she always asked Kawika if he wanted to come along, suddenly realizing that he couldn't. Eventually he realized that he enjoyed gymnastics and wanted to learn more about it. He began to take lessons and tried to join the school team. Sadly, there was no space for him on the team, because the Intramural League of Hawaii (ILH) had no other competing male gymnasts. He did practice with the team though. As can be expected of any news on a high school campus, the rumors began. Suddenly Kawika was gay, a fag, weak, a pussy...the list doesn't end. Shortly after he quit the team, claiming that there was no proper competition. Kai never took actions to create more competition for himself, but by the next year there were 2 new male gymnasts from schools around the state. Kawika rejoined the team.
Though on a popular level, Kawika remained less than a "guy," he experienced many benefits. Because he knew so many girls in a friendly team atmosphere, he had more invitations to our and other senior proms than any of the football players that year. Currently he is studying at Harvard; apparently they appreciated his efforts.
Another friend of mine became known for his high kick. He was a cheerleader. Interestingly, he was a very close friend with the female popular crowd (the other cheerleaders). During assemblies, the popular boys always urged him to run onstage and perform for us this infamous kick. No one really ever knew how he felt, because he always performed (perhaps he appreciated the attention). Everyone always wondered about Kevin's sexuality. He claimed to be dating a girl from some other school, but people always wondered. I now understand that it would have been difficult to "come out" at our high school. People probably wouldn't have isolated him, but he really didn't have any company (that anyone knew of). He is gay. Perhaps the college environment, or simply the newness of college allowed him to accept himself.
During summers and winter break, I work for a group photographer. He takes pictures of road races, graduations, and sports teams. One day he showed me a picture and asked, "Is this a boy or a girl?" The person was decked out in football gear with a dark tan and slick hair; totally ambiguous. I guessed male, and I guessed wrong. I later learned that this girl, the only female in ILH sports, is one of the best high school football players in the state. That is very impressive. Appearances don't matter, stamina, will power and personal strength make one who (s)he is.
In the first film, regarding women breaking into the Olympics, the first professional women in tennis were discussed. These women had to break a lot of social barriers in order to be accepted as athletes, as did the first marathon runners. Men forced the women to uphold their femininity by wearing skirts during the tennis matches. More recently, in the film regarding female bodybuilders, Pumping Iron II, the most muscular body didn't win. The character Bev molded herself to be muscular, not feminine, and because of her lack of womanliness, she lost the competition.
Men and women have social duties determined by their abilities and historical natures. Because these ideas are engrained in our heads, it is difficult to look outside the boundaries, which have been created. We must rise to the occasion, and accept the challenges these people present us with. Men should be able to take on "feminine" sports, even feminine roles, and still maintain "manliness." Similarly, women should be able to do the same. We are meant to learn from history, in order to prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes twice. We should then use these examples as learning experiences. We as a human race should strive to become one, not two separate genders within one grand facade.

Masculinity and Feminily in Sports
Name: Delaina Se
Date: 2002-03-04 22:51:55
Link to this Comment: 1349


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
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Traditionally, sports and athletics have been limited to males. Recalling as far back as the Grecian Olympics, public sporting events have afforded men both fame and fortune while women have been either completely excluded from play or forced to play under male rules. Until recently, male athletes and the general public have viewed successful female athletes as exceptions to the widespread rule that women cannot and should not compete along side men in traditionally male sports. Females who chose to be athletic were required to follow the examples of male athletes that were already established and accepted by both the sports community. Consequently, female athletes were confined to a narrow and rigid expression of physical ability. There were no female standards to follow until a few women were able to perform at or above the performance level of their male opponents. But the reactions these women received were a mix between awe and disbelief. The public was in awe because women were performing the physical activity that was thought to damage their reproductive organs. And as a result, the public was in disbelief because women were excelling in these activities. They had stepped out of the traditionally narrow playing field and defied the commonplace idea that women would hurt themselves if they engaged in physical activity. What is most important about these women is that they began to show the world that females could and should be involved in sports. But there was no female arena to play in. Consequently, they were forced to enter male sports and perform by male standards.

Once more women began to challenge these gender standards, the popularity of women’s sports grew. But the development of women’s sports did not happen smoothly or suddenly. The women allowed to participate and excel in sports that men did not already dominate. Tennis, for example, became very popular for women because it was not a traditionally masculine sport. Therefore, tennis was an unclaimed arena that provided the room necessary for the development of women’s sports. But there still were restrictions that women had to follow even in tennis. For example, women had to wear a skirt while playing. Women still had to follow traditional gender roles that required them to wear skirts, be ladylike, and god forbid, not to sweat. Although women were allowed to participate in sports, there were still many constrictions and narrow parameters that they had to stay within.

The development of professional women’s sporting leagues illustrates the progress that female athletes have made over the last century. But some of the old gender stereotypes are still prevalent even today. While women athletes are gaining more and more recognition for their physical abilities and strength, male athletes who wish to enter into traditionally female sports suffer the same difficulty women experienced gaining recognition for their abilities. As shown in the movie Pumping Iron II, the female bodybuilder Bev was subject to criticism of her crossing the gender boundary by developing strong, large, and masculine looking muscles. The difficulty with her situation was that she had obtained a highly visible, masculine appearance, and consequently, her success in a traditionally male sport was difficult to deny. She pushed the gender boundaries, and in the eyes of some critics, become a man.

Similarly, male athletes who enter traditionally female sports are viewed as feminine and womanly. Sports are not always expressions of physical ability; frequently, sports are expressions of masculinity and manhood. Consequently, male athletes are under pressure to succeed so that they can maintain an image of masculinity, whether this is their desire or not. For example, one of the greatest insults an elementary student can give is to say that “so-and-so throws like a girl” or “so-and-so runs like a girl.” Poor male performance in sports is equated with a female’s natural performance. As a result, males who enter traditionally female sports are considered women or only able to compete at a woman’s level. I believe that the difficulty male athletes face when involved in female sports such as field hockey or synchronized swimming illuminates the socially constructed gender bias still prevalent in sports today. But I would like to think that these male athletes would benefit from the progress that female athletes have already made. The pioneering women who showed the public that they were capable of crossing gender boundaries in sports have demonstrated that gender stereotypes in sports are not necessarily accurate. While ideas about masculinity are just as difficult to topple as ideas about femininity, the first public athletes have opened door of opportunity for females and have forced everyone to rethink stereotypes about gender and sports.

Question #2: Men and Women in Non-Traditional Spor
Name: Brooke Leo
Date: 2002-03-04 23:09:11
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The benefits of an individual entering a non-traditional sport for his or her sex can be huge – but they are usually greater for society in general than for the athlete him/herself. Being the first person to break into a non-traditional sport would obviously be trying on the athlete, who would have to face the questioning and criticisms of media, fans, and even their fellow athletes. But one athlete’s determination and persistence can open up a whole new world to both athletes and spectators.

In the early 1900s, women did not participate much in figure skating competitions, partly because of the fact that they had to wear long, movement-hindering skirts. But some women did fight to participate. Eventually, when they were allowed to change certain rules (such as the one about wearing long skirts), women proved that they could compete with men. They were permitted to participate in competitions like the National Championships and the Olympics, and soon after that, women’s figure skating became an immensely popular sport. Today, it is traditionally one of the most-watched events of the Olympic games.

Similarly, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning invited female hockey goaltender Manon Rheaume to training camp in 1992. She played one exhibition game against St. Louis before being sent to the minors, but the publicity surrounding her stint with the National Hockey League did wonders for women in hockey. In the 1998 Olympics, women’s ice hockey was introduced as a new sport. The victory of the US Olympic team made the sport even more popular in the United States, and it is not uncommon today to see girls alongside the boys at youth hockey practices.

Desegregating a sport can also add a new dimension to it. For example, synchronized swimming pairs’ competitions usually feature two women mirroring each other’s moves. When males began to participate, the routines took on a different look – more like what one would see in a pairs’ figure skating or ice dancing competition. Some people feel that having both sexes participate in the sport make it more athletic, whereas all female synchronized swimming had the reputation of being too “showy.”

So clearly, the biggest benefit of individuals entering into non-traditional sports for their gender occurs when they successfully open the sport up to other people of their gender. On the other hand, however, an individual entering a non-traditional sport most likely will be forced to deal with some resistance and some difficult issues to resolve.

For example, as we saw in the film “Girl Fight,” one obvious problem with the girl attempting to train to box was the lack of resources for her. She could not share the locker room with the boys, and had to make do with a run-down storage closet instead. Another problem that is brought up when individuals participate in non-traditional sports for their sexes is about how the game is actually played. For example, if a female were to play ice hockey on a team of boys, would she be treated as an equal in the game? Would the boys be willing to hit and check her like they would do to the boys in the game? Or would they be extra hard on her and take advantage of the fact that she was playing in the game to try to score more goals? Achieving a level of total equality is a difficult task in sports where both sexes participate. The ideal situation would be one in which sex did not matter in sports – where males and females could participate in the same activities and games and play the same way that they would play if the sport consisted of just one sex. Sports should be about athleticism, not about gender.

A sports pioneer would also have to deal with the possibility (and subsequent difficulty) of changing some of the rules of the sport he or she wants to participate in. In the film “Pumping Iron II,” the biggest problem for all involved in the women’s bodybuilding competition was the lack of set rules. No one was quite sure how to judge the competition. The judges called meetings to discuss what exactly they were looking for in their champion - was it all about physicality and muscle, or did femininity play a role in the competition as well? Once they determined that, they had to be able to define terms such as “femininity,” which was obviously not an easy task.

Often times, people do have to reexamine their definitions of words such as “femininity” and “masculinity” when athletes cross the gender boundary in sports. Girls playing traditionally masculine sports are often called “manly” or “tough,” while boys playing traditional female sports are sometimes called “girly” or “weak.”

Another difficulty, for the athletes, is all the controversy that surrounds their participation in a non-traditional sport. For example, Bill May, a male synchronized swimmer, was determined to open up the sport to other male athletes. He did bring a good deal of publicity to the sport and was able to open it up to other males who wanted to participate. However, he was banned from participating in huge events like the Olympics. In addition, there were questions about whether it was good that a male was breaking into this traditionally female sport, even though many people look upon desegregating typically male sports favorably.

In an ideal world, the gender of athletes would not make a difference. Unfortunately, it is still currently an issue in sports today. However, the emergence of women in sports has been great in recent years. Women of the past broke barriers in sports such as track/field and figure skating, and women of recent times have broken the gender barriers in sports like basketball and hockey. Now, having women participate in sports like figure skating is not only totally natural, but a crucial part of major competitions such as the Olympics. Similarly, the sports like basketball and hockey will soon become integrated and will gain popularity among female athletes to the same degree. On the other hand, some male athletes are fighting for equality in typically female sports. As these pioneers break down gender barriers, they make way for the athletes of the future. While there are many issues that need to be resolved when barriers are broken, hopefully soon in the future all athletes will be looked at for their ability rather than their gender.

Topic #2: Gender and Sport
Name: Katie Lefe
Date: 2002-03-05 16:13:22
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Question 2: What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female)
entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex?

Sports become stereotyped as gender-neutral, feminine, or masculine based on conceptions regarding gender, gender differences, and beliefs about the appropriateness of participation due to gender (Colley et al., 1987; Csizma, Wittig, & Schurr, 1988; Koivula, 1995; Matteo, 1986). Sports labeled as feminine seem to be those that allow women participants to act in accordance with the stereotyped expectations of femininity (such as being graceful and nonagressive) and that provide for beauty and aesthetic pleasure (based on largely male standards). A sport is labeled as masculine if it involves the following: 1) attempts to physically overpower the opponent(s) by bodily contact; 2) a direct use of bodily force to a heavy object; 3) a projection of the body into or through space over distance; and 4) face-to-face competition in situations in which bodily contact may occur. These characteristics are believed to be appropriate expressions of masculine attributes such as aggressiveness, effectiveness, and power (Metheny, 1965; Koivula, 2001).
In a recent study, 403 participants were first asked to answer a short questionnaire regarding their gender, age, and physical exercise habits. They then completed a questionnaire regarding perceived characteristics of a sport. In this latter questionnaire, the respondent was asked to rate to what degree the descriptor is characteristic of the sport or those practicing the sport using a seven-point scale from 1 (“Not at all characteristic of the sport/sport participant”) to 7 (“Very much characteristic of the sport/sport participant”). For each participant, the sport to be rated was randomly selected out of 41 different sports, 19 of which had been previously labeled gender-neutral, 7 of which had been labeled feminine, and 15 of which had been labeled masculine. (The 41 sports were gender-labeled according to categorizations made in a previous study on gender-labeling of sports based on a Swedish sample (Koivula, 1995)) (Koivula, 2001).
Principal component analysis performed on the second questionnaire resulted in twelve factor-based scales: 1) Aesthetics and Femininity; 2) Danger/Risk and Violence; 3) Team Spirit; 4) Fair Play and Morals; 5) Speed; 6) Advanced Skills and Precision; 7) Commercialism; 8) Strength and Endurance; 9) Equipment; 10) Masculinity; 11) Excitement and Challenge; and 12) Cognitive Efficiency. All sports labeled as feminine scored high on scale one, Aesthetics and Femininity. Attributes such as “aesthetical”, “beauty”, “graceful”, and “sexy” loaded on the same factor as “feminine” and “womanly”. In contrast, the sports labeled as masculine scored high in Danger/Risk and Violence, Team Spirit, Speed, Strength and Endurance, and Masculinity (Koivula, 2001).
This study reveals much about the attitudes that persist in society today regarding sport and gender. Early on, sport was created to serve men, evolving as a celebration of maleness, valuing strength, power, and competition. It idealized, promoted, and rewarded successful, elite athletes, established “the dream” as a professional career in sports, and viewed mass participation in sport as a tool to weed out the weak (Hill, 1993). In contrast, women’s sports originated to “address the expressed need for healthful exercise” (Huckaby, 1994). Unlike the competitive warrior mode characteristic of men’s sports, women’s sports were rooted in philosophies of participation, cooperation, and play (Koivula, 2001).
The pattern revealed by the Koivula (2001) study is in accordance with male hegemony in sport and this archaic perception of the (differing) function of sport for the two sexes. When a man chooses to take part in a stereotypically “female sport” or when a woman participates in a largely “male sport”, he/she is often met with opposition. It is acceptable for women to participate in sports such as gymnastics, swimming, and tennis where the female form is revealed and movements are, by definition graceful and non-confrontational, but involvement in sports with more body-to-body contact such as football, wrestling, and baseball is met with disapproval. Oppositely, traditionally male sports must be based upon some degree of face-to-face interaction and aggression.
If either of these two principles is violated, sexual orientation is always the first aspect brought into question. Based on large-scale observations of sport today, women who choose to participate in sports like boxing or wrestling are immediately branded as a lesbian, whether it is true or not. This has resulted in a two-fold repercussion: 1) heterosexual women are deterred from pursuing involvement in male-dominated sports for fear of being exiled from their peers and potential mates, and 2) women who are gay feel extreme pressure to remain closeted, for fear of persecution. The same holds true for men wishing to participate in sports such as synchronized swimming or ice skating.
In today’s society, men who desire to pursue achievement in a sport lacking in aggressiveness and male camaraderie are viewed as having been stripped of that bit of power that elevates them from the status of women. In essence, when men choose to participate in a traditionally female sport, they are putting themselves on equal ground with women. The converse holds true when women participate in sports dominated by men; the entire misogynistic hierarchy is debased. When women demonstrate that they are capable of competing on the same level as their male counterparts, all the old beliefs and theories are dispelled and men are left with little defense of the argument that they are physiologically superior.
A predominating fear regarding bi-gender participation in sport in the loss of femininity, esteemed in most cultures and societies. Women have always traditionally been the peacemakers; they are mothers, they are gentle and kind, and they are always “ladies”. Many opponents of female participation in more aggressive sports fear that women will lose their “higher moral ground”. In the same sense, it is feared that men who choose to play in female-dominated arenas may become “soft”; they will lose their “edge”, which is believed to be the key to their obtaining power in the world.
Another concern is that, if men join a predominantly female sport, the female athletes will face an increase risk of injury due to excessive aggressiveness, thought by some to be inherent in the male. The reverse also poses a problem: men worry that having females on their teams will force them to “take it easy”, preventing them from playing to their full potential. As a result of these concerns, many athletes competing in a non-traditional sport based on their gender often see very little play time, thus detracting from the essence of sport.
The biggest culprit in maintaining the stratification of the sexes in sport is the media. The fact that the media dedicates only a small fraction of its time to covering women sports shows almost directly the value that female-dominated sports hold. In a study by Duncan and Messner (1994) it was found that in Los Angeles, 70% of the local sportscasts contained no coverage of women's sports, and devoted 5% of airtime to women in sports but tended to cover only visually entertaining sports or gag sports (e.g. nuns playing volleyball against bikini-clad women). Whenever there is a story concerning a female athlete achieving a milestone in a sport that is traditionally played by men, and vice versus, the attitude is commonly one of novelty and amusement, not one of respect and admiration.
This view is carried over into areas of funding, where women are compensated drastically less than their male counterparts for athletic participation. If a woman were to enter the NBA today, one can be almost positive that she would not receive a salary anywhere near that of a player such as Kobe Bryant or even a bench-player, regardless of her skill level. This can be seen with regard to academic athletic funding as well. At the University of New Hampshire, total expenditure for men's athletics compared to women's athletics is 1.7:1, even though the male/female participation ratio is 1.4:1 (UNH, 1994).
Despite the negative consequences often associated with crossing the gender line in sport participation, things are starting to take a turn for the better. One of the most important results is that women are establishing, indisputably, that they are equal to men. When there exists concrete evidence of women’s athletic ability, all formerly held notions concerning female frailty are dispelled. Another important aspect is that, despite the hardships they may have had to endure, there have remained a good number of male and female athletes who have continued to break down the sex barriers in sport and, because of those men and women, acceptance is growing. In a Sports Illustrated forum on women’s boxing, the majority of posters voiced their support of the female participants (Sports, 2000).

We must foster participation in co-ed sports, in order that men and women may learn to accept and understand one another better. Sport has historically been a good starting ground for relationships between people of different ethnicities and different races, why not between the sexes?

Colley, A., Nash, J., O'Donnell, L., & Restorick, L. (1988). Attitudes to the female sex
role and sex-typing of physical activities. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 18, 19-29.

Csizma, K. A., Wittig, A. F., & Schurr, K. T. (1988). Sport stereotypes and gender.
Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 10, 62-74.

Duncan, M. C., Messner, M. A., Williams, L., & Jensen, K. (1994). Gender stereotyping
in televised sports. In: S. Birrell & C.L. Cole (Eds.), Women, sport, and culture (pp. 24). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Hill, K. L. (1993, November/December). Women in sport: backlash or megatrend? The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 64(9), 49-52.
Huckaby, A. M. (1994). Women's athletics. Unpublished Manuscript: Kenyon College Athletic Department.
Koivula, N. (1995). Ratings of gender appropriateness of sports participation: Effects of
gender-based schematic processing. Sex Roles, 33, 543-557.

Koivula, N. (2001). Perceived characteristics of sports categorized as gender-neutral,
feminine and masculine. Journal of Sport Behavior, 12-01-01, 337.

Matteo, S. (1986). The effects of sex and gender-schematic processing on sport
participation. Sex Roles, 15,417-432.

Sports Illustrated (2000). Reactions: Women’s boxing.
UNH President's Commission on the Status of Women. (1994). Report on the Status of Women Profile of Women Students at the University of NH.

Society and Sport
Name: Aimee Petr
Date: 2002-03-05 17:08:36
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There are many repercussions that are projected upon both men and women when they enter into a sport that typically isn’t thought of as gender appropriate. Some of those cultural and social stigmatisms may be abandonment by your peers, and friends questions regarding your sexuality, and even in some cases criticism as to how you are living your life. In some cases, it may lead to you not being accepted by either group, theone whose norems you are not following, of as well as the one with whom you are trying to get involved. This paper will address all of these issues and how these seemingly negative situations can, will, and are, leading to growth. It will also discuss how this is a situation where repercussions are not just in the sports arena, but is prevalent in everyday life, in areas far beyond that of sport.
First, I would like to discuss some of the issues that were discussed in the WNBA article, “We’ve Got Next”. This was one of the best articles that we have read this semester. It shows a lot of issues, like stigmatization of women and men in sport, and how the media and the general population regard them so differently. The article made great comparisons between the different ways men and women play basketball, claiming that women play more for the team, and use great skill and tack, while the men are out there to increase their status, and are in essence putting on a show. This very well may be the fact, but it is the social reasons given for this that I find hard to believe. Society believes women to be more of the caretaker and the person who makes sure everything is even, before all other things. the person who is selfless in the face of a general goal. These rationalizations appear in the media to explain why men and women’s basketball are so different. However, I believe that it just the style of play that is different. Women and men have different physical abilities that allow them to accent different parts of their game. I will prove this by using an example from soccer. Men and women’s soccer both have a great following. However, the two games are played quite differently, not because the women are less self serving, but because their game is more about finesse, and precision, whereas men’s game accentuates more their power and speed. The distinction here is not that women are just naturally inclined to use the more feminine skills but rather that most don’t have the capacity to be able to use the power that a man does.
This all fits into the socialization argument well, but it fits in another way, too. I have found in my 16 years of soccer playing that if a man posses the ability to have finesse, he is admired, and looked upon as a great addition to any team. However, women who posses some of the traits more noted in men’s soccer are commonly criticized and encouraged to “have more control.” In soccer therefore, it is not as bad for a man to have some feminine traits, but for females, to hold masculine traits is a great detriment to their game.
There is one more point that I would like to raise about the WNBA article. In society and the media, there is hardly ever any mention about the male basketball player’s family. In the WNBA however, there is constant emphasis on the women’s ability to fulfill dual roles as athletes and mothers/wives. “media strategies provide what seems to be ironclad evidence of the players heterosexuality. They also establish the WNBA as a family oriented, moral game…”the family-oriented players of the WNBA offer wholesome good fun and healthy competition to their fans.”(Journal Of Sport & Social Issues 1999)
The second issue I would like to discuss is the idea of homosexuality in sport, which applies equally to men and women. And is as equally threatening to homosexuals as it is to heterosexuals. Women who excel in sports will always be haunted by the question: Is she gay? This question is more frequent in sports such as boxing, ice hockey, basketball, and softball, to name a few, but can be found in any sport. Unless the female is married, this is one that I think is just a given in our society. This is one of the stereotypes that has always existed and doesn't seem to be getting corrected anytime soon. A male, however, only deals with these questions when he is engaged in a sport that our society deems “un-masculine.” Some sports that carry this stigma for men are dancing figure skating, and field hockey. Not only is this a problem for those athletes that are gay, and for some reason or another would like to remain in the closet, but it is a problem for those athletes that are straight, but are drawn to in a sport that is not thought of as gender appropriate. This can cause many people to choose another sport that will not get them made fun of, or that will afford them the luxury of not having to answer or prove such personal facts about themselves.
Athletics not only have an impact on the individual who chooses to follow his or her dream, such as the little boy who wants to do ballet, or the girl who wants to try out for the all male wrestling team, but are also in a give and take relationship with society as a whole. I see them as mirroring each other. Neither one is very far from the other. And both take turns leading. Sometimes social change comes about through sports, such as when women had their own professional baseball team during WWII. While, other times, changes in sport are a reflection of the changes being made in society, like African Americans being allowed to participate in Major League Baseball.
Professional, semi-professional, collegiate, secondary, and youth affiliations --have all felt the impact of women and men’s diffusion into arenas that are not commonly their own. As shown throughout this paper, these effects are both negative and positive. What I have learned is that these hindrances and acceptances cannot slow us down. There are many areas that still need to be opened up to both sexes and ideas that athletes need to prove wrong. The struggle isn’t over, and I don’t think it will ever be over. Society and athletics go hand in hand in helping to equalize men and women in sports, as well as in society. Individual accomplishments, failed attempts, and suffering help to bring us all one step closer to being equal on all playing fields.

Public/Private Spheres and Sports
Name: Natalie Me
Date: 2002-03-05 19:14:17
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In our society there are costs both socially and culturally for individuals who choose to violate their own gender and/or sex norms. We live in a time when, though great advancements have been made, gender roles are still differentiated out from each other with specific behavior and lifestyle expectations built into our value system and ascribed to individuals. The past decade has seen a growing move away from such distinct male/female expectations, however in areas such as sport the differences and problems that still exist in our gender ideology are much more visible. Though we are aware of these differences and can discuss them in a class environment (such as we did the past four Wednesdays) it is questionable how much we can do to change what exists. Norms and values are very much a part of our society and it may just take time to reverse thousands of years of the oppressive gender distinctions and role identities, which have come to exist so firmly today.

The 20th century was a reaction against the past. So much changed in one century it is almost impossible for us today to understand what it was like just 100 years ago. 100 years ago, Victorian ideals were entrenched into every day American life. Women represented everything private and domestic. Everything about them was shrouded in a cloud of restrictive ideology- even their bodies were hidden behind layers of uncomfortable clothing. Men dominated the public sphere. They were fierce, competitive, and in charge of the world. Women were not allowed near the public sphere. In terms of sport, women were kept away from any type of physical activity. Their domain was anything domestic. Domestic tasks kept them busy and away from the world. It wasn't competitive and it wasn't fierce. Needless to say, through this system of norms and values, women were kept and made to be submissive.

Things changed though, with technology. More and more it was necessary for women to work and become involved in the public sphere. Out of circumstances they were becoming fiercer, and more competitive. This challenged the traditional roles women were required to fill and gradually, women fought back. They began to reclaim themselves and their rights- not just in the domestic or private sphere, but in a public realm as well. They demanded equal rights both in terms of politics and opportunity. This meant they wanted equal opportunity in everything- education, the job market, and sports.

Title 9 guaranteed these rights. In paper, it guaranteed these rights. In reality, it was still a battle for women to identify themselves as serious athletes and be taken seriously. It was getting easier though. Title 9 brought about many policy changes allowing women to enter into the world of sport. The advancements made opened many opportunity and also many peoples minds. There are still many problems though, as to where sports and athletics can be allowed to merge with femininity, masculinity, and traditional gender roles.

The world of sports highlights the problems that still exist for women as well as problems with modern sex stereotyping and generalizing. The expectations we hold for men and women are less clear in the realm of sport and the issue has been recently where to draw the line. Is there a line that can be drawn? By line, I am referring to someone who steps out of the boundaries ascribed to them by the dominant societal expectations. Women who participate in body building competitions, for example, like the women we watched in class. How much is too much? Who says what is too much? Is there too much at all? These questions and many others wonder at the limits our society will impose. This can be generalized to men as well, of course. The gender ideology also keeps them away from sports and stigmatizes certain athletic adventures as feminine.

This problem of labeling certain things and expecting people to fulfill their gender role is misleading and confusing. You cannot grant rights and then set limits upon them. Though much advancement has been made, and Title 9 has been wonderful and great, there are still problems that exist. People still cling to a strict set of ideas and values governing the behavior of men and women especially in terms of sport. Women are no longer only members of a private sphere and men are no longer the dominators of a public sphere. But they are still expected to act a certain way and not stray too far from these expectations. I don't have any answers about what is to be done, however discussing it and becoming aware of the issues is very important and has been quite helpful for me.

Excelling in a Non-Traditional Sport
Name: Monica R.
Date: 2002-03-06 01:19:07
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Ever since sports has been introduced into our society it has always been gender specific. Today, sports are still gender specific but not as much as before due to the change in social norms. Many people enjoy playing sports. For some it may be the competition, for others it may be for the love of the game. It has been difficult for individuals who enter non-traditional sports for their gender. Women have especially struggled with this matter until the Title 9 was issued. Before Title 9, many women were not allowed to participate in track and other sports that were not considered feminine. During the Victorian Times, women were only allowed to play sports that didn't make them look sweaty, tired or just messy. They had to stick to the norm of being conservative and looking proper. Can you imagine, they had to even wear skirts for baseball and other sports? How can you be comfortable and play well in that kind of an outfit? When it came to tennis, they had to look graceful like a ballerina. The main concern in playing a sport is enjoying it and playing it well. It never had to do anything with being part of a beauty contest. Women were given limitations into what sports they could participate in. However, realistically women were just as good as their counterpart when it came to playing sports in which they were not allowed to play.

Being a female and seriously competing in a non-traditional sport is an arduous task. Many individuals question your sexuality, race and class just because you have decided to participate in a non-traditional sport. However, the main fact that is being disregarded here is that everyone has the capability of playing any sport that they want to play. There should not be any boundaries to anything because of gender. It is unfair because there are certain things that are acceptable and unacceptable in society which puts a lot of pressure on people that are into non-traditional sports. The question is, why does being accepted matter so much in society? Why is it so hard to be accepted for something that you want to do? I mean you are not hurting anybody yet you are made to feel guilty for trying to be good in a non-traditional sport.

For this essay, I would like to use the movie "Pumping Iron" as a main example of women being involved in non-traditional sports. Most of the judges based their criteria on women who were feminine. First of all, this is a sport and what matters is how the person is dedicated to it and shows the ability of being the best at the sport. In my opinion, Bev was the true winner of the competition because by watching the film it is blatant that she was a dedicated athlete and excellent at her sport which was body building. However, because the judges didn't find her feminine enough to represent a women's body building competition, she unfortunately got 8th place. It is obvious that there definitely was bias going on in the competition. I am proud of Bev because she was being a great sport at it and even though she didn't show her devastation of being last place. She knew deep inside that she was the true winner of the competition. She truly was!!

In some cultures participating in non-traditional sports are not accepted. Many cultures are conservative and feel that participating in non-traditional sports is not a good thing. I come from a very conservative Asian society and being a part of this society means that there are certain things that are accepted and not accepted. The society I grew up in is very concerned with the things girls are supposed to do and the things boys are supposed to do. It is a modern society but with many restrictions. If I tell a member of the society that I am a part of body building, it would be the talk of the town and I would be looked down upon. However in my opinion that is wrong because what you do is no one's business but yours. There is nothing wrong with trying to be the best in something you enjoy.

The only benefits that come to mind when thinking about women excelling in non-traditional sports would be the respect that they receive from other people for being able to be just as good as their counterpart and trying something different. Being known as a woman in a non-traditional sport and having the gratification of trying to excel in it would be the benefit of participating in a non-traditional sport. Besides being good at it, having the courage and determination to participate in a non-traditional sport is highly admired and looked upon.

Being a part of this Women, Sport and Film Series class has taught me so much about the role of women yesterday and today and how I truly admire women in sports. I am not into playing sports for competition but I do enjoy playing some sports for fun. I was never part of a team sport or a team but because of this class, I am motivated to try out a new sport and maybe even a team. The women who participated in non-traditional sports have not only inspired me but made me believe that at the end of the road of every struggle, there is something great.

Women, Sport and Film: The Merger of Men's and Wom
Name: Katherine
Date: 2002-03-06 08:30:45
Link to this Comment: 1388


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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The history of women’s sports is a rocky one with some many obstacles against the establishment of a competitive league for women. It is somewhat unusual to think of a time period where women were not allowed to play sports or have any say in which sports they were to play. However, one must only look back about a century to find a period in history where men believed that women were physically and socially unable to play sports. Men believed that a woman would damage her reproductive organs by playing any type of sport and would damage her image of being a lady if she was found to be physically exerting herself. Thankfully, these thoughts did not persist and the establishment of all women athletic associations was seen. Yet, once again men tried to intervene and eventually were able to cause a merger of the two genders under one heading, primarily the NCAA. This merger eliminated many of the leadership roles women had previously held and therefore causing women to play under the shadow of men.

The beginning of women in competitive sports can be traced back to the 1890’s and the introduction of basketball to women at Smith College. However this initial involvement was linked to medical reasoning more than anything else. Women physical educator’s mission was to “balance the rigors of intellectual life with healthful and ‘appropriate’ sporting activities.” In order to maintain the appropriateness of sports, there were only female physical educators and only specific sports where practiced. These sports included swimming, tennis, golf, dance, and basketball. During the 1890’s the Committee of Women’s Athletics was begun and was responsible for setting regulations that educators needed to follow when in came to sports and women. This was the first example of women in a leadership role within the sports sphere. The CWA believed that women should not be included within the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) due to the practices they had witnessed by the AAU in terms of men’s sports. The CWA was able to claim “legitimate jurisdiction over all females in educational sports and tried to control athletics in the public sector as well.” This control was something that women tried to hold on to during the beginning of the following century, however this grasp would be harder and harder to maintain.

As the twentieth century continued women sports were in a constant battle with the AAU and other organizations pertaining to the merger of the two spheres. The women educators were completely against this merger due to the fact that less control would be given to women and the future of their sports would be less easily predicted. The 1922 Women’s Olympic Games in Paris, France was one insistence where the AAU tried to invading the women’s separate sphere, however did not succeed. Through the 1940s and ‘50s women were losing less and less control over the running of their own sports. This lose came to a peak during the 1960’s when the NCAA formally joined the competition. The NCAA began to discuss taking over women sports to help increase their membership and therefore have more control over all sports in general.

Following the passing of Title IX in 1972, women’s and men’s sports were required by laws to have equal conditions and opportunities. This increased the NCAA’s drive to acquire jurisdiction over both genders in sports. The bitter battle continued between the NCAA and the AIAW. However due to the still sexism beliefs held by men, any new jobs that open in institutions within athletic departments were given to men. All of a sudden men were coaching female athletes. The battle almost eliminated the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports. The decline in the control women had over their sports began and never slowed.

By 1980, “motions were passed at the [NCAA] convention to start women’s championships ad the NCAA began preparations to get into the women’s championship business in earnest.” The moment the NCAA decided to direct some of their time to women’s sports, the battle had been won. The NCAA was a long establish committee with thousands of members and a large sum of money. Therefore, they were able to literally outbid any of the previous women’s institutions.

The merger of women’s and men’s sports eliminated many positions originally filled by women. As previously stated the NCAA was long established and was all male for many years. Therefore they were less then willing to allow a woman to have a leadership position. This caused all of the decisions pertaining to women’s sports to be made by men. The many committees originally established by women to regulated sports were run well and organized by women. After the merger these institutions were all but forgotten. They had such limited power that they usefulness was near nothing compared to the NCAA.

The merger of sports did not only create negative aspects; several positive actions came of the merger. The NCAA had more money to help women’s sports with equipment and coaches then women institutes ever had before. With the NCAA reputation, women’s sports were taken perhaps more seriously and championships were actually shown on TV. Women athletes were given more opportunities after college with the establishment of more professional leagues. Prior to the merger, women had been given more opportunities then had previously been available; however, the NCAA is such a larger institution that these opportunities can come more quickly.

It is possible that without the merger women’s sports could have come to the same place they are today with the help of their own institutions, however this is less likely. The all-women institutions in the early part of the twentieth century allowed for the place that women sports are now. It is upsetting that through the merger the structure of these institutions were lost, however the return of women to leadership roles are now being seen once again. This return gives one the impression that women will be able to finally conquer the stereotypes and sexism evident in the United States.

The troubled history of women’s sports is one that all female athletes need to be aware of. By learning everything that women had to go through to compete and to be considered athletes; today’s athletes see that they are not only fulfilling their dream but also the athletes before them. The merger seen within the two realms of sports, male and female, changed history drastically both for the good and the bad. Many women’s institutions were lost or at least their structure were; on the other hand, the NCAA was able to help women better financially. In conclusion, the merger and then events leading up to it, defined women’s sports and sports today in general.


Hult, J. “The Story of Women’s Athletics: Manipulating a Dream 1890-1985,” in Costa, M. & Guthrie S. (1994). Women and Sport: Interdisciplinary Studies.

Title IX Athletics Q & A. Vol. 1, Issue 5, May 2001

Title IX: Middlebury College Women’s Culture Series; Speech by Jean Rowlands, Director of Athletics, Northeastern University, October 13, 1988.

Entering a Non-traditional Sport (Question #2)
Name: Roberta St
Date: 2002-03-06 10:08:01
Link to this Comment: 1389

There are both many social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or
female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex. First, there are a variety of
benefits. When women and men enter non-traditional sports, they are showing society
that sports don’t have to be limited to one sex or the other. Women and men are setting
an example for everyone around them that you people should do whatever you they want
to do no matter what. The entering of a non-traditional sport may be easier for an
individual when there is positive feedback from the people around him/her. For example, I
don’t think that Bev (in the movie Pumping Iron II) would have been able to continue to
weight lift if she didn’t have such positive and encouraging coaches and family.

Another benefit of entering a non-traditional sport may just simply involve the use
of skill. Although a sport, may not be traditional for a certain sex, athletic capability may
be enhanced by participating in these other sports. For example, many football players
take ballet lessons to work on their balance, grace, and stability. This kind of situation
shows that ballet can be used for just performing ballet or it could mean that ballet is
useful for other types of performance.

Another way to look at entering a non-traditional sport as beneficial is by looking
at upward social mobility. Participation in a certain sport can allow a person to better
their chances of getting out of a situation or circumstance. An obvious example of
upward social mobility is in the movie Girlfight. Diana has a chance to get out of her
home and community through her participation in boxing. Because Diana is a women in a
non-traditional sport, her chances of getting out are increased, unlike the many male
boxers around her. Because other women boxers are rare, the demand for other
competitors is high. Being an individual in a non-traditional sport shows uniqueness, and
if that individual is good at what they do, this can bring in more attention and possibly help
in achieving other things such as athletic scholarships.

Also, in regards to females entering non-traditional sports, there is the benefit of
proving to themselves and others that women are just as capable, if not even better, as
men in performing certain tasks. This would not be such a big deal if historically sports
weren’t established with men and only men’s participation and skill emphasized.

On the other hand, there are also many costs of an individual entering a
non-traditional sport for their gender/sex. Such costs can include things that affects one’s
personal self. An individual’s self-esteem can be lowered by the people around them - this
can be provoked by comments or actions from men to women, from women to men, and
even from men to men, and from women to women. Earlier, and still even today, women
had to overcome labels and name calling from people around them and even now an
example is men in dealing with comments being made about becoming cheerleaders.
Another example of an action that affected someone’s self esteem was the match between
Adrian and Diana in Girlfight. When Diana won the match, Adrian had a hard time
dealing with it. It seemed as if his self-esteem was lowered because he got beat by a girl.
Unfortunately, Adrian may have to deal with people around him commenting on this
outcome, but this could eventually lead to a benefit in that Adrian and society will learn
about talented women boxers and give them the respect that they deserve.

In the forum, difference was discussed. Individuals entering non-traditional sports
is a difference and this difference may be perceived as a threat by people. It could be
perceived as a threat because it would mean things are starting to change. Some people
may not like the idea of changing the established male role sports and female role sports.
In my high school, the field hockey team had one male member. This member received so
much insult from opposing fans, players, and coaches. Some people may have felt that he
was taking away from the established female sport. Opposing coaches threatened to
protest games if he was on the field and if a team did agree to play with a guy on the field
and lost, blame was put on the fact the field hockey team had a guy participant (one guy).

Men may possibly be physically faster and stronger, leading to another cost, in
regards to men entering non-traditional sports. It may be that if a guy joins a field hockey
team and then others begin to join, outcomes of events may be due to the fact that men
could get the ball faster, and this could lead to big conflicts in playing all girls teams.
However, men should not be excluded from certain sports based on their physicality and
the same goes for women (such as bodybuilders).

So far, I feel that the benefits outweigh the costs. If someone is willing and able to
overcome the comments and insults thrown at their self-esteem and continue to do what
they do, this is an accomplishment in itself. The most amazing thing to me involving an
individual entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex, is the way people around
them react negatively. I have a hard time understanding why people wouldn’t encourage
this non-traditional participation. I feel as though most of the costs are fixable and that
the solutions may not be that hard to come by. Maybe if people looked at the bigger
picture and compared this participation to what else these individuals could be doing,
people would be able to see why it is really okay for them to participate. Maybe if people
were more aware that if these individuals were rejected or denied the opportunity to play
in a sport that they like, the individual could turn to participating in no sports at all and be
doing alot worse things with their time. People could look at any and all sports as an
outlet for individuals, a way to stay out of trouble, a way to interact with others and meet
new people and make friends, or as an opportunity to change one’s life for the better.

A Woman In a Man's World
Name: Trisha Gou
Date: 2002-03-06 13:35:24
Link to this Comment: 1396


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Sports such as body building/ weightlifting, and boxing have traditionally been
known as predominately male sports, in which women would be out of place competing
in. Either because of their body type, physical conditioning, or the social conflicts they have to face. In 1986, the “New Agenda for Women and Sport” identified six beliefs
about women in sport that are completely untrue.
1. Sport masculinizes women.
2. Sports are medically risky for women.
3. The female body is inadequate for sports performance.
4. Women are not interested in sports.
5. Women are not psychologically tough enough for sports.
6. Present financial resources are adequate for women’s sports. (Oglesby, pg. 9-10)
Just by the amount of women who actually engage in sport we can see that none of these beliefs really have much basis in today’s society. The belief that women’s uteruses would become injured or fall out if they engaged in strenuous activity is ridiculous, we participate in sports, and we still have our uteruses. These kinds of beliefs kept women from enjoying sports for many years.

The cultural barrier can be overcome more easily for some people. Race has always played a role in sport, but it was felt that African-American women were believed to be more suitable for a non-traditional sport than a white women would be. The American public didn’t have as much of a problem allowing African-American women participate in these sports, they had been historically know for being extremely strong and capable individuals. In African-American communities, women worked just as hard as the men did, so the men didn’t have a problem with their wives and daughters pursuing a future in sport. Their female athletes were supported to the fullest by the YWCA’s, high schools, and community centers to the fullest extent and given the same treatment the men were. For example, in basketball many black women’s teams played by men’s rules.

Participating in a sport that is non-traditional to your sex can have social barriers as well. The female athlete’s sexuality is often questioned when she partakes in an activity outside the normal female ‘traditional’ genre of acceptable sports. Female athletes were asked to wear make-up and feminine attire when on and off the court or field. When appearing in public, it was recommended that they were accompanied by their husbands and families, or dressed in an overtly feminine manner, to dispel the belief that all female athletes were lesbians.

In the film Pumping Iron II, female athletes take part in a non-traditional sport for women, bodybuilding. The ultimate example of a female bodybuilder has not yet been established in today’s society. As we see in this film, the form of a bodybuilder comes in many varying shapes, sizes, and colors. If supermodels could be bodybuilders, Rachel McLish would be one of them. She was thought to be more popular, prettier, and sexier than the other competitors. She was also the reigning Miss Olympia. Carla Dunlap and Bev Francis are shown to be more intelligent and likable, and in my opinion in better shape for the Miss Olympia competition. Carla was also very attractive and possessed well-defined muscles, whereas Bev’s body took on a less feminine shape. Judges of the contest were told, “What we’re looking for is something that’s right down the middle. A Woman who has a certain amount of aesthetic femininity, but yet has that muscle tone to show that she’s an athlete.”(Holmlund)

This set the stage for the entire film portrayal of this event. By working with the cameras in a specific way, the director was able to force the viewer to zone in on specific aspects of each of the major competitors. In the beginning of the film, powerlifter Bev Francis is shown sitting next to statues of muscular goddesses, where as the other women in the competition are filmed with statues of Venus, with an emphasis of femininity. This is poignantly displayed in a later scene that takes place in a hot tub outside Caesar’s Palace, or in the shower scene where the camera shoots slices of the women’s bodies, creating more of a soft-core pornographic sequence which screams sexuality. Notice that both Bev and Carla weren’t in either of these scenes.

The main issue that was brought up by Carla in a pre-competition meeting was what exactly the judges were looking for. As mentioned previously, they were looking for someone who was, ‘right down the middle’ of a supermodel and an athlete. This turned the tune of the Miss Olympia competition into a beauty pageant. In order to get the judges to pay attention, the women had to wear make-up, fancy, yet acceptable bikinis, and perform for them. Carla was graceful, being a synchronized swimmer already, so she had no problem with this aspect of the competition. Bev on the other hand did not act in what the judges would call a feminine manner at all. She didn’t feel comfortable with the way her femininity measured up to the other women, and she even poked fun at how ridiculous they looked posing before the competition. She also wasn’t able to dance and when she did so, she looked out of place. This led people to assume that, since has unfeminine body language and heavy facial features, she must be a lesbian, even though she was dating her trainer at the time. (Holmlund)

Benefits of breaking the gender barrier of non-traditional sports for women can be achieved by anyone who works at it hard enough. Women are taking a stand for themselves in many areas outside of sport. They challenge gender ideals by using their sexual appeal to make money, promoting an increased advocacy for birth control and declining birth rates, as well as the medical affirmation of female eroticism, led to women emerging as strong and powerful individuals. (Cahn)

When I was in first grade, I decided to begin to take karate lessons. I was, at that time, the only girl in the class and school for that matter. This caused me to feel like I really didn’t belong there, I first thought the battle was too stacked against me. But, I learned very quickly to keep my head up, and press on with my goals. This didn’t become evident to my fellow classmates until they were faced with the real me, finally standing up for myself. Before our first sparring class, I locked myself in my locker room crying and wouldn’t come out. I had heard my peers and friends talking about how they were going to ‘kick my butt because I was a girl.’ My instructor taught me at that time, something that would influence my life forever. “You are just as good as they are Trish, and even better because you want it more.” He told me to go out there and do what I was trained to do. Needless to say, I won every match I had that afternoon. From then on the guys took me seriously, all the time.

You see, no one ever said that breaking the gender barrier was easy, but it’s not impossible. All it takes is determination, strength, and a love for the game. Just months after I began training at the school, their female admission rates increased. An older student later told me that she joined because she saw that I could do it, and realized there was no reason why she couldn’t also. It only takes one brave person to make history.

Works Cited

Cahn, S. “The Emergence of Homophobia in Women’s Physical Education”. In Birrell,S.
& Cole, C. (Eds. 1994) Women, Sport and Culture. Human Kinetics Publishers.

Holmlund, C.A. “Visible Difference and Flex Appeal: The Body, Sex, Sexuality, and Race
in the Pumping Iron Films” In Birrell, S. & Cole, C. (Eds. 1994). Women, Sport,
and Culture. Human Kinetics Publishers.

Oglesby, CA. & Shelton, C.M. “Exercise and Sport Studies”. IN Krammarae, C. & Spender, D.
(Eds. 1992). The Knowledge Explosion: Generations of Feminist Scholarship. Athene
Series, Teachers College Press.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner?
Name: Erin Trose
Date: 2002-03-06 13:51:13
Link to this Comment: 1397

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner? I was never an athlete. I?ve taken my sequence of swimming lessons at the pool down the street. Tennis as well, the courts on that same block, along with the elementary school, middle school and fire station, a miniature grouping of municipal architecture and parks. In such a public setting, my private choices were minimal, I didn?t feel attachment or dislike, just neutrality. My friend throughout the progression of school buildings and grade levels felt differently. While we knowingly rolled our eyes together over conservative editorial articles and chattered women?s lib ideas handed down from our mothers to us, speaking of the male oppressor and the 104th Congress of the new Republican right (we would put right in quotation marks), she became the athlete. We became the only girls from the two high schools in our city to attend women?s colleges, she at Scripps, me at Bryn Mawr.

Perhaps it was because she wanted evidence of her liberation, or maybe as a result of her liberal, unmarried, single mothers want for a show-pony daughter, she took up track in middle school. There is a picture of her from our senior year in Game Face, the Washington Post?s gallery of women athletes, which was taken by a local photojournalist and also placed in a Smithsonian exhibition on the subject. She stands around her teammates after a race, and they huddle together. I do not see any homoeroticism or envy of the masculine in this photo, but oddly, am reminded of Alcott?s Little Women, that demure yet quietly brave story of girls growing up and growing in to each other?s lives, shoulder to shoulder around each other. The lesbian accusation leveled at both feminists and women athletes is in contrast to the notion of women as social creatures, interested in creating sorts of families out of those people who populate their lives. Where men are encouraged to be individual, women are supposed to take these independent people and place them into supportive groups. I see this photo of her, in track uniform, dripping, with limbs draping down over her teammates, as both a masculine and feminine stance. In the jersey of athletics, with its cut adapted from the male form, she remains female.

By eighth grade, and the approach of our final middle school yearbook, the polls went out. Most athletic boy and girl were chosen, and the girl known for playing basketball won. My friend was angry because she ran track, played softball, and did cross-country while the winner only played her one sport. While nominated, my friend did not win the most votes. The winning girl played basketball, and by this, her effort carried more prestige as basketball, dominated by men, was valued more than the women?s game of softball, and the less-gendered and commercialized world of running. She played women?s sports, yet these did not carry the weight of those sports dominant in society, where dozens of its professional athletes were celebrities. A woman entering a masculine sport is questioned, yet does receive some credibility from the nature of the sport. A man entering a woman?s sport is stepping down, not merely stepping out of bounds.

Women entering men's sports, which I would classify as any where gender is immediately assumed to be male, often do lose status. The eighth grade poll winner was not a wrestler or on the football team, and playing basketball is a milder infiltration into male culture. Where stronger gender lines are drawn, the motivation behind a woman joining is questioned. What is it in this sport that she craves? Why does she find the company and competition against women uninteresting? What about this makes it worth the extra effort of finding a gym, trainer, and league to compete in? Is being alone in an underutilized women?s locker room worth the isolation? A woman deciding on these issues somehow subverts her femininity, as society sees her denying the sisterhood one can see in the photograph of my friend. There is a false front of masculinity that denies women?s identity is enough. Society may see a woman in masculine sports as trying to expand the realm of women?s work, but is more likely to see her retreating from such work.

Costs of going against the grain will come from the assumptions people will come to as to why a person isn?t satisfied with the dominant culture, and the traditional opportunities and restrictions placed on him or her. A woman entering the world of sports is seen as taking on the challenge of masculine aggression and power, but not necessarily saying it?s wrong. As radical feminism has at times taken on masculine culture and reappropriated it for women instead of denying its value and decrying it as wrong, women entering sports accept athleticism?s value and bring it closer to themselves. They are thus not criticizing masculine culture, but finding values within it that, truthfully, are universal instead of gendered. There are benefits as women (or men entering women?s sports) expand their lifestyle possibilities, and costs as their perceived lifestyle becomes narrower, more specific than before. Their actions liberate them internally, while externally, they have been circumscribed around motivations based on ?deviant? gender and sexual identity. This has been shown to produce a plateau in how far many women feel comfortable allowing sports in to their lives. The woman athlete in a single sport is somehow more approachable than the woman athlete who tackles many.

Challenging The Institution of Sport and Its Value
Name: Sarah John
Date: 2002-03-07 12:35:16
Link to this Comment: 1406


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"Sport is not an expression of some biological human need," writes Michael Messner, "it is a social institution. Like other institutions, such as the economy, politics, and the family, the structure and values of sport emerge and change historically, largely as a result of struggles for power between groups of people" (8). Indeed, changing the structure of any the institution is a struggle that is not by any means easily won. The institution of sport presents a unique set of boundaries to overcome with regard to gender equality in male-dominated sports. Both men and women take big risks when they forge new ground by competing in a sport that is traditionally dominated by the opposite sex. This paper will discuss the costs and benefits of women competing in predominately male-dominated sports by examining Karyn Kusama's Girlfight and Pumping Iron II: The Women.

In Karyn Kusama's Girlfight (2000), Diana Guzman is a tough young woman, struggling to get by in a low-income area of the Brooklyn. After continued disciplinary problems in school, Diana channels her aggression into training to become a boxer. She fights to assert herself both inside and outside of the boxing ring: inside the ring, she proves that she is a strong and athletically talented young (woman) boxer; outside of the ring, she fights to define and prove herself in a broken home.

After proving her strength when she defended her brother Tiny in a sparring match at the gym, Diana asks Hector to train her to become a boxer. Hector replies, "You can train, but you can't just can't. Girls don't have the same power as boys." Hector's response, and the response of most of the men in her life is indicative of the function and effect of power in the institution of sport. Michael Messner argues:
"The structure and values of sport are largely shaped by, and in the interests of, those who hold power...power is not simply a top-down, one-way process in which dominant groups assert and enforce their rules, values, and beliefs over dominated groups. Rather, power is a process in which dominated groups may partially accept, but also attempt to redefine, negotiate, or even reject, the ruling group's rules, values, and meanings" (12).

Diana proves to Hector, and her competitors, that her strength and athleticism are not only comparable to her male counterparts, but often far exceeds them. Her insistence, diligence, and determination in training (as well as her talent) are Diana's ways of redefining, negotiating, and rejecting the dominant (male) the notion that she cannot box competitively because she is female.

While Diana's actions allow her to prove herself in the ring, it has serious personal repercussions outside the ring. Through the end of the film, Diana's father does not understand or approve of her boxing. To see Diana excel in a sport that he clearly intended to be a bonding experience between him and his son, is to see his son fail as a boxer, and himself fail as a father. "Hegemonic masculinity, the form dominant today," writes Messner, "is defined in relation to various subordinated masculinities as well as in relation to feminities. The gender order is thus a social system that is constantly being created, contested, and changed, both in the relationship and power struggles between men and women, and the relationship and power struggles between men" (18). Diana's boxing affects her own personal relationship to her father, his relationship to his son, as well as his own masculine status. The headway she makes in a male dominated sport is only a small part of the process needed to change who holds the power in the sport of boxing. Diana makes great sacrifices in personal and familial relationships in order to break this ground, but the fact is that it is not enough to pave a completely smooth way for the female boxers that are to come.

In George Butler's Pumping Iron II: The Women, female bodybuilders face a struggle similar to Diana's. In this staged documentary, both the women and the judges struggle to accept women's role in a traditionally male-dominated sport. The film centers around the conflict of what it means to be a female bodybuilder: should female bodybuilders be judged by the same criteria as their male counterparts? At what point does muscle mass "defeminize" a woman?

In her article, "Visible Difference and Flex Appeal: The Body, Sex, Sexuality, and Race in the Pumping Iron Films," Christine Holmlund argues that the film is not about a bodybuilding competition, but rather about defining "body" in relation to "woman" (40). In the film, we see that Bev Francis's body is too muscular to be that of a woman, while Rachel McLeish's physique is too is too lean and feminine. Holmlund quotes Ben Weide, the chairman of the IFBB, saying, "'What we're looking for is something that's right down the middle. A woman who has a certain amount of aesthetic femininity, but yet has that muscle tone to show that she is an athlete" (41). This definition is problematic precisely because it puts such an emphasis on "woman" and "body." To judge women bodybuilders "right down the middle," while judging male bodybuilders solely based on their muscle mass, is unfair. If female athletes are not as competitive as their male counterparts, it is only because the kind of judging that takes place in Pumping Iron denies women athletes the agency needed to excel.

As Messner argued, sport is an institution with rules and values that are reflected on and off the court. The notion that women in and out of sport are incapable of being judged and understood outside of their gender has strong implications for the roles of women in society. In Girlfight, Diana challenges the notion that women cannot compete as well as men in a male-dominated sport. Her personal strife is a challenge not only to the conventions of boxing, but also to the values that stem from the institution of sport: that women are weak, have little will power, and low endurance. While her challenge is successful in that she becomes a great boxer, it comes at a great cost to an already damaged life and family situation.

In Pumping Iron II, disappointment is only one of the costs that losing contestants pay as a result of sexist judging. The benefits, however, are that by participating in the competition, the contestants force there to be dialogue about a fair way to judge female bodybuilders. Therefore, while female athletes most definitely face hardships when they compete in male-dominated sports, our society eventually reaps the benefits (no matter how small). Integrating female athletes into male-dominated sports is not an easy process, but the only way to achieve progress is for female athletes to make sacrifices that can help correct the institution of sport and the values that stem from it.

Works Cited
Messner, Michael. Power or Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992.
Holmlund, Christine Anne. Visible Difference and Flex Appeal: The Body, Sex, Sexuality, and Race in the Pumping Iron Films. University of Tennesse: Knoxville. Comea Kpirma; 28, (Summer): pp. 38-51.

How the Introduction of the Individual into a Non-
Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-03-07 12:35:55
Link to this Comment: 1407

Elizabeth Godshall March 7, 2002

How the Introduction of the Individual into a Non-traditional Sport for His or Her Gender Affects that Individual and the Sport Itself

A high school age boy makes the papers when he joins the girls' varsity field hockey team at his high school. A woman is judged according to femininity rather than muscle mass in a body building competition. An African American is thought inferior to his white counterparts on the sports field. A woman is discouraged from playing contact sports under the pretext of being too delicate. All of these events have one thing in common: they, in their own context, involve individuals entering a non-traditional sport for their gender or race. Over the years, events such as these continually arise causing either promotion of the evolution of this sport, or the destruction or discouragement of similar events occurring in the future. For the most part, such events are initially held in a negative light, only to become accepted over time, nevertheless showing the scars of damage and/or the reaped benefits.
The most immediate and perhaps most obvious cost of such an entrance into the untraditional is the questioning of the participant's sexuality. This inquiry is most common to women as they enter fields such as boxing and basketball. Men, however, undergo the same scrutiny as they enter traditionally feminine sports such as figure skating and synchronized swimming. The appearance of new genders in sport does however take a step in the right direction. Every opportunity seized to create some sort of equality between the sexes in athletics is a step forward for that individual, for his or her gender, and for the sport into which he or she enters. This idea is best shown through the actions of a high school aged boy who joined the girls' field hockey team at his high school. It seems that he was not taken seriously at first. After all, I myself would have been surprised if a boy showed up on the field one day wearing a skirt like the rest of the team and expecting to play in the game. Part of the problem is that it is so uncommon. People are afraid of things that they've never seen or done. Non-traditional athletes in certain sports are partially unaccepted due to the fact that they are a first. This is part of the reason why Bev (from Pumping Iron II), was so unaccepted by the judges of the women's bodybuilding contest: the judges were disgusted by her muscularity. "Images of muscular women... are disconcerting, even threatening... [she was a] threat to established values." (Holmlund 302) There is a first for everything, but firsts are always hard to accept and integrate into society.
There was, for instance, a single female member of the wrestling team at my high school. It was something that we'd all heard of happening at other high schools, but was never something that we'd anticipated coming to our high school. She was seen as being strange: butch, unlady-like, even ugly. I never gave her more than a thought because I felt the same. In this context however, of non-traditional athletes in sports, I see how hard she must have worked to overcome the obstacle of being the social outcast due to her perceived peculiarity. Wrestling must have been something that she loved to do. If I can respect women like Martina Navratilova or Tony Stone for being pioneer women in typically male sports (tennis and baseball respectively), I should have given the same respect to this single girl who dared to be different in a school where being different was the one thing of which everyone was afraid.
One characteristic that made this girl different was her "un-lady-like" manner. This, among other qualities of past female athletes, led to the qualification of femininity in sport. Femininity is something that has always been defined by the contemporary society or circumstances. Sports followed this trend, creating their own definition of femininity, this definition evolving with time. Presently, women have the most freedom that they have ever had to play sports without enduring criticism from society. Formerly, they were criticized for over exerting themselves, endangering their health, having manly appearances, and other absurd things. It is in this criticism that femininity became idealized. A great dislike was forming against the muscular and fit women in sports. Society created an image of a "perfect" woman: delicate and motherly, quiet and reserved, and by no means an athlete. This left the athletic women to be seen as anything but real women. Most often, they were even labeled as being lesbian. The public could not accept the idea of women wanting to define muscle and get down and dirty like men did through their sports. Sports had always been considered an arena in which men could act like men. With women crossing over into this sector, the two genders were perceived separately. Male athletes were seen no differently than they had been in earlier times. They were still seen as men: strong, tough, and wild. Women participating in the same activities, however, were seen as anything but women: strange, not feminine, and insane. With such divisions forming, it made it very difficult to ever consider all athletes in the same light. Society as a whole began to devalue women in sports. This debasement would make the future development of women's athletics an uphill battle.
The benefits of this progression are still being seen today. Sports are only expanded and made more widespread by the inclusion of both genders. The inclusion of all in sports creates unity between players of diverse backgrounds. This is the case with the WNBA. Its creation served as a

"challenge to the clearly male-dominated realm of team sports requires complicated cultural negotiations by both the league and its sponsors to establish that professional women's basketball is a legitimate sport." (Banet-Weiser 403)

This incorporation, in essence, was a difficult one. Overall though, this is an example of a positive change to the sport of basketball. The WNBA gives women equal opportunities to excel in basketball as it does men. This league diversifies the game of basketball and allows for women ball players to play in a forum equal to that of men, thus diminishing the differences between the two genders. It allows men and women the equal opportunity to strive for the American Dream.
Sports have typically been seen as an outlet by which men and women can attempt to achieve the idealized American Dream. African Americans are specifically referenced when discussing the achievement of the American Dream. Sports have been seen as the road that can lead you to a better life and a future. Sports are advertised as the means by which one can leave the lower class, leave the slums, or leave any bad situation behind and succeed. Considering how very rarely this fantasy comes true, it is quite a "dream", yet it has the ability to bring equality. It is an area in which those who are less fortunate are able to compete equally even with those who are most fortunate. "It is also inferred that such factors as socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and gender are of little consequence." (The American Dream and Sport 3) Any man or woman can go outside and start running or kicking a ball around. Those who put in the time and effort can be rewarded in the end regardless of where they had their beginnings.
It is typical that things that have never been seen or done before will be met with opposition. This is consistently the case in sports with the appearance of individuals in non-traditional sports for their gender. This gender battle is deep, sports being merely one of the many fronts on which these differences appear. On most occasions, this experience is difficult for the athlete. They are analyzed, questioned, and observed, all of which makes life very difficult. It is however, for the benefit of their gender, race, and for sport itself that such modifications are made, that such alterations in sport are evolved.

Works Cited

"The American Dream and Sport." ESS 200 Course Reader. 1-54

Banet-Weiser, Sarah. "Hoop Dreams: Professional Basketball and the Politics of Race and Gender." Journal of Sport and Social Issues. Volume 23, Number 4 (November 1999): 403-420

Holmlund, Christine Anne. "Visible Difference and Flex Appeal: The Body, Sex, Sexuality, and Race in the Pumping Iron Films." Cinema Journal. Volume 28 (Summer 1989): 299-310


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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The Sex of Sports
Name: Dasen Woit
Date: 2002-03-07 13:15:50
Link to this Comment: 1409


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex (e.g. women enter body building, power lifting, boxing; men enter synchronized swimming or field hockey)?

In today's society, particularly in the United States, an individual entering a non-traditional sport for his/her gender takes on many tasks besides playing the sport, the individual also takes on the criticism (good or bad) of people who play the sport and those who watch it too. There are many social and cultural costs as well as benefits, but to what extent mostly depends on the sport and the sex of the player.

The biggest thing that creates a social and cultural cost in the world of sports is change. People have a hard time coping with a change in the norm, especially when people are not welcome still to this day that women play sports. So as soon as a man/woman wants to do something different, there will always be controversy that will include harassment of the individual from sexual orientation to class, or simply what this change could do to the particular sport in the long run. A man entering a "women's" sport is very different than a woman entering a "man's" sport. There is more praise given to a woman entering a male-dominated sport and more disapproval given to a man entering a female-dominated sport. For example, when the ABL and WNBA, particularly when the WNBA, started up, many people questioned whether women could play professionally and handle the pressure of living up to the NBA. As soon as commercial ads came out for the WNBA league, it was done in a fashion to show that the WNBA did consist of straight women and it was not a league for lesbians. Even though basketball is not a traditional sport, the idea of women playing a men's game at the professional level was a big deal. So even before the league started, someone felt that he/she had to prove that not all aggressive female athletes are gay. It's funny, but in a sad way, that women have to prove their sexual identity, but the men's are never questioned.

The social and cultural costs of this intermingling of sexes starts with the genders that are tied to each sport, which then puts the individual's sexuality at question. If a woman enters a "male" sport she will be considered a lesbian and if a male entered a "woman" sport then he would be tagged with a gay identity. The player now has two jobs, succeed at the game and prove their sexuality, just like what the commercials were doing for the WNBA, proving the maternity of the players. Also, if an individual is of a different race or social class, then people tend to attack that side of the person. For example, some might say that the only reason why a person is good is because of their color or the only reason why someone has the opportunity is because he/she came from a wealthy background. Many people in today's society will find anything about someone to attack them and prove that what that individual is doing is wrong and bad for society and/or for the sport and apply labels to them. These labels lead to harassment and when it is not dealt with appropriately it can contribute to many social crises'. It may interfere with and affect an individual's physical and emotional health, which will lead to a low self-esteem, which will lead to poor performance. It won't just end with the individual, but continue to the organization, which could increase the turnover of staff and volunteers and diminish the reputation and image of the organization in the community.

The benefits of playing sport, no matter what one's gender or sport, are varied ranging from enhanced self-esteem and quality of life for individuals though to lower health costs and the reduction of anti-social behavior for the community. If the player is accepted, it does wonders for the sport and the community. It makes others on the outside realize that sport has rules, but these rules do not constrict the intermingling of sexes. There have been many organizations that have created a men's league (i.e. Georgia men's field hockey league) or a women's league (professional boxing) because of the interest in non-traditional sports for males and females. Since there is a high interest from individuals in a non-traditional sport, athletic directors or even coaches are willing to develop other leagues for the opposite sex. In doing this, it creates fair game for all and does not exclude anyone from participating. Even though these sports may have a slow start, over time society becomes acquainted with the fact that men play field hockey and women box, then more and more people become interested in the sport, which leads to the sport's growth.

When an individual wants to or tries to play a non-traditional sport, there tends to be a load of controversy one must carry on his/her back. The individual not only takes the challenge of being ousted or treated differently by the community, but proving people wrong. I think this is one of the greatest things to see, when people overcome obstacles and prove others wrong. For example, in the movie Girlfight, Diana, who wanted to box like her brother, trained and achieved notable success and as a result made new trails for female boxers. At first, she had a hard time learning the skills of boxing and when she had her first match, there were sexual slurs said towards her. As the movie progressed, so did Diana's skills and that's when the harassment stopped. Her success not only gained acknowledgement for herself, but the fact that females could box. This is one of the greatest stories to read about because stories like this tend to pave the way for others to follow or even allow more change to occur. In today's society, sport fans have noticed that the WNBA and other sports that have created controversy are not just a hoax and women can compete professionally like men do. Once the people see the accomplishments and success, they tend to drop some of their pre-conceived notions of non-traditional sports being played by the opposite sex.

Overall, the outcome of women playing men's sports and vice versa is a change that both society and culture need. If society was not so concerned with people's backgrounds or what they did behind closed doors, then athletics would have a whole different outlook for those playing or wanting to play. When people overcome obstacles, then the society seems to accept the change and with this happening it may help the society. In the short run there may be a slow start to the idea of the intermingling of sexes playing sports, but sport is such a moneymaking machine, sometimes change is what is needed in order to create ideas of marketing and in the long run it will be successful. The costs and benefits of this crossing over may vary from one society to another, but the biggest cost would be an unsuccessful emergence, which would just bring us back to the starting point. The biggest cultural and social benefit may be for that individual who succeeded in this non-traditional sport and will be used as a marketing tool. It may also create opportunities for the organization itself or society, like jobs in coaching, marketing or any other business in the area of change. It is also another way for an individual to have the chance to accomplish one's desire for the American Dream.

Boat Rocker
Name: Lelani Lyn
Date: 2002-03-07 16:04:58
Link to this Comment: 1416


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

I believe that one of the most important things to keep in mind about sports/athletics is that no ones experience is the same. There are many different perspectives that complicate the subject and there is no real clear-cut answer or solution to any problem. But it is always important to bring the issues to the surface where they can be discussed and debated in the hopes of reaching better grounds with a compromise.

So, in writing a movie script, I would try and include several different perspectives from people with varying personalities. I would also have to take and expand on my own experiences. Though my exposure to athletics and the questions surrounding society and women have been limited, I think that what I have been made aware of is similar and relevant to the issues today.

My movie would follow a small group of high school students and their varying experiences with the athletics in their small school.

Cathy is a junior and was the first girl to try out for and join the wrestling team. She is a very involved with sports and school activities in general. She's on track and field and does several academic extra curricular activities as well. But after joining her high school wrestling team, and cutting her hair short, she is picked on and called a dyke. In actuality, she is in a long-term relationship with a male track and field teammate.

Mae is a senior and a self-described feminist. She plays on the girl's varsity softball team. She too gets called a dyke, but she doesn't get it as bad as Cathy. Mae is also very involved with her academic school activities.

Larry is a sophomore and the heir to the Macky Mini-Mart chains. He joined the school's track team to appease his mother. Track and cross-country come easy to him. His older sisters were track stars and his mother is the coach. Halfway through the season however, he quits and joins the newspaper. All the guys pick on Larry and call him a queer because he is soft spoken and seemingly uninterested in everything including team sports.

Adette is the editor of the school newspaper. Adette is not involved in any sports and in fact, failed most of her gym classes, but her best friends just happen to be Cathy and Mae.

The trouble starts in the middle of senior year; Adette is demoted to sports writer after running a scandalous issue. Larry Mack, who turns out to be a brilliant writer, replaces her as editor. Soon, however, she causes even more trouble when she runs a story about the many abuses as detailed and chronicled by a few anonymous athletes.

* * *

Principal Bonding: What have you done now? What do you have to say for yourself?

[Principal throws the new issue of the Tiger Times on the desk in front of Adette.]

Adette: You don't like it?

Principal: You portrayed our athletes as being cruel, mindless and homophobic!

Adette: My sources--

P: What source?

A: Sources. Plural. Lotsa people have an opinion about this. I just took it down for them. And they are anonymous you know that.

P: What possessed you to--

A: Look, I was happy as editor. You and yours put me in this position. And it was a drastic decision. It's grunt work and you know it. And it was wrong. It's my senior year! But I'm not solely responsible anymore for what this paper prints and all the inconvenient complications that go along with it. I'm just a sports writer. The sports editor approved the story, the section editor approved the story, and finally your boy Larry approved the story. Obviously, people want the story out there.

P: Larry approved the story?

A: Larry.

[Principal starts to walk off.]

A: You know it was cold to drop me as editor. I mean some of us are trying to get into Harvard here.

P: And some of us are trying to run a riot free school. Your little fluff gossip column--

A: It's not fluff.

P: What was that last one called? "High on the Totem Pole: Drugs and our Schools Finest Exposed." And dropping you as editor was too drastic? That was nothing but slander and name-calling.

A: [a bit sheepishly] Yeah. I guess I know that now--I learned that the hard way. But this [holding up the newspaper] is not fluff. A majority of your schools athletes are cruel mindless and GASP homophobic. And you and your administration look the other way! [Principal starts to walk off again. Adette talks louder to his retreating back.] So tell me, Principal Bonding, what do you have to say for yourself? [Principal stops and stares at her.] No really, this damn sports writer wants to know. [Adette clicks her pen at the Principal and takes out a notepad. Principal exits.]

* * *

The most important thing that I wish to emphasize is that there needs to be discussion especially since so many people are coming at the subject from so many different angles. So the theme for this movie would definitely be just allowing the floodgates to open and stir up some commotion. If there is no communication, there is no understanding. So Adette and her newspaper reports would serve to uncover the many issues that often get overlooked or glossed over in the arena of high school athletics. Among the issues that each highlighted individual would deal with would be the topics that we covered in our gym seminar. That is to say, race and class, gender and sexual orientation would all affect any given individual athlete on a certain level.

I wouldn't try and glorify any one person. Since everyone is in a different situation, it would be too difficult to decide who is good and who is bad or who is wrong and who is right. I would just hope to expose people to the different viewpoints that they might not have considered before.

I would end this movie with Mae and Adette cleaning out their lockers on that final, most eventful senior year.

* * *

Cathy: [running barefoot down the near empty hallways] Hey! Did you see the Yearbook, Adette? They voted you Quietest, Least Flirtatious and Most Likely to Rock the Boat.

Mae: Ha!

Adette: Shucks. And I was vying for Best Smile.

[Mae and Adette slam their lockers shut and start to haul their garbage bags down the hall.]

Cathy: [picking up a Hello Kitty picture that falls from Adette's bag] Yup, you're a real troublemaker, you and your damned Hello Kitty paraphernalia.

Mae: [laughing] Hello Kitty screams anarchy.

[Principal walks by and nods in their direction.]

Cathy: [screeches at Adette after he turns to corner] No recommendation for you!

Adette: Yeah.

Cathy: I don't think he likes you very much.

Adette: Yeah.

Cathy: Why did you do it then? I mean, why not just write about the ninth grade chili dinner like a good editor in chief?

Adette: Why didn't you just join cheerleading?

Mae: Ha!

Adette: She dribbles then shoots! She scores! Touchdown!

Mae and Cathy: Touchdown?

Adette: Goal. [Mae and Cathy laugh] Whatever.

[Girls continue to walk down the hallway and the scene fades slowly.]

Mae: Hey, you still gotta sign my Yearbook.

Cathy: O, yeah, mine too! Oooo! Can you sign it "To my biggest fan! Love, Boat Rocker?"

Cheerleading Men
Name: Thida S Ay
Date: 2002-03-07 16:07:37
Link to this Comment: 1417


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip



It all began at a Princeton University football game. Thomas Peebler gathered 6 men who led a yell on the sidelines in front of the student body. In 1884, he took the yell to the University of Minnesota campus. On November 2, 1898, a cheerleader by the name of Johnny Campbell got so excited that he jumped out in front of the crowd. That's how cheerleading was started.
Whether you are a cheerleader on an all female, an all male, or a co-ed squad, you are striving towards one goal. That goal is to effectively lead a crowd in support of an athletic team and to generate spirit and pride within a school or community. Today cheerleading enjoys a reputation of being an important leadership force on practically every high school and college campus in America. All of this is because of a man named Johnny Campbell in Minnesota who couldn't stand sitting in the bleachers. He had to be in front of them!
The guys on the team at my high school perform back springs, hand tucks, and towering pyramids and basket tosses with the greatest of ease. Most of them are more than six feet tall and weigh in at more than 200 pounds. They train every day for hours, compete in national competitions and appear on TV. And while their catches are worth more than six points and a field goal, it would be easy to mistake them for football players — but they're not. They're cheerleaders.
The guys consider themselves part of the squad, and they say there is no sport more challenging. These male members provide the base of all the stunts, a feat that requires tossing their female counterparts as high as 25 feet in the air. They are, for all practical purposes, the safety nets that stand between the soaring, cheering women and the cold, hard ground. It's a job, which requires a great amount of strength, skill and coordination. They say, "cheerleading gets you in the best shape of your life and if you've ever carried anything over your head, you'll understand." One would think the responsibility of providing a buffer between the floor and several falling female bodies could become a little stressful. Simon, one of the four guys on the team, claims that basing stunts becomes instinctive to guy cheerleaders. "When we're cheering, our bodies and minds are so in tune that it's ultimately what we do best," he explains. "It becomes second nature." Concentration is a key aspect of the sport because if they lose focus, someone can get hurt. In other words, if a mistake is made during a routine, the guys can't simply move out of the way. They say it's their job to sacrifice their own safety to make sure the girls they are supporting don't fall. But not everyone associates cheering with such a high-intensity sport. Many students picture male cheerleaders in a very different light. Most people usually think of guy cheerleaders as a little on the feminine side. This isn't an unusual representation of the athletes. The most common image of male cheerleaders is less than glowing. The biggest problem is ignorance. People just don't know what cheerleading is. But after the first time someone watches guy cheerleaders, they begin to understand. Even some of the guys admit that they were originally against the idea to join the team because of the negative stereotypes. Training for cheerleading is a constant commitment, which means the teammates don't even have time for summer or part-time jobs. Even when school is out, the team often gets together for three practice sessions a day. "It's crazy. We devote about 5,000 hours of practice — of life — to a routine that takes two minutes," Simon says. "But it's worth it. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't," he concludes, nodding toward three of his teammates. "This is a major commitment. Once you're in, you're in for the haul, and you have to be mentally tough." But the hard work and the dedication make up just part of the work that goes into being invited to the annual national championships. The squad is required to participate in anywhere from 200 to 300 public relations events a year. "Basically, joining this team was the best decision of my life," Simon says. "It gave me a group of friends who have become like family, a chance to compete on a national level and the opportunity to see parts of the country I never thought I'd see." So while these guys may not be the center of athletic attention, there is something to be said for the men who won't let our women fall.Male cheerleader: For many people, these words create a vision of a man dressed in a woman's uniform, chirping rhymes and waving batons. It's almost the prototype of a threat to masculinity. Despite this notion, these four brave men have joined the cheerleading squad and waged war against the prevalent stereotype. Keeping up with the times, the once entirely female team is now officially coed. And, of course, quite a few students still cannot accept cheerleading as a viable activity for men. Even so, those are not the only problems many people have with cheerleading. The timeless question inevitably pops up: Is cheering really a sport? Anyone who's been to a lacrosse game recently knows that the best cheerleading move is, without a doubt, the "pendulum." In this daring stunt, one cheerleader stands precariously on the hands of another, falls into a bed of hands, and then is instantly tossed back up to the hands from which she fell. This move is nearly impossible without the physical strength and support provided by men on the squad. Therefore, male cheerleaders are a staple of almost all collegiate teams. Male cheering is just as commonplace these days as pleated skirts and pom-poms. As the old saying goes, "Any man can hold a cheerleader's hand, but only the elite can hold her feet."

Cheerleading Men
Name: Thida S Ay
Date: 2002-03-07 16:08:21
Link to this Comment: 1418


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip



It all began at a Princeton University football game. Thomas Peebler gathered 6 men who led a yell on the sidelines in front of the student body. In 1884, he took the yell to the University of Minnesota campus. On November 2, 1898, a cheerleader by the name of Johnny Campbell got so excited that he jumped out in front of the crowd. That's how cheerleading was started.
Whether you are a cheerleader on an all female, an all male, or a co-ed squad, you are striving towards one goal. That goal is to effectively lead a crowd in support of an athletic team and to generate spirit and pride within a school or community. Today cheerleading enjoys a reputation of being an important leadership force on practically every high school and college campus in America. All of this is because of a man named Johnny Campbell in Minnesota who couldn't stand sitting in the bleachers. He had to be in front of them!
The guys on the team at my high school perform back springs, hand tucks, and towering pyramids and basket tosses with the greatest of ease. Most of them are more than six feet tall and weigh in at more than 200 pounds. They train every day for hours, compete in national competitions and appear on TV. And while their catches are worth more than six points and a field goal, it would be easy to mistake them for football players — but they're not. They're cheerleaders.
The guys consider themselves part of the squad, and they say there is no sport more challenging. These male members provide the base of all the stunts, a feat that requires tossing their female counterparts as high as 25 feet in the air. They are, for all practical purposes, the safety nets that stand between the soaring, cheering women and the cold, hard ground. It's a job, which requires a great amount of strength, skill and coordination. They say, "cheerleading gets you in the best shape of your life and if you've ever carried anything over your head, you'll understand." One would think the responsibility of providing a buffer between the floor and several falling female bodies could become a little stressful. Simon, one of the four guys on the team, claims that basing stunts becomes instinctive to guy cheerleaders. "When we're cheering, our bodies and minds are so in tune that it's ultimately what we do best," he explains. "It becomes second nature." Concentration is a key aspect of the sport because if they lose focus, someone can get hurt. In other words, if a mistake is made during a routine, the guys can't simply move out of the way. They say it's their job to sacrifice their own safety to make sure the girls they are supporting don't fall. But not everyone associates cheering with such a high-intensity sport. Many students picture male cheerleaders in a very different light. Most people usually think of guy cheerleaders as a little on the feminine side. This isn't an unusual representation of the athletes. The most common image of male cheerleaders is less than glowing. The biggest problem is ignorance. People just don't know what cheerleading is. But after the first time someone watches guy cheerleaders, they begin to understand. Even some of the guys admit that they were originally against the idea to join the team because of the negative stereotypes. Training for cheerleading is a constant commitment, which means the teammates don't even have time for summer or part-time jobs. Even when school is out, the team often gets together for three practice sessions a day. "It's crazy. We devote about 5,000 hours of practice — of life — to a routine that takes two minutes," Simon says. "But it's worth it. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't," he concludes, nodding toward three of his teammates. "This is a major commitment. Once you're in, you're in for the haul, and you have to be mentally tough." But the hard work and the dedication make up just part of the work that goes into being invited to the annual national championships. The squad is required to participate in anywhere from 200 to 300 public relations events a year. "Basically, joining this team was the best decision of my life," Simon says. "It gave me a group of friends who have become like family, a chance to compete on a national level and the opportunity to see parts of the country I never thought I'd see." So while these guys may not be the center of athletic attention, there is something to be said for the men who won't let our women fall.Male cheerleader: For many people, these words create a vision of a man dressed in a woman's uniform, chirping rhymes and waving batons. It's almost the prototype of a threat to masculinity. Despite this notion, these four brave men have joined the cheerleading squad and waged war against the prevalent stereotype. Keeping up with the times, the once entirely female team is now officially coed. And, of course, quite a few students still cannot accept cheerleading as a viable activity for men. Even so, those are not the only problems many people have with cheerleading. The timeless question inevitably pops up: Is cheering really a sport? Anyone who's been to a lacrosse game recently knows that the best cheerleading move is, without a doubt, the "pendulum." In this daring stunt, one cheerleader stands precariously on the hands of another, falls into a bed of hands, and then is instantly tossed back up to the hands from which she fell. This move is nearly impossible without the physical strength and support provided by men on the squad. Therefore, male cheerleaders are a staple of almost all collegiate teams. Male cheering is just as commonplace these days as pleated skirts and pom-poms. As the old saying goes, "Any man can hold a cheerleader's hand, but only the elite can hold her feet."

Final Paper
Name: Ashling Ke
Date: 2002-03-07 16:22:36
Link to this Comment: 1421


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
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Ashling Keenan
March 6, 2002
Women, Sports, and Film Course
Final Paper
2. What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex (eg women who enter bodybuilding, power lifting, boxing; men who enter synchronized swimming or field hockey)?

Gender barriers have always existed in the field of sports. I will be focusing specifically on women in the field of bodybuilding and men who enter synchronized swimming in order to illustrate the social and cultural costs and benefits of these individuals entering their given sports.
Breaking Barriers:

The gym is the world of gods and heroes, goddesses larger than life, a place of incantations where our bodies inflate and we shuffle off our out-of-gym bodies like discarded skins and walk about transformed. . . . Here, in this space, we begin to grow, to change. The transformation has begun, and our flawed humanity is falling off fast. We are picking up our shoulders, elevating our chins, shaking ugliness from our shoulders with a series of strokes, the glistening dumbbells, listening to our blood's rush. Our pasty misshapen bodies are developing clean lines. Our day's tribute of trials and heartaches is fading, for here, in this gym space, we become kings and queens. Larger, invincible, gods in ourselves. (Introduction, Bodymakers: A Cultural Anatomy of Women's Body Building)

Women in bodybuilding is a recent phenomenon. It is an example of the cultural transformation and revolution that has been in the process for many years now. Leslie Heywood, the author of the quote above, is an assistant professor of English at the State University of New York, Binghamton. As stated by a critic of her recent book, Bodymakers, "Heywood looks at the sport and image of female body building as a metaphor for how women fare in our current political and cultural climate. Drawing on contemporary feminist and cultural theory as well as her own involvement in the sport, she argues that the movement in women's bodybuilding from small, delicate bodies to large powerful ones and back again is directly connected to progress and backlash within the abortion debate, the ongoing struggle for race and gender equality, and the struggle to define "feminism" in the context of the nineties. She discusses female bodybuilding as activism, as an often effective response to abuse, race and masculinity in body building, and the contradictory ways that photographers treat female bodybuilders." It is evident from this brief yet descriptive narration of her book that Heywood believes both cultural costs and benefits of women in the sport of bodybuilding exist, as well as in any other field in which women push the restraints of social acceptance. Women who take on the struggle of competing in a male dominated sport not only strain their bodily capacities to the max, but work to overcome the politics and derogatory images that are associated with female competitors. The costs of women in the sport of bodybuilding are not extremely noticeable. The athletes are the ones who carry the burden of the costs related to their participation in these fields. However, the benefits of these athletes are numerous, leading to a wider acceptance of all competitors in any sport available.

While bodybuilding is a sport in which women have become pioneers, synchronized swimming is one in which few men have really become dedicated to, let alone pioneers in. One man that is breaking barriers and enlightening people on the benefits and costs of men entering non-traditional sports is Bill May. He became interested in the sport at the age of nine, when he joined his sister's synchronized swimming class for lack of anything else to do. Since then he has become addicted to the sport, and has moved to CA where he thrived in the company of his teammates, the Aquamaids. A brief history... synchronized swimming has taken its share of banter since the event's installation to the Olympics in 1984. Many people were apprehensive about calling it a sport and including it among such classics as the javelin throw, the shot-put, and the 100m dash. However, up until the year 2000, FINA, the governing body of world swimming, was unwilling to allow men to participate in the sport along side their fellow female athletes. As the Aquamaids, along with their numerous supporters, have noted is the fact that, along with bodybuilding and wrestling, synchronized swimming is a gender-barred sport, and as is also the case with bodybuilding and wrestling, there are no real physical reasons for this, only mental ones. So, May's participation in this female-oriented sport is a perfect case of a support given to the world of athletics, and the social and cultural benefits that have resulted because of his actions. As Aquamaids and U.S. Olympic coach Chris Carver says, "I train athletes, not males or females. The political aspects of this thing are not my concern."

While Carver's idealism is admirable, I believe that the political aspects of sports are in fact everyone's concern, however ridiculous their implications may be. It has only been through the determination of women and men alike who have broken down the cultural barriers of certain sports that athletics have become a field of greater social acceptance than ever before. While some find the extreme look of women bodybuilders competing a bit much or the sight of men doing "ballet" in a pool full of women a bit ludicrous, there must always be a more extreme ideal pushing the limits.

Benefits of the WNBA
Name: Faith Wass
Date: 2002-03-07 16:22:54
Link to this Comment: 1422


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Benefits of the WNBA

Although Title IX states than, "no person in the United States, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to any discrimination..." it does not guarantee that people will carry this out. After the issuing of Title IX, many women in sports wished to step forward and be recognized. Part of the recognition they wanted was to be included in National Sports Associations like the men's National Basketball Association. Eventually their cries were heard, and sports associations like the NBA agreed to merge and include women. Becoming included was an eye opening experience to many of these women and they have faced (and still do) doubts and discrimination from the public, but along the way they have also reaped benefits they would not have if the merger had never taken place.

Title IX was the stepping-stone for mergers and sports, but immediately after the merging took place, women were fully discriminated against. When men and women's sports combined, it opened new administrative positions for women, but what these women found were that they were constantly being pushed down to the bottom of the pile, to the least authoritative positions. Men were the head coaches, and the head of the physical education departments Men organized the teams schedule for the season and organized practice hours. Also, "male sexist attitudes ensured that male rather than female athletic directors and heads of physical education departments were almost automatically appointed to direct merged departments" (Hult p.96) This male over female preference continued right up to today. As of 1992 there are more men in administrative sports positions than women.

Women have been playing basketball for over a century before the Women's National Basketball Association came into existence. It was here at Smith College where many women got their first taste of the game. Women were described as having a "masculine performance style... rough and vicious play... worse than in men" (Hult 86). This aggressive playing style had to be modified because the violence and rough-housing that was going on were becoming intolerable. Eventually the Official Women's Basketball Rules were modified in that there was no dribbling allowed on the court at all, players were not allowed to make physical contact with each other and women were not allowed to grab the ball out of another women's hands.

Of course over the next century the game evolved, but women's basketball seemed to be submerged under men's basketball. Some of the original characteristics of the women's game were lost, women were no longer required to wear skirts while playing, which increased their range of motion and allowed for a quicker, faster paced game. It once again became more like the men's game where players dribbled the ball along the court. Even after the merger, there are still a few differences in the way men and women publicly play the game. Women have less playing time. Their game is shorter. One could argue that this comes from the stereotype that women are fragile and cannot withstand long periods of strenuous exercise. In reality this is ridiculous, think of the amount of strenuous physical activity that takes place in preparation for that "short" game! The size of the ball is also smaller for the women compared to the men's. While I cannot think of a stereotype that goes along with this difference, one must wonder if it is really necessary. I think that differences have kept women's basketball submerged beneath men's. By creating differences, it allows for the public to differentiate between the two instead of acknowledging them as equal.

The NBA hosts many men who are considered the "bad boys". Think of Dennis Rodman who gets just as much publicity for public violations as he does for his skill in handling the ball on the court. Society fills our heads with images of the African-American inner-city thug or gangster that would be selling drugs on the street corners if it were not for his basketball talent. The typical male player in the NBA embodies what it means to be a man. He is tough, strong, aggressive, and has an almost intimidating physical appearance that commands control. When the WNBA merged, it turned the sport into a male versus female battle, much of which was fueled by society's publicity. Because it is hard to convince the public that basketball can be a "girly" sport like figure skating, society has felt the need to create obvious differences between male and female players. The public is not satisfied with letting players be players who are all there just to play the game with the intention of winning, but they feel the need to differentiate playing styles. Publicity has turned female players into soft characters that have found the perfect balance between athleticism and femininity. "The players of the WNBA function as morally superior athletes in comparison to those of the NBA" (Banet-Weiser p. 405) In societies eyes, the Dennis Rodman's of the NBA simply do not exist in the WNBA. Female players use (and are expected to use) etiquette both on and off the court. Society has publicized these women's marriages, children and even the clothes that they choose to wear. While some people may feel that this is insulting to female athletes, it has saved them from some of the fates of other women who have tried to merge into male dominated sports.

Capitalizing on their femininity has saved players from having their sexuality questioned. Who questions the sexuality of a player who is seen wearing a dress and heels and pushing a stroller around when she is not on the court? By publicly showing pictures of a player with her boyfriend, or doing their hair and make-up, it dismisses all notions of homosexuality. Where as, women who participate in body building constantly have their sexuality challenged. I am sure that there are still people out there who feel the need to question players about sexual preference, but I feel that this happens to a lesser degree because of how society has portrayed the women. On the other hand, capitalizing on athlete's femininity is another way of keeping them in the shadow of men's basketball. The stereotypical soft-spoken woman does not attract the attention that an outspoken woman does. With the men being the "loud mouths" and "bad boys", it has shifted them into the public eye.

Right after the merge female players were forced to deal with some anger and frustration coming from the public and male players. There were of course a number of people who thought that professional basketball should be kept a male sport, but mostly they were faced with accusations that their game wouldn't be as exciting or even up to par compared to the men's. Although such accusations can be detrimental to self-esteem, and I am sure they were hurtful and insulting to the women, doubt from the public did have an advantage, with no expectations to live up to, these women had nothing to lose.

If anything, the merging of the NBA and the WNBA has been more beneficial than detrimental. For the players, they can continue to participate in the sport they love and make a living doing so. The WNBA also brings them publicity and notoriety, and along with publicity and notoriety, comes money, which for many of the players money means upward social mobility for themselves and their families. Besides benefits for the players themselves, the merge has given young girls across the country role models to look up to and goals to aspire to. It has opened the door for many talented women who play basketball in college, and would have had nowhere to go once they graduated. Also, the development of a new sports association creates more administrative positions for women to pursue. Women's basketball still has a long way to go before the public reacts to it as it does the NBA, but the merger was the first step in the right direction.

Male Cheerleading is a Sport!
Name: Stefani Bl
Date: 2002-03-07 16:57:53
Link to this Comment: 1425


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Against popular belief, females were not the founders behind the sport of cheerleading; instead males who were so eager to cheer while watching sporting events created this sport. In the 1890's the first pep club was organized at Princeton University, and it was there where the first organized yell was recorded. The University of Minnesota organized cheerleading and the first school "fight song." Women didn't get introduced to cheerleading until the 1920s when gymnastics was slowly introduced to the sport. Cheerleading didn't become a predominantly woman sport until the 1950's. Today there are more then three thousand high school and college cheerleaders in the United States. 97% of all cheerleaders are female; however, approximately 50% of collegiate Cheerleaders are male. Although males were the founders of cheerleading they have different social and cultural costs and benefits than females involved in this sport today. There are many different stereotypes that males need to face; and these labels stem from the current day problem of homophobia.

When a man enters the world of cheerleading he is immediately labeled as being effeminate. These males are faced with the task of overcoming society's stereotypes of a male Barbie figure. Ken, Barbie's male counterpart is a muscular, preppy, and all American boy. These qualities often lead society to label those males that have these characteristics as gay. Many generalizations are made that gay men are not athletic and therefore would turn to cheerleading as their sport of interest. To many homophobic people cheerleading is therefore deemed as a sport for sissies. They claim that cheerleaders are there solely for looks and entertainment purposes outside of the actual sport event where they are performing. Another stereotype for cheerleading is that girls are cheerleaders to look cute and clap their hands in front of an audience. People forget that their routines require strength, skill, and coordination. The males in the squad often provide a tremendous source of strength when lifting and throwing their teammates in the air. The strength and coordination required by male cheerleaders is comparable to any male dominated sport, but this fact is often ignored by society. Additionally, our society is generally supportive of females who participate in sports that require the twirling of batons, marching, attractive uniforms, and the recitation of rhymes. However, as soon as a male is introduced into this environment there is thought to be a threat to his masculinity. This often deters males from being involved in activities that they wish to participate in. The fear of being chastised by society often leaves males to resort to sitting in the student section of the stands removed from the cheerleader's section.

Although there are many hardships and criticisms that come with breaking out of the social norm there are far more benefits than pitfalls. The males that do decide to be cheerleaders cannot imagine their lives without the rewards and satisfaction that follow the completion of a routine. They also gain back self-esteem and dignity due to their ability to withstand the harsh remarks and criticisms. "Any man can hold a cheerleader's hand but only the elite can hold her feet." Once friends of cheerleaders get over the initial stereotyping they are often envious of their peer's muscular and fit frame. After the crowd experiences a male cheerleader's performance the stereotypes fade and respect is gained. The guys on these teams can perform back springs, hand tucks, towering pyramids etc. while being 6'0 tall and weighing more than two hundred pounds. They spend hours training every day in preparation for tournaments and appearances on ESPN. While walking down the street they may be mistaken for a football player, but they throw and catch humans, not leather! Although other males may perceive them as effeminate and less of a man, females tend to flock around them. Instead of female cheerleaders feeling threatened by the role of male cheerleaders, they are often the ones to recruit them. Often times females do not seek other females for this position because it would destroy their image, so males are used instead. The female cheerleaders prize male cheerleaders because they provide them with strength needed to perform difficult stunts.

Society often labels an activity a sport if it is rugged, requires endurance, strength, and masculine qualities. Because cheerleading is a predominantly women sport and is characterized by attractive uniforms and cheers, society often shuns the idea of men participating in this activity. Often times the activity is not considered a sport and the males and females are not considered athletes. Both males and females have to fight to encourage others to perceive them as athletes. In 1997, only one all female division participated in the NCAA all-collegiate cheer and dance team national championships. This proves the point that despite the social and cultural costs involved, males are still eager to participate in the sport that they originally founded and feel many more benefits as well.

My movie script (very creative, huh?!)
Name: Debbie Siu
Date: 2002-03-07 17:23:13
Link to this Comment: 1426


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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The year was 1925, when the beliefs of regular gals and folks were still extremely antiquated compare to the beliefs they have now. The main character was an 18 years old lesbian named Sam (short for Samantha) Johnson, who was from a working class family that lived in New York City. Her mom was a sweatshop worker, and her dad picked up garbage for a living. She had 7 brothers and sister because her parents did not believe in birth control (besides, birth control pills didn't exist then). Her family lived in a tiny one-room apartment in the Harlem district, and they lived day-to-day, paycheck to paycheck. Ever since Sam was a young child, she had been in love with the game of baseball. She loved anything and everything about baseball. She would collect baseball cards, catch baseball games on t.v, and read everything on her favorite baseball team, the Yankees. She bought her first baseball bat and glove when she was 16, she got the money by collecting soda cans and returning them to recycling center for money. It took her almost 3 years to get the baseball bat and gloves, and she could only afford the cheapest kind. She was a terrific baseball player, which was surprising because she had never taken any lessons. I guess it is her gift. Everyday after the end of school, she would go to a baseball field behind her house to play baseball with her friends. Most of her friends were boys; she didn't have one single girl friend. Sam had always known that she was a lesbian, but she didn't come out to her parents till she was 16. Her parents were shocked at first, but now they accepted her for who she was. Sam hadn't told any of her friends about her being gay because she didn't think it was any of their business. It had been a life-long dream of Sam to join a major league baseball team, but she knew that she needed to finish high school first. In June of 1925, Sam finally graduated from high school. She told her parents that she wanted to try-out for a major league baseball team. One of the main reasons was that Sam had hoped to earn money to help support her family. She knew how hard her parents had worked, and she realized she needed to contribute in one way. Her parents were certainly shocked but definitely not surprised when Sam told them she wanted to join a major league baseball team. Her parents did not discourage her; instead they decided to support her in her quest. But they warned her by telling her that she had many obstacles to overcome, especially with her being poor, a girl AND a lesbian. In 1925, men dominated the major league baseball community. Any woman who wanted to join was discriminated, degraded, and ostracized. Sam's parents knew that, and they were worried for her. They told her that it would not be easy, but as long as you tried your hardest, anything can happen. So with those words of encouragement, Sam left the comfort of her parents' home, and went in search for her life-long dream.

The first team that she acquired about practically laughed in her face when she told them that she wanted to join their team. One of the team members even said, "Get out of here, you bitch! Baseball is not for women! Go home, cook for your man, and wash the floor!" One suggested, "Baseball is a MAN sport, why do you want to play so badly? Huh? Are you a dyke or something? Oh my god, you are! No one likes lesbians here, so why don't you get out of here!" This same situation went on team after team, but Sam didn't give up and she kept right on asking. Along the way, she met a few other women who had the same dream as she. They realized that for them to gain recognition and even the remote chance of signing to a major league baseball team, they needed an agent. No male agents wanted to take them on as their agent, but Anthony Scarpetta took a chance on them. He unwaveringly campaigned for them, but no matter how hard he tried, no one would take them seriously. Realizing that no one would ever take them seriously and that there was no chance for them to play in the major league, Sam and the other women decided to start their own minor league team. When their first minor league woman was established, they hoped that other women would start creating their own teams. But of course they encountered many obstacles on the way to establish a minor league team. They had to find sponsors to give them money to build uniform and the necessities, but most people were unwilling to sponsor a female baseball team. Sam and the other women definitely did not give up though. They had fund-raisers; they found a few companies that were willing to sponsor them. In 2 years, there were a total of 8 teams in the United States. Over the years, they kept playing the game that they all loved. But no matter how many people watched them play, and how popular the game of woman baseball became, it never became a major league sport.

Flash forward to April of 2010...A few months ago, at the inauguration of the Woman Major Baseball League, the President of the League gave an inspiring speech: "...Last, but certainly not the least, I would like to say a note of thanks for the person who inspired me to start this league, Ms. Samantha Johnson. Without her unwavering courage, and her inspiring dream and ideals, the Woman Major Baseball League would not be here right now. Even though she's not here on earth anymore, every woman in the world will remember her as the woman who inspired every woman to follow her dream. Although there were many obstacles that stood in Ms. Johnson's way, she did not give up. And look at what her refusal to abandon her dream do to all the women who love to play baseball. Well, here's to Samantha Johnson!"

An Inconsequential Answer
Name: Amanda Hru
Date: 2002-03-07 17:23:49
Link to this Comment: 1427


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Challenges appear to be part of the human experience. In the course of history, very little has come easily. The progress that women have made in sport in the United States over the course of the last 100 years seems remarkable for the amount achieved in so little time. In relation to the other advances made in this century, including men's sport, that achievement dims. While women have made great advances, they haven't, in comparison, come that far. It would appear, from the outside, that men's sport will forever have all of the advantages, all of the rewards, all of the prestige, while women's sport is left to perpetual inequality.

Yet, not only are there sports that are considered "non-traditional" for both sexes, the obvious majority of these sports are "traditionally" recognized as women's sports. While there may be a very small number of teams of male synchronized swimmers or synchronized ice-skaters, there are virtually no integrated teams. Of the number of sports considered non-traditional for women, among them football and wrestling, women have gradually opened the door into these sports. In most states, girls even have the right to participate on boys' sports teams if there is no girls' team or even a girls' team which plays by the same rules because of the historical limitations on women's sports.

However, in most states boys are not granted the same rights because there has been no such "historical limitation" on their participation in sports, according to the Women's Sports Foundation. While this may seem to defy the motivating spirit behind laws like Title IX, many view it as an "acceptable" situation. Boys who do participate in sports such as synchronized swimming, cheerleading and even field hockey often face an even greater challenge than girl's attempting the same feat in a "men's" sport. When a women tries to participate in a non-traditional sport, even without the support of her family, she has an entire historical movement backing up her desires. Very often there is even recent legislation, and formal organizations supporting that legislation (if not responsible for it), to provide an even greater support system for a girl who is challenging the gender norms defined in sport.

However, boys rarely find this kind of support. It is virtually non-existent and unlikely to become so. While the participants of the "women's" sport they are entering may welcome them with open arms, the reaction from the rest of society is historically overwhelmingly negative. Especially in the United States, boys who chose to play sports other than their "traditional" ones often face humiliating comments. As with even minimally "masculine" women, their sexual orientation is automatically questioned. Very often further insults and humiliations are heaped on any boy attempting to enter a girls' sport because of some of the rules existent there. For example, should a boy win the right to play field hockey on girls' team in a high school, he would soon find himself wearing a skirt on the field in order to comply with the rules of the sport. Many feminists might view this as the just desserts of a gender that has historically controlled and dominated the power structure and the rewards of sport in general.

The cultural and social costs of this situation are varied and perhaps extraordinarily dangerous. By perpetuating any inequalities, especially if they are publicly supported by women, the cause of truly equal playing fields in the entire realm of sport is undermined. The costs become even greater when the challenges faced are perceived by other interested individuals to be too great. Losing self-respect and suffering humiliation are hardly the poster children for the benefits of participating in any sport an individual might be interested in.

While women may in fact still face such challenges, they at least have the backing of numerous special interest groups and activist organizations. Women's continued success in becoming involved in nearly every non-traditional sport also provides a sense of confidence to others attempting the same feat. The feeling that "if she could do it, then I can too" speaks loudly from the historical perspective of how and why women have come so far in producing opportunities for others to participate in sport. The lack of many role models for boys in the same position is yet another challenge. The costs of attempting and failing include the same feelings of humiliation and lack of self-respect, but without the benefit of actually having succeeded.

The benefits of success, however, are far more positive. No matter which gender succeeds in being able to participate in whatever sport they desire, the set a precedent of someone having succeeded in doing so. That precedent makes the way even smoother for the next individual, if not providing an inspiration to do attempt something new, something non-traditional. As well, the more individuals who participate in sports and on teams that are "non-traditional" the more the goal of creating a truly equal arena is furthered. The more the current conception of what is permissible for either gender as well as what is possible is challenged, the closer we come to a re-examination of how unequal the history of sport has been for both sexes and the actions that need to be taken in order to prevent such inequalities from existing in the future. The more individuals take on challenges like this the more they force society to closely examine the way they think about what makes people and their activities different in the first place. These re-examinations and re-evaluations all lead to one eventual goal: the elimination of a true inequality between men and women in terms of their positions in society and in sport. The fewer inequalities that are allowed to exist, the closer society comes to a point at which it can be described as being truly tolerant and accepting.

Defying Society's Norms
Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2002-03-07 18:38:40
Link to this Comment: 1428


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When a person decides to enter a sport that is not traditionally competed in by his or her sex, there are many risks. One of these risks is the risk of getting rejected or ridiculed because participating in that sport is not common. However, if no one ever dared to defy the socially accepted boundaries, then women would not be playing sports. There are girls who defy these boundaries and wrestle or play football in high school as well as boys who enter field hockey. These boundaries need to be broken, even if there is ridicule and risks behind them, because of the benefits of this defiance. Society would not progress if people did not take these risks.

Women were not accepted into the field of sport until much later than men. For example, the first women's baseball team was formed at Vassar College in 1865. Initially, a woman's version of competing in sport was Play Days. These days were times for women to gather and play sports. However, there was no competitive element. Women simply worked together in a sport. Once women were allowed to compete in sports like basketball, men were not allowed to watch. These standards seem to be a mockery of the ideas behind sport and the competition that goes along with it. However, if this phase of mockery and controversy had not been endured, women probably would not be competing in sports.

Once women gained there places in the world of sports, there were still other obstacles to overcome. For example, during World War II, a women's baseball league was formed. However, the women were not there for the spirit of sport and competition. Their uniforms were cute and highly feminine. They wore skirts. This was a way to attract more spectators and to make sure that women playing baseball did not get to competitive or go against any standards for women of that time. Therefore, even when women were defying society, they were forced to conform in some aspects.

This idea has been explored greatly in many films. One of these movies is Girl Fight. Girl Fight shows the story of Diana Guzman, a high school senior who always gets into fights at school. Once she realizes that she could put that energy towards fighting, she wants to learn to box. However, her father does not view boxing as suitable for women and instead continues paying for her younger brother's boxing lesson. Her brother, Tiny, does not want to box. His main goal is to get into college and learn as much as he can and maybe become an artist. Eventually, Tiny gives Diana the money for his boxing lessons without their father knowing and Diana begins boxing. Through out her training, she experiences discrimination and stereotyping. The males training at the gym do not want to fight her. There reason: she is a girl. After overcoming these obstacles, Diana succeeds in securing titles and in beating her boyfriend. This triumph of being able to fight in the ring is one filled with risk and ridicule. However, had Diana not chosen to fight, she would not have been able to pursue her dream. Girls and women like her open the doors for future generations.

Another example of this is the movie, Pumping Iron II. The women in this movie dare to defy the stereotype of what the female body should look like. Pumping Iron tells the story of women who were body builders and what happened when they entered a body building competition. One of the main characters, Bev, is clearly the most built of the competitors. However, she does not look feminine. This is especially true for when she flexes her muscles. Therefore, she is not judged as winning the competition. A woman, Carla, who balances the idea of looking feminine while still having sculpted muscles, wins instead. The reason this judging occurs is because the judges are not comfortable showing an alternative to the stereotypes of the female body. Much of this message means that women can compete as long as the boundaries of what is acceptable for a woman to look like is observed.

This movie accomplishes a balance of the idea between success in sport as well as the risks behind it. Bev was able to walk away knowing that she was the best. However, she was not able to enjoy the feeling of victory and accomplishment. The portrayal of her was as an athlete. She did not consider what the judges would feel was proper. Rather, she competed and trained up to her potential so that she could be the best in her sport. Other people's opinions did not matter to her. By having this type of attitude, she was able to come away from the competition realizing that the judges were not willing to accept a woman as a body builder. However, she was able to come away knowing that she excelled in her sport.

An example of boys and men breaking down the boundaries occurs in the field of dance. Many male dancers are teased as kids because of their love of dance. It is not viewed as a man's field. That is something that only women should be doing. In many dance teams, the team is mainly girls with a few boys. Other males do not always take them seriously. However, this is becoming more and more accepted which means that more boundaries are being broken for boys and men as to what sports are open to them.

Had women not taken the risk initially to compete in sport, women today would not have the opportunities they do now. Each generation gains more and more freedom and encouragement to pursue dreams even if they are not "normal." A generation ago, girls did not have female role models in soccer. Today, the women's Olympic soccer time is well known and girls are able to have them for role models.

There are many more boundaries to be broken down for both sexes. For example, boys are not encouraged to play field hockey. Society says that that is a girl's sport. However, due to the progress that society has made in widening its horizons as to what is proper, this will hopefully be accepted sometime in the near future. Women were not in the Olympics over twenty years ago and today women compete aggressively in many competitions. The progress made is significant and hopefully more progress will be made in future years

The Female Athlete and the Search Equality
Name: Suzy Skoth
Date: 2002-03-07 19:13:02
Link to this Comment: 1429


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Soccer is not seen as a non-traditional sport for women, especially not since the US Women's National Team won the World Cup in 1999, but like most women's sports it was at one time thought of as a male only sport. I grew up in a very athletic family, where both my brother and my father loved to play soccer, so naturally I fell in love with the sport at a very young age, in fact I was about 5 when I started playing. At that time I was one of the few girls playing in the only peewee league; a league that was co-ed. It was really hard for me and I can remember the frustration I went though, because none of the boys believed that I was capable of playing at their level. In their mind I was just a girl and there was no way that I would ever be able to compete with them. This attitude did not just disappear with age, in fact it followed me until I finally found one of the local girls team. I am going to explore the challenges that women have to go through daily in order to compete at the highest-level possible. There are many issues that women must face concerning how they define themselves as a woman and how to relate to the rest of society.
Even though I was not entering a non-traditional sport I was still faced with some of the same issues that women who are entering bodybuilding, power lifting or boxing are. No matter what gender you are or what sport you play there will always be sacrifices and rewards but when one enters a sport that is in many ways considered "off limits" the sacrifices seem greater but in the end so are the rewards. No matter how frustrated I got because I was never given the same opportunities as the boys were I never quit because I loved the game and the game was not to blame for my frustration; society was to blame.
Women entering non-traditional sports are faced with issues about their femininity, their sexual preference and their place in society. Women who participate in non-traditional sports often do not know where they fit into society because usually the only role models they have are male; they therefore feel more connected to males than females but at the same time disconnected from them because they are not the "type" of woman that men are romantically interested in. Which often leads to those women not dating very often and society beginning to question their sexual preference.
The question about sexual preferences arises because the old "middle-class Victorian society had defined femininity and masculinity around polarized gender prescriptions in dress, activity and demeanor." (Cahn). Women were breaking the societal norms by finding jobs, entering college and challenge. Women and society were redefining femininity and sexuality and "psychologists incorporated this new meaning of sexuality into categories of illness, social deviance, and sexual perversity, they provided an intellectual framework for the modern lesbian taboo." (Cahn). Doctors and psychologist were giving a people reason behind why women were deviating from the norm and claimed that is was lesbianism. This is also where the issue of femininity comes into play. Society is used to women shopping, being in the kitchen with the children and being as feminine as possible but this mold is broken when women's goals are fueled by the desire to redefine women's roles in society.
A good example of how women's lives are affected when they try to redefine their role in society is shown in the movie Pumping Iron II. In the movie the cinematography blatantly shows each woman in a different light. Two of the major characters, Bev and Carla, were portrayed in very different ways. Bev, the stronger of the two, was seen in a negative way because the judges and the producers believed she was too masculine for a female, even though the goal of bodybuilding is to maximize the definition and strength. She lost the competition, which was supposed to based on how well one can build their muscles, because she was not consider feminine enough and "the judges feel compelled to define "body" in relation to "woman." (Holmland). Carla on the other hand, won the competition because the judges felt that she had the right amount of definition combined with the perfect feminine qualities. The competition became more about how attractive the women were than how strong they were. Women are treated very differently because "the more muscular women inflame male anxiety because they threaten the abolition of visible difference." (Holmland). Women are threatening men and what their roles are in society so to suppress women back into their normal roles they give them a negative stereotype.
Although there are many costs to women entering sports there are also positive rewards, no matter how small they are. The benefits may be very hard to see and usually come long after one's attempt at competing but women trying to grow in sports is helping our society as a whole grow. We can't grow, as individuals or as a society, without challenging our former beliefs, and I honestly hope that the majority of society wants to grow and change no matter how hard it is to do. Society is made to look at stereotypes, both unconscious and conscious, and learn to accept others for what they want and what they do. Not only do women athletes help society grow, it also helps them grow.
Women athletes grow very much during their journey to their highest level possible, no matter what that peak is. They grow because each barrier that they defeat they gain more and more confidence in themselves and become more certain about what they are doing. No matter what gender or what sport you are in there are always going to be times when you want to give it up and each time you work through those experiences you learn to embrace the hard times. One of the main problems that all athletes face are injuries; they can break even the most passionate athlete. I never had any injuries until my freshman year in high school but when I first got one I was sure make it the best I could; I tore my MCL. It was very hard to be injured and have to watch your team on the field, and all of sudden I missed all of the hard work and running. Since that year I have had nothing but bad luck in injury department but what I have learned to take away from all my injuries is a more passionate and mature love and understanding for soccer. I never appreciated the game until I couldn't play, and never realized that there was so much to learn off the field; I could now become a leader. I thought that I loved the game as much as possible but I realized that it was not as passionate as it is now because now I can say without any doubt in my heart that there is nothing or anyone who can ever stop me from playing soccer besides myself. I can say that because people and injuries have tested me, and each time I have come back.
Not only do the barriers give me a better understanding of the game but it has also made me understand more about my life and myself. I have learned that although soccer is amazing there is more to life and I have to learn to embrace everything that is given to me, and in many ways I have come to learn that things happen for a reason. I have grown both on and off the field and I know that this is the biggest gift that soccer could have ever given me. Women athletes need to understand that there are going to be many hard times and many stereotypes thrown at them but the most positive thing to do is embrace that and instead of using it to defeat them, they should use it as motivation to push them that much harder. Each one of us chooses how to use others negative, and positive, energy; no one can defeat you but yourself.
As we can see there are both positive and negative experiences for women entering a sport, whether it is non-traditional or traditional. The great thing about being human is that we have the opportunity and freedom to choose how we are going to let other people affect us. We, as women especially, have the greatest opportunity of them all; we have the chance to teach societies and help them grow. Not many people have the power to change society but women athletes are taking that power and using it well. No matter how hard it gets to be and no matter how much you want to give up a sport because of someone else's negative vibes remember that the cultural costs do not outweigh the benefits. The greatest achievement is to raise above all the negativity and be a role model for younger athletes; the best possible reward is to hear another athlete want to be just like you.

The Six-Week Challenge
Name: Meredith J
Date: 2002-03-07 19:15:48
Link to this Comment: 1430


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Meredith Jason
Women, Sport, and Film Course
March 8, 2002
Question 3

The Six-Week Challenge
A Movie Script Submitted to the Department of Athletics

Jennifer is a twenty-year-old college student struggling with body image issues. She is a size eight. She has never developed an interest in athletics and has never exercised in her life. She has no muscle tone and has a high body fat percentage. Jennifer is not confident about her body. She wants to be ?skinny? and is constantly dieting. Instead of eating healthy and balanced meals, she skips meals often. When she does eat, she eats only fried foods like French fries and hamburgers and refuses to eat fruits and vegetables.

Samantha is Jennifer?s best friend in college. She is an athlete. She is a runner and a weight lifter. She is training for the Boston Marathon, her second marathon, that is three months away. She runs for an hour three days a week and on the weekends runs for longer distances. She also weight lifts three times a week in the gym. Samantha is very confident and is in the best shape of her life. She eats a lot of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. She has very defined muscles and a low body fat percentage.

Jennifer admires Samantha?s discipline in exercise and healthy eating, but she resists exercising and eating well. She is afraid to become too muscular and develop a manly physique. Jennifer strives to look like a supermodel, not like an athlete. Samantha encourages Jennifer to go to the gym to weight lift with her but Jennifer refuses. Jennifer lacks motivation and is not interested in participating in ?masculine? activities like bodybuilding. After months of coercing, Samantha finally convinces Jennifer to go to the gym with her. Jennifer succumbs because she hopes to meet some hot guys at the gym. Samantha convinces Jennifer to go to the gym with her three days a week for six weeks. After that, if she does not like it, Samantha will never bother her again about taking up an exercise regime.

When Jennifer arrives for the first time at the gym, she is surprised to see how many women are working out with weights. Half of the people weightlifting are women. Jennifer also observes that the majority of women have very feminine physiques. They are muscular, lean, and have very attractive figures. Jennifer was expecting to see very few women weightlifting. In addition, she expected those women to be very muscular and masculine looking. Jennifer feels very comfortable in the gym. Before she arrived, she was afraid to be only one of a few women in the gym. She is now eager to try the machines. At first, Jennifer feels awkward using the weights, but she gets through the session with the help of Samantha.

The next day, Jennifer feels very sore. Her body aches. Although, she wants to give up going to the gym, she made a promise to Samantha to try it out for six weeks and she decides to continue to push through. She pushes out thoughts of sleeping late and missing workouts from her mind and religiously goes to the gym three days a week for six weeks with Samantha. After a month, Jennifer starts to see results. She has lost body fat and can feel her biceps when she flexes, something she could not before working out. Jennifer feels better about herself and her body. She is more confident. She realizes that her attempts to lose weight by starvation were futile. Jennifer is also enjoying working out. She has more energy and loves feeling the burn when lifting weights. In addition, Jennifer has made several bodybuilding friends at the gym. She learns that men prefer athletic women with muscle to skinny supermodels lacking shape and definition. Jennifer also has developed a stronger friendship with Samantha. Jennifer comes to admire and truly appreciate the dedication and hard work Samantha has for athletics.

By the end of the six-week trial period, Jennifer transforms her weak body into a strong one and sedentary lifestyle into an active one. After successfully completing Samantha?s challenge to stick to exercising for six weeks, Jennifer strives to tackle her own goal?to run the Boston Marathon along with Samantha in six weeks.

women, sport, and film
Name: emily rump
Date: 2002-03-07 19:18:18
Link to this Comment: 1431


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Emily Rumph
ESS 200b
Prof. Chris Shelton
Women, Sport, and Film
There are two sides to every coin. This is something to keep in mind when examining the topic of gender in sport. Specifically, I am speaking of the costs and benefits of a male or female entering a sport in which he or she is not traditionally accepted for their gender. The two sides to this concept lay not only the individual's sacrifices as the underdog, but also in the benefits the individual encounters on his or her adventure into uncharted territory. Of course, it is a struggle for the individual to become accepted by the sport world, and also the general public. It can be an uphill battle in order for him or her to even be able to participate initially. On the other hand, upon crossing the gender boundary, the individual can earn great recognition. This brings the concept to another level; there are cultural benefits that arise from an individual entering a non-traditional sport for their sex. Three movies that we viewed in the first half of this course have served to demonstrate the individual costs and benefits involved when women become involved in sports that are not traditionally accepting of the female sex. After close analysis of "Girl Fight", "Pumping Iron II", and "Personal Best", effects that these women have on the female culture as a whole, to this day, become clear.
In the movie "Girl Fight", Diana struggles as a female boxer living in the inner city. Because of the abnormality of her involvement in this typically male dominant sport, Diana has a hard time adjusting to the scrutiny she gets from her surrounding culture. This brings up the first social cost she stumbles upon due to her choice. She must remain secretive about her new found love for the sport of boxing. She is excited to have found a coach, a gym, and an outlet for her energy, however she is silenced by the fear of being shunned by her friends and peers, and worse, her dad and brother. As she (inevitably) progressively gains skill in the sport, it becomes harder for her to hide her excitement, and so she invites her best friend and other peers to one of her boxing matches. Another individual benefit for Diana is a social one. By being the only girl involved in boxing, she has potential boyfriends and opportunity for friendships and loves surrounding her. She recognizes this as a benefit and becomes friends with Adrian, a fellow boxer at her gym. She learns skill from him, but also learns about her own femininity and uniqueness as a woman. Through her relationship with Adrian, I think, she becomes more self-assured in terms of her place in the world. She also becomes aware of her feelings and emotions, which is a positive thing for Diana as she has learned to suppress her emotions in the company of her father and brother.
By joining a sport that women are not traditionally involved in, Diana gains a new muscular physique. This could be viewed as an individual cost or a benefit; the body changes that accompany involvement in sport, specifically the new muscle tone. Diana appreciated the fact that boxing was reshaping her figure and relished in the fact that she was getting stronger. This element involved in joining a non-traditionally women's sport was a benefit in Diana's eyes. She shows this when she is confronted by her father (who eventually finds out about his daughters new hobby), she powerfully and heroically puts him in his place as she knocks him to the ground and has her say as a woman should!
However, the bulkiness that accompanies involvement in sport can turn into a cost rather than a benefit to women. This is a second drawback for women and their joining a sport. The movie "Pumping Iron II" demonstrates this cost. In this film the women were bodybuilders. They were strong, confidant, women who wanted to be competitive in the sport of bodybuilding. They found the benefits to being involved in a non-traditionally woman's sport to be mostly rewarding in a personal sense. They had pride in their bodies and relished in the thought of being role models for other women who wanted to be muscular. However, the cost of their pursuit to compete was grander than simply personal. What came about due to the movie was the question of femininity. What did it mean to be feminine? Men who were judging the contest obviously felt like a boundary between male and female was being crossed. On a cultural level, women as a gender were held in the spotlight and up for questioning surrounding the definition of their sex. The film serves to demonstrate that unfortunately, there is a line that exists between men and women and if it is challenged (as it was by the women in "Pumping Iron II"), confusion, commotion, and possible scrutiny of a gender as a whole can ensue.
In the film "Personal Best", a third drawback to women's participation in sport is brought to the forefront. This individual cost women endure when they enter the world of sport is the scrutiny of their sexual orientations. In the movie, it's not so much the sport of track and field that is shocking because of the participation of women, but it's the women who are involved that are brought to question. Some argue that women who become involved in sport, and consequently draw attention to their bodies, are only serving to perpetuate the "objectification of female bodies"(Williams 317). This would certainly be a downside to women becoming involved in non-traditional women's sports. However, what the film focus's on, and what I believe to be even more unfortunate is the stereotype of women athletes as lesbians. Ironically, Chris and Tory (the two women in the movie) are lesbian lovers. What the movie demonstrates is the fact that women involved in sport, who have obviously gained muscle, and consequently appear "mannish", are clearly a threat to the male gender. Thus, historically, women who are athletic are shunned easily by becoming a scapegoat as they are labeled to be lesbians. The film not only perpetuates the stereotype of women athletes being lesbians, but it provides a visual interpretation (and sets a standard) of what the lesbian athlete looks like. All the while, during the dialogue of the movie, the word 'lesbian' is never said. This leads the viewer to conclude that it is a non-issue, and that it is simply safe to assume that women who become involved in athletics are all lesbians. On a positive note, what "Personal Best" accomplishes in a backwards way is that it spurs on speculation about why our culture has "issues" with women in sport, and even more generally, why we question others sexual preferences.
All in all, the movies I have discussed contribute questions about women's involvement in sport, specifically sports that are not "traditional" sports for women to be participants in (ie; boxing and bodybuilding). There are individual costs and also benefits for women upon entering sports. In Diana's case, she adopts a positive attitude, gains self-esteem, and is ultimately able to stand up to her father. She also reaps the benefits of being the women boxing champion and finally being recognized and respected. She is truly a positive role model for all women. In "Pumping Iron", the women demonstrate the personal achievement that can accompany venturing into a field where you are not typically accepted in. Unfortunately, their representation as bodybuilders has consequences on a larger scale as provocation of their identities as women and as being feminine ensues. Finally, yet another cultural price that is paid when women become involved in sport is clearly shown in "Personal Best". The notion of women athletes as being lesbians is a prominent feature in today's sporting world. This stereotype is prevalent as women athletes continue to be held up to question about their sexual orientation, and in worse cases, discriminated against. Overall, I like to focus on the positive side of this two-sided coin. The women in these films (and all the women everywhere) ventured into unknown territory. They took a chance pursuing a sport that they may not be accepted in, or becoming an athlete regardless of the stereotyping. It is women like these who provide a clear cultural benefit in the world of women; they are brave, confident, role models. These are the words that are suitable to define all women athletes regardless of sexual orientation, choice of sport, or age.

Against Gender Norms
Name: Lorian Jen
Date: 2002-03-07 19:59:26
Link to this Comment: 1433

Lorian Jenkins
March 7, 2002

Against Gender Norms
A controversial topic that is prevalent in the sport world today is the gender division of acceptable sports for males and females. American culture places stereotypes on athletes who choose to participate in sports that are deemed as nontraditional for their particular gender. At the same time American culture is being broadened by these courageous athletes. These athletes are enduring criticism based on cultural norms as well as the social affects on their own personal lives. Female body builders, boxers, and football players to male cheerleaders are just a few examples of athletes who have decided to go against society's gender norm.
The movie "Pumping Iron II" shows the hardships and sacrifices made by a female bodybuilder. All of the women portrayed in the movie worked hard to become defined and muscular. However the one female who pushed the boundaries of cultural norms the furthest and was clearly the strongest and most muscular did not win the contest. Bev had worked to become as muscular as a male bodybuilder of similar size, but she did not win because of criticism she received for not being feminine-looking,
Female athletes are frequently stereotyped as being gay, and, when a female athlete decides to enter a sport that is non-traditional for their gender, they have to deal with a consent battle of declaring their femininity. Just because Bev did not look delicate or have a "Barbie Doll" figure, she was unable to win. It was a body building contest, not a beauty contest. Females should not have their femininity questioned just because they want to do something that is out of their gender norm. Nor should a male cheerleader have to declare their masculinity because society views male cheerleaders as effeminate or gay.
Female athletes playing sports that are non-traditional for their gender also pay a price in their personal lives. A female boxer is built a lot differently than the average female. As seen in the movie "Girl Fight", the main character has a very muscular body, which she attained through hard work and dedication. However, she looks nothing like the "ideal American woman," which in turn can cause her to suffer isolation and assumptions to be made about her sexual identity.
Culturally there are other costs associated with females participating in traditional male team sports. For example, at the high school level where girls have participated on football teams, physical and equipment modifications have to be made for the female athlete to participate in the sport. Coaches have to help integrate the young women into the team, by making adjustments on how the team interacts. When you add a new element to a team, for example a female to a male team, the chemistry of the team and the cohesiveness changes. Time and effort on the part of the team leadership needs to be applied to help the female become an effective part of the team.
Participation in non-traditional sports for an athlete's gender also have some social and cultural benefits. An athlete who endures hardship and ridicule has a new found confidence. An athlete who is successful at an athletic endeavor that is non-traditional increases their feelings of capability and becomes more adept to handling challenges and difficulties. Increased self-esteem arises from mastery over difficult and unusual circumstances. The athlete has also increased their ability to interact with the opposite gender in the playing arena as well as in other life experiences.
The cultural norms are broadened by an athletes' participation in a non-traditional sports. Tolerance for acceptable behavior by athletes who are defying gender roles is increased. In recent years greater media attention has been paid to athletes participating in non-traditional sports, particularly females. Ultimately this encourages and provides opportunities for other individuals to participate.
The standards for what is viewed as attractive are also modified. For example women who are physically strong, competitive and have high endurance are looked upon more favorably. The experience of competition and working toward a common goal helps to enhance the level of communication and understanding between the two genders. This can translate to other life situations where individuals of different genders need to work together on an equal basis, ignoring traditional gender roles.
Any athlete who chooses to take part in a non-traditional sport should be looked upon as leader who is willing to risk the social and cultural challenges to pave the way for other athletes in the future. Cultural attitudes change slowly, but ultimately the members will benefit from increased opportunities and tolerance. Even though social and cultural costs seems to be high in the long run the benefits provided to individuals and society will prevail.

First Place: A Screenplay
Name: Molly Finn
Date: 2002-03-07 20:05:32
Link to this Comment: 1434


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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First Place: A Screenplay

Gail, a dark, tiny, female reporter, is given the assignment of investigating Babe, one of the most talented female athletes of the twentieth century. Suggestions have sprung up that Babe was not a woman at all. These suggestions have come from beer corporations and radical right-wing opponents of a new growing opinion that men and women's sports should equally share primetime TV slots.

Gail had never heard of Babe. Gail writes movie reviews and articles in the Arts section. Gail is a chain smoker. She used to cut gym everyday to smoke under the bleachers with her friends. She hasn't owned a pair of sneakers since the third grade. In high school she used to think there were three kinds of kids: the nerds, the jocks, and the freaks. She was some combination of the first and last group. She still held that opinion and liked to sneer at joggers in the park. She was, thus, unhappy about this assignment.

Gail visits her parents who live in the suburbs. They are bohemian types. They eat a lot of gorp, have matching pottery wheels in a shed in the back yard, and would have never owned a television, but Gail begged them to get one in her freshman year of high school. When she graduated, it was the first thing that was unplugged and packed into the car, ready for her dorm room. She asks them if they ever heard of Babe. They say they vaguely remember a golf player named Babe. But they sneer. Golf is for the bourgeoisie, they say. Gail goes up to her old room. When she was in elementary school all of her friends had horseback riding ribbons and trophies. She looks at her room now, imagines the walls covered in tiny ribbons, and they dissolve into a Picasso poster and the graffiti she used to write when she hadn't fallen asleep yet. She goes over to one section of the wall, runs her finger over a phrase: JOCKS ARE DUMB. Gail goes back down stairs and asks her father why she never wanted to play sports. "Well, honey," he says, "You're small. And artistic. You're not an athlete." And she thinks to herself, I didn't know what the word athletic meant until I was in the third grade. And then I threw out my tennis shoes.

Examining old tapes in her apartment, she guiltily admits to herself that she thinks that Babe could have been a man in drag. A beautiful, young, feminine man in drag. But she can see that she's looking at a woman, or at least convinces herself, appalled by the claims that a woman could have never had Babe's career. She starts writing.

Gail meets her friend Nate in the park. They share a sandwich and a smoke. They do a little sneering at the runners. Nate tells her he can barely remember when he used to run. "You used to run?" she asks in disbelief. He tells her how his dad used to take his boys to the high school field before bedtime in the summers and make them do a couple of laps. His father was trying to prepare them for something, basketball, football, baseball, soccer, even. The boys all ran track until one discovered pot, one discovered cigarettes, and one discovered girls. "At least you got to chose finally that you didn't like it. Did you ever write JOCKS SUCK in the locker room?" Gail asks. Nate shakes his head. "Oh," says Gail, "Me neither."

Gail watches the group Real Men for Real Sports on the news talking about Babe again. They say the reason she never had children was because SHE WAS A MAN. Gail switches the channel. She can't believe how dumb Real Men jocks are. She switches to a women's basketball game. She's never watched sports on television. Maybe the Olympics once. She watches them jet up and down the court, hurling themselves and the ball as fast as possible, then leaping up in a beautifully aggressive and balletic manner. She could watch this...or she could see what's on Bravo. She sneaks back sometimes to catch a few more plays and to see the sweat pour off the players. She calls her grandmother.

She starts writing again, but sighs because she knows this is not the assignment she was given. And she's a little bit worried about how her parents are going to react.

She brings the article to her mom, who starts to read excitedly, but by the second paragraph has pushed it aside and gone to the pottery shed. Gail follows, saying, "Don't be upset mom. I'm doing my job. And you don't own our family history."

"Your job is to tell everyone that I had a hysterectomy at the age of sixteen? That you're adopted?"

"Mother, I consider it my job to expose the ridiculous lies that you and your generation were told. You were told that you had a hysterectomy because you were too active, that you were turning into a man. A society like that also tells little girls that the greatest female athlete in the century wasn't a female, that she couldn't have been so great, and that they will never be that great. That's what you told me. I never got the choice of being athletic because you were afraid for me. Thanks for your concern, Mom, but you can keep it."

Gail throws out her cigarettes as she goes through the kitchen. She goes back upstairs, takes a pen out of her purse and crosses out the word JOCKS, replacing it with FEAR. She draws a ribbon on the wall and writes, 1st PLACE.

In her apartment she turns on a basketball and hits the mute button. She tries to emulate the swish of the hands sweeping the ball into the basket. Maybe what basketball needs is a five foot nerd. Maybe it just needs her as a fan.

Bruises, Blood and Biceps: Is It All Worth It?
Name: Sarah Cush
Date: 2002-03-07 20:33:52
Link to this Comment: 1435

Our society tends to define masculinity and femininity according to rigid gender norms that are learned at young ages. These norms are apparent in language, perceptions, behaviors and pastimes. Since sport is considered a great American pastime, it is a popular realm for the separation of the sexes and the creation of socially defined proper roles for women and men. Sports like bodybuilding and boxing have come to be viewed as masculine because they involve conventionally masculine traits such as strength and aggression. In contrast, sports such as gymnastics and ice-skating have come to be viewed as feminine because they involve conventionally feminine traits such as charm and grace. Thru documenting the lives of female athletes competing in non-traditional sports for their sex, the movies Girlfight and Pumping Iron II reveal certain social and cultural costs and benefits of gender norm defiance.
Girlfight portrays the sport of boxing as the savior for a confused, misunderstood and quite angry teenager who is spiraling down a path of self-destruction. Diana Guzman, the protagonist of the movie, finds discipline, self-respect, balance and love in the most unexpected of places- the boxing ring. By competing, and eventually succeeding in a sport that is not generally a welcome endeavor for females, Diana is able to transcend the bitter world outside the boxing ring and feel senses of acceptance, empowerment, pride, confidence, self-fulfillment and accomplishment. Her unconventional success is a form of communication. She shows young women and men everywhere that it is okay to hit or throw, "like a girl", and that beauty can come in many different forms. The same is true for Rachel McLish, Carla Dunlap, Lori Bowen and Bev Francis, the bodybuilders in Pumping Iron II. Their small victories in the gym and on the stage become larger victories in the fight for gender equality. Their biceps bulge out of their bikinis and cry, "We can do it too!" Diana, Rachel, Carla, Lori and Bev serve as strong and powerful feminist role models who believe in themselves and their bodies, defy patriarchy and create rights of passages.
However, these females' roads to success are not paved with gold. Diana runs into many macho traditionalists who believe that equality is "crap" and that her energies should be spent elsewhere. Her trainer initially doubts and underestimates her, telling her that, "It is not right. It's dangerous. Girls can't fight". Her relationships on the home front are threatened when her brother Tiny feels belittled by his big sister's boxing participation and her father yells at her about why she is not wearing skirts and cooking dinner for him. Her relationship with her love interest Adrian is also endangered because he handles her with caution and expects her to remain passive and back out of fighting him when the time comes to do so. With little support for her pursuit, Diana is often left feeling quite isolated, rejected and doubtful of her athletic ability.
In her article, "Visible Difference and Flex Appeal: The Body, Sex, Sexuality and Race in the Pumping Iron Films" Christine Hulmond writes that, "images of muscular women are disconcerning, even threatening. They disrupt the equation of men with strength and women with weakness that underpins gender roles and power relations, and that has by now come to seem familiar and comforting". She goes on to say that, "When women are investigated, men are tested". Hulmond's point is one possible explanation for why those who are supposed to love Diana do not embrace her newfound pastime, but rather seem to confront her with hostility. It also points out an important social cost for females in nontraditional sports –doubt, resentment and fear from their male counterparts.
These feelings often lead to belittlement and labeling. The characters in Girlfight and Pumping Iron II seem to feel the need to justify their femininity and aesthetic appeal so that they can be respected and not receive tomboy, jock or homosexual orientations. They are almost forced to adopt a compulsory heterosexuality. Diana wears no shirt or pink tank tops, braids her hair and lusts over a handsome fellow boxer. Rachel and Laurie wear eye make-up, douse their hair with hairspray, frolic naked in showers, lounge by pools in skimpy bikinis and constantly kiss their male trainers. The one character in Pumping Iron II that does not feel the need to justify her femininity, and is actually proud of the fact that she displays more masculine traits, Bev Francis is punished by the bodybuilding contest judges for this and ends up questioning her appearance and body language.
In conclusion, the women in Girlfight and Pumping Iron II show their audiences that women who participate in nontraditional sports for their gender can be met with many rewards and challenges. When our society abandons the hegemonic notion that gender is salient and masculinity and femininity should be strictly dichotomized, the stories of these brave and determined female athletes will become more commonplace, and the rewards they feel as a result of their efforts will begin to outweigh the challenges that they face.

Eye of the Tiger*
Name: Ye Jin Lee
Date: 2002-03-07 20:46:59
Link to this Comment: 1436


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Women, Sport and Film
Movie script

Background/Prologue [the future]: It is the year 2010. The WNBA has dropped the 'N' from its name and is now referred to as the WBA. There is some confusion over whether the 'W' refers to Women's or World, since both are used. A tiny line of script beneath the official logo on the WBA website gives the name as the Women's Basketball Association, but World Basketball Association is as apt a name as the other. Unlike the NBA, a strictly national league, the WBA made the decision in the early '00s to begin aggressively expanding. The WBA now has a team in most major American and international cities. The league's growth isn't really surprising given the crop of players over the past decade or so. A few have even risen to superstar status, regularly wowing packed arenas with a combination of style, showmanship and skill that hasn't been witnessed in basketball since the glory days of the men's league.

The Plot [The past—'90s]: What really kick-started the stellar growth of the WBA was the discovery of Theresa "The Tiger" Tyson. Theresa iss a high school dropout from West Philly who managed to catch the eye of ---- State recruiter Jerry Krieger (on his way back from a game at Penn) during a fierce pickup game. Being as impressed by her obvious sense and no-nonsense attitude as he was with her deadly hook shot, Krieger manages to finesse a deal with his school. If Tyson gets her high school diploma and stays out of trouble (she was a bit of a hell-raiser), they'd manage to find a place for at ----.

Theresa is a motivated young woman, if nothing else. Basketball seems to be her only shot at a decent life for herself and her family. As of now, her future does not look too bright, given her lack of education or marketable skills. Not to mention the fact that she is the oldest of five and one of eight people overflowing a two bedroom apartment in the projects. She works the nightshift at a convenience store, protected by a two-inch layer of bulletproof glass and watched by security cameras trained on the register. Her boss does not trust her because she is African-American and poor. She spends the days sleeping, watching TV and keeping an eye on her siblings and seventy seven year old grandmother.

Theresa had been a very talented high school basketball player but after dropping out, she knows that her talent won't get her anywhere if she is not visible to talent scouts from colleges and professional teams. Her one big chance to break out of the poverty and bleakness of her surroundings now depends on her determination to graduate.

However, her family is unimpressed with Krieger's offer. Both she and they know that the precarious financial stability of the family partially depends on her contribution. Her mother is excited more by the chance of Theresa going to college than by her playing basketball. She actually wishes Theresa were more lady-like and cared more about her clothes and appearances like other girls. Theresa tries to talk to her mother about the opportunities she could have, including the chance to go pro. Her mother frowns a little and says that she does not consider professional female athletes to be real ladies. Her father is pretty sure nothing will come of it but tells her she can do what she wants, as long as she figures out how to grow money. The rest of the family is pretty indifferent and expects her to probably fail.

Unable to set aside either her dreams or her duty to her family, Theresa re-enrolls in school but keeps her night job. She studies while she is at work and manages to get a few hours of sleep between the time school ends and when work begins. Back in school, Theresa soon remembers the worse parts of her high school experience. The more popular girls tease her about her no-name, cheap clothing and short hair. Being a little short-tempered, Theresa has to really fight with herself to resist their insults, reminding herself to keep her 'eyes on the prize'. Schoolwork is also a struggle with Theresa trying to 'warm up' after a long hiatus from pop quizzes and homework.

Her personal life is not so fun either. Theresa has to spend a lot of time negotiation between the various parts of her life. She is a dutiful daughter who must obey her parents and grandmother, look after her siblings and help out with the chores. She is also a slightly less dutiful employee who is subjected to some strange things on the job, including encounters with drug addicts, the homeless, kids looking to make trouble and a suspicious, racist boss. Finally, she is the basketball star-in-training and pushes herself in every aspect of her complicated life in order to achieve her dreams. The struggles that Theresa faces as she matures and tries to resolve these various selves (or not) is the main focus of this film.

Resolution/Epilogue [The future again]: Finally, after a lot of hard work and long, sleepless days, Theresa manages to pass the few courses she needs to graduate and gets her diploma. She goes to college, impresses scouts from the WNBA and gets a spot on a team. She goes on to break records (both men's and women's) and becomes a legend in her own time for both her heroic struggle to overcome as well as for her amazing talent.

*Sorry. I know it's a cliche but I couldn't resist.

Going Against the Grain: Athletes Changing Gende
Name: Alia Prest
Date: 2002-03-07 21:10:12
Link to this Comment: 1437


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

It's not uncommon for male and female athletes involved in sports that "threaten" the traditional roles of men and women to be stereotyped and made fun of for being less than what a man or woman should be. It is not deemed "normal" for a man to be a ballet dancer, synchronized swimmer or ice skater because those are traditionally "feminine" sports. The barriers to men becoming involved in traditionally female sports may be harder to overcome than those in front of women participating in traditionally male sports because there is a certain level of novelty when a woman tries to participate in a male sport. She is tolerated because she is so "cute" or because she won't be good at it anyway; for a man in a woman's sport, it is not necessarily the women, but other men within society who pass judgment on said man's masculinity. For men and women athletes who are involved in a sport that goes against the traditional sex and gender roles there are benefits in the long run, but the costs and sacrifices are, on the whole, more prominent.

The benefits of a woman or man becoming involved and pursuing excellence in a sport that is non-traditional due to contradictions in gender expectations and roles may seem few and far between. The hardest stage of a person's involvement in said sport may be the beginning—just being exposed to a sport that goes against gender roles isn't enough because exposure may be as simple as national Olympic coverage or an invitation to a child's birthday party. Once person is exposed to a non-traditional sport, the first hurdle is getting over self-inflicted (which are directly linked to society-inflicted) gender stereotypes and having an interest in pursuing involvement in that sport regardless of it going against what is masculine or feminine. If we're talking about a child becoming involved in non-traditional sport at a young age (which is when many people become involved in career-oriented sports) the hardest part may be having a talent or interest tapped into and encouraged by those around the child. Once a man or woman becomes involved in a non-traditional sport the benefits of their involvement will most likely be more prominent when they get in the upper echelons of the sporting world and begin competing on a national and international level. By being involved in a non-traditional sport, there is a certain level of uniqueness that can be used in getting sponsors, publicity and support. An example of this type of benefit can be seen in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics that recently ended; the women bobsleigh team got a lot of endorsements before the Olympics even began, that was in part because this was the first Olympics that women would be competing in the event and these women were being praised and supported because of their involvement in a man's sport. This is a huge benefit for these women—they were pioneers in the sport and were gaining recognition within the sport and within society, in part for being women. Not only that, but they also help the sport by opening it up and stirring up interest in young people as well as athletes that have been involved in other sports, but may excel in a non-traditional sport.

The sacrifices that are made and the hurdles that have to be overcome by an athlete involved in a non-traditional sport are more visible because gender roles and expectations are so highly internalized within society. When those gender expectations are challenged, people don't know how to react because their ideal has been shattered, so many times that frustration is manifested through abusive channels. Often athletes who are involved in non-traditional sports are met with name-calling and accusations about their sexual orientation. A man who wants to be a figure skater will most likely be accused to being a homosexual because figure skating is considered a more "feminine" sport. These athletes may be shunned by their male or female counterpart within the sport because they consider themselves the "right" people to be involved or an athlete may be shunned by their other members of their gender as well as society at large. These sacrifices are very heavy on top of the pressures of being a competitive athlete, which in many ways is already isolating that person from the world because their focus is set and narrow. Being isolated within a sport because of gender is the biggest cost that the athlete has to pay—isolation is a difficult mental hurdle to overcome. In Pumping Iron II, all the women are going against traditional female stereotypes by being active at all, but a certain level of bodybuilding is "allowed" under the guise of health and fitness. The problem arises when Bev goes against the feminized standards of female bodybuilding and has a physique and workout habits that are like a man's and not a woman's. The cost that she pays for this is a certain amount of isolation from the other contestants (even though Carla does seem to support her and act in a "friend" capacity) and is instead accepted in to a male gym and gains the support of her male trainers, both of which are the height of masculinity and she potentially loses the competition because of her treat to traditional roles of women.

The costs may be greater than the benefits to the outside observer; it doesn't seem to make sense to the majority of society that going against gender roles is worth it because of the hardships seem to outweigh the benefits. However, it is the love of the sport and the love of participating in it that propels people forward, regardless of how it affects how people view them in terms of their gender. In many ways it is harder for women to overcome the expectations put on their gender, but once that barrier was broken the stigma that is attached to them is easier for them to bear. Men can easily participate in "female" sports, but they may be harassed more by male athletes and feel the pressures put on them by their gender differently then women. Looking at sports today, it is obvious that, even though changes still need to be made within society, progress has been made and the line between the genders is becoming more and more abstract in the realm of sports and athletics.

Gender Barriers: When Will the Ridicule Cease?
Name: Nicole Gou
Date: 2002-03-07 21:49:08
Link to this Comment: 1438


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Throughout the history of sports, there has always been a gender barrier. There are certain sports that are aimed towards females and others that are directed towards males. When men or women enter a non-traditional sport for their gender, it is not widely accepted. However, there are those few athletes that pave the way for the rest and eventually our society will change and accept the new ideas in sports. Some people will always make judgments about the athletes who cross that gender barrier. At the same time there are others who will respect and look up to these athletes as role models who they will someday follow.
In the movie Pumping Iron II, women bodybuilders are faced with judgments about their sexual orientation just because of their physical appearance. There is one character, Carla, who is always shown with her mother and sister, but never with a boyfriend or husband like the rest of the women. She does not feel the need to defend her sexuality and the audience never questions it, because she is more feminine than the other competitors. She wears girlish clothes and has a feminine face and hairstyle. Carla is also shown as a synchronized swimmer, which is an elegant and graceful sport. The manner in which she moves and her body frame differ from the rest of the women. One of the more "mannish" looking characters in the movie is Bev. Bev is the competitor with the most muscle. Her features, her hairstyle and her clothes are not as feminine as Carla's. Therefore, her sexuality is questioned. It is unfortunate that society links women's sports with mannishness and mannishness with lesbianism (Cahn 328).
There are not only stereotypes of women in sports, but also of men. What is your reaction when you hear of a male ballet dancer or a male in synchronized swimming? Many would say that he must be a homosexual. Many young boys are faced with this thought every day, because they are males participating in non-traditional sports for their gender. Just as society does not agree with women in men's sports, it does not look highly upon men taking part in women's sports either. In the article, Stereotypes Are Often Overrated, a young boy named Daniel Hile who is a sophomore in high school had always wanted to join ballet, but never did. Instead, he picked Tae Kwon Do and weightlifting, which are considered to be more masculine sports. He says that ballet is not accepted in his close-minded and conservative hometown and they stereotype male ballet dancers as being homosexuals (Stereotypes). Another ballet dancer named Julio Bragado-Young who is 20 years old, says that he was always teased in school, because of his love for dance. "Jocks would call me fag, sissy, pansy and stuff"(Stereotypes).
Bill May, a 21 year old from Cicero, NY, has always wanted to compete in the Olympics for synchronized swimming. However, it has always been strictly limited to females only. Fortunately, on September 14, 2000, FINA (Federation Internationale de Natacion Amateur) approved men's synchronized swimming events in the Olympics (Newberry). May was happy, because his hard work paid off. Throughout his life he has ignored the many comments that have compared him to Martin Short and concentrated on his goal. Short performed a skit on SNL in the 80's that depicted a very feminine male synchronized swimmer who wanted to compete (Newberry). Jests like this push society to think that there must be something wrong with men in women's sports and children are afraid to join for fear of ridicule. However, athletes like May and Young will soon have followers who will learn from the examples that these two have set.
The female pioneers that had the courage to enter the male sport arenas have catapulted women's sports forward. Without these women, society might still believe that "too much exercise [will] damage female reproductive capacity"(Cahn 328). At one point, mostly every sport was a non-traditional sport for women and might still be. However, with a few female leaders, there were followers and great feats were accomplished. Women proved through time that they could play sports as well as men could. Women convinced the doctors that their bodies were capable of handling physical activities such as basketball, boxing and bodybuilding. Although there is a long way to go before there is equality of men's and women's sports, women have come a long way already to even have the opportunity to compete in practically any sport that they want to.
Since women have begun participating in non-traditional sports, there have been many changes. Title nine was formed in 1972 which stated that, "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance"(Hult 95). More women are choosing to play sports now, because of this act. Women are able to participate in the same sports that men do and be financially supported. However, there are some downfalls that come with this title. "It reduced thousands of women administrators to secondary positions of leadership and removed them from decision-making positions"(Hult 96). From a male's point of view, it has also taken a great deal of their support and financial assistance away.
With the help of the women leaders who have taken risks and joined non-traditional sports, women now have the opportunities to continue to professional leagues and compete in the Olympics. One of the biggest steps in women's professional sports was the formation of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) on June 21, 1997. There have been other leagues preceding the WNBA, but they have not been as successful. The WNBA games are televised and they have just as big of crowds as the men's games do. Young girls who play basketball in middle school and high school can actually strive for a goal now. In the past, there was not much that women could do to further their basketball careers after college. Now, I think there will be more young girls not only starting to play basketball, but also continuing it.
Although athletes entering non-traditional sports for their gender have been ridiculed throughout their lives and might continue to be teased, I think that they are the true heroes in sports. They have broken the barrier and set examples for younger generations to follow. These athletes play their sports, because they love them. With their determination, they have opened up many new doors in the athletic world for others. Women's professional leagues have been formed and men and women are now allowed to compete in many of their non-traditional sports in the Olympics for the first time. Hopefully, in the future, society will change and become more open-minded. Eventually, I think that athletes will not have to deal with the pointing fingers over their sexual orientation. Maybe in the future, sports will not be deemed male or female and athletes will be truly free to participate in whatever they love to do. Until then, athletes are still fighting with society and making breakthroughs everyday, creating an easier path for the generations to come.

Works Cited
Arnold, Gina. Synch Different.

Cahn, Susan. "Crushes, Competition, and Closets: The Emergence of Homophobia in Women's Physical Education." Sexual Orientation. A.Dalke.

Hult, J.S. "The Story of Women's Athletics: Manipulating a Dream 1890-1985." Women and Sport: Interdisciplinary Studies. Costa, M and Guthrie, S.R. Humant Kinetics Publ, 1994.

Newberry, Paul. Sydney-Martin Short, Olympian? Associated Press, Sept.14, 2000.

"Stereotypes are often overrated".

Making the Cut
Name: Rosemarie
Date: 2002-03-07 21:57:01
Link to this Comment: 1439

In response to the failure of the International Bill of Gender Rights to pass congress in the fall of 2010, I propose a film that challenges society to examine the controversies surrounding gender identity construction and transgender people (Phyllis Randolph Frye, Esq., 1.) My film, "Making the Cut," is based loosely on the true story of Johns Hopkins Hospital case study "Joan/John," and chronicles the life of athlete Carla/Carlos Garcia (Diamond, 1). The film uses the example of sport as an indication that society is not yet ready to fully accept transgender individuals into its community.
The film begins shortly after the protagonist Carla/Carlos has been born. The doctors immediately realize that the child has been born with a micropenis and determine, as is done to approximately 100 to 200 US children annually, that the child should undergo sex-selection surgery and be raised as a girl (Diamond, 1). The doctors attempt to explain this to the baby's mother, but as she only speaks Spanish their words are lost on her. Not being able to afford prenatal care, the mother has had no expectations for the sex of her child and rejoices when the doctors bring her a baby "girl," whom she names Carla.
Carla grows up in Harlem and throughout her childhood is inclined to participate in activities that society has historically associated with boys: sports, building furniture and playing in mock-fighting games. Carla feels more comfortable in the company of boys and often finds she identifies more closely with their lives than those of her female peers. As an athlete, Carla excels at basketball and earns the recognition of her high school coach and local media as being a basketball sensation. In her senior year, Carla is recruited to play basketball for the University of Connecticut on scholarship. Excited at the prospect of leaving the projects and being the first member of her family to attend college, Carla joins the basketball team.
While studying at UCONN, Carla attends a lecture about sex-selection operations for a class. Immediately, she identifies with the stories of people whose sex was decided by their doctors at birth and begins to question her own gender identity. She starts an investigation into her childhood and discovers the medical records recounting her sex-selection operation. Nervous about the significance of her discovery for her future, but relieved to learn that her inclinations towards feelings of masculinity had biological backing, Carla decides to live her life identifying as male.
Carla adopts the name Carlos and feels obligated to quit the women's basketball team as he no longer identifies himself as a woman. Disappointed at the loss of his star athlete, the basketball coach encourages Carlos to reconsider his gender identity decision in order to stay on the team. Adamant about maintaining his new identity, but torn by the subsequent loss of his basketball scholarship, Carlos approaches the UCONN athletic director to obtain permission to try out for the UCONN men's basketball team. Although Carlos is easily of equal skill to the men of the team he is denied the right to try out for the men's team because of his "lack of the necessary physical components to be defined as a male." This on-screen debate of where transgender and sex-selected people fit into single-sex sports is one example of the confusing role for transgender people in society. Enraged at the school, Carlos sues the university for discrimination based on gender identity.
In the court case, Carlos argues that he is no different than a male athlete who has lost his defining physical attributes in an accident. This argument is negative for the transgender community, as it focuses on the possession, even when short-lived, of physical attributes as a definition for gender as opposed to identification with a gender as the definition. For the jury, the question of the role of transgenders within society is new because there has been little public debate about the subject. Against Carlos, the University cites that the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) has discussed the dilemma stating that individuals who undergo sex change operations before puberty should be considered the post-operative sex, but surgery after puberty should be discussed on a case-to-case basis (Simms, 1). Thus, according the IAAF Carlos should be considered his post-operative sex. Again, the focus here is on physical properties rather than mere identification with a gender. In the end, Carlos loses his court case, showing that society is not yet ready to accept the transgender athlete, let alone the transgender.
The film, Making the Cut, examines various issues relevant to both society and sport in today's world. First, the theme of sex selection is introduced by the decision of doctors to select a sex for Carla/Carlos. This scene introduces a controversial contemporary debate about gender definition and who has the right to select gender. Erroneous selection of a sex has substantial consequences, as is witnessed in the case of Carla/Carlos. Next, the subject of sport as an opportunity for mobility is presented. For Carla, basketball serves as an escape from the limited opportunities of her class confinements. For youth living in impoverished conditions, with limited resources and opportunities, sport is often viewed as the only way to achieve the American Dream (The American Dream and Sport, 2). In the case of Carlos, identifying as a male caused the loss of his scholarship and thus the loss of his opportunity for education. The film also debates the issue of transgender athletes and their role in the single-sex sport realm. "Making the Cut" presents the question of what defines femininity and masculinity and whether the definition of gender should be based on physical characteristics or identification with a sex.
The ending of the film demonstrates that even in 2010, society is unprepared to accept transgenders as full members of society. As a result of his original "cut," or sex-selection, Carlos fails to "Make the Cut" of society's demands for gender and subsequently loses his route of escape from the poor conditions of the projects

My WNBA experience
Name: Jennifer P
Date: 2002-03-07 22:06:30
Link to this Comment: 1440


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
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I know I will ever forget my first WNBA basketball game. It was the inaugural season, the inaugural game in Madison Square Garden, June 27, 1997. The president of the WNBA Val Ackerman tossed the ball up in center court as cameras recorded Kim Hampton of the New York Liberty and Lisa Leslie of the L.A. Sparks reached to tip the ball. This was a huge event and the crowd's noise level was a complete acknowledgement of that fact. Madison Square Garden was packed, the lights went out and the screams got louder; this was history.

The announcement of the WNBA came with mixed regards. There were those who thought that it took the United States long enough, and there were those who did not understand the point of having a professional women's basketball team. I find myself to this day defending the ideas many have about women's basketball - collegiate and otherwise. The regular comments are: 'It's too slow!' 'The scores are so low!' 'There's nothing to watch!' 'They don't dunk!' All the silly ignorant comments. My male cousin still refuses to even watch a game; he just doesn't see the point. My sentiments were more in regard to the amount it took for the WNBA to be formed. As a young basketball player I shared the dream of becoming the first woman in the NBA. (There had to be some goal!) Although those before me, possessing the greater talent were not able to do it, perhaps they were simply paving the way for me. I continued with the basketball camps, the leagues, and the school teams. I was eventually astonished to learn that there actually existed a Professional Women's basketball league. The only problem was that it was an ocean and a couple time zones away. I did not understand why there was a league in Europe but that the idea of a league had never been brought to the United States. Why did the women have to go to foreign countries? Why weren't they allotted the same promise of a career as the male athletes graduating from college? Why were women expected to give there all in collegiate sports just for the fun of it, while male athletes used it as an opportunity to build a portfolio for going on to becoming a professional athlete? It did not seem fare, and just made no sense.

It too years in the making, but finally we were able to bring our female basketball players back to the United States. The season was played in the summer. The summertime schedule immediately opens the doors for a new type of basketball fan. WNBA games are warmer; there are no stuffy men straight from their business meetings filling up the Madison Square Garden seats. No high profile attendees awaiting their picture on the big screen above center court. Above all the tickets are much less than a regular season New York Knicks game. The low-ticket prices brought in rowdier more enthusiastic fans. There were families sitting courtside instead of the usual businessmen and their impressionable clients - and of course Spike Lee. The fans were there because they loved basketball, not because they wanted to see Alan Houston or some other player paid millions to run up and down the court. There was a more genuine glow about the fans. A glow that only the people in nosebleed seats have at the New York Knick games. There were fathers with their daughters both wearing identical Lobo New York Liberty jerseys. I had never been to a Knicks game where the fans did the wave. Yes the wave! We kept it going for maybe six rounds until a fast break my Teresa Witherspoon temporarily debilitated our hands. The first game I spent most of the time screaming and looking around. It was the older women in jerseys who caught my attention most. The women who played ball pre-Title IX, who had the dreamed the dreams that the players on the court were finally bringing to fruition.

It all seemed entirely too perfect. It didn't seem to matter at first that the women were playing a much shorter season during the summer. It did not matter that my cousin hated to watch the games. All that mattered for those first couple months was the fact that finally young American female basketball players had role models. Girls no longer had to drive to the basket with their tongues out pretending to be Michael Jordan, they could be Teresa Witherspoon. When they ripped down a rebound, they didn't have to be Shaq Diesel, they could be Lisa Leslie. When they shot a delicious three point shot they didn't have to be Reggie Miller or Allen Iverson, they could be Dawn Staley.

It did not last though, at least not for me. I could not close my eyes to the articles about what these women did during the off-season. The majority of them did not command the celebrity status of the Lobos, the Leslies, or the Coopers. They didn't have the sneaker contracts; they could not survive off of celebrity appearances. These were the women who had to return to their regular lives. They had to return to their jobs - at banks, schools, and businesses. There was finally a women's basketball league, but the salary of the league alone could not support its players. The women were out there on the court for fun all over again. But it did not seem to bother the players. They were having fun living their dream.

The WNBA is a young organization so there is room for improvement. If the first year were perfect than there would leave no room for improvement. The social and cultural benefits of the league's creation cannot be ignored. Women's basketball will never be the same. I trust that the success of the WNBA will spawn the creation of more forums where collegiate women can pursue their professional career. The most talented young girls hope to find themselves in the draft heading to one of the WNBA teams. Unfortunately, they simultaneously have to fill out job applications and buy that interview suit.



Entering Non-Traditional Sports
Name: Claire Rei
Date: 2002-03-07 22:18:55
Link to this Comment: 1441


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Claire Reilly-Shapiro
Sport and the American Dream
Chris Shelton
March 7, 2002
Entering Non-Traditional Sports
Because of stress from families, grief from peers, or doubts from coaches, it is difficult for an athlete to enter a sport that has traditionally been classified as a sport of the opposite sex. Athletes love the challenge of sports, the thrill of competition, and the benefits of achieving – all qualities that men and women share – however, certain sports also exude qualities of femininity or masculinity, grace or sheer power, and these qualities complicate the qualifications to enter specific sports. On the surface, ballet is graceful, soft, and poised, and a "real man" would never possess such characteristics. Ballet, in reality, requires strength, stamina, balance, but because the jumps and turns of a dancer appear to be effortless to the audience, the work and strength behind ballet are rarely recognized. In boxing, the athlete's skill is evident by his or her strength and fighting ability, but traditionalists do not believe that women should display such aggressiveness. Individuals who enter into a non-traditional sport for their sex do have opportunities to excel in what they are passionate about, although these accomplishments often come with notoriety, labels, and sometimes even the loss of support of their family and friends.
The difference between sports that are traditionally women's and those that are traditionally men's comes from historical thoughts about women's ability to endure physical activity. One of the dominant myths surrounding women was that they were inherently weak, and if they tried to become active, they would destroy their reproductive organs, and thus fail at their foremost occupation (Hult 84). This myth has been debunked, however the mentality remains. The opinion that women are not as mentally or physiologically strong as men continues and has divided sport into two categories: that of "traditional men's sport" and "sport for women." While traditional men's sport is characterized by dominant, risky, and aggressive behavior, sport for women is safer, with passive and subordinate behavior (Oglesby & Shelton 8). Today, sports that are more graceful and seem to be safe are identified as women's sports, distinguished from men's sports that involve the strength necessary to be active and aggressive.
Challenging this binary classification of sport is threatening and comes with social and cultural costs, although breaking into the sport of the opposite sex has its benefits also. More men and women are entering non-traditional sports for their sex in an attempt to blunt the sharp division between men and women's sports. The effect of their brave efforts is twofold: it asserts that women are just as capable as men of playing traditional, active sports, and it redefines women's sports as strong, not weak, and as equal, not inferior. Nevertheless, most men and women think that the risks of social isolation, a lack of opportunities to excel, and the constant questioning of sexuality outweigh the long-term benefits that come with challenging tradition.
It takes the strong will of a woman like Diana Guzman from the movie Girlfight to break into a sport that is aggressive and dangerous, and thus usually reserved for men. Diana also displays an enormous amount of dedication to boxing, evident in her pursuit to compete, despite the many obstacles and prejudices against her. First, Diana must prove to her brother's coach, Hector, that she will train as hard as any of his male students just to receive good coaching. Once she proves herself to be a competent boxer, she must force her way into amateur competitions against the wishes of many other coaches in her division. With her strong spirit and dedication, Diana manages to break into the competitive arena; and as for those who did not believe that she could ever box at the same level as men, she does, as the film's slogan states, "prove them wrong" (movie Girlfight). In this movie, Diana triumphs in winning her boxing match, in finding a way to express herself, and in gaining self-confidence, yet these accomplishments do not come without a price
For Diana, the benefits of challenging the gender role in the sport of boxing exceeded the costs, although unfortunately, this is not always the case for all women who enter into traditionally male sports. Diana did not have the support of her father, yet she developed the strength to defend herself and her mother against his attacks. She did not break into the popular crowd at school, yet she gained the ability to control her anger so the retorts of her peers did not bother her, and she proved herself superior to them in gym class. Diana's sexuality was never in question, even though she participated in a "masculine" sport, because she found not only a boyfriend, but also the pride to exhibit her strength in a feminine manner (for example, replacing baggy sweats with sports bras and shorts). Diana prompts change in the world of boxing, however she does not present a threat to the feminine, heterosexual convention as "images of muscular women" do.
These images are "disconcerting, even threatening" because "they disrupt the equation of men with strength and women with weakness that underpins gender roles and power relations, and that has by now come to seem familiar and comforting" (Holmlund 302). Again returning to the binary classification of sport, muscular women challenge the idea that "sport for women" is subordinate, because these women obviously have the strength to dominate many men. Women in traditionally male sports also question the relationship between femininity and women: are these dominant and muscular women feminine, and if they are not feminine are they women? (Holmlund 301). Most of society, men and women alike, is afraid to redefine femininity because this "will entail the loss of love, power, and privilege" (Holmlund 304), and society is simply not ready to introduce "butch" women into the spectrum of degrees of femininity. While "the American public is eager for strong, aggressive, competitive, female role models" (Banet-Weiser 417), it must limit these role models to heterosexual women who do not look anything like men.
In the same way that society is hesitant to question the model of femininity, and with the same frequency that butch, muscular women are stereotyped as "what a lesbian looks like" (Holmlund 303), men who enter into traditionally women's sports are attacked as weak, effeminate, and homosexual. One of the most blatant examples is that of a male dancer. In the sport of dancing, particularly ballet, men are ridiculed for their grace, elegance, and style, and criticized for not being aggressive or "masculine" enough for a "traditional men's" sport. It is a common misassumption that ballet does not require strength, skill, or stamina, but only the ability to tiptoe around onstage; in reality, ballet is an extremely athletic sport. Dancers spend years training their bodies, developing muscles that are long (as opposed to bulky) for a more aesthetic line, yet with the strength required to jump, turn, and support their bodies in difficult poses. According to Peter Darling, the choreographer of the film Billy Elliot, "ballet is as close to an athletic sport as anything ... the best ballet dancers combine grace with athleticism." To combine grace, strength, musicality, and endurance becomes the main goal of the protagonist of the film, Billy Elliot, after he discovers his love for ballet.
The film traces Billy's discovery of ballet after one of his boxing lessons, through the dance lessons he keeps secret from his father, and ends with his success of admission to the finest dance school in England, the Royal Ballet. Discovering ballet as a means to express himself is not easy for Billy, as he must confront his father about his true passion, find his place in an all-female environment, and work hard to discover his talent and confidence, many themes echoed from the movie Girlfight. "These two movies are mirror images of each other: dead mothers; frustrated fathers; tough, kindly mentors; and main characters whose ambitions fly in the face of expected sex roles. The accents are different; the characters in "Billy Elliot" speak in the Scots-inflected dialect of northern England rather than in the Spanish-tinged rhythms of Red Hook. But the narrative idiom is the same" (Scott). Unlike Diana, Billy must also grapple with the issue of sexuality. Billy stresses that "it's not just for puffs, dad. Some ballet dancers are as fit as athletes," yet his father is firm in his belief that ballet is "for girls, not for lads, Billy. Lads do football, or boxing, or wrestling, not ballet" (movie Billy Elliot).
Billy's struggle reflects the experience of many boys who love to dance, and also parallels some of the experiences of the actor who played Billy Elliot, Jamie Bell. In an interview, Jamie states that he was hassled by his classmates who said, "you shouldn't be doing that, Jamie, it's not for boys, it's more for girls. They said I should be playing football or rugby so I just didn't tell them where I was going after football practice and went to my dance lessons" ( Unfortunately, many men and women who enter non-traditional sports have to keep their passion a secret for fear of derision or criticism, or for fear that they will have to stop their sport all together. This can be frustrating, and if athletes do not have the sheer dedication and love to continue with a sport for which they will receive little recognition, there is not incentive enough to persist. For this reason, and because it is hard for athletes to break into non-traditional sports in the first place, the progress to change the stereotypes of feminine or masculine sports is slow. Nevertheless, to excel in a non-traditional sport is a huge accomplishment for the few individuals who confront historical prejudices, and it is an important step in challenging the traditional characteristics of men and women's sports.

Works Cited
Banet-Weiser, Sarah. "Hoop Dreams." Journal of Sport & Social Issues. Volume 23,
No.4, November 1999: 403-420.
Billy Elliot. Universal Pictures, England: 2000.
Girlfight. Screen Gems, New York: 2000.
Holmlund, Christine Anne. "Visible Difference and Flex Appeal: The Body, Sex,
Sexuality, and Race in the Pumping Iron Films." Women, Sport, and Culture. Eds. Birrell, S. & Cole, C. Human Kinetics Publishers: 1994.
Hult, Joan S. "The Story of Women's Athletics: Manipulating a Dream 1890-1985."
Women and Sport: Interdisciplinary Studies. Eds. Costa, M. & Guthrie, S.R. Kinetics Publishing: 1994.
Oglesby, C.A. & Shelton, C.S. "Exercise and Sports Studies." The Knowledge
Explosion: Generations of Feminist Scholarship. Eds. Krammarae, C. & Spender. Athene Series, Teachers College Press: 1992.
Scott, A.O. "Billy Elliot: Escaping a Miner's Life for a Career in Ballet." New York
Times, New York: October 13, 2000.

What are the social and cultural costs and benefit
Name: Adrienne L
Date: 2002-03-07 23:31:21
Link to this Comment: 1442


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Throughout history, society has clearly defined the roles that men and women were expected to play. In these roles, men were seen as both physically and mentally stronger, and women were seen as more gentle, caring and physically and mentally weaker. As such, men participating in sports which demonstrate grace and elegance was not, and to some extent, still is not considered to be the norm. Likewise, women participating in sports which demonstrate or require a great deal of physical strength is considered to be un-ladylike.

Additionally, there has been a certain physical image associated with both men and women, and when a person is physically different from what is considered the norm, then they are open to ridicule and prejudice from society. Traditionally, the image of women is that of curvaceous, maternal-looking people. Thus a woman who is exceptionally physically fit, or who has large and well-defined muscles is seen as strange. In fact, an "overly" muscular woman is generally seen as very masculine, or as someone who is trying to be manly. It is for this reason that many female athletes have been branded as "butch" or as lesbians.

Conversely, men who do not carry the image of testosterone-filled, macho, muscular and physically strong people are seen as less manly than they should be. Society seems to believe that men should participate in sports which promote the macho image, such as those sports which have a violent aspect to them, and those sports which base themselves in a demonstration of physical strength. As such, men who participate in sports such as boxing or power lifting are far more easily accepted than men who participate in sports such as synchronized swimming or dance.

Society views people partaking in sports not traditionally associated with their gender as people who are attempting to cross gender lines. In other words, they are seen as men who are trying to be feminine, or women who are trying to be masculine. Thus, if they do not fit the image associated with the ideal man or the ideal woman, then they are branded as homosexual. This can be clearly illustrated by looking at various female tennis players, Martina Navratilova being the obvious example.

Martina was the first female tennis player who really began to play tennis more as a power sport than a sport of technique. Thus she was seen to be playing in the style of men instead of playing women's tennis. Because she did not fit society's image of how a woman should look, behave and play tennis, she was ridiculed and branded as the proverbial bad egg when compared to her contemporaries. Additionally she was branded as a lesbian, which caused more hardship for her as she was forced to face a world which was much more homophobic at that time than it is now. Her sexual orientation is not really an issue here. It was just something that was used against her, and something that was assumed about her simply because she did not portray this feminine image that is expected of women.

However, female tennis players who have continued to portray the feminine image in addition to being athletes have never been victim to the sort of ridicule and prejudice that Martina Navratilova was subjected to. In fact, it can be seen that women in all sports who portray a very feminine image and who are physically attractive are given more beneficial press coverage. Thus women are accepted in sports if they are still able to portray this traditional feminine image, and if they are still seen as physically attractive.

The distinctive male and female roles extends far beyond the realm of sports. There are still many jobs and fields of study which are traditionally seen as "male" fields or "female" fields. The image of a woman is that of a caretaker, and a person who is physically and mentally weaker as compared to men. Thus nursing is considered to be a woman's profession, whereas the position of medical doctor is something which is considered a man's job.

Additionally, the sciences are for the most part still considered to be male-dominated fields. More specifically, the fields of Astronomy, Physics and any of the branches of engineering are considered fields of study that are better suited to men than to women. Conversely, fields such as the humanities and social sciences are generally more evenly spread and secretarial jobs are considered to be women's jobs.

There are many incongruities between what is considered acceptable for men and what is considered acceptable for women, and this can be seen in all walks of life. It stems from the traditional images of what men and women should look like and how they should behave which have been imposed on us by both our society and the traditions passed on to us from our ancestors. These incongruities and prejudices are most clearly seen and acknowledged in the world of sports, but in truth they pervade almost every aspect of our lives. This is not an issue which has an easy solution, but it is an issue which must be addressed if there is to be an end to the ridicule which many people are subjected to as a result of following a career path or making life decisions which do not conform to this set of unspoken rules.

A Tale of Apocalypses, Men, Women, & Sports
Name: Laura Bang
Date: 2002-03-07 23:43:06
Link to this Comment: 1443


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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This movie is set in a post-apocalyptic society in the year 2010. After World War III broke out, the world was destroyed in the year 2008. The survivors have no memory of what their planet used to be like, or how they used to live. The earth is covered in layers of debris that archaeologists are sifting through to figure out how people lived before the world was destroyed. Along with the "death" of our modern world, women's rights also died, and men think they are far superior once more.

Opening scenes (each is only a few seconds long): Close up of blade chopping vegetables, zoom out to see that blade is actually ice skate. Cut to: restaurant with people eating soup out of semi-deflated basketballs.

Cut to: Opening credits with people playing in background: people are running around wearing helmets and throwing a hockey puck at each other's heads.

Cut to: people on an archeological dig, sifting through the dirt with tennis rackets. Most of a track has been unearthed, and the archaeologists think it is called a "Coca-Cola" because of the large sign at one end of the field in the center of the track.

One of our heroines is named Soleada Lluvia, and she has just unearthed a badminton birdie and is studying it. She is distracted when the archaeologists who have been uncovering the track announce that they have finished. She drops the birdie and joins the others as they stare at the track. They remember seeing people run in circles around such a thing from damaged movies they have uncovered on previous expeditions.

The men immediately begin discussing how this must have been used as a sports arena for men. The women point out that they saw women running in the movies, too, but they men just laugh at them and say that women are too weak to do sports. The women become angry and start citing famous female athletes they read about in records they found. They mention Babe Didrickson, FloJo, Wilma Rudolph, and others. The men point out that that was before the world ended, and say that now women are weak again. The women assert that women never were weak, then or now, and challenge the men to a contest.

They decide to hold their contest in one month - to give them time to train, and time to research more of the sports of the past. They also decide the stakes of the contest: if the women lose, they have to stop being archaeologists and stay at home to cook and clean for the rest of their lives; if the men lose, they will be socially ostracized and will no longer be able to be archaeologists.

During the training period, there are numerous close-ups of people's feet.

Soleada Lluvia becomes the leader of the women's team, and gives them lots of encouragement. The girls take the contest seriously - even though everyone laughs at them - and start getting into shape.

Caliente "Cal" Nieve takes charge of the men's team. The men don't take the contest seriously, believing that the women are weaker. As a result, they don't train very hard.

When the month is up, they meet at the track to begin their contest. The events they decide to compete in are running around the track, ice hockey combined with figure skating, archery, and jacks.

The first event is archery. For this event, one person throws a snowball up in the air and the archer has to hit the snowball with the arrow. The archery goes smoothly until it is Cal's turn. When Cal tries to hit his snowball, his arrow goes astray and hits one of his teammates. The men's team turns on him and starts yelling at him, but Cal just barely manages to apologize his way out of getting beat up. The women's team laughs. The women have a marginal lead due to Cal's misfired arrow.

The second event is jacks. They play our version of jacks, and some members of the men's team do better than the women expected. Cal, however, believes that jacks is for sissies and - although he can play jacks really well - he deliberately screws up his game. The other men do well, and scold Cal for throwing his game. Cal defends himself by saying that he didn't want to be embarrassed by playing such a sissy's game, and the other men tell him that they are secure in their masculinity. After the jacks match, the teams are tied.

The third event is to run a mile (4 laps) on the track. Soleada wins the race. Fiver, one of the other women's runners, has some trouble with her race. She is running with one of the men who keeps passing her and trying to trip her, and she falls back for a little while. Then Fiver remembers Soleada's encouragement ("Girls can win!") and catches up to and passes the man, beating him by half a lap. Cal, meanwhile, trips on his own feet in the first lap and spends five minutes whining that someone tripped him. Of course, since there was no one anyone near him, no one pays any attention, so he eventually gets up and finishes the race in last place, two laps behind everyone else. Even though Fiver was the last of the women to finish, because of her blazing finish the women's team wins the race. The men's team is disgruntled towards Cal.

The fourth and last event is ice hockey combined with figure skating. The rules of the game are that every time a player tries to make a goal, they must also land a triple lutz and a triple toe loop, and these jumps must be executed with proper form and landed perfectly or the goal will not count. Both teams have trouble with the jumps, and many of them fall. For this reason, it takes a long time for anyone to score a goal. Soleada, however, leads her teammates to victory by shooting a goal and landing a quadruple instead of a triple. Everyone is so amazed by this, that they unanimously agree that she deserves a double score for her perfectly executed jump. Cal protests, but no one pays any attention to him, so he decides to show that he can land a quadruple jump as well. He succeeds only in falling on his butt and breaking the ice. Everyone falls into the lake, and when the women reach the shore, they realize that several of the men - including Cal - are still floundering in the freezing water.

Soleada and Fiver and three of the other women jump back into the water to save the men. Soleada saves Cal, despite everyone's protests from the shore. Cal is left in a sniveling heap as the rest of the men's team declares the women's team the winners of the contest. The women decide that the men are okay after all, so they decide that the men don't have to be socially ostracized or quit their jobs - with the exception of Cal, of course. However, after that, men are less likely to hold positions of power or to be paid as much as their female coworkers. The women do a victory run up the nearby stairs - which they discovered were specially crafted so that women could win a race with men up the stairs - and then bow before a statue of Athena. They then rip off their shirts and dance in their sports bras.

As for Cal, he didn't live so happily ever after - all the women he met would challenge him to contests, which he would always decline, and all the men he encountered tried to beat him up. In the end, the women and the men decide that they can be friends - except for Cal, of course. They all lived happily ever after. Until the next apocalypse, that is.

Unseen Effects of Title Nine
Name: Tasneem Pa
Date: 2002-03-07 23:52:29
Link to this Comment: 1445


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Using the four topics, history, race and class, gender, and sexual orientation in sport,
assume you are a screen writer in the year 2010. You have been commissioned to
write a movie script about women's sports and current society. What is the theme?
Who are the protagonists? What are the issues and how does the movie end?

When Annie came in with an idea to do a sports movie, the first thing I did was laugh in her face. She quickly cut me off.
"Harry. Harry what do you know about Title Nine?"
"What is that, some new soy product?"

"Title Nine, enacted in 1972, represents a large change in attitudes toward women and their aspirations. Since sports affect boys and girls as they grow up, the way we treat women's sports may prove as important to changing social attitudes as anything else we do. If girls are socialized the way boys are in taking part in sports, and if boys and girls grow up with the idea that girls are strong and capable, it will change the way girls and women are viewed by themselves and by civilization."

"Oh it's a movie about the fate of civilization! Are there any explosions? Aliens?"

"Title Nine. It's this law that says that boys and girls are entitled to the same resources when it comes to sports. Like, at a public school they can't give nice basketballs to the boys and crappy sacks to the girls. And they can't hire this all-star retired big shot for the boy's swim team and get some lifeguard to coach the girls. Everything has to be equal opportunity across the board."
"Well that's something I'm happy to see at PTO meetings, but I don't give a damn about seeing it on the big screen. Annie, no one wants to shell out eight bucks to read the Constitution."

"Ok look. This girl, Jane, grows up in this wealthy family, goes to a prestigious prep school, plays lacrosse, the works. Her aunt from the Bronx comes to visit her one weekend, and her aunt and her mother get into a huge fight because the Bronx cousin accuses he mother of spoiling Jane. She says Jane will never have to fight for anything, everything's always handed to her. She doesn't earn any of the stuff and privileges she has, she just gets it. Naturally Jane gets all huffy about this and it affects he deeply. Around the same time her family faces some reversal of fortune and they end up moving to a city. She has to attend the local public school.... You see where I'm going, Harry?"

"Heeyyy, Annie, I think you're on the something there. Ok so she imagines that she's just going to keep playing lacrosse like she did back in New England, but there's only a boy's lacrosse team. There's girl's softball, swimming and intramural aerobics, but no lacrosse. Now our girl is resourceful, so she goes investigating in the athletic storage facilities, or maybe she's making out with her love interest in there, and she sees that they have girl's lacrosse equipment but it looks like it hasn't been touched in years. She investigates further and discovers that there did used to be a girl's soccer team, and a basketball team, even a track team, but something happened... but what? Some covered up murder case? A secret teleporter to an alien race?"

"Well Harry maybe we can use this one interesting thing I learned about the effects of Title Nine in the plot. Title Nine was supposed to get equal coaches for boys and girls teams. Like I said, it wouldn't be fair if the boys got these all-star coaches and the girl's only got some PTO member with a little extra time on his hands. No offense, Harry. So after 1972 the school had to make sure it had really good coaches for both boys and girls teams, so it fired all of the existing coaches for the girl's teams and hired these retired sports stars as new coaches. That meant two things. First, it meant that the school had to cut back on some of the teams for the girls. The logic was that they were going to hire celebrity coaches for the girls, meaning they were going above and beyond the requirements of Title Nine, but they wouldn't be able to hire as many coaches.

"I get it. So the lacrosse team got nixed, along with the soccer team, etc..."

"Right, but the remaining softball team gets this world-famous coach. It's a trade off. The second consequence of this whole thing was that no new female coaches were hired. Because females didn't have as many opportunities to get into coaching positions before Title Nine, it's obvious that there weren't that many celebrity female coaches floating around when this school was hiring new coaches."

"Annie, you're on to something here. So there's no lacrosse team, no basketball team, and no female coaches whatsoever in the school. All because of Title Nine. So Title Nine is the bad guy here. What drama!"

"Well hold on Harry. All because this school went by the letter and not the spirit of Title Nine. Title Nine's not the bad guy, and we don't need some "creepy bad guy" to make this story interesting. This one girl figures all of this out and gets the address of one of the ex-coaches from the old lacrosse team. She goes to visit her, she's an older lady now, and they sit and talk with milk and cookies like the kids in Sandlot with James Earl Jones. The lady reminisces about how excited all of the female coaches were when they heard Title Nine was going to be put into effect. They knew that their girls would finally get the fair amount of practice time, they would finally get budgets for new equipment, they would finally get to compete in as many championships as the boys did. But something went wrong, and instead of having equality across the board and enough resources for all, the school cut back the girl's programs even more and the ex-lacrosse coach and her friends got fired. They just didn't know how to fight back. If they raised their voices, they would be criticized for attacking Title Nine and all of the opponents of the new law would have a weapon against it. So they just had to stay quiet."

"Annie, that's beautiful. So this girl decides that she will fight the fight that the ex-coaches generation couldn't, and sets up protests and rallies and fundraisers at the school to get the lacrosse and basketball teams reinstated. Of course there's the usual drama, and she gets a lot of heat from a lot of the girls in the softball and swim teams who don't understand why she has to rock the boat and possibly take away all of the advances they've made in the last few years. It's interesting because it's the same fight that Betty Friedan and the Women's Libbers were fighting years ago, but with a new twist."

"Right Harry. And finally the school sees that it made a horrible mistake and reinstates the old teams and rehires some of the fired coaches who are still young enough to coach. But it comes at a cost: the celebrity coaches for the swim team and softball team have to be fired. These two teams have been undefeated for five years in a row, and the softball team reached national championships last year. So the audience is left to ponder the following: In the days before Title Nine, is could be argued that although boys and girls did not get equal resources, many boys benefited greatly from the resources and attention they got and went on to be outstanding athletes. Some of these resources were taken away from them after Title Nine. In this same way, before this girl came along the girl's swim team and softball team received the prime resources and attention. After the girl demanded that resources be shared among a larger group, the swim team and softball team lost some of these resources. Is it better to have a large group of mediocre athletes or a small group of stellar ones?"

"Something to think about..."

Non-Traditional Sport Roles, Society and Culture
Name: Stephanie
Date: 2002-03-08 00:12:16
Link to this Comment: 1446


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Sports have become a major part of American culture and society. It is ingrained in us as a small child that playing a sport is almost necessary. In elementary school we take physical education where we are exposed to competitive sport. But even at this level it is our genders that control which types of sport are deemed "appropriate."

Since women started to become involved in sports, there have always been those who have apposed them being there. We saw an example of this in the movie Girl Fight. By allowing a woman to partake in a sport, in this case boxing, that is typically viewed as male oriented in caused society to alter its views. This created many problems though. People do not want to see woman is a fighting role. It is thought to be unladylike and too rough. Because fighting is masculine, seeing a woman in that role changes gender roles in her community. Though it is clear that the Diana can handle herself in this movie. Her culture and society does not want to see her in a strong way. She faces many obstacles in order to show that she does belong where she is. In this movie she is victorious because it is her skills and determination that win out in the end, not her gender.

Both in Girl Fight and in Pumping Iron 2 the question of what is feminine and what should a woman look and act like is brought up. In Girl Fight, the idea of a female boxer is deemed not feminine. Diana is told that she is wrong for being interested in male sports. Also, her sexuality is questioned. People call her a dyke and other derogatory terms because they do not believe that she could possibly be a "normal girl". By questioning her sexuality they are saying too her that she is not allowed to be who she wants to be. Even though it is clear to us as the viewers that she is not a lesbian. She, nonetheless, has to defend her sexuality because she plays a sport that is not traditionally seen as a woman's sport.

The same was true for the women in Pumping Iron 2. Because of their strength and physical stature, certain men and women seemed to be intimidated by them. We saw this specifically in Bev's case. She was the one with a physique most like that on a male body builder. She placed extremely low in the competition because there were judges who felt that even in a body building competition, women should still look feminine. Though the crowd was very supportive of Bev, as we heard in their booing when she did not win, the judges were against her because of what looked like, confusion, and the fact that her body was too muscular. Even though this was a bodybuilding contest.

It is not just women that experience biases when it comes to sports. Men to can be the subject of ridicule for playing sports which are thought to be for women. We can see this in the movie The Cutting Edge. Here, an ex-ice hockey player becomes a pairs figure skater. You can see how his gender and sexuality are questioned by his family and friends for no longer playing the manly sport of ice hockey, but rather the, thought to be, dainty and ladylike sport of figure skating. Though, the protagonist's masculinity is questioned. There is never any question about his sexuality. The movie does not take the film to that level.

Another film that shows men having to defend both their masculinity and sexuality is Bring It On. This is a movie about a high school cheerleading team. Of course this movie is meant to be funny and light hearted, but it does show us what society thinks about men in sports not traditionally thought of as "right" for their gender. Many times during this film, members of the football team (a masculine spot) call the male cheerleaders derogatory terms referring to their sexuality. Even though the football team is horrible and the cheerleaders are national champions. It is the fact that these male cheerleaders are involved in a feminine sport that makes them subject to ridicule.

There are positive things that can happen as a result of people playing sports not traditionally thought to be okay for their gender though. By having people in these roles it breaks down barriers between men and women in society. There are always going to be those that resist this, but in general people become more excepting of one another. At least that is the hope. Diana, Bev, and the others were either portraying or being, in Bev's case, pioneers in their sports field. But the fact that they got to compete at all shows us that our society has come a long way. Yet, the obstacles that they faced, shows us that we still have a long way to go.

"Men and Women In Sport"
Name: Faye McGra
Date: 2002-03-08 02:50:23
Link to this Comment: 1448


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex (e.g. women who enter body building, power lifting, boxing; men who enter synchronized swimming or field hockey)?

Social change has been marked by men and women participating in non-traditional roles for their sex. Athletics is one field where non-traditional roles are both applauded and derided by society. Female body-builders and male ice-skaters push the boundaries of what is socially acceptable in our society. While there are many rewards for such activity, there are also many costs, both to society and to the individual.

There are many cultural and personal costs to engaging in non-traditional sport. Women and men face personal humiliation and the derision of friends, family, and society. They can be denied advancement in the work force, be ostracized by society, and suffer a multitude of slights and slurs. Women, in particular, bear the brunt of this particular brand of humiliation.

Mere personal humiliation is not the only cost of non-traditional participation in sport. Some people may see it as a lessening of the game. For example, there are slightly different rules for women's basketball then for male basketball. By allowing women to play and compete in a supposedly "weaker" version of the game, we lessen the value of the game and the competition in which the players are engaged. Such difference also reinforces cultural beliefs that men and women cannot compete on a level playing field. Supposedly, women must have easier rules, because otherwise, they would not be able to play. This particular cultural attitude can arise from women participating in sport. However, it is a goal of such participation that that attitude be eliminated from our society.

There are also a number of benefits to men and women engaging in supposed non-traditional activities. It pushes the boundaries or what is acceptable in our society, paving the way for future pioneers. It makes difference more acceptable in our society by not backing down. We can only become more accepting of other people when there are such extreme points of view out there to compare our opinions to.

Athletics, in general, benefits with the presence of both men and women in all sports. With such a wide range of potential competition, sport is much more exciting and rewarding - personally and monetarily. Both sexes contribute something to their respective sport, and challenge the other to accept new ideas and change. Without such difference, the potential is to become staid and unbending. Society does not want to be bored - we want excitement and thrills. This is evidenced by the historic "Battle of the Sexes" in which Billie Jean King handily beat Bobby Riggs in a best-of-five game tennis match. Over forty million people watched that game.

Our society is made up of a multitude of people, attitudes, and cultural norms. We are not limited in what we can do, be, think, or say, but that does not mean acceptance is automatically guaranteed. Society may have some predetermined social rules, but they are bent and broken everyday by courageous people who do not fear difference. They are not afraid to be themselves. Women can become body-builders and men can perform the ballet. Everyday they face the challenges and rewards that come from engaging in non-traditional sports.

PE Paper Topic 2
Name: Geeti Das
Date: 2002-03-08 03:33:09
Link to this Comment: 1449


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Geeti Das
Women, Sport and Film

What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex (e.g. women who enter body building, power lifting, boxing; men who enter synchronized swimming or field hockey)?

Out of all the material we covered in this course, the ones that bear most directly on this question I think are the documentary about women in sports, and the movie "Girlfight". However, I felt that both of these films focussed on the issue from women's point of view. This is not to say that it isn't important or necessary to do so, but I started thinking about how men are also greatly affected by gender stereotyping. Being in a women's college, I feel like we focus a lot on the ways in which women are forced into certain roles, but we neglect to also look at how men are forced into certain roles.
Last semester I watched the movie "Billy Elliot", about a young boy growing up in Newcastle, England, during the time of the miner's strike. I think the movie illustrates very well the costs and benefits of breaking gender stereotypes. Billy grows up in a mining family and his family consists of himself, his father, and his elder brother. He is surrounded only by male role models, and that too men who engage in manual labour. His father and his brother are both very "masculine" in the traditional sense of the word. The basic plot of the movie is that Billy wants to be a ballet dancer. His father wants him to learn boxing, but he sees a group of girls having ballet lessons at the same time and he starts taking ballet lessons on the sly. He turns out to be very talented, and his teacher wants him to apply to go to ballet school on a scholarship. The rest of the movie follows his progress and his struggle to be accepted by his family once he's been discovered. At first his father prohibits him from doing ballet, and calls him a "pouf", but Billy persists and is finally accepted by his family and community.
I found it interesting that even though Billy is pre-pubescent, the mere fact that he wants to learn ballet induces people to question his sexuality even at such an early age. At an age when children aren't supposed to be sexual beings yet, Billy is under constant pressure to decide what his sexual orientation is, both by his family in that he has to defend himself, and by a friend of his in school who fits a certain stereotype of homosexuality and is romantically interested in him. In a sense, he is forced to grow up early.
Throughout the movie, Billy is never really accepted by his classmates of either sex. The girls in his ballet class are at first amused by the fact that he wants to dance, and later on they get jealous when he excels at it, and we never see him playing with other boys his age, the only exception being the boy who has a crush on him. Everyone feels the need to categorise him somehow, and because he blurs the boundaries between gender roles, nobody really knows how to deal with him. With both sexes, he is an outcast.
His family too does not accept him until they learn that he might be able to get a scholarship to ballet school and thus escape the hardships of the mining industry. It is mainly because ballet offers him the prospect of upward mobility that his family finally comes to accept him. One would think that growing up in a socio-economically disadvantaged group would make it harder for him to gain approval, but ironically this is what helps his cause in the end. One of the major benefits of his breaking the stereotype in this case is that it opens up new opportunities for him—this is definitely a benefit given his economic background.
Another benefit of this breaking the stereotype is that it paves the way for others to do the same. This is not clearly seen in the movie, or even in real life now, but the fact of one person's having done it sets a precedent for others or at least challenges people to acknowledge that the lines can be blurred, and that it is social constructs that lead us to think otherwise.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, in ballet Billy finds his means of self-expression. I personally believe that sports (which in my mind encompasses most physical disciplines) should, above all, serve as a means of expressing oneself. Billy dances when he is happy, when he is stressed out, and when he is angry. We see his father and brother expressing their anger through physical violence, but Billy does this through dance, which in the end far more constructive. In "Girlfight", too, Diana finds the means of taking out her anger in boxing. Neither of them is allowed to express their emotions in their social settings because what they Sports offers us ways of dealing with emotions that can't be let out in real life, and for this reason I think it is extremely important for all sports to be open to all people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, etc. Both Billy and Diana in a sense find themselves when they break the stereotypes and enter non-traditional sports for their genders.

2. What are the social and cultural costs and bene
Name: Sarah Wels
Date: 2002-03-08 03:46:08
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It goes without saying that a person's gender, racial and social origins influence their participation in sports. Particular races and genders often dominate certain sports. African Americans, for example, tend to dominate football and basketball, while Caucasians tend to dominate ice hockey. The same holds true for gender as well. Football is an entirely male dominated sport, while horseback riding, gymnastics and figure skating are much more female oriented. How and why did these divisions come about? Determining the origin of gender goes beyond the scope of this paper, however one can speculate about how gender classifications and stereotypes affect one's role in the sports arena.

The movie "Girl Fight" did an excellent job of depicting how one person dealt with and overcame gender stereotypes. The movie depicts the struggle of a high school girl, Diana Guzman, to overcome gender buriers and become a boxer. Her mother having died when she was young, she lives with her father and younger brother, Tiny. The father forces the son to take boxing lessons because he feels that it is important that Tiny know how to defend himself. However Diana cannot even tell her father that she wants money to take boxing lessons. Her father constantly hassles her about behaving more like a "girl" i.e., wearing skirts and giving more consideration to her appearance. He does not think it at all important that Diana should know how to defend herself as well, even though she obviously lives in the same dangerous neighborhood as her brother.

In fact, her father has extremely traditional stereotypes of "male" and "female." He believes that the male should be the defender—strong, powerful, and dominant and that the female should be attractive and submissive. Ironically enough, his children are exactly the opposite. Tiny is not just a clever name, he has a small build, is academically inclined and hopes to pursue art. He has no interest whatsoever in learning boxing. Diana, on the other hand, has a large, sturdy build, and a hot temper. It is Diana that defends her brother when another boxer takes advantage of him in the ring.
Diana's relationship with Adrian is another form of tension between gender stereotypes in the film. Boxing is traditionally a sport where men prove their "manhood." They prove that they are categorically the alpha-male by defeating their opponents. Therefore, to have a woman, who should traditionally be submissive and dutiful, step up to the ring turns everything that boxing stands for upside down. Much of the movie centers on the conflicts that develop within their relationship because of this paradox. At first it seems that Adrian is completely open to Diana's boxing. However his true beliefs are challenged when he and Diana are forces to fight one another. Adrian has to struggle with his own definitions of masculinity and femininity before he can come to terms not only with Diana's boxing him, but also beating him.

In effect, Diana defies everything that is traditionally identified as male and female. In the end it is not clear what happens to Diana; whether her relationship with Adrian is successful or whether her father can finally accept Diana's boxing. However one still comes away from the movie feeling that she has accomplished something significant. By breaking into a sport that has traditionally been extremely male dominated, Diana takes the first step in bridging the gender gap. She shows that the rules which govern gender stereotypes are in fact stereotypes, that they are not set in stone and that they can be broken. All it takes is one person, and when others see that what they once thought was black and white is in fact gray, they realize that they too can bring about significant changes. However these changes never come about over night. If one defines one's world with a certain number of boxes and categories, it's always difficult to see that perhaps those boxes never existed. Thus, to be among the first people to break out of these roles Diana leaves herself open to ridicule. This can be seen in the strained relationships she has with her best friend and others in her high school. Moreover, because Diana defies the gender stereotypes she has a hard time being accepted by both boys and girls—society does not know how to treat her since she does not fit into any of its categories.

Diana is an excellent illustration of the many struggles of women to find a place for themselves in sports. On an individual level, defying societal stereotypes is extremely difficult. The buriers that the first person must overcome are often extreme. However once the first person breaks down those buriers, it becomes increasingly easier for others to follow in their footsteps. Diana's struggle demonstrates both how far women have come and how far women still have to go.

Praise vs. Fear
Name: Jennifer S
Date: 2002-03-08 05:14:43
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In this day in age, individuality is often praised, and those who do the unusual are looked up to, at least in theory. For doing something different, they are commended from a distance, but are often scorned by people who actually come in contact with them. This can be seen often with men and women who are entering non-traditional sports.

From an outsider's standpoint, one can make a point that everyone deserves a chance to try any sport they want to, whether or not it's "acceptable" for one of their gender. We admire those who try something new, something different. But at the same time, some thoughts might be harbored, as to what the nature of the person is, who is trying a "manly" or "feminine" sport. And when one interacts with the individual, curiosity tends to win out over admiration, the curiosity aroused by trying to decide what the nature of that person is. Why are they playing this sport? What influences did they have that encouraged them to take up such a sport, which was traditionally held by the other gender? Why didn't they pick a sport that others like themselves had been playing for years? These sorts of questions, even if they are unspoken, give off a negative feeling, a feeling that says that the sports player is doing something bad, even if they are admired for it when not confronted.

An example that I brought up in the forums once: The Cutting Edge. In this movie, Doug was an aspiring hockey player, until he lost much of his peripheral sight to an accident. When he then goes on to become a figure skater, a sport much more graceful and less aggressive, and therefore more feminine, he's afraid to tell his brother, for fear of the reaction. It doesn't help much that his brother runs a sports bar, and probably wouldn't be caught dead watching figure skating.

Another example would be in Girl Fight. The main character is also taking on a non-traditional sport for her gender, since fighting has generally been seen as too aggressive. She decides to start boxing anyway, competing with the men and boys in the club. But she is afraid to tell her father what she's doing, because he wants her to be like her mother, the stereotypical woman. Even when she comes home after a fight, with a black eye, she doesn't tell her father, but lets him believe that it was her boyfriend who did that to her. She also has a hard time telling her best friend what she's doing, but eventually breaks down for fear of ruining the friendship. But overall, she keeps her boxing a secret, because she knows she won't be accepted into the boxing world easily.

While the praise for being daring and individualistic is a good result of participating in a non-traditional sport, there must also be taken into account the reactions of those with whom interaction will take place. The fear of being ridiculed is a strong one, and is probably a reason that there aren't too many athletes willing to take on the sports they want to play, as opposed to the sports they are expected to play, because of their gender.

Blurring The Lines
Name: Jenny Simo
Date: 2002-03-08 10:12:06
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As it becomes increasingly acceptable for women to be athletic in American culture, a new question arises: in which sports should women be allowed to participate? From a physiological standpoint, it has been scientifically proven that female bodies do not differ significantly enough from male bodies to prevent them from participation in any "male" sports. This division between "male" and "female" sports clearly stems from age-old, socially constructed norms of femininity and masculinity. When women attempt to challenge these societal molds by participating in sports that are traditionally male, the intricate web of norms is disrupted. Like many other instances where traditional social constructions are tinkered with, individuals and communities are forced to reevaluate how they think about and categorize their surroundings. I would argue that women's participation in athletics, especially in non-traditional sports, is instrumental in breaking down stereotypes and social confines that have plagued women for centuries
As social theorist Nancy Fraser explains in her book Justice Interruptus, men have been historically considered to be the "universal breadwinners." In other words, a man's responsibility was to succeed in the public sphere, working outside of the home to financially support his family. The term "universal breadwinner" also speaks to the male's role in sport. It was considered acceptable for the man of the house to be competitive in sport just as he was in the workplace, and to bring home recognition or a medal as he would an income.
Women, however, have had the very different role of the "universal caretaker." This translates into the woman being responsible for all that is within the private sphere, including bearing and raising the children, and maintaining the home so that the man can support the family financially. Women are expected to be more passive than their male counterparts. When a woman participates in sport, she challenges many aspects of the gender role that has been defined for her. First, she is taking time away from her family to do an activity that is outside the home. Second, in sport, she is behaving in a more aggressive and competitive manner, which contradicts the meek feminine mold to which she is supposed to adhere. Furthermore, when women compete in public, suddenly the lines begin to blur. Men no longer have the monopoly over the role of "universal breadwinner." Challenging these socially constructed lines works as a catalyst for social change. All women athletes, both in traditional and non-traditional sports, play a pivotal role in instigating this change.
Female bodies were traditionally expected to be small, slender, soft, and pretty, while male bodies were supposed to be muscular, large, solid, and handsome. Sports such as gymnastics and figure skating allow and almost require that women maintain such "feminine" physical qualities. Athletes competing in sports such as power lifting and rowing are encouraged to increase muscle mass at a rapid rate thereby acquiring a physical stature that society deems "masculine." Furthermore, while technique is essential to these sports, there is a significant emphasis on brute strength. Brute strength contradicts the passive femininity that is expected of women.
Women's participation in rowing, as a nontraditional sport, is a poignant example of how the integration of gender roles can instigate social change. Traditionally, rowing was an elite male sport. It is only in the past 50 years that is has become socially acceptable for women to participate. As an increasing number of women become integrated into the culture of crew, more and more women begin to challenge the feminine mold. Slowly the stereotypes begin to disintegrate.
Every year, hundreds of women show up to crew tryouts at colleges and universities across the country. As a result of the socially constructed gender roles, many freshmen women come to college with histories of eating disorders, body image issues, and low self-esteem. Some women, who have been deemed overweight, "solid," or too "masculine" throughout their lives, arrive on campus and are immediately recruited by the freshman crew coaches. Often this is the first time these women have been praised for their "unfeminine" bodies. Similarly, the small and silent freshmen girl who was overlooked in high school is recruited for the leadership role of coxswain.
Within weeks of the initiation into the microcosm of crew culture, women's mindsets begin to change. All of sudden, the woman on the pedestal changes from the slender and meek adolescent who was popular in high school, to the desired muscular and confident rower. Women who struggled with how they looked for so many years are coming to appreciate, the strong, healthy musculature they once loathed. When these women reach their senior year, they walk with an air of confidence in their bodies, their strength, and who they have become. And the silent freshman who was recruited to be a coxswain four years earlier is now running the show. Now she leads all of those who used to intimidate her.
Just as these mindsets were quickly adopted by incoming freshman rowers, they will begin to spread to classmates and co-workers, and eventually breakdown the rigid lines that divide feminine and masculine roles today. Hopefully, the next generation of young girls can aspire to be whomever they want, without the gender prejudices imposed on those who came before them.

Women Athletes in Male Dominated Sports
Name: Jennifer B
Date: 2002-03-08 10:22:29
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Sports are one of the great American pastimes, but the reality is that sports have encouraged a very distinct separation between males and females in the American society. The attitudes acquired through sports are learned on the field and breached into the real world to create conflict between the sexes. The issue of gender inequality goes far beyond the sports world, yet male dominated organizations form and support the sexes. With this separation of sexes we see the social and cultural strain on athletes participating in opposite gender sports, because society frowns on women participating in male dominated sports.
The idea of sports has always had a masculine viewpoint. It has been seen as unladylike for women to participate in certain sports, let alone those that are primarily male dominated. The American public's fascination with female athletes: tennis players, professional golfers, figure skaters, and gymnasts. These sports demonstrate the agility and elegance "natural" to women and although athleticism is clearly a major aspect of these sports, the individual stars are known, culturally at least, more for their "feminine" attributes like self-sacrifice, glamour and grace (Banet-Weiser, p 411). From the article by Banet-Weiser, we can see society and the general public recognition of female athletes has always been based on their feminine beauty and objectified status, rather than their athletic skill, which becomes a major drawback to women's sports and probably a significant reason why many women drop out of sports or have their sexual identity questioned when they try to prove their athleticism.
This issue of gender in sport occurs all the time. The masculine assumptions of team sports challenge the individualist and moralist ideology that constructs sports such as figure skating and gymnastics. The women of the WNBA have had to manage a contradictory set of cultural images and strategies are needed to reassure fans that although they are not dancing gracefully over the ice in designer outfits, professional female basketball players are feminine beings (Banet-Weiser, p 412).
What happens when society cannot accept women as athletes and feminine beings all in one package? This has a dramatic affect on athletes as Cahn (1988) points out, "the lesbian stereotype exerts pressure on athletes to demonstrate their femininity and heterosexuality." So, instead of athletes concentrating on training and competition, they have to spend their time defending their personal lives and sexuality, also reassuring their audiences that women involved in sports are indeed women.
It is not surprising that sports such as hockey, boxing, and weightlifting, which resemble masculine athletics, have the greatest need to attract audiences and the fear of lesbianism are most prominent. Take, for instance, the video Pumping Iron II, where we see women involved in bodybuilding and entering a bodybuilding contest. This is not a women's sport traditionally and the women who enter these contests are judged not only by the audience, but the judges that score them in the contest. Now, the contestants should be judged on muscle tone of the body right. Wrong. In order to define which woman has the best and most well defined body, the judges feel compelled to define "body" in relation to "woman" (Holmlund, p 301).
Bev Francis clearly had the most muscle definition and was a favorite of the crowd, but surprisingly finished in 8th place. The only reason she finished so low was the fact that she displayed androgynous characteristics, rather than feminine characteristics. Even though she had the most muscle tone, the judges were not looking for this, but rather they wanted someone who was more feminine and graceful in her presentation. This clearly discriminates against Bev based on her body image alone.
Although women athletes have many drawbacks to concentrate on, there are positive aspects to women competing in non-traditional sports. They open the door to something new, that although it may not be socially acceptable right now, may be in the future and they are working towards providing younger generation women more opportunities in sport. Eventually, the hard work and effort they put in will make it easier for women to enter into sports that they typically wouldn't and maybe there will even be more funding for women's sports and organizations.
It is clear that the sports experience for girls and women has greatly enhanced in the past decades with the issuing of Title IX. A variety of women's sports have generated attention in the media and many women actively participate in local sports groups or clubs as well as join local gyms. Sports have become an essential part of the culture for women. Health issues are always important and let's face it, everyone whether male or female needs to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine. Without it, we would not be able to participate in athletics and so what if a woman sweats when she is at the gym or playing a sport, it just proves that she is working hard at what she is doing. So, in a way, sport provides communication with other people and improves the physical, mental, and emotional well being of a woman.
I think we just need to look past the negative aspects of sport because they can distract athletes or even cause them to stop doing what they love. Pressure from society to fit in is always a hard thing to deal with and those that overcome the remarks from audiences or critics become the better person in the long run by looking back at what they accomplished and what they have left behind for many other generations of women athletes to follow.

Merging and Submerging of Women in Sports
Name: Jessica Le
Date: 2002-03-08 10:43:49
Link to this Comment: 1454

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Throughout the history of women in sports, women had to ?merge? then ?submerge? with male dominated sports organizations and structures in order to participate. The Olympic Games is a key example of women have to merge and submerge with a male dominated organization. The first modern Olympics, held in 1896, did not allow women participants. And when women were allowed to participate, in 1900, it was in only three sports and out of the 1,225 athletes, only nineteen were women. The Olympics have allowed women to ?merge?, thus enabling women to participate in the games and rise to the level that they compete at today, however women are still ?submerged? within the dominant male sport structure, as can be seen with the present imbalance of men?s and women?s events and the significantly higher number of male athletes than females. Though equal participation of male and female athletes needs to be further developed, the mere idea of female participation in organized ?male? sports is socially and culturally significant by empowering women and breaking barriers that hinder women in all aspects of life.

Women have always been regarded as the "weaker" sex and the role of the woman was always to be submissive, passive and obedient to men. With sports, women hardly had a role at all until the twentieth century. Using the Olympics as an example, female athletes were not even considered at the onset of the modern games, and when they were allowed to compete in the second games in the 1900s, their presence was not taken seriously, only nineteen women competed, and only in three sporting events: golf, archery, and tennis. However, the "merging" of women into the Olympic games has come a long way, as can be seen by the competitive edge of the women in their events, events in which women and men both compete against one another, and sports in which women are actually favored over men , such as gymnastics and figure skating. However, a disparity still exists. In many other Olympic sports, women's and men's times and scores cannot be compared, because the rules are slightly different. For example, in shooting, women and men used to compete together but now, the sexes have been separated and women compete in fewer events than men. In archery, women and men shoot from different distances. Downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, rowing, the luge, and the biathlon all feature shorter courses for women than for men; and in basketball the ball is smaller than the ball used by men, and the basket is set lower than for men. What is the point of having slightly different rules for women and men? Many women contend that the rules of the game changes lightly for women as soon as it appears that women are catching up. Or in those sports where women can compete successfully (such as shooting or archery), the rules are varied slightly so women's and men's scores cannot be compared.

The merging of women into male dominated sports has been important, not just in allowing women to play sports, but it had many social and cultural benefits as well. In many countries, there are actual separate laws regarding women. Women hardly have any rights at all in several Muslim countries; Iran refused to allow women to play sports and would not partake in the Olympic games. The merger of women athletes into "men's" sports has been a social justice issue. Women playing sports has broken the stereotypes surround women as athletes, and their physical capabilities, but more importantly it has introduced the issue of gender equality, and allows promotion of the idea that women are capable of accomplishing almost anything they want. The theme going along with "merging" is also "submerging" of women into men's athletic organizations. A pattern definitely exists in the integration of women into organized sports; women were "invited" to participate, then after merging with the men's athletic organization, they were "submerged". The rules for women's sports and events in the Olympics are different, and when women were beginning to excel men, alterations were made so that women and men could not be compared. The standard is always slightly lowered for women and this forces women to submerge, causing a problem that cannot be solved through legislation, like Title IX.

The mindsets of all people must be changed in order for there to be complete equality between men and women. Homophobia for women athletes still exists in the twenty-first century. Female athletes are often branded as "lesbian", which is a term that should not even be used as an insult in the first place. It is much more difficult for a woman to achieve their goal in the athletic world, and on the whole, women's sports faces struggles that male sports exacerbate. The WNBA was formed to allow women a professional basketball league but it is much less popular than the NBA; a factor that has made the WNBA submissive to the NBA. The situation of submerging occurs very frequently even today. Female athletes receive less endorsements, and scholarships, women's sports organizations received less publicity or recognition; the list goes on. This problem is not one that can easily be solved. Until everyone, including women, unlearns the stereotypes, which hinder women all around the world, something as simple as women playing sports will not fully be embraced or accepted.

The merging of female athletes into male sporting arenas has been a milestone in illustrating women's capabilities, but we are still only partway there. As is illustrated through the submerging of women in the Olympics, women are still not social equals to men. Countries that restrict women to the extreme still thrive and refuse to allow women to pursue sports because of the cultural beliefs, and even in democratic societies women are still not regarded as equal to men. Until the idea of equality is truly accepted by society, women's sports will always be submerged, not only on the playing field, but in the entire realm of life.

Does it benefit women's athletic organizations to
Name: Mackenzie
Date: 2002-03-08 11:19:55
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When the American Basketball League (ABL) started up, I was one of the wide-eyed young athletes who dreamed of playing in it when I grew up. I had always had lots of women role models as athletes, but this gave me something that I could aspire to do with my life. These women were playing basketball as a career. My parents took me to games to see the New England Blizzard and the Columbus Quest play. One time we stayed in the same hotel as the Columbus team, and they all came out of their rooms and talked to me and autographed a program for me. That summer that Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) initiated by the National Basketball Association (NBA). I was adamantly against the WNBA from the moment I heard its name. Take the men's league and stick 'women' in front of it, and you had the WNBA. The WNBA wasn't even playing basketball during the right time. No one should have a basketball season during the summer. Of course, they couldn't play during the winter because then they would be interfering with the men's games. The NBA couldn't let women's games draw support away from the men's games. In my thirteen-year-old eyes, the ABL was a league made for women by former female players. It had female coaches and it was the true basketball league that would give women an equal chance. The WNBA was thought up as a novelty by fat white men in business suits who thought that with the NBA's backing and money, they could do just about anything. So why not let women play basketball and see how it went over?

In retrospect, I can see that neither of my opinions on the two leagues was exactly correct. However, I still resent the NBA-supported WNBA for breaking the first women's basketball league that had a real chance of surviving. I resent it more because I know that the WNBA did have a better chance of competing in the business world of professional sports because they did have support from the men's league. The WNBA would get more sponsors than the ABL would, and it could afford to not make a profit for a few years with the financial support from the NBA. I can also see that with my height and lack of natural athletic ability there was no way I would have ever made it into either league. But that realization does not make me appreciate the original excitement that the American Basketball League had inspired in me.

I do believe that when the women's structure is merged into the men's structure it promotes the women's aspect more than the women could have promoted it on their own. I feel that in the long run, these mergers benefit women. It gives them more publicity, more legitimacy, more power, more money, and more opportunities. All of a sudden, the women's leagues are receiving the same endorsements from products and television companies that the men's leagues would monopolize if they weren't linked to each other. If they merge together or if the same company owns them, then the women don't have to compete against the men's dominant structure. This saves time and eliminates problems for the women and then they can concentrate on succeeding instead of fighting for the right to try to succeed.

At the same time, merging into the men's structures seems to be saying that our culture will only accept women athletes if they have the approval of the men athletes. The combination of the two institutions can be seen as similar to admitting that women need men's help in order to succeed. If the women's leagues or structures could survive and succeed without being integrated into the already existing men's institution, then it would be more of a success. Women would have created their own athletic structure independently from the men's, which would give the organization more power in its own right.

I understand that there are logical reasons for any two businesses or corporations to merge; older, more powerful corporations often take over the new promising ones. It doesn't necessarily have to be related to men dominating women. In the case of sports, however, it has usually been the women who try to create their own new league when they are not being treated equally by the men's league.

Women's athletic organizations have usually been incorporated into or created from the men's pre-existing structure. It is difficult to condemn this, because I believe that anything that furthers women's participation in sports should be supported. At the same time, I resent the implications of these integrations and it would be empowering for women to have a thriving league that is separate and independent from the men's league.

Non-traditional sport
Name: Kristina D
Date: 2002-03-08 12:04:56
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Kristina Davis
Women, Sport, and Film
March 8, 2002

When a woman or man joins a non-traditional sport for their gender or sex, it can have drastic social and cultural costs. These impact not just the individual but also the entire community. When a person challenges the gender roles of society, then they change the perceptions of what men or women are capable of doing, they further androgynize cultural norms, and they open up sports for others.
First of all, it is important to note that the first few challengers to a gender role are seen as novelties. In the film 'Dare to Compete', many early woman athletes were co-opted into male teams to attract more fans. Baseball managers would often employ stunts to raise their ticket sales, with one black team – the Clowns –putting on a vaudeville show during the game. The Clowns did have a female player, but she was not publicized to grab more attention at first. Later, advertisements would announce her presence as astounding that a woman could play as well as a man. She was a novelty within a novel team. In the all-female league during World War 2, the managers would have the girls wear short skirts and put on makeup to look like "ladies". Men would come hoping for a striptease in the middle of the game, because women were placed in the same category of sports as the black leagues. That is, they were only to entertain and not actually compete. In 'Girlfight', the main character is at first skeptically viewed by her coach and then she is viewed as a humorous oddity until she proves her determination. Last year, Muhamid Ali and George Foreman's daughters decided to fight each other in a rematch of the famed Rumble in the Jungle. This received major network coverage and was a pay-per-view event on HBO, but the girls were trivialized and many late night commentators ridiculed the idea of women boxing more than one round. Jay Leno suggested that in between rounds, the ladies would stop to touch up their makeup or become enraged if their hair was mussed during the match. The event was well watched because of this curiosity, and it hopefully proved that the daughters of Ali and Forman were just as much an athlete as they were. Women or men who enter a non-traditional sport for their gender will always be viewed with skepticism.
In "Girlfight", the main character finds herself through boxing, but she has to overcome her family and boxing club's objections. Both see boxing as a phase for her, and so she must work harder to prove her worth. Most of the men do not believe that she is capable of handling the physical activity needed to box well. By proving that she is not boxing for the workout but for the sport itself, she changes the way that the men view women combaters. She makes the men see her as an athlete and not just a woman. From then on, those men will have more respect for women athletes and it will not cause them to prejudge another female trying to enter an unusual sport.
When women or men enter a non-traditional sport, there is always the shadow of homosexuality clinging in the background. Each time there is success; it further blurs the line of what is acceptable gender behavior. This is not a bad thing, but it makes the general population uncomfortable that part of their culture is eroding away. Most people who viewed Bev Francis in "Pumping Iron 2" thought she was trying to be a man. The opinion was that she was ashamed of her sexuality. However, there were many people who liked the difference and applauded her without questioning if she was a lesbian or not. Unfortunately, when gender is challenged, it seems that the target must prove his or her heterosexuality more than they would have normally. In the ice-skating movie "The Cutting Edge", the male lead, Doug, must return home to inform his family that he was doing pair's figure skating. Although he is ultimately joking, the first question that Doug's brother asks is if he is gay. The movie "Billy Elliott" explores the gender-homosexuality issue further as the young Billy decides to be a ballet dancer rather than a boxer. Billy's father asks him if he still likes girls. The fear that comes with participating in a gender-opposite sport only dissuades with each new participant.
As each new person joins a non-traditional sport, it helps to encourage the idea of individuality and breaking cultural barriers. Women's bobsled was finally introduced to the Olympics this year, and by having this exposure, more women are interested in the sport. Each time there is a groundbreaking new athlete in a nontraditional sport then more people join the activity.

Gender Barriers in Sport
Name: Kerry Flan
Date: 2002-03-08 13:28:53
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2. What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex (eg women who enter body building, power lifting, boxing; men who enter synchronized swimming or field hockey)?

Throughout history it is clear that not only women, but both genders have faced seemingly insurmountable barriers when attempting to break into a sport that is not "proper" or stereotypical for their gender to participate in. Though as a society we are making strides towards equality in sport, such as the advent of Title IX, it is clear that we still have a long way to go. Though breakthrough policies such as this are moving in the right direction, other evidence points towards the fact that as a society, we are still more comfortable with women in traditionally female sports such as field hockey as opposed to boxing, and men in traditionally male sports such as body building as opposed to synchronized swimming, since these activities fit with our preconceived notions of what is "normal" for a specific gender. Supporting this idea is the fact that though we seem to be moving towards equality in sport with many coeducational universities and colleges having sport opportunities for both sexes, funding is still extremely unequal, as states by the Women's Sports Foundation in 2001:
But women and girl athletes have yet to reach parity with men. Women are still only about one-third of interscholastic and intercollegiate athletes. In addition, women college athletes receive less than 26% of college sports' operating budgets, and less than 28% of college recruiting money.
Though as a society we are making progress towards equality, there is no way to proclaim women's sport's equal to those of men if funding and support is so drastically different.

Even organizations that claim to push for equality in sport seem to perpetuate these stereotypes themselves, an example of which is a quote found on the website organized by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity: "CAAWS is in business to encourage girls and women to get out of the bleachers, off the sidelines, and onto the fields and rinks, into the pools, locker rooms and board rooms of Canada". ( Though this association does seem to have the right idea in mind, to get women "out of the bleachers, off the sidelines", they perpetuate ideas of normative female sport participation by instructing women to go to pools and rinks, implying swimming and ice skating, stereotypical female sports, instead of instructing them to go to boxing rings or basketball courts.

The quote above also raises another interesting issue by connecting equality in sport with equality in the workplace. Throughout history, these two ideas seem to run directly parallel to one another, and even reflect the state of the other. As women have continued to become a stronger force in the workplace, they also seem to be breaking through the gender-constricting barriers of sport at the same time. This idea reflects the inclination of our society to keep women in roles that are normative not only in dealing with sport, but throughout all other areas of a woman's life as well. In this manner, a good course of action in attempting to deal with inequality is to attack it on all fronts at once, to not simply examine inequality in sport or inequality in the workplace as separate issues, but to instead investigate and attack the issue of gender inequality as a whole.

In addition, the roles that society encourages men and women to fill in sports activity reflects the roles of women and men in society as a whole, an idea exhibited by Abby Hoffman, former director of Sport Canada:
The number of events for men and women will still disproportionately favor the men by a significant margin. The women-only events (rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming) and men-only events (boxing, wrestling, weightlifting) reflect persistent biases regarding athleticism in each gender. The women-only events reflect the socially-acceptable notion of grace while the men's events stress combat and strength. (
In this manner, society seems to use sport to reinforce gender ideals that are already in place, such as the strong man and the graceful woman. It is when these ideals are disputed and challenged, such as the strong woman body builder, or the graceful male gymnast, that problems arise.

Another social cost that often confronts athletes attempting to participate in a sport that is non-traditional for their sex is questioning of their sexuality. Author Mariah Burton Nelson describes this situation in her book Are We Winning Yet?:
"Homophobia in sports serves as a way to control women, both gay and straight." Whether a woman is lesbian or straight, homophobia in sports and the society at large tends to discourage girls and women from pursuing traditionally "masculine" activities such as contact sports and team sports for fear of being labeled a homosexual. "Female athletes in traditionally masculine sports challenge the social dictates about proper behavior for females; therefore, the reasoning goes, there must be something wrong with them. Focusing on sexual orientation unfairly denies women opportunities in sports on the basis of personal preferences irrelevant to athletic abilities. (
The labeling of both male and female athletes who participate in non-traditional sports is another of the ways in which society today discourages athletes from breaking through gender barriers. As Nelson points out above, the focus needs to shift from sexuality to athletic ability.

Despite the social costs described above, there are certain benefits that non-traditional athletes experience when attempting to break down gender barriers in sport. These unconventional athletes usually receive a heightened media attention, and sometimes even instant fame. In addition, these athletes get to be remembered in history as the ones who paved the way for many others to follow, serving as role models for many children of both sexes, as described below by Sandi Bittler, Director of women's sports marketing for Nike:
It's not like when the boys used to play sports and the girls play with dolls. Now there is crossover in appeal. The first time I noticed it was in 1995 when I traveled with the women's national basketball team tour to 30 universities. For the first time I started seeing these female athletes touching younger kids and it didn't matter if it was a young boy or a young girl (
In this manner, it is clear that these athletes are taking strides towards equality by affecting the future of our society, youth. Though as a society we face many remaining obstacles in striving toward gender equality in sport, it is important to look at what has been accomplished, and also look to the future for what can still be done.

What are the social and cultural costs and benefit
Name: Tina Tan
Date: 2002-03-08 13:41:10
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What are the social and cultural costs and benefit
Name: Tina Tan
Date: 2002-03-08 13:42:29
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Tina Tan
Women, Sport, and Film
BMC Spring 2002
March 8, 2002

What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male
or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex?

The lines that separate the sexes in sport have been historically rooted in
society's way of thinking. Though these lines have lately begun to fade,
they are still embedded in the attitudes of the majority of the public.
Women and men alike have been and still seated in their respective sports
without much room or access to cross that gender line. These limitations
take various forms, such as the availability of opportunities that are given
to those that wish to enter certain sports to the media portrayals of
athletes crossing these gender boundaries.

The costs and sacrifices for an aspiring athlete entering a non-traditional
sport for their gender are sometimes overwhelming and detrimental to their
sport career. These athletes often experience the frustration of finding
training facilities catering to their gender. More so, the lack of
financial support from family or even endorsements hinder athletes from
pursuing the best training available. Aside from financial considerations,
finding willing mentors and coaches willing to blind themselves from the sex
of the athlete doesn't come as easy as for instance, Diana in Girlfight.
Most importantly, the emotional support that is greatly important in the
mental preparedness of an athlete is often not existent. Young children are
often discouraged and not offered opportunities to pursue desired sports if
they are considered gender bending. In Billy Elliot, though Billy has a
real passion and talent for ballet, it is after much time that his family
accepts it. Billy's father and brother, employed in mining, a traditionally
masculine field, are initially disapproving of his aspirations mostly
because of the stigmas on sexuality placed on male ballet dancers. These
stigmas appear throughout numerous sports; women who body build or play
rough sports like rugby or hockey are often looked at as butch and thus
characterized as lesbians. In Pumping Iron II, Bev appears to have been in
the best shape, but she is deemed too masculine to win a body building
competition. Similarly, men who ice skate or are cheerleaders are
considered feminine or gay. On the same note, the strengths of men in these
non-traditionally male sports are often doubted; it is speculated that the
male might be weak and cannot handle "manlier" sports. Even women who enter
male dominated sports are considered to be too tender to play. These
athletes are constantly dodging one generalization after another, whether it
is a question of sexuality or physical abilities.

Despite the sacrifices and struggles of these athletes, the benefits
of breaking the gender barriers in athletics outweigh the costs. The
attention brought to the sport and just tipping that outer surface of the
sport narrow the gaps that separate traditionally male and female sports.
Men and women who enter unconventional sports broaden their respective
sexes' involvement and create opportunities for other aspiring athletes.
For example, women's hockey had become an Olympic sport and women's
basketball had achieved national status. As a result, media coverage of the
sport widened and commercial support was greatly increased.

In spite of all the recent transitions that sports have gone
through, one cannot expect complete acceptance of dissenters of these gender
roles. The limits places even on the athletes in any sports, whether
respective to their sex or not, remain apparent in the expected behavior of
the athletes. For instance, women still wear skirts to play tennis and
field hockey, though it seems that in our time, it is quite common and even
more reasonable for women to wear shorts. The difficulty in fostering a
better environment for creating male and female counterparts for every sport
lies in the traditions placed on sports in general.

Final Paper
Name: Aubrey Str
Date: 2002-03-08 14:15:36
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Today, we are seeing many changes in regard to gender and its place in the

athletic world. More than ever, men and women are crossing "gender boundaries" and

entering a non-traditional sport for their sex. Of course this boundary crossing is

significant culturally and socially as it challenges conventional view of male and female

characteristics and roles. When altering a customary view of gender in a society, there are

both costs and benefits to that society. This paper will discuss the costs and benefits to

a traditionally male-centered culture when women and men cross gender lines in sport,

and provide examples of different sports in which gender lines are being erased.

Allowing men and women to play a sport regardless of what sex tradition

relegates to that particular sport is an important idea in the world today. We are entering

an age in which emphasis is put on equality and human rights. As technology continues

to make the world seem smaller and smaller, bringing the international community

together in ways not possible before, heightened awareness of nations' human rights

policies is occurring. I absolutely believe that gender equality is a human right, and

that if we do not acknowledge this fact, there could be serious political or even economic

repercussions. Prejudice in any form cannot afford to exist in the international

community if we all hope to live together in peace and progress. Women play an

important role in this community, including the world of sports. Females need to be taken

seriously in athletics if they are to be taken seriously at all. To say that a female cannot

play sports is to imply that she is weaker than a male, and thus her worth and credibility

are tarnished. Boxing, for example, is a traditional male sport that women were not

encouraged to participate in until fairly recently. However, women such as Laila Ali and

Jacqui Frazier demonstrate that women can not only be good boxers, but champion

boxers. Also, bodybuilding is a traditional male sport in which women have been

participating. Andrea Silva-Izard and Laura Binetti are two currently well-known body

builders. Even another "male" sport into which women have made an entrance is racecar

driving. Sarah Fisher and Allison Duncan are two well-known drivers.

Yet, allowing women into "male" sports only solves half the problem of

gender equality. Men must be allowed to participate in sports traditionally seen as female

orientated. Although I tried to research men who might be competing in "female" sports

such as field hockey and synchronized swimming, I was only able to find information on

the United States Men's Field Hockey Team. Unfortunately, it seems that very few men

participate in "female" sports. This may be partially due, of course, to the fact that there

are very few sports that are seen as female orientated.

I may be somewhat shortsighted in my view and comprehension of the costs of

crossing gender barriers in athletics, however the only cost I see is the loss of restrictive

traditional views of femininity and masculinity. I believe that a society demonstrates its

progressiveness and open-mindedness by acknowledging human rights and equality.

Allowing men and women to participate in a sport regardless of their gender does not

detract from a society, it only shows the culture's ability to free itself from the chains of

backward and oppressive tradition.

In conclusion, changes are taking place in society that advocate gender equality in

sports. These changes need to continue if both men and women are to be respected as

equals. Although male-orientated culture may fall in prominence, this is a small cost

when human rights are involved.

The World of Competitive Figure Skating
Name: Peilin Che
Date: 2002-03-08 14:23:51
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For every Olympic games, there always seems to be some type of scandal or drama. The 2002 Winter Olympic games in Salt Lake City proved itself to be full of this excitement and controversy. That year the scandal appeared in one of the most popular events, figure skating. The competition was between the Russian and Canadian figure skating pairs. The Russians showed a performance full of technical difficulty without pulling it off completely. Their performance was marred by simple mistakes. On the other hand, the Canadian pair performed a piece full of emotion, and while not as technically difficult as the Russians, more thorough and precise in their landings and jumps. After their performance the audience and the television commentators all believed they were the gold medallists. However after their score went up, they were sorely put in second place. As it turns out a French judge exchanged votes with a Russian judge so that the Russians would win the event. Since this happened, it has opened up the doors to the world of figure skating and informed the public of its corruptness. What people need to notice is that judges exchanging votes is only one part of the problem and how well a person actually performs the techniques on the ice is only one part of the judging. In an article published in Newsweek right after the scandal was exposed the author states, "For ages figure skating has attracted ridicule for letting a competitor's nationality, make-up, costume, and choice of music seem to count as much as the athleticism and grace." (Begley 40) As it stands now in 2010, it looks as though no one has learned a lesson from this event or article. Judges who make deals before competitions and get caught do not suffer any harsh consequences. They continue to practice unsportsmanlike conduct while judging. In my movie (as yet to be titled) I hope to address not only the fact that judges make deals ahead of time, but that certain skaters are discriminated by their race and sexuality as well as for arbitrary reasons.

The movie will be set in the United States, most likely in Connecticut, a common place for skaters to train. The main character, Kris is working on making it up the ladder of the amateur skating circuit. She comes from a lower middle class family that cannot support her hobby of skating. Therefore in order to pay for training she works at the rink. Although she has a natural talent for skating, several things are setting her back. One has been mentioned already. She does not have the financial resources to travel to many competitions or for fancy costumes and props. We know that this can and does set Kris back from the rest, even though she may have the skating skills to rival. The second factor is that Kris is African-American. Historically, ice-skating has been a sport that was dominated by white society. Thirdly there are rumors that Kris is gay. In a sport that demands the athletes to be graceful and feminine, homosexuality is not considered a positive attribute for women. She does not want to give up the sport, and she believes in herself and her abilities. However in order for her to continue with her coach, she must become a pairs skater and search for a partner to do pairs figure skating with her. Her coach believes her having a partner will make her more appealing and feminine to the judges. Although we know that shouldn't matter. Her new partner is Zach. He also works at the rink part time, and has a natural gift of skating due to his former training in hockey. They begin training and have only three months to prepare for their first big competition, the U.S. National Competition. They should place in the top five in this competition and qualify to compete in the Olympic trials.

In the end they make it to the Olympics. Their story has become the talk of the games, and everyone is waiting to watch them skate. However in the end, although they had a great performance, the discrimination and inner deal workings of the judges takes precedent over their abilities and they must settle for 3rd place.

The controversy in this pairing is in response to the skater's race and sexual orientation. In the sport's history in the United States, there has never been a widely recognized African-American Skater, not mention an inter-racial figure skating pair. Although they may not have won the gold, they succeed in making the issue of race and inter-racial relationships known. The movie also addressed the challenge of being gay in this sport. Kris could not compete alone and still hope to succeed. The fact that she needed to find a man to make her more feminine shows in this day and age a woman must still depend on a man, even though she is just as capable and that intolerance of gay people still exists. This addresses the lesbians rather than gay men. There have already been many openly gay male figure skaters, and while the subject was never addressed, they were accepted within the skating circuit because the sport stresses femininity.

As the screenwriter, I considered making Kris' ice skating partner female as a way to addresses homosexuality and gender issues within the sport. The female partner would pretend to be male similar to the gender disguising in the movie "Boys Don't Cry." It would also address the rules of skating and whether or not it is necessary for the pair to be made up of a male and female. The female character opposite Kris would struggle with the notions that a woman could not physically complete the tasks and techniques necessary in pairs figure skating. My thoughts were that if a woman trained as hard as Bev, in the movie "Pumping Iron II," where Bev could physically out do some men, then it is possible that a woman could play the same role as men did out on the ice. However, I did not pursue this story because my research into the existing rules of skating was incomplete; I did not know if there was an existing rule, and I felt I could not make the assumption without some evidence.

I would love to make this a mainstream movie so many people could be exposed to the situations and conflicts in this story. However, it would be more realistic to portray the movie as a documentary similar to the "Pumping Iron" series, where the actors are real skaters playing a role. My main goal was to show the ugly side of skating. The one people didn't know about or chose to ignore.

Fighting Kerry Keenan
Name: kate hoy
Date: 2002-03-08 15:50:22
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Theme: Primarily, as we've discussed, this film is loosely based on the story of Lola Bardem, who as a student at Sarah Lawrence college was convicted of killing her lover and roommate, Sara Shield with a compound bow. Lola, an All-American archer, and three time cover-model for Sports Illustrated was the defendant in the case brought against her by the victim's family. The case, which I'm sure we all remember was important for many reasons, not only due to the strange nature of Sara's death, but also for the evidence brought against, and in support of Lola, including issues concerning her upbringing in a low-income neighborhood, her sexual orientation, and her gender.

Although Lola's case has been closed for almost five years now, the ramifications of the suit are still being felt. Since then, many of the nations colleges and universities have cut funding for sports that are considered "out-dated" and "dangerous", although many traditional sports like football, ice-hockey, track and field, and sailing still continue to receive a large sum of funding—often being cited as sports that are associated with the identity of the school, and therefore untouchable due to pressure from alums and television networks that broadcast the games nationally. However, and perhaps more importantly, the film will mainly be concerned with the case itself, and the uproar it caused in the media.

Protagonists: For our purposes, Lola's name has been changed to Kerry. Although the film is ultimately constructed temporally along the events of Kerry's case, the main protagonist is an 18 year old high school senior named Darby Brennan, who is at the time of the case is being pursued by elite universities to join their basketball team. The news that we as viewers gather about the case is filtered to us through Darby's perspective. Although initially naïve with respect to the world of competitive women's sports, Darby's experience watching the case ultimately influences her decision about playing sports in college.

Other than her testimony, Kerry herself doesn't have much of a main part. Rather, it is the media's portrayal of Kerry's case that occupies much of the narrative, and should lead the viewer to question the portrayal of women in sports. Often scenes in the movie will be filmed to give the viewer the feeling of being the audience of news telecasts. However, in order to emphasize narrative perspective, Darby will often comment on the information we receive, questioning how her own life could possibly be construed by the media, and her own activities misinterpreted in the interest of television ratings.
Issues: Although there were many issues that were brought up in the case, we've chosen two to really focus on, that will drive the plot.

1. Raised in low-income, Latino neighborhood, the defendants in the case use Kerry's upbringing in an attempt to create an excuse for her cold-blooded behavior. Although she is Caucasian, Kerry's rough childhood on the street of New York City is accentuated to explain her actions many years later, when in a fit of jealousy she kills her lover, after Sara places ahead of her in the Olympic trials. The lawyers emphasize Kerry's inability to cope with being placed behind someone so close to her, as in her early childhood, those that came in second were often either forgotten, killed in gang-warfare, or left to live a life with little chance of social mobility in the ghetto. Kerry's lawyers also accentuate her natural "need as a woman" (we're trying to keep this as close to the real case as possible) to be loved, coddled and taken care of, and how the lack of these things in early childhood leads to her brutal attack on someone who many considered her best friend.

2. Secondly, the film focuses on the media's portrayal of women athletes. One of the most interesting facts about Lola's case was the media's refusal to cast a beautiful young girl as having the capacity to murder in cold-blood. Although Lola testified in court (and we'll have Kerry do the same in the film), that her only motive was to "off the only real threat to her success", the media persisted in it's attempt to skew her insatiable competitive drive as anything than a pure desire to be the best. Also, we will note, (though not emphasize) the sexualization of Kerry's lifestyle, and how the media translated her relationship with Sara into a "sex-crazed lesbian romp". However, as the issue of Kerry's sexuality was rarely the focus of either the case or the media's coverage, it's not something that we've chose to spend a lot of time with.

Finally, though we are all aware of the results of the Bardem trial, the film is primarily concerned with how the events of the case affect Darby's decision to play sports in college. Although she begins the film with the idea that women's sports had become a fairly liberal arena, Kerry's case ultimately leads Darby to refuse her offers to play sports in college, embittered by her experience watching the case and discussing it with her peers.
Any changes can be sent to me directly.

Name: elvira ham
Date: 2002-03-08 16:15:42
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Amse Hammershaimb
Women, Sport, and Film

I was part of the wrestling team when I was in middle school and in high school. While in middle school, the wrestling coaches were supportive of me and the other four girls on the team. We were trained as if we were men and competed with other team members. One girl was even cut from the team for not keeping up with the training that was expected of all team members. The other coaches in the school were not as supportive. P.E. teachers that were once friendly to the five of us became aloof and discriminatory. Students – other athletes, some on the wrestling team – taunted us. We five women on the wrestling team found we were no longer accepted by teachers and friends. We were never told that this change in attitude towards us was directly caused by our participation in a man's sport, but wrestling seems to be the only reason five women of different race, religion, and social grouping would have undergone such an experience.

My teammates and I were outcast by many of our peers and punished in our classes by some of our teachers for participating in a non-traditional sport for women. When I received a wrestling injury that ended my wrestling season, I was still outcast because I carried the stigma of being a wrestler.

In high school, I did not try out for the wrestling team until my sophomore year because I was afraid of the social implications that joining the wrestling team had. When I did try out with a friend in our second year of high school, we were accepted onto the team automatically so that our school could compete on the female level. We were not supported by the coaches or any of our teammates and were forced to sit out during trials. Off of the wrestling mat, we did not face any social repercussions for wrestling. Then again, we were not wrestling. We were not trained, we were not expected to weigh in, we were not a part of the team.

In both middle school and high school, the social benefit would have been acceptance of female wrestlers and propagation of competitive female wrestling. My friends and I failed in both situations and suffered socially in one way or another for our efforts as a group. I don't think we would have made it as far as we did – onto the teams – had any of us acted alone.

Conversely, my friend who is a female falconer is in this sport as an individual and a woman. She is one of the younger master falconers in the country at 26. She experiences greater success than her male counterparts in part because she is a woman. Sometimes her success is due to the novelty of seeing a woman handling and hunting with birds of prey. She is respected in her field as if she is a man and commands many birds that most men are afraid to work with due to size and/or ferocity. Her success as a falconer adds more to her ability than to her gender.

An individual who enters a sport not traditional to his gender might not further his gender as he might be seen as a fluke – an exception. When many, either at once or individually, participate in a non-traditional sport to their gender I think a difference can be made. That group can show that, as a gender, they can compete and excel in a non-traditional sport. However, my example shows quite the opposite. Is this the difference between team sports and non-team sports? Or obscure sports and popular sports? I don't know that answer to these questions.

Perhaps when a group enters a sport that is not traditional to their gender, they intimidate others that would rather not see the sport changed or expanded. Perhaps if one enters a sport not traditional to one's gender as an individual, more can be accomplished because there is no intimidation factor.

I don't know the best way for anyone to enter a gender-specific sport that does not match his own gender without creating social and cultural ripples. I don't know what the long-term benefits might be because I have never witnessed them to my knowledge. As women, it is difficult to change social ideas of women participating in sports. Some women fail in their attempts to propagate change while some women follow in the footsteps of other women that already changed social conceptions of women in a certain sport.

Women Kicks
Name: Deepti Men
Date: 2002-03-08 16:26:46
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Society, athletic women, and film have always been used as a medium to express
the discrimination against women athletes today. The year 2010 has commissioned me to
write a movie script about women's sports and current society. There are four crucial
elements that define the reasons why women have been abused by men in the athletic
world which are the following: history, race and class, gender, and sexual orientation.
Each of these elements point to the drastic change in feminine power over athletics. The
theme of Women Kicks is about women that kick down discrimination and focus on the
real issue, their love for the sport.

Women Kicks is about the New York's professional women's football team called
"Women Kicks" in a world with the new WNFL in 2010. Currently there are no existing
women's football teams, however I want to portray in this movie how society would
discriminate against a women's professional football team. It is very unrealistic to today's audience to have a women's football team because for the past decades, football has always been a man's sport. I want the audience to believe that anything is possible with the movement for women's rights in athletics. In the opening scene, the women's football team is speaking before a high school audience in New York City. They are watching a clip from a Womens Movement documentary about women marching through the streets of Washington D.C. protesting for the right to work. The team's quarterback, Sarah Cunningham tells the audience, "I believe that the women's movement has not ended, but has just begun. Only, seventy years ago, our ancestors were fighting for the right to work. Now we must fight for our descendants for the right to play." The team's coach, Joe Contonelli tells the audience, "We should also focus on women's increasing power in the athletic world today. How many of you guys watch the WNBA." Suddenly, a boy in the audience screams out, "The WNBA sucks!" Joe says, "Well, we must always remember that women's sports do not appeal to the majority audience. The WNBA
started about 20 years ago and it has the highest ratings from women athletics in
country." Here, I remind the audience about the strong objection to women's sports

Next, Women Kicks opens the discussion to questions from the audience. "Hello,
my name is Mary. I am currently on the girl's JV football team. The boys JV team
harasses us constantly. They even scream out obscene comments like and throw toilet
paper at us during our practices. I have always been told to keep peace in situations like these, however my team and I are losing our patience. We need advice about how to
fight for women's rights without violence or hatred in our actions." "I am amazed by the
strength of your team. I understand that it is really tough for girls to play their passion at the cost of mean rumors and nasty comments. I had a similar situation in high school myself. My high school had no girl's football team. I had to play with the boys during recess. The other students would laugh at me because I was not like the normal girl. I would come home crying and my mother would tell me, 'Remember to focus on the sport and not on the discrimination. Be strong because you must always be persecuted for
equality.' I hold on to that advice dearly because I remember to focus on my passion and
I ask you and your team to do the same," said Alyssa Greco.

Sam Donahue, the high school's gym teacher asks the team, "I have been working
at this high for the past 30 years. Each year, there are less girls participating in sports teams. Do you believe that societal pressures have affected the love of sports for women?" "I am not surprised that there are less girls playing on sports. These days, girls must fall into the category of a magazine model that is tall, thin, and unhealthy. It not sexy to look healthy in today's image. Look at our team, no offense to my teammates. We are all too muscular and magazine articles continue to call us names like, "Men Kicks" because we our physical bodies are not thin like the ideal societal figure. We don't get endorsements because we do not look pretty according to societal standards. One important thing that I have learned in this business, is to remember what you believe is beautiful. It is very sad that there are less girls playing on teams, but hopefully this matter will change in the future," said Sarah Cunningham.

"Hello, my name is Sylvia. My question is, do you believe society discriminates against women more than non-Caucasian athletes?" "Good question Sylvia, but I have no
answer. I think that both of these groups have fought a good fight for the right to play
sports. I personally think that is a battle for other groups too such as poor athletes and homosexuals. Hard work will get you far in a sport, but these issues of race, class,
gender, and sexual orientations can push you down. Athletes must learn to recognize this
issue, but they must always focus on the game against themselves. The real battle is not
against other teams or society, it is against themselves. I hope that we will all leave here remembering that even though these issues of discrimination continue to exist in 2010, the real game is with ourselves," said coach Joe Contonelli. "Well, I hope everyone will continue to aspire in their love of sports. Please come watch our team play the Boston Power Chickas in Giant's stadium this weekend," said Joe Contonelli. Thank you for all your comments Women Kicks, said Sam Donahue.

The Social and Cultural Implications of Gender-Cro
Name: Jennifer C
Date: 2002-03-08 17:11:04
Link to this Comment: 1466


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It seems that the year 2000 was one full of gender-bending films, including Girlfight, starring Michelle Rodriguez. This movie was about Diana, a troubled teenage girl from the projects of New York City. Sent on an errand for her father one day, Diana discovers the secret world of boxing at a gym in Brooklyn. She watches her brother unenthusiastically box in the ring, and then tries to convince the coach to work with her. With time, she starts competing with other lightweights - both male and female. With this newfound confidence, she pulls herself together at school and is able to stay out of trouble.

Also made in 2000 was Billy Eliot, starring Jamie Bell, about a boy in Northern England who schleps to weekly boxing classes only to encounter reoccurring defeat in the ring, similar to Diana's brother Tiny in Girlfight. One day, a bunch of tutu-ed girls and their sour instructor begin sharing the space at the gym. All of sudden, Billy becomes hopelessly passionate about dance. Like Diana, Billy rejects conventional gender roles but must hide his new love from his chauvinistic father.

The parallels between Girlfight and Billy Elliot are uncanny. Both Diana and Billy enter sports that are not typical for their genders but somehow draw inspiration from the love of their deceased mothers and withstand the rejection from the rest of society. Furthermore, each film ends with triumph - Diana wins the match against her boyfriend, and Billy becomes a ballet star and flies across the stage as the male lead in Swan Lake. Both individuals have tread against the conventions of society. And ironically, in both films, boxing is seen as the epitome of male sport.

What happens in the "real world," when individuals enter sports not traditional for their genders? Certainly, it seems that both films revealed realistic outcomes for gender crossing in sports, although Girlfight and Billy Elliot seemed to focus only on the negative social and cultural implications of gender crossing in sports.

First of all, gender roles are a very important issue. According to Diana's father and most of the coaches working at the gym, boxing was "a man's sport." In the film Girlfight, Diana was only seen fighting one other girl, while all of her other competitors were male. Furthermore, Diana was the only female practicing at the Brooklyn boxing gym. For anyone walking into the gym, the idea that boxing is in the male realm become perpetuated. Although female boxers are now becoming more prevalent, it is still a novelty for many people. And for those people, crossing genders in sports is unfortunately something that is looked down upon.

Another conservative viewpoint is that, stepping "out of the [gender] box" can also be interpreted as stepping "out of the closet." In Billy Elliot, Billy's father and brother, learning that Billy was taking ballet lessons, feared that Billy had turned gay. As a result, they constantly challenged his masculinity. Amazingly, Billy remained unfazed by any of the verbal abuse he received throughout the movie. Interestingly, males have always had an important role in the lyrical world of ballet. However, many men in the field are stereotyped to be gay. Furthermore, the typical icon for ballet is a slender woman in a tutu.

However, aside from all these challenges and drawbacks depicted in films such as Girlfight and Billy Elliot, crossing genders roles in sports can actually be very beneficial both to the individual and to society.

Athleticism in general can be very beneficial physically, mentally, and socially. Any sport can help the body to stay in shape and healthy. Sports can also instill discipline and self-respect. Furthermore, sports can be an outlet for aggressive energy. These three things were all true for Diana in Girlfight. She built up muscles throughout her body, became more disciplined about her schoolwork and how she dressed, and she stayed out of trouble. Whether an individual enters a sport typical or atypical for his or her gender, the athleticism involved with that sport is undoubtedly beneficial to the body in a variety of ways.

A second reason why crossing genders is necessary is because society lacks role models in these sports. People like Diana and Billy, who are able to break down gender barriers in sports, are able to make a difference in the lives of youngsters who are becoming involved in sports. The movie Girlfight sends a message to little girls that can be successful weightlifters, or even boxers just like Diana, that they don't have to do "girly" things like their sisters. Although these girls will realize the challenges of entering a sport atypical for females, at least they'll know that their dreams are possible. And boys like Billy who aspire to be brilliant ballet dancers or synchronized swimmers, sports atypical to men, will feel this same hope that their dreams are unattainable.

Overall, with modernization, crossing gender barriers in sports is something that will inevitably happen. It is society's job to allow individuals to freely excel at sports that are atypical to their genders, without persecution or pressures to conform to tradition. For now, gender crossing in sports will be an uphill battle, a definite challenge, but with time, sports will hopefully become an arena free of gender distinctions.

Black Women in Sports: Sexuality and Athleticism
Name: Kayan C. C
Date: 2002-03-08 19:37:13
Link to this Comment: 1467


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Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Black Women in Sports: Sexuality and Athleticism
Name: Kayan C. C
Date: 2002-03-08 19:40:34
Link to this Comment: 1468

Black women have a long history with such sports and track and field. Tuskegee Institute (later Tuskegee State University) led the nation as powerhouses for the production of Olympic competitors from the fifties to the seventies. Despite the relative lack of funding received by these schools as compared to white schools in Jim Crow Alabama, their track and field programs flourished. Perhaps this is because track and field did not require expensive equipment to train and play. While white schools were concentrating on expensive male dominated sports such as football and rugby, track could prove the a sport in which black women could excel. Women have a special aptitude for track because they have greater flexibility and their smaller bodies make them able to run for long distances at a faster rate.
Black women track athletes were also confined to popular notions of female sexuality. Cleveland Abbot, the formidable Athletic Director of the Tuskegee women's track program said in the documentary "Dare to Compete," a documentary film on the history of women sports, that he wanted "foxes not oxes." Black women athletes had to look attractive as well as be good athletes, unlike their male counterparts who just had to concentrate on bringing home the trophy. However, although black women had to concentrate on being attractive, the standards that dictate black female sexuality are different in different arenas and in comparison to different groups. Black "femininity" has never been given the same credence as white "femininity," and perhaps mainstream preoccupation with racial stereotypes of black athletic prowess superceded the perception of black women's sexuality. In other words, black women track athletes were probably seen as more "athletic" than the average (i.e. white) woman, and therefore, their femininity was discounted as irrelevant. Moreover, track, like many other sports at this time was seen as a masculine sport. During the thirties and forties, women's track was virtually ignored. Black women, throughout US history, were not sexualized in the same way white women were, and thus comparisons or grouping of women of color with white women when looking at sports can be simplistic and misleading.
Venus and Serena Williams domination of tennis illustrate this dichotomy between race and sexuality in sports. Tennis has been a sport that has been a sport that has traditionally excluded minorities. Despite the definitive accomplishments of Althea Gibson during the fifties and sixties, women's professional tennis has been almost all white since its induction. Tennis has also been a sport that has been feminized in a particular way in comparison to other male dominated sports in which women have a relatively high rate of participation, such as track. Tennis, unlike other sports encourages women to wear feminine attire, i.e. the short white tennis skirts. Thus women tennis players, particularly with the popularity of Anna Kournikova, have been bombarded by the image of the "blond bombshell/model/athlete," and it has been noted by several sports commentators that Kournikova's media exposure is disproportionate to her talent as a tennis player. Yet she has also attracted more people to women's tennis. Many women tennis players see this as a tradeoff. Perhaps Kournakova's popularity is due to the fact that many Americans do not view women athletes as particularly attractive, but the questions then becomes: What are the standards that make female athletes, and women in general, attractive? There won't be any black women blond bombshells anytime soon, and with sports as one of the remaining bastions of male supremacy in which black men are seen to excel because of their stereotyped athletic masculine prowess—where do black women athletes' sexuality fit within this spectrum? Perhaps black women can be more free to develop their game plans rather than their outfits before the match, but hopefully their sexuality will not be completely submerged by the game either. In an article entitled, "Absent Anna Has Sexy Impact," it was noted, "Serena Williams has no problems with Kournikova's beauty bringing a tennis boost even if the subject herself cannot take a title....The majority of the credit pretty much goes to the Williams sisters and Kournikova. Those three have really made the biggest difference in the amount of publicity, the amount of popularity in the sport." Hopefully, there will come a time in women's sports when all women will be recognized for their superior athleticism, and the unique sexuality of each individual female athlete will be appreciated for how it transforms, challenges, and redefines the social, political, and intellectual dimensions of sport.

Culture, Race, and Gender in Sports
Name: Alisa Alex
Date: 2002-03-09 02:45:19
Link to this Comment: 1469


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When a person of a specific gender enters a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex, many social and moral issues will arise challenging that person involved in that particular sport. The intentions of the individual will be questioned as well as their personal interest in the sport. Before any of these questions are asked, there must be a redefinition of gender roles, femininity, and masculinity. In order for a person to enter a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex without being criticize about gender morality, society must set flexible definitions for femininity and masculinity.

Society must begin to accept the variety of sports both men and women can compete in regardless of the traditional gender specific sports notions of the past. Women should be allowed to participate in traditional "male" sports like hockey, bodybuilding, and boxing without being stereotyped as lesbians. Men should be allowed to participate in traditional "female" sports like synchronized swimming and field hockey without losing their "masculinity". A person does not lose their masculinity/femininity because they chose to participate in a particular sport. Through the movies viewed in this course this semester, we saw women who were able to play against men and still keep their femininity. Nothing is lost when playing sports not traditionally meant for a particular race or gender. Society must become more understanding when it comes to the sports different types of people play and hinder from stereotyping anyone when they participate and perform well in that sport.

When women decide to participate in sports traditionally for men such as bodybuilding, they risk the chance of being socially stereotyped as lesbians, or simply viewed as "less feminine" then say women figure skaters. For example, Venus Williams is seen as criticized for being very masculine in build and judged on that by her performance. The media has commented on how well she plays, and has compared her to men in her sport. She receives fewer endorsements than many other tennis players do because of her looks (but mainly due to her race).

Men place themselves in the same situation when they chose to perform/participate in traditional female sports like field hockey, socially stereotyped as gay or less masculine than hockey players.

There has been a change in the way certain gender sports were viewed when women/men attempted to challenge the boundaries. Gymnastics for example began as an all-male sport. It was believed that women did not have the build nor strength to compete in this sport. In 1928 were women allowed to compete in the Olympics in gymnastics in the team events. In 1952, women were allowed to compete in the individual Olympic gymnastic competitions. They showed spectators, men and women alike that females can acquire the athletic built to compete in exercises traditionally performed only by men.


Throughout the past century, courageous minorities opened many areas in sports for other minorities to follow. People like Jackie Robinson, Venus and Serena Williams, and Arthur Ashe proved that African Americans (who in the past were not allowed to compete in many sports) could play sports just as well as white athletes. These black athletes encouraged other blacks and other minorities to join sports primarily created for white athletes.

It is very important for minorities to enter the sports world for a variety of reasons. One of them deals with the issue of role models. Many children today look up to athletes for guidance and as role models. They need someone to follow and dream of being when they grow up. For a long time, girls had no other choice but to look at male athletes as role models, especially in basketball because there hardly were any female basketball players known in the field. Now that female basketball has gain popularity, girls are able to have someone of their own gender to admire. Women are dominating more sports than ever before and this gives youths hope of one day filling those shoes. It is especially important for minorities to enter sports dominated by whites such as tennis (Venue Williams), and golf (Tiger Woods). Its sends a message to all minority youths everywhere that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it and are determined to succeed.

Individuals Entering Non-Traditional Roles in Spor
Name: Erin Murph
Date: 2002-03-09 16:24:23
Link to this Comment: 1470


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Sports provide an amazing outlet for people of all ages. It has been proven that sports help focus and concentration as well as improving ones physical state. It is a beneficial pastime that all should be allowed to enjoy. Up until that age of 12-13 both genders are invited and welcomed to play sports. After this point something changes, it is not really talked about but pressure is effectively applied and society somehow manages to push people into very gender orientated and gender specific sports. The question is, what happens when someone doesn't succumb to the pressure and actively participates in what it referred to as a non-traditional role in a particular sport? This idea applies to both sexes, not just females. We are talking about how society reacts when women compete in body building competitions and when men become figure skaters. I believe that the root of our problem lies within the biases of our society.

The first major question that should be answered is why does society believe that people entering non-traditional roles as such a negative occurrence? I think that the root of this belief is buried in the past and has matriculated down through the generations. In the early history of sports it was believed that women were too delicate to participate in sports. The thought was that if women participated in strenuous activity that they would damage their reproductive organs, which would ultimately not fulfill an absurd belief that the primary role of women in society was to have children and care for the men. Back then sports were also used as an arena for men to test and publicly display their masculinity. Open acceptance of women in sports at that time would have posed as too much of a threat to the men's masculinity, therefore many years went by which allowed the practice of only traditional roles being witnessed and accepted.

On a more personal level, it has been my observation that up until the junior high level both boys and girls are actively engaged in sports, but once the boys start to get bigger, the adults in the society become apprehensive about allowing mixed gender play. I feel as though society has a tough time embracing the possibility that women might get hurt if they play sports. It is at this point in a student's career that a great division occurs, all of a sudden innocent games become strictly regulated and boys and girls are separated. Girl's sports although athletic are still deeply rooted in tradition, many requiring a uniform consisting of a skirt. Where as the same sport on the boy's side becomes more intense and more aggressive. Or the girl's are pressured into more of the supportive roles to play such as cheerleading. But what happens when these line are crossed by the different genders? I know that when I was a figure skater my male friends would always comment on the males on the ice. Comments consisted of questions including sexual preference and level of masculinity. This reaction is representative of how society plants preconceptions into the minds of the younger generations.

Society is uncomfortable with this cross over because they don't know how do deal with the element of the unknown. I find that this response is very childish and one that I would expect from a young child that didn't know any better. As opposed to trying to commend this athlete for having the courage to take a personal risk and put them at the center of attention, society blatantly points out that this person must have something wrong with them because they are not conforming to the mold that was laid before them. A prime example of this non-conformist action is Bev Frances in Pumping Iron II; she was non-traditional in the way that she presented herself as a body builder, traditionally as men's sport. She was a textbook definition of a body builder, every muscle was defined and toned, but when she went to the competition she was not judged on her ability as a body builder but instead by how feminine she could be while still having muscles.
The public recognition of individual female athletes attends much more to their feminine beauty and objectified status as particular kinds of commodities than to their athletic skill. (Banet-Weiser, p.411)

The judges were not judging on athletic ability, they were judging societies definition of a strong woman. Bev's physical state was threatening to the gender roles that had been set before her and she was publicly punished by for that in the form of not winning a competition she had won from the start. It was without a doubt that she was the most highly defined body builder in the competition.
Images of muscular women, on the other hand, are disconcerting, even threatening. They disrupt the equation of men with strength and women with weakness that underpins gender roles and power relations, and that had by now come to seem familiar and comforting to both men and women. (Holmlund, p.302)

A topic that is often discussed while talking about athlete's crossing the traditional boundaries is sexual orientation. There is something about a male figure skating and a woman being a body builder that makes society uncomfortable and the first defense mechanism that comes to mind is to question that sexual orientation of that athlete. The issue suddenly takes a very negative turn, this topic is something that everyone whispers about but will never talk about up front. I personally believe that many straight athletes over exaggerate their own gender stereotypes to avoid the topic, whereas gay athletes don't talk about the issue because there is still such a negative aura that surrounds non-heterosexual orientation.

The social and cultural costs that result from an athlete participating in a non-traditional role in sports are simple: the experience is highly detrimental to the athlete but ultimately positive for society to be exposed to the change. This is not to say that exposure will solve the problem of biases toward non-traditional things, but I do think that the more exposure that one has to something, the more mainstream it becomes. Another extremely important step that must be taken is teaching openness and understanding to the younger generations. I believe that people are starting to be a little more accepting and I think that this is a big step in the right direction.


Banet-Weiser, Sarah. (1999). Hoop Dreams Professional Basketball and the Politics of Race and Gender. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 23 No.4, 411.

Holmlund, Christine Anne. (1989). Visible Difference and Flex Appeal: The Body, Sex, Sexuality, and Race in the Pumping Iron Films. Cinema Journal, 28, 302.

The Struggle For Acceptance
Name: Jacqueline
Date: 2002-03-09 22:43:12
Link to this Comment: 1471

As an athlete or a spectator, it is easy to both feel and see the impact sports have
on people of both genders. Athletes are able to experience sports personally, while
spectators usually experience sports through different channels of mass media. Realizing
the effects that the world of athletics has on individuals and society as a whole is vital to
the understanding of how sports can positively and negatively effect athletes as well as
To deepen our understanding of the cultural values embedded in sports and to
explore current values and power structures regarding men and women, it is necessary to
investigate the effect that the media may possibly have in influencing beliefs about
gender-appropriate sport behavior. The media is a powerful factor which influences our
beliefs, attitudes, and the values we have of ourselves and others as well as the world
surrounding us. It seems that the televised coverage of athletics continues to reinforce
the ongoing division between males and females, and to reproduce traditional
expectations regarding femininity and masculinity.
One is able to witness the biased attitude directed toward the individual who
attempts to participate in a sport that is non-traditional to his/her gender. Figure skating,
for example, has been dominated for many years by women. Often if a person refers to
figure skating, it is natural to automatically think of a female athlete because of the many
more women who have participated in the sport than men. However, if a man chooses to
figure skate he is generally referred to, by others, as a homosexual. Most likely this
accusation of being gay has developed because figure skating is viewed as a popular
women's sport, and regarded as somewhat of a delicate and feminine sport. Opposing
this feminine image, men are generally perceived as being tough and masculine. If men
do not maintain this expected image, and choose to participate in sports that have been
dominated mostly by women, their sexuality is questioned. Comments like, "Wow, what
a Fag," are often directed toward male figure skaters when viewed by spectators. This is
very unfair and hurtful to the victims of this false perception.
Aside from males participating in figure skating, women boxers are generally
viewed by others as "manly." This is one of the most offensive terms a person can call a
female boxer. The word degrades femininity, especially when referring to a woman who
chooses to be active in a sport that is non-tradition to her gender and has nothing at all to
do with her femininity. In the film Girl Fight the main character, Diana, chooses to train
to become a boxer. It is apparent that Diana is not a lesbian because she has a boyfriend,
so her sexuality is not the issue in this film. However, because she is a female in a
male-dominated sport, Diana does not generate the support of many people when she
proposes her idea about boxing. Boxing is considered "inappropriate" for her because
she is a female. The trainer tells her that he cannot work with her, but Diana does not
allow this to stop her. The time, devotion, heart, and desire she gives are all key
elements in her efforts to becoming a successful boxer.
Both men and women undergo social costs when participating in a sport that is
non-traditional to their gender. As an athlete and spectator, I have witnessed the
emotional torture that a female experiences as a result of playing a sport that is
dominated by men. My cousin Erin absolutely loves that game of football. Although she
does not allow it to stop her, she is hassled by the males and females who surround her.
She is often referred to as "man-child," simply because she enjoys the sport. This is very
emotionally tough for her because of her love for and dedication to the sport. Individuals
like Erin may not realize it, but by participating in a sport that is dominated by the
opposite sex, she is paving the way for women to eventually gain the social and cultural
acceptance needed in order to not feel different because of playing such a sport as
Aside from the costs, there are also benefits when individuals choose to play a
sport that is non-traditional to his/her gender. While the constant struggle remains for
men and women who participate in sports that are dominated by the opposite sex, almost
all sports that exist today have been made coed as a result of this struggle. There are
even women body builders competing today. The ongoing fight for acceptance in sports
that are non-traditional for the two sexes is truly beginning to be apparent. A male who
figure skates not only benefits himself, but also his culture. Just because a male chooses
to play a sport that is dominated by women does not, by any means, infer that he is a
homosexual. Society must realize that sports are open to anyone, male or female.
Women are just as capable as men of working hard and succeeding, and vise versa. The
efforts of these brave pioneers who are proving their capability in sports dominated by
the opposing sex is slowly helping them gain social and cultural acceptance for their
particular gender. Sadly it has bee a long and hard road and will likely continue to be a
bumpy ride.
Despite the struggle for success, males and females who choose to play sports that
are non-traditional to their gender benefit socially and culturally. Those athletes who
dare to compete are paving the way towards a society where gender acceptance and
equality exist. However, for every benefit, there is generally a cost. In the world of
sports, it is fairly obvious that people have experienced many costs including insults,
ridicule, and lack of acceptance, but the benefits gained are much more vital to sports
and the future of athletics. Competing in sports that are non-traditional to one's gender
can only make society stronger, and our culture more unified.

Nontraditional Sport: The benefits and Costs
Name: Kelley Dur
Date: 2002-03-10 12:03:35
Link to this Comment: 1474


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Kelley Duran
ESS 200

Nontraditional Sport: The benefits and Costs

Women and men play various sports because they as Americans want to experience the excitement of playing for fun, and doing something they love. The idea of what men and women can do for fun in sports has been shaped by the American society in many different ways through the media, schooling and education, and professional sports organizations. America portrays women playing field hockey and doing synchronized swimming while men do boxing, and body building. If a woman chooses to do boxing because to her it is fun and if a man chooses synchronized swimming because he likes it, they face many cultural costs and benefits of choosing this sport. Society does not like change and holds female athletes up to ideals such as being beautiful, graceful, and healthy. Male athletes are held to ideals such as strong, aggressive, and powerful. People who choose to play non-traditional sports risk being judged by society as unnatural and homosexual, instead of being viewed as an athlete who is special and unique, they are often subjected to unwanted sexual advances and assumptions. The benefit of doing an untraditional sport is that you are able to do something you love. As a result of people who do non-traditional sports, they open the doors for future generations of women and men who might want do play an non-traditional sport.

The movie, "Pumping Iron II" is an example of women doing bodybuilding which is considered a non-traditional sport. Images of muscular women are viewed by some people as threatening and imitating. The benefit of this non-traditional sport is that it forces us to question our thoughts about women and what they are. We must ask, what is a woman? Bodybuilding of women forces our society to question and ask if a woman is a woman if she looks like a man. In the movie, the judges of the bodybuilders were faced with this question up front. The judges were forced to make an ambiguous line between what the difference was between a man and a woman. The costs of this sport may be unfair judging of the bodybuilders because the judges are still divided on what makes a woman's feminine form better.

The bodybuilders had to deal with assumptions of the public that accuse them of unnatural or homosexual. A main character, Bev Francis had to frequently insist that she was a woman not a man, and she was faced with the questioning of her sexuality. Bev's muscles, dress, heavy facial features, and "unfeminine" body language evoke the stereotype of what a lesbian looks like: the butch, the lesbian who is immediately recognizable as such, visibly different. Bev had a strong belief that she looked like a woman and that she was beautiful and strong. A risk she faced was being hurt by the public's comments about her body and sexuality.

The social and cultural costs of being a male playing non-traditional sports does not seem as severe as it does because men are not driven away from sports. Women are constantly being driven away from any sport from the fear of being labeled as unfeminine or lesbian. Men who want to play non-traditional sports will probably be more likely to be stereotyped as gay, or feminine. But if a man plays a traditional male sport, he will not be subjected to unwanted assumptions or sexual advances. Men do not benefit much from playing non-traditional sports because men have this privilege of not needing to prove anything. Society knows that men can do almost anything they want. One benefit of this may be that society can become more open minded about these differences, and a male playing an nontraditional sport will compel people to think about their definitions of men, and what men can do.

These people who play non-traditional sports pave the way for some sports organizations in finding sources and popularity. These stereotypes are not new as said in Hoop Dreams, "Indeed, the threat of women participating in the sporting world is by no means a new one, Susan Cahn has argued that the stereotype of the mannish lesbian athlete has worked to shape not only female competitors themselves, but also sports organizations, funding sources and the overall popularity of women's sports." To overcome the stereotypes of women athletes is to demonstrate that women who play sports are still women. Non-traditional sports give people a better opportunity to further define women in sports, and to diminish the stereotypes that are often attributed to women in sports.
Women have come a long way in sports. Each step in athletics for women is a fight. Title IX did not solve all the problems as colleges and schools across the country have an equal number of sports for men and women. Over time women's athletics have acquired this image that is negative and often times drives women away from playing sports at all. We need to change this negative image so more women will be conformable doing the sports they love. Women playing un-traditional sports are a start in this process. Along with the cost of playing non-traditional sports that are sometimes harmful, there will be a benefit no matter the consequences. The benefit of women playing freely, without the fear of being judged or hurt by other people is a benefit that is superior than all the obstacle women go through. It is my hope that someday women will be able to play freely, and in hopes in having fun playing the game.

Question 2
Name: Celeste Ca
Date: 2002-03-10 19:12:11
Link to this Comment: 1476

Manly men play sports. Graceful little girls and dykes play sports too. There is no room for anyone in the middle. However they do not play the same sports, these three groups of people. The manly men play football, rugby, hockey, they box and lift weights. The dykes can play any sport because their breaking of the genderized sports barrier can be chalked up to the fact that they are lesbians, not real women anyway. Graceful little girls, they are the ones we can admire, they are the gymnasts, the ice skaters and the synchronized swimmers. Female athletes as they should be are epitomized in these little girls. These lines and more are what society has been fed concerning appropriate sports for men and women. Because of women's long time exclusion from sport, the games became gendered. Women still wear skirts in many sports; the rules of some games such as lacrosse are different for men and women. Muscles are sexy on men but a hotly debated issue on women. But what happens when the men want to wear the skirts and the women want to step into the ring? In most cases unfortunately there are bad repercussions along with the good ones. Sexuality is called into question when members of either sex compete in an unconventional sport. In the case of women, they are constantly compared to men, not being as fast or strong, therefore undermining their game and style. However, every time a man puts on skirt for a field hockey match, or a woman laces up her cleats for a football game despite society's ill will, all humans benefit.
When a man disregards the social pressure he feels to be on a field competing and decides instead to stand on the sidelines and cheer, many issues arise. While male cheerleading has become an increasingly common sight in colleges around the country there are still stigmas that come with those male cheerleaders, namely that they are all homosexual. Some of them probably are, just like some of the football players that they cheer on are. Northeastern male cheerleader Carlos Munoz had this perspective on the association cheerleaders get with being gay, "You can look at cheerleading in two ways: as 'OK, I wear a skirt and I jump around saying cheers' or 'I'm a big man that picks up girls with one hand,'" he said. "It depends which way you put it. You can make it look good or you can make it look bad." His point of view is encouraging however there are still the people who look down on men who take up unconventional sports.
In an interesting twist of irony, many football players are required by their coaches to take ballet, conjuring up images of hulking muscle bound men in tutus. However, there is no assumption of homosexuality with these athletes. Whether they enjoy the dancing or not they are socially cleared of any homosexuality on the assumption that since they play football they are not gay and that they would never take up dancing unless forced to do so. One conclusion that can be drawn from this is that society on a whole does not think that "real" men would ever dance or cheerlead unless there was a way to simultaneously reaffirm their masculinity, in this case better play on the football field.
Charges of homosexuality can also be found in sports that are only unconventional in the United States. Men's field hockey was an Olympic sport 72 years before the same game for women and yet the male version carries the stigma of homosexuality. Since field hockey was allowed in the Olympics so many years earlier for men, the number of countries playing the game have to be historically greater than women. The United States it seems is lagging far behind however in allowing the desegregation of the sport. It might be many years until a college can boast of a male and female field hockey team without getting snide comments and knowing glances.
While men tend to have problems playing certain sports, women can have trouble playing any sports. Female athletes tend to be labeled as more masculine with lesbian undertones more often then men are labeled feminine with gay undertones. The only sports that women can safely compete in without those stereotypes are ice skating, gymnastics and synchronized swimming. There are many other sports that women play everyday without issue or concern as well, sports such as soccer, basketball and softball to name a few. While questions of sexuality can come up with athletes of these sports it is far less frequent than for women who try to compete in sports still carrying the baggage of being gendered. Female boxers, wrestlers and weightlifters, not to mention football and ice hockey players fight assumptions of lesbianism daily. Female athletes wanting to compete in male dominated sports can be written off as just another dyke trying to be like the guys. Gaining respect for women in these sports is an uphill battle.
Female body builders are perfect examples of women unable to break into traditionally male dominated domains as equals. While there are competitions for women body builders they are judged on very different scales than the men as was outlined in Pumping Iron II. Journalist Mark Meloon said, "I admire female bodybuilders because they have the strength of character to do what they want to in the face of awesome opposition!" He goes on to talk about the harassment that women receive that men would not ever be subject to. "Either the woman bodybuilder or the man are strong enough 'to deal with any trouble makers', however, hecklers seem to feel no fear in humiliating the woman." This ability to challenge the women comes from the belief that they do not belong, that they are infringing on an area that they should not be. Courage can always be found to defend ones territory.
Looking at the world of sports though one view gives a depressing look at the injustices and cruelty of the sporting world. Why would an athlete put up with the torment? Why should we support them in their efforts and not try to protect them from the harsh words they will hear? The answer for the athletes is simple; it is what they love to do. They care little about gender stereotypes or cultural norms; they are following their heart. For us, is just as simple, we should supports their fight to open up sports to everyone. The more pioneering effort is done to degender sports the more opportunities there will be for the children to come. Just as important however is the impact allowing everyone to play will have on our society. We live in a culture that is dominated by sports. A favorite baseball player would be more readily named than the president as a child's hero. Just as the physical education department in the 1920's inadvertently created a problem we are still fighting when they insisted on keeping women separate and therefore suspect to lesbianism, reversing that notion of some sports for girls and some for boys will better society on a whole. Freeing women of the burden of being suspected of lesbianism every time they pick up a ball or bat will open up opportunities for girls all over the country. And when men are allowed to follow their desire for sport, be it through baseball or cheerleading it will help break down the rigid rules of masculinity that exist today. As one varsity male cheerleader said, "Any man can hold a cheerleader's hand, but only the elite can hold her feet."

coming together
Name: jim pike
Date: 2002-03-10 21:21:52
Link to this Comment: 1477

Jim Pike
ESS 200
Prof. Chris Shelton

Coming Together

Every sports fan hates to admit the fact that sports are simply business,
but it is undeniable that sports are one of the most lucrative businesses
in the U.S. Right now the market for women's professional sports is
growing rapidly. The best way for women's sporting organizations to
promote and sell this market is to align with previously established
organizations such as the NBA, NCAA and the USOIC. Although joining
with men's organizations is a difficult process that involves compromise,
merging with these organizations helps to land big television contracts,
gives greater publicity, and brings in endorsements, advertisers and
investors. The lack of these benefits was among the key factors in the
failure of the ABL. Inversely, these are the reasons for the successes of
the WNBA and women's sports in the Olympics.
Throughout the history of female athletics merging with male sports
organizations has not always been a pleasant experience. In 1982 the
AIAW merged with the NCAA, despite the NCAA fighting tooth and nail to
try and find ways out of Title IX, an act of Congress that required
Universities to provide equal funding for women's athletics. The NCAA did
everything they could to stop the equal funding but finally gave in during
the 1990's. Right now the NCAA embraces its women's sports programs
and has had many women represented on the executive committee roster
and even has a committee on women's athletics. Also, the NCAA has
worked out television contracts with ESPN, FOX sports and CBS. This has
lead to not only coverage of women's sports but publicity. Women's
games are talked about on Sports Center and College Hoops Tonight
everyday during the season.
The addition of the women's to the Olympics did a lot more to promote
commercial secures and the advancement of women's The Women's
Olympic Games went out of business shortly after the Olympics allowed
women to participate. Women lost a lot with this merger at first due to the
fact that women were prohibited from many Olympic events that they could
have participated in as part of the Women's Olympics. These restrictions
weren't lifted until 1984. However in the long run co-ed Olympics are
beneficial for women's sports. At the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake City
there was only two sports that USA women did not compete in, ski
jumping and the Nordic combined. Female athletes were well
represented even though there were a few more male athletes in some
events and the television air time was almost equal for both sexes.
The ABL never stood a chance against the WNBA. The ABL a independent
women's league and the WNBA, a subsidiary of the NBA, played a big part
in putting the ABL, a separate women's basketball league out of
business. The WNBA could afford to pay players less because the players
could receive a lot more publicity and endorsement playing in the WNBA.
The ABL made huge mistakes right off the bat. First off there season was
from October to March right and competing with the NBA and the college
basketball season. Thus it was harder to land large television contracts.
The could only get contracts on lower budget cable stations the Black
Entertainment Television and some but not much regional coverage on
the Sports Channel ( now Fox Sports). In their third and final year they did
not renew the contact with BET and Fox Sports would show 16 games, a
61% decrease of games seen on TV . However they did work out a deal
with CBS that would show two ABL playoff games. League went under
before they could even finish the season. With the help of the NBA the
WNBA was able to avoid costly mistakes while using the pervious existing
structure of the NBA and its capital to increase the popularity of the WNBA
and ensure some financial security. The WNBA had NBA marketers and
promoters and big television contracts on NBC, Lifetime and ESPN. The
WNBA just this season will be showing a lot more games the ever before.
The LA Sparks will receive 22 of their 33 games televised nationally More
importantly the WNBA had money behind it, commercial on NBC
billboards all over there home cities and their marquee players such as
Lisa Leslies were in shoe commercials.
The market for women's sports is growing rapidly and a big part of this
success is because of these mergers with established organization.
These mergers of women's and men's sports can do a lot more for the
promotion and the TV coverage then any newly formed league male or
female, an example of the is the WNBA and the Olympics. Although the
history of these mergers has had a shaky history in the past those days
are over. There is a lot of money to be made on women's sports if
promoted right and if leagues like the WNBA fail it would be a major set
back for women's basketball so why not have the NBA and all its promoter
TV contracts and executive expertise behind them.


The Social and Cultural Costs and Benefits of Ente
Name: Erin Ragoz
Date: 2002-03-11 08:29:00
Link to this Comment: 1478


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

Throughout time, sports have been thought of as feminine sports or masculine sports. Some sports that are thought of as feminine are gymnastics, swimming, tennis, riding, and ice-skating. These tend to be sports that emphasize beauty and grace. Men's sports tend to emphasize strength and power, like football, basketball, or bodybuilding. The social and cultural stereotypes that are placed on men and especially women in the sports world can be hard for an athlete to deal with. Men are expected to be masculine and strong in their sports, while females are expected not to overexert themselves and still keep their feminine appeal. Who is to say what sports are okay for men and women to participate in? Is it fair to place stereotypes on people who are just doing what they love to do? Will these stereotypes diminish over time?

In history, women have been given a hard time for coming into sports. Since at least the late 1800s there have been myths about women in sports, some of which we are still working on debunking to this day. Some include the notion that sport masculinizes women, sports are medically risky for women, the female body was not made for sports performance, women are not interested in sports, and women cannot psychologically take the pressure of sports (Oglesby & Shelton, 9). Women were seen as fragile and unable to compete on the same level as men could in sports. Women of this time who played softball, basketball, or track were considered "unladylike" and were questioned of their femininity (Spears, 13). Public recognition of individual female athletes deals more with their feminine beauty and status than to athletic skill (Banet-Weiser, 411). In turn women in non-feminine sports may feel it necessary to defend their femininity or overcompensate with extra make-up, done up hair, or pretty clothing. How fair is this? One of the women in the movie Pumping Iron II comments about the judging of women's bodybuilding, "I hope really that they stick with the feminine look.... I mean really, a woman's a woman. That's my philosophy. I think she should look like a woman. And I think that when you lose that, what's the point of being a woman?" I think that just because a woman is not "feminine" doesn't mean that she is not a woman.

In addition to proving or not proving their femininity, women in "non-feminine" sports also have to defend their sexuality. "The lesbian stereotype exerts pressure on athletes to demonstrate their femininity and heterosexuality, viewed as one in the same (Banet-Weiser, 414). Just because sports like basketball, bodybuilding, or boxing are culturally defined as masculine sports, women who are in these have to defend themselves against being "masculine" women. Pumping Iron II shows many different kinds of women participating in a body building competition. Some, like Rachel McLish, bring femininity right in you face. She is concerned with a muscular, yet feminine body (not too big), with her make- up, and pretty hair. She is clearly portrayed as heterosexual because of this femininity and her boyfriend is shown in the film. Another competitor, Bev Francis, is not portrayed as feminine at all. She is not concerned with make-up or hair and she wants to be the biggest that she can be. She is shown with her trainer, but it is left kind of unclear whether she is heterosexual or homosexual. According to Holmlund, her trainer was also her boyfriend (305). I was ashamed of myself for thinking that it was clear she was a lesbian just because of her appearance. Images of more muscular women like in Pumping Iron II or stronger women like in Girl Fight can be threatening to both men and women. The norm is for men to be more muscular and powerful and the woman to be weaker and beautiful. Some people may think that men who find big, muscular women like Bev attractive could be gay because she is masculine. On the other side women who find her attractive are considered lesbians and since she looks like a man she must also be the "butch" lesbian (Holmlund, 303). Men who are participants in non-traditional male sports can also be seen as homosexual. Men who are figure skaters or field hockey players are seen as weak and more feminine. These men also have to defend their sexuality just like the women who participate in non-traditional female sports.

There can also be benefits associated with an individual playing a non-traditional sport for their gender. They are much more noticed since they are only one of few of their gender in that sport. They can be especially noticed if they are exceptionally good at their sport. Diana in the movie Girl Fight probably has a chance to make it in boxing. She is one of the only women in boxing and she is good, she even beat a man. Boxing may be her ticket out of her lower class neighborhood. By being one of the only women in the sport she will get recognition and the fact that she is talented could give her other opportunities in life. She could also be offered a scholarship for school if she continued boxing. Other benefits besides upward mobility and scholarship are fame and the ability to be a role model for your gender. People who do non-traditional things usually become better known. A woman in boxing could become a role model for a young girl who is interested in boxing and never thought that women could participate in it. A man in figure skating could become a role model for a young boy who thought that people would think that he was gay if he skated.

Although there are cultural and social costs associated with a person entering a sport that is not traditional for his or her gender, there are also some benefits. The question that only the athlete can answer is whether the benefits out weigh the costs enough to stick with it. I have hope that stereotypes in sports will become less observed. Sports have changed so much in the last century. Women were barely allowed to play certain sports like basketball at the turn of the last century and now we have professional woman's basketball. More changes are coming, slowly but surely they are coming. Just the fact that we are now questioning the costs and benefits of being in a sport that is not necessarily for your gender/sex is a step in the right direction.

Recreating the 'Norm'
Name: Brooke Col
Date: 2002-03-11 15:28:39
Link to this Comment: 1480


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

When investigating the costs and benefits of an individual competing in a sport considered non-traditional for their gender, we must first answer the question of what makes the single-sex status of these sports so important. We know that much controversy often surrounds the assimilation of a certain gender into a sport not traditionally considered their own, but we might forget to ask why this is the case to begin with.

First, it is important to acknowledge that the answer to this question will most likely vary a bit between genders. For men, I believe much of the drive to keep certain sports single-sex, stems from a dominance/power struggle. Most of the "male" sports mentioned focus mainly on pure strength, and in the case of boxing, agility. The idea that a woman can excel, or even surpass her male counterpart, in a sport relying so heavily on muscular prowess, seems to me like an issue that could be fundamentally threatening. When I mention power struggle, it's mostly in reference to a struggle for dominance, but I believe that many of the men who look down upon women who enter sports primarily relying on physical strength, may feel threatened in both respects. On the opposite end of the spectrum, much of what might drive them away from traditionally female sports, is the fact these sports are often considered too 'feminine' to justify male participation. It's almost as though the 'masculine' element of a sport implies some sort of inherent difficulty, while a sport deemed 'feminine' is not necessarily thought to be quite as challenging.

As for females participating in more male dominated sports, it seems as though they run into similar issues. Most women shy away form participation in male dominated sports in fear of coming across as too masculine. This also plays into the power dynamics that have defined men and women's roles for far too long. Women are either afraid to, or no longer even consider the idea of, pushing back against their stereotypically defined roles.

There are obviously many men and women who have challenged these roles over time, and who continue to push these somewhat intangible boundaries. I believe the benefits of abandoning the gender roles in sports strongly outweigh the costs.

The biggest benefit seems to me to be, quite simply, the opportunity for both males and females to feel comfortable participating in whichever sports they may feel drawn to. The option of completely 'free choice' is somewhat far off considering the internalized stereotypes that our culture has impressed upon us from the start. These, of course, being the stereotype of which sports are and are not appropriate for our specific gender. Some might argue that until sports are seen as somewhat standard for each gender, no athlete will have completely 'free choice'. As long as a stigma surrounds certain sports, athletes of the non-dominant gender will never feel completely comfortable approaching the sport.

The benefit of certain athletes forging ahead in their respective non-traditional sports would be felt on the overall athletic culture. Ideally, the stigma mentioned earlier will slowly begin to dissipate. A positive way to make change will simply be through exposure, and through this, change will slowly take place over time.

The pros and cons for the individual athlete would certainly vary, though. There would be the obvious pro of being able to pursue an activity of interest to them. On a larger scale, the athlete will be facilitating positive change in the overall athletic community by expanding people's assumptions of appropriate gender roles. The con's, in my opinion, lie in a smaller scale category. Negative reactions from family and friends, as well as a lack of support overall, are a few possible negative outcomes an athlete might experience in sports considered non-traditional for their gender. There is also the possibility that their participation will initially have heighten people's disinterest and unwillingness to accept change. Through positive exposure, however, we will ideally reach a point where this no longer comes up as an issue.

There will always be several positive and negative variables to take into account when measuring the potential affects of cultural change. In most cases, it is simply a matter of calculating whether the positives will outweigh the negatives. When discussing potential social change, one can usually assume that the positive affects will overshadow any potential negative affects. The question usually surrounds how long it will take these positive affects to begin to dominate the situation. In the situation of athletes participating in sports not traditional to their gender, I believe it's simply a matter of time before positive changes are seen. Ideally, with exposure, changes will be made over time in how people view the appropriateness of participation by certain athletes in sports untraditional to their gender.

The Issues of Women in Sport
Name: Jessica Pa
Date: 2002-03-12 03:12:36
Link to this Comment: 1484


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

The topics including race, gender, history and sexual orientation play major roles in women's participation in sport. Through out the history of women in sport, opportunity has increased. Many athletes and coaches are presented with the issue of sexual orientation throughout their sporting career. Regardless of sexual orientation, all female athletes are affected by heterosexism. One's racial or ethnicity background greatly shapes the experience they may have in sport. This essay explores the many issues women in sport face today.

Historically, it has been understood that the "natural order of the universe" consisted of man to the marketplace, woman at home with her family, woman the mistress of domesticity, man the master of all else, man the rational thinker, woman the guardian of morals, man dominant, and woman subordinate. The injection of equality between the two genders challenged the foundation of the social order. Women's sports in the late 1800's focused on correct posture, facial and bodily beauty, and health. In 1916 the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) holds its first national championship for Women. In 1919, Suxanne Lenglen shocks Wimbledon in triumph in a dress that exposes her arms and lower legs. In 1925 Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel, breaking the existing record by more than two hours. In 1932, Babe Didrkson sets the world record in three track and field competitions. Amelia Earhart disappears over the South Pacific in her round-the-world flight in 1937. In 1949 the LGPA is established. Marcinia (Toni) Stone is the first woman to break gender barrier when signed to the Negro American League Team in 1953. In 1960 gender verification testing for women was enforced at international sport competitions. The first five-person full court play is adopted in women's basketball in 1971. In 1972 Title IX is passed creating opportunities for girls and women to participate in sport. In 1973 Billy Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in the "battle of the sexes" tennis match. In 1973 the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) awards the first academic scholarships to women athletes at the collegiate level. Jackie Joiner-Kersee sets the new heptathlon world record and wins a second gold medal in the long jump in 1988. In 1991 Judith Sweet becomes the first woman president of the NCAA. Soccer and softball make it into the Olympic debut in 1996. In 1997 professional basketball debuts with the WNBA and ABL. In 1999 the U.S. Women's Soccer team defeats China for the World Cup win in a record seating of 90,185 people (Cohen, viii).

Gender role is defined as the socially constructed and culturally specific behavior and appearance expectations imposed on women (femininity) and men (masculinity). Many girls are subjected to gender role stereotyping and different treatment Through socialization, individuals learn to behave in accordance with the expectations of others in the social order (Hult, 83.). Gender ideology is involved when one attaches a color such as pink and blue to sex and when one designates types of toys as male, female or neutral. Most play behavior is an outcome of gender role stereotyping that stems from cultural ideology. Early research provides that by first grade, boys recognize sports, whereas girls recognize grades as the most important attribute for popularity. Research has found that girls tend to play indoors more often and tend not to play team or competitive games, which limits their spatial experiences in outdoor settings. Developmental progression of sports socialization process provides us with the following information: activities during the early years are more gender similar than gender differentiated, by grade one, children are monitoring their parents' behaviors for cues that reveal the importance parents attach to participating and doing well in sports, gender differences in sport ability, enjoyment, and perceived usefulness are evident, parents encourage sons more than they encourage daughters to be physically active (Cohen, 9.)

Early studies indicates that race and social class background accounts for different experiences in socializing young girls into sport. Women of color experience both racism and sexism. Racial, and social class are essential elements that need to be incorporated into the socialization process in general and sport socialization in particular. These factors represent critical components in the formation of values and cultural practices that orient individuals to particular patterns of thinking and feeling about sport, leisure, gender, and the body. Women of color speak with the understanding that they will often not be listened to. Coaches who are women of color know that the majority of White colleges and universities are not viable places employment. People of color can not be late to meetings or practices without it reflecting their race. When people of color are successful athletes, their success reflects their race rather than their ability (Cohen, 291.)

Girls and women who excel in sport are threats to a gender system that insists on unequal social constructions of womanhood and manhood. Women are perceived as an imitation of the real thing and are treated as second class citizens. Women and girls in sport are often called lesbians or dykes to deny them the equal opportunity in school or community sport programs. The heterosexism in women's sport affects all women, regardless of their sexual orientation. Many lesbian coaches and athletes are hesitant to out themselves publicly out of fear that they will be discriminated against, losing corporate endorsements or the support of fans, teammates, or coaches. Some athletic directors prefer to hire female coaches that are married to avoid hiring a lesbian coach. Some colleges participate in negative recruiting. They tell the recruit and her parents that there are lesbians in other school's sports program to discourage an athlete from considering another educational institution. Sometimes lesbian athletes are shunned by their teammates. Athletes taunt and tease opponents during competitive play by shouting anti-gay slurs or questioning female identity. Homophobia in sport needs to be addressed because generally 10% of athletes are gay, coaches may help unlearn certain prejudices that athletes bring with them. Another reason to address homophobia in sport: The U.S. dept. of health and services released information indicating that 30% of suicides are committed by gay or lesbians (Cohen, 279.)

Although Title XI has brought women's history in sport a long way and has provided women with the opportunity for fair play, many objectives are still left unmet. For every one dollar spent on collegiate female athletes, two dollars are spent on males. As long as there are expectations for male and female children to participate in certain activities based upon their gender, equality between the two sexes will not be met. The touchy subject of homophobia in sport has begun to draw interest over women in sports today. This major issue needs to get world-wide attention before great efforts are made to stop homophobia in sport. White people realize the concept of their white privilege and the responsibility it entails.

A Fight to the Death: NCAA vs. AIAW
Name: Lauren Hol
Date: 2002-03-12 03:18:22
Link to this Comment: 1485


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

Women have faced an uphill battle throughout the history of sports whether it is to be able to compete in sports, to attain equal funding for programs, to have access to facilities, or a number of other obstacles that have been thrown in their ways. Women have had to organize and administer their own sports structure rather than compete within the men's structure that existed. The sheer strength and determination of many women sports heroes is what propels women's sport to keep going. One theme that has predominantly surfaced in this fight though is the merging of women's programs with men's, oftentimes only when they are successful enough to stand alone on their own.

When female athletes wanted to participate in tournaments and intercollegiate play they had to form their own league, since the NCAA would not accept women's teams. Many women fought long and hard in order to form the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in 1972, and even harder to make it the successful league it eventually became. The AIAW gained corporate sponsors and television coverage of their national championship and also catapulted women's basketball into the forefront of athletics worldwide. In 1976, just four years after the formation of the AIAW, women's basketball debuted at the Olympics. At the end of its reign the AIAW had created 42 national championships and moved from a 276 charter member institution into an organization consisting of 971 institutional members (Hult).

In 1979 Title IX was passed, giving female athletes a huge step towards achieving their goals but possibly giving the AIAW it's defeating blow. With the passage of Title IX came funding for women's sports that was not present prior to this. Suddenly women's athletics were more than just a game, they were profitable sports and men took note of this. Most educational institutions merged their men's and women's physical education and athletic departments. Since this new athletic department had twice the staff that was needed, women athletic director and administrators were sent down to secondary positions. Men were now controlling women's athletics, one domain where women had ruled for the past decade.

Male coaches weren't the only ones to notice the potential profit included in women's athletics; the NCAA began to make serious offers to AIAW about merging. Because the NCAA had not prior to this considered the AIAW an equal until women's athletics had potential for television contracts and national championships, the AIAW refused these offers. The NCAA began to make offers to colleges, such as if a college's men's team was already enrolled in the NCAA then their women's team could enroll for free for the first year. This method was very successful for taking schools away from the AIAW. Eventually the AIAW put all of their money into a lawsuit against the NCAA, but they were unsuccessful, resulting in a merger between then AIAW and the NCAA. The social costs of this merger seemed very large to many women, mainly because of the loss of control. Women's athletics went from being almost completely controlled by women, both in administrative and coaching positions, to being another field where men were dominant over women. This wrong still hasn't been righted, since female coaches are at an all-time low. How could this possibly benefit women?

There was a silver lining to this though; the AIAW accomplished a lot for women in its ten years as an organization. Though it was falling to a men's institution it had achieved its goal of making women's athletics equal to men's. When the NCAA took over, athletic scholarships for women increased. The AIAW felt that maintaining that each athlete was a student first and foremost was their main concern, and this disappointed many young women who hoped to obtain a sport scholarship to go to college. The NCAA put pressure on the AIAW and scholarships started to become available to women. Though the AIAW had accomplished much change on it's own, I feel that it was the pressure that the NCAA put on that really got men's and women's athletics on the same page.

sport mergers
Name: janet mero
Date: 2002-03-12 16:04:59
Link to this Comment: 1488


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

Many of the pre-existing women's sports organizations such as Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI), and American Basketball League (ABL) have been the casualties of male dominated sports structure. These organizations merged or dissolved as other male dominated institutions began to include women's competitive sports. The NCAA saw the potential for additional revenue as the AIAW grew. Rather than lose significant financial resources the NCAA insisted that its member institutions offer women championships. This meant that both men's and women's programs had to be included in member institution or not be recognized by the NCAA. As a result of the Women's Olympic Games the International Olympic Committee (IOC) feared it would lose power over the amateur sports domain. This discovery motivated the IOC to include more sports for women in the 1928 Olympic Games. The ABL struggling financially and creatively folded in 1998 as a result many of its players joined the WNBA creating an unofficial merger. The disappearance of these organizations has in many ways created a void of women leadership. Consequently women have not been able to truly identify their role as sports administrators.

The Women's Olympic Game was the brainchild of Alice Milliat. Milliat and her fellow French feminist founded the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI) in 1917. She founded this organization after the International Olympic Committee refused her petition to allow women to compete in track and field at the Olympics. The federation included the United States, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, and Spain. The first World Games for women were held at the Stade Pershing in Paris on August 20, 1922. The event was completed in one day, and consisted of 11 events. With an audience of 20,000 for the closing stages the International Olympic Committee took note and voted to allow women to compete in 5 of 10 sports, suggested by the FSFI, at the 1928 Summer Olympic Games (Hult 87). The 1928 Games had reduced events, and opportunities, which meant that women's leadership were reduced as a result. Although FSFI was victorious in opening more opportunities for women to compete at the Olympics women were still excluded from making decision process in their own sports. The IOC conceded to the FSFI only to sustain its powers.
Despite the advances of TITLE IX the fight to allow women to equally engage in sport continues today. Many unforeseen consequences occurred due to TITLE IX specifically with women's involvement in the administration aspects of sports. In the article "The story of women's Athletic Manipulating a Dream" author Joan Hult supports this idea. Hult concludes
"although [TITILE IX] brought millions of girls and women to the sports fields and arenas, it reduced thousands of women administrators to secondary positions of leadership and removed them from decision making positions. As a consequence of the loss of women in decision making positions the governance of girls and women athletes became the province of men and men's governance structures" (Hult 96).

The most notable victim was the AIAW. The AIAW's down fall or merger with the NCAA created a void of women who administrate sport (coaches, athletic directors). After the collapse of AIAW many of the positions offered by the NCAA were not filled by AIAW women, but by men.

The ABL (American Basketball League) folded in 1998 after three seasons. The league was unable to compete with the rival WNBA, which is backed by the money and marketing strength of the NBA. Ultimately the ABL's bankruptcy occurred because it was unable to get the necessary TV exposure and sponsorship to survive. Possibly the mainstream audience of women's basketball preferred the WNBA because of its high profile connection to the NBA. The NBA as a well-established institution for basketball automatically proved the WNBA credibility. The ABL lacking corporate backing suffered because it was an independent entity in basketball. An important question to pose is: was the ABL's bankruptcy due the lack of a fan base or corporate sponsorship?

Although the WNBA is a successful league its connection to the NBA adds to the void of women administrators and reinforces the need for men in a women's professional basketball success. Sarah Banet-Weiser author of the article "Hoop Dreams" argues, "that women's professional basketball has been defined as a cultural arena that is primarily about gender"(Weiser 404). The NBA is helping to reinforce societal constraints on the women professional basketball players. It is obvious that "the WNBA, as a cultural arena, is clearly about normative femininity, heterosexuality, maternity, and perhaps most important, respectability"(Weiser 404). Consequently the lose of the ABL also reduced the numbers of women in administration positions, of coaches and of opportunities for leadership. The ABL's most important legacy is that it did not allow its self to be defined by the gender of its athletes. Its demise or "merger" ultimately reinforces the gendered identity of the WNBA.

In conclusion the reduction of women in leadership positions is in part due to the mergers of female sport structured organizations with male dominated sports structures. The opportunity to gain and lose additional resources was the primary motivations of male dominated structures such as the NCAA. The void of women's leadership in sport has perhaps created a sense of lose in women's athletes. Although women have significantly improved its position in sport and society there is still a long journey to equality in both arenas.

Pushing the Gender Boundaries
Name: Mary Kathr
Date: 2002-03-13 00:31:50
Link to this Comment: 1490


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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When women and men participate in sports dominated by the opposite gender there is often overwhelming objection to individuals defying the norm. Often women are the people who attempt to participate in so called non-traditional sports. But just as importantly, men are struggling against a similar resistance. An example of this is when men participate on field hockey teams dominated by women, creating positive and negative implications to the game and also socially. However, individuals who make the move across gender boundaries in any sport are helping pave the way for equality in a sector of our society that is still bound to traditional sex roles.

Historically field hockey was introduced in the United States to women. However, the game that originated in Europe and is played virtually all over the world is also played by men. The anomaly of only women playing field hockey is just an issue in the US and has lead to the recent controversy of men participating on all female teams from elementary school to the college level. Although title IX requires that equal opportunity for participating in sports be given to both males and females, the debate on the costs and benefits of this statute is still heated.

Those who oppose men participating in field hockey claim that their presence on the field will change the nature of the "women's" game. The greater strength of men could make the game more aggressive or even violent, and potentially overpower the female athletes who are participating along their side. There has been a valid and long-standing claim, stating that female participation in sports provides an arena where girls and women can become empowered and gain confidence to face life's battles. Many people see men as a threat to this value suggesting that a mans presence on the field could intimidate the women, thereby dominating the game, and taking away a safe place for girls to grow and find their own strengths.

Another argument in opposition to men participating in field hockey, as well as other female dominated sports is aligned with the idea of equality. It is suggested that despite title IX, females have yet to gain gender equality and are still not given the benefits that their male counterparts receive. Therefore, male participation in the traditionally female sports would be giving men opportunities that women are still fighting for. To many, this clearly is a setback in the struggle for gender equality. However, this contested point is also pivotal in the argument for those who see the participation of men in field hockey as a positive aspect to the game and also to society as a whole.

When advocates of title IX and gender equality in sports speak of the term equality it involves both men and women. By seeing equality as a product of two components, it is unfair to fight for opportunities for women, and then deny opportunities for men. In fact, by not only tolerating men's participation in traditional female sports, but also supporting them in their endeavors, it may allow for a smoother transition for women who are attempting to do the same in male dominated sports. The positive implication of male participation in female sports goes beyond the social and cultural realms by benefiting the nature of the game of field hockey itself.

The separation of the sexes on most athletic teams in the United States while having its benefits, does not allow for the potential positive outcomes of integration. When women compete with and against men on the field hockey field, the gender barrier placed by society that claims women are not capable, strong, or confident enough to be challenged my men, is completely broken down. In fact, by incorporating men onto women's teams women prove to themselves that they are more than able to play with men, by holding their own ground as well as pushing themselves to a higher level. Once it is recognized that women can play with men and vice-a-versa, segregation of teams by gender, that has historically seemed important, has the potential to disappear.

By looking at field hockey as an example of men participating in gender specific sports, it can be concluded that there are positive and negative outcomes of pushing traditional boundaries. However, it appears that benefits outweigh the costs on this issue by a wide margin. Even for those who do not believe men should enter the segregated world of female athletics, the only way to achieve gender equality in sport or in society at large is to allow for equality for both women and men. There is no way women can conquer the world of male dominated sports, if women don't accept men into their world.

Powerderpuff: Behind the faces of the NWFL
Name: Abigail Cl
Date: 2002-03-13 12:16:38
Link to this Comment: 1491


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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Powderpuff tells the story of how the National Women's Football League began and it's struggles in its first decade of uninterrupted, competitive play. The film will show the lives of four different women and how they overcame the struggles and stereotypes to play tackle football. The following women's lives have been documented thanks to the help of the athletes, parents, coaches and local news stations. Cindy Jakubowicz throughout her teenage life, many other athletes were intimidated by her and instead of competing with her aggressive nature on the field, they labeled her as a dyke and thought nothing of it. Jakubowicz overcame those struggles and went on to captain the Philadelphia Liberty Belles in their inaugural season, winning the league championship and continued to play competitively for five years. Jessica Dugger and Laurel Shute were twelve when the NWFL began and their story is about playing football through middle and high schools and starting a club team at their college before both being selected for the 2011 Nashville Dream team. And finally the film will focus on the master mind of this whole league, Catherine Masters and how her dream made little girls dreams come true. Born into a football family, Masters saw firsthand how football excited men and women, but wanted the same opportunity to be made for both men and women to be able to play football. She saw how Title IX improved women's sports on the collegiate level and after seeing the success of the WNBA and WMLS she began the NWFL. Through the first decade of the NWFL, the league transformed the stereotype of the players and the fan base and every January fans are eager for their home team to begin play. With 36 teams now active, most major metropolitan cities have a WNFL team and some teams support is so huge that they sell-out an NFL stadium. However, before diving into the biographies of these amazing women, old footage of the numerous attempts to start this successful league will be shown. Through much hard work, dedication and support, the NWFL this time succeed and even broke even in profits in the past couple of years.

In 1926, NFL teams such as the Frankford Yellow Jackets fielded women's teams for the sole purpose of halftime entertainment. Then forty years later, Sid Friedman, a Cleveland talent agent, started a women's semipro tackle league, the Women's Professional Football League, as a 'gimmick.' By 1971, this league grew to include Cleveland, Toledo, Toronto, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Lacie Wilson, of the WPFL said, "she enjoyed playing in the league, but wished fans viewed it in the same intensity as they viewed the NFL. I felt like a cheerleader with pads." In 1974, the National Women's Football League formed with teams in Dallas, Fort Worth, Columbus, OH, Toledo, Los Angeles, California (city unspecified) and Detroit. By 1976 the league expanded and formed three divisions to include Eastern (Columbus, Detroit, Philadelphia, Middletown, OH and Toledo), Southern (Oklahoma City, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Tulsa) and Western (Los Angeles, California, San Diego and Pasadena). In August 1976, the Oklahoma City Dolls and the Toledo Troopers met in the first ever WPFL Championship Game and after the referees deliberated a game winning play, the game was ruled a tie and the teams shared the title. Erin Smith of the Dolls remarked after the game, "I would have rather lost than have to share the title. The refs probably thought they were being equal by not picking a winner, but in fact they made the game seem like a prissy girl game that doesn't have winners and losers. It's a disgrace to the league." After the 1976 season, the league began to break into separate franchises, mainly because the league had to limit interdivision play to cut travel costs. Through the early 80s, teams dropped like flies as the owners could not financially manage a team and by 1988, the Cleveland Brewers decided to take up flag-touch football and persuaded the Columbus team to join them. The WNFL ceased to exist until Catherine Masters ignited it again in 2000. The first preseason began on October 14, 2000 to December 2, 2000 with the Nashville Dream and the Alabama Renegades and had stimulating success from media and fans worldwide. Masters added another 8 teams between January and March 2001, which led to the first league championship between the Philadelphia Liberty Belles and the Massachusetts Mutiny with the Belles creaming the Mutiny 40-7.

Cindy Jakubowicz was one of the initial players in the NWFL and participated in many of the round table discussions Masters held to get the league rolling. Jakubowicz, from Havertown, PA always liked and participated in sports, but at a cost. "Everyone called me a dyke. And being from a small town, word got around that everyone thought I was a dyke because I wasn't one of those petite girls who wore skirts and dresses. I played ball and I played hard. I also worked hard in school because I knew that my athletics were not going to take me as far as they could if I was a guy. There was no such thing as a football scholarship for girls so I didn't play football in high school. I played soccer, basketball and lacrosse. At 6'1", I was intimidating to many girls and I think that scared them and instead of trying to compete with me on the field, they would try to assert themselves that they were better than me by calling me gay." Jakubowicz graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class and went on to play lacrosse at the University of Maryland on a full scholarship. "I loved playing lacrosse, but never had the same passion for it as I did playing football and I played flag football with other women in the area, but it just wasn't at the intensity I wanted. So when Catherine asked me about the NWFL, I was excited, but nervous that it wouldn't succeed or that it would get a bad reputation: like only dykes can play and only dykes will watch. Granted, I do think a lot of our fans are lesbians, but they are fans nonetheless. Do we stereotype that most people that watch golf are white men? Or that boxing fans have to be minorities? It is the same type of stereotype and in order for any sport to be popular, owners, fans and players need to overlook those stereotypes and see that there is an athlete out there working her hardest and enjoying herself. That is why I play and that's why everyone should play." Jakubowicz played her entire NWFL career for the Liberty Belles and has never regretted any part of it. "I loved playing and I think the crew we have coming in now is fantastic. The league gets more and more popular by the minute and I know that we will never have the fan base that the NFL has, but I don't expect it nor want it. Our fans are true and genuine and the players are as well. That is important in making a successful league and I think Catherine has done a great job putting the league together and making it what it is today." When asked how she will continue to support the league, Jakubowicz answered, "The head coaching position is open for the DC Divas and I think I might take it. I love the sport and I love the new talent we have. Our success has brought many more women on men's football teams. Plus with the success of many women club football teams, especially down in Tennessee, the NWFL will continue to grow in competitiveness and popularity."

Jessica Dugger and Laurel Shute, from Knoxville, Tennessee began their football careers in middle school around the same time the NWFL came alive. Participating in punting, passing and kicking competitions jump-started these girls enthusiasm for football. But like Jakubowicz, both girls participated in soccer and basketball through middle and most of high school. The summer before their senior year in high school, Dugger and Shute decided that they were not going to play soccer, but instead try out for the high school football team. Dugger had perfected her kicking while Shute had a mean field goal range and both thought they were just as good as the boys. On their first day of tryouts, many of the guys told them to turn around and head to the soccer field because there was no way they would be able to make it there. Dugger was especially ridiculed because she is African American. One football player told her, "Girls, especially black girls, can't play football, they play basketball and run track so why don't you take your ass back to track where it belongs." None of this badgering discouraged the girls, but in fact inspired them to try harder. Shute remarked, "if the boys ignored us, we might have felt differently, but now we felt we had to prove something." Football coach, Brian Modesitt, gave the girls a fair chance and told them that he was going to treat them just like one of the guys and no special preferences were going to be made. "I had to give them a fair chance or else I would have lost my job and had a lot of angry parents and administrators to answer to. Plus, I was curious to see how they would compete with the boys." Both girls made the team and played on and off the whole season. Towards the middle of season, the male players' respect began to rise as they saw Dugger and Shute working just as hard and if not harder than they were. They understood the plays and executed them just as well as any guy. After the season was over and with no football scholarships in hand, they duo headed to the University of Tennessee. Instead of trying to play football for them, the girls began their own women only tackle-football club and received an enormous response. They encouraged other local schools to start clubs so that they could compete and now, four surrounding schools have successful clubs and compete against each other. Owners of the Nashville Dream, Christie and Ronnie Thomas hearing of Dugger and Shute's success and were anxious to get the girls on their team as the Dream was struggling in the past couple of years. Dugger and Shute were both offered a spot on the Dream, pending completing of their degree. Shute exclaimed, "It's an honor to know that after all our hard work that we will be able to play in the NWFL. I had always thought of it as a far off dream and now that it's close to a reality, I'm ecstatic." Dugger had similar remarks. "I wanna show those boys who thought I could only run and jump that I'm going to be a starter in the NWFL and ask them what they think of that." For the 2011 season, Dugger and Shute will start for the Dream.

Catherine Masters was the only girl in her family of five brothers and had early exposure to sports, especially football. Lucky for her, the local flag-football team always needed an extra person to play so being thought as one of the guys, she was always asked to play. "Some of the girls made fun of me for always playing with my brothers and other boys in the neighborhood, but I think they were jealous of the attention I got. I liked playing ball and never thought anything of it except that I was playing a sport. Girls weren't very athletic in my school, so it was really one of my only chances to play sports. You could play tennis and I did that, but I wanted something more adventurous." After college, Masters worked in both the music and sports industries. She was a scout on the Virginia Slims tennis circuit, owner of a chain of tennis specialty shops and a marketing consultant for the New York and Atlanta Super Shows, the largest sporting goods shows in the world. In the mid-nineties, after seeing the increased popularity of girls playing high school football and the occasional woman on a college team, she looked into the idea of reviving the professional football league for women. Masters conducted many round table discussions with prospective owners, players and fans trying to gain a perception of the possibility of the league and how the league would be viewed. With most discussions positive, Masters set forward on her plan to create the National Women's Football League. "Many prospective owners were heads of corporations who were eager to get their foot in the door of professional sports and saw the success of the WNBA and hoped that the NWFL would head in the same directions. Likewise, the fans, are eager to see more women in professional sports because it provides a positive role model for girls by showing them that men do not always have to be the ones in the limelight." Masters comments, "The league has been extremely successful and the women who play are fabulous. In such a short time, we have built the fan base up and the American population is really starting to take pride in their home teams. While before the NWFL was an after thought, many fans are purchasing season tickets and following their teams just as they do with their NFL home teams. Our main goals for the league have been to keep the fans interested and to have competitive balance within the league. It's no fun if one team goes out and wins all the time, so we have made sure that if one team looks like their pulling away from the rest of the league that players are traded to evenly balance the competition. Fans have definitely appreciated this and I think our fan base has increased because of it. I think it has added a tremendous amount to women's sport and I applaud everyone who has helped to make this some girl's dream."

** Most facts Powderpuff have been made up, but those taken from actual web pages and news articles have been documented in endnotes. The history of women's football is fact as well as Catherine Masters, Cindy Jakubowicz, Jessica Dugger and Lauren Shute who are all real people, but their quotes and most of their life stories are fictional. All other names and anecdotes mentioned in the story are fictional.

Engendering Questions in Sports
Name: Paula Arbo
Date: 2002-03-13 14:20:31
Link to this Comment: 1493


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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When individuals, male or female, decide to enter a non-traditional sport for his/ her gender, there will inevitably be benefits and costs. Because sports themselves are divided along gender and race lines, one would expect that individuals who intend to play a sport deemed by culture and by society as counterintuitive are bound to be criticized and alienated because of their choices. Difference automatically threatens conventions, traditions, and expectations, and hence, it threatens the individuals who belong to that traditional sphere. Because sports are affected as much by funding as they are by issues of diversity and accessibility, the following questions address those issues: which group of people have access to what sports (the type of resources a school has determines the number of athletic opportunities and leagues that are available), what racial groups are represented more in which sports (African Americans are over represented in basketball but they are under represented in iced hockey, whites are over represented in winter sports but they are underrepresented in football), and how do those two questions overall affect a society and culture's response to "deviations?"

Generally, society has certain gender constructions that apply directly and indirectly to sports. Men are primarily thought of as physically stronger, more aggressive, and more physically active. Hence, men involved in sports are seen as fulfilling part of their experiences as men. Because they are men and because society has all these expectations about men and their physical abilities, sports becomes an arena in which men can prove, assert, and measure their manhood. In past generations, men could assert their masculinity by the type of labor they performed and by engaging in battle; however, in the absence of these activities, men have relied on sports to reinforce their masculinities.

Women, however, are perceived by society as the gentler sex. Women are thought of as nurturers, mothers, daughters, but they are not thought of as being physically strong or physically capable of being strong. Once women began to enter the sports world, their coaches and spectators had different standards for them. They were expected to look feminine, to wear feminine uniforms, and to compete against each other but to have no physical contact with other players. The fact is that when women first began to play sports they were still something to be objectified. They were something to survey, and they had to be pleasing to the eye (men's eyes). "I want foxes, not oxes" (Ed Temple, Tennessee State 1952). This statement reinforces society's expectations regarding not only the ways women are supposed to look as they are engaged in a sport but it also gives credibility to the type of sports women are traditionally allowed to play.

Because gender constructions have been so influential in deciding what positions men and women occupy in the world and what part of one's identity should be reinforced in the activities one chooses to engage in, men and women's involvement in sports that do not reflect cultural and/or societal expectations like weight lifting, body building, boxing for women, and synchronized swimming, figure skating, field hockey for men can result in a number of conflicts. It can lead to social, sexual, and cultural alienation. Part of the female athlete's alienation stems from the way other people perceive her sexual orientation coupled with their questions regarding her sexuality, which is made more visible through her defiance of her culture's concept of femininity, and through her views of herself. In the movie Girl Fight, Diana is perceived by her Puerto Rican community and especially by her father as pursuing a sport, boxing, that is predominantly a male sport. In this movie her sexual orientation is not questioned since she is having a relationship with a male, however, boxing is culturally unavailable to her because she is expected to be feminine (her father badgers her about wearing a skirt). In this case, a culture that perceives a woman's role as synonymous with a place in the household and where manhood is synonymous with strength and protection is threatened by Diana's sport. In Biv's case, however, she was a body builder, who had to adhere to notions of femininity even though she was involved in a very nontraditional sport. She was the most developed body builder, but she was the least "feminine" looking. Although she was engaged in a nontraditional sport, there was a standard she was not allowed to challenge or overcome.

Sexuality in sports has become a major factor especially in sports where women and men are not traditionally represented. For example, the sexuality of men in figure skating is referred to occasionally; while the sexuality of women is based on how "masculine" looking a woman appears to be regardless of the sport she is involved in. Although men and women will be isolated from the culture and society in which they reside and although men and women and their sexualities may be questioned and scrutinized by their peers, by family, and by society at large, it is important that men and women challenge society's convenient notions about masculinity, femininity, and culture. Men and women in sports must use their art and their talents to question not only the validity but also the premise from which expectations, criticism, and conflict arise. Being involved in sports, regardless of its effects on one's personal life and regardless of the barriers that are created especially to hinder individuals from making choices, opens doors to others who are interested in pursuing a nontraditional sport and who need the support of others like them. Ultimately, the sports world must help validate individuals and their abilities; individuals must defy the sports world and its expectations when its intent is to perpetuate and create divisions among men and women, among homosexuals and heterosexuals, and among races and ethnicities.



Addition to "Blurring the Lines"
Name: Jenny Simo
Date: 2002-03-15 17:15:22
Link to this Comment: 1498


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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I posted my paper last week, but the footnote for one of my quotes did not post for some reason so I am reposting that footnote here:

"universal breadwinners" is a term used by Nancy Fraser in "Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the 'Postsocialist' Condition" (New York, NY: Routledge, 1997) pp. 51-62.

Gender Inequity in Sports
Name: Susannah S
Date: 2002-03-18 17:06:03
Link to this Comment: 1511

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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2. What are the social and cultural costs and benefits of an individual (male or female) entering a non-traditional sport for their gender/sex (e.g. women who enter body building, power lifting, boxing; men who enter synchronized swimming or field hockey)?

Gender in sport is a complicated and thorny issue. Historically there have been huge divides between the sexes with respect to participation in sport – both in degree of participation and participation in which particular sports. In ancient times, there really was no culture of female sport, and athletics were a purely male domain. Even in the more recent Renaissance times, women were preferred as plump rather than slender and toned. This cultural preference discouraged female involvement in sport. With the emergence of female participation in sport, however, gender roles for particular sports developed, limiting the array of sporting activities available to each gender. For instance, football, wrestling, cricket, and ice hockey are traditionally "male" sports, while ballet, field hockey, synchronized swimming, and figure skating are traditionally "female" sports.

Women have had a hard time breaking into the realm of sport, and have had only partial success. They are often relegated to a few sporting activities that are deemed suitable for "the weaker sex." These female-suitable sports are often ones which are seen as less competitive, less aggressive, or less rough-and-tumble. Traditionally female-suitable sports are also usually those that do not require participants to become very muscled. Swimming, figure skating, ballet, yoga, etc. fall into these categories. Field hockey is a notable exception as it is extremely competitive and often rough-and-tumble. Women have more recently been able to break into more competitive, aggressive, rough-and-tumble, and/or muscle-building sports such as basketball, soccer, rugby, marathon running, body-building, etc. as a result of a combination of gradually changing social attitudes about gender roles in general (and particularly in relation to sports) and the breakthrough efforts of a few pioneering female individuals who insisted on making their mark in traditionally "male" sporting activities.

Despite all this progress, however, there are still enormous difficulties relating to women's increased participation in sport in general and in traditionally male-dominated sports in particular. Top-placing female athletes often do not receive prize money equal in amount to their male counterparts participating in the same sport. Female athletes also usually do not get as many endorsement contracts or commercial advertising jobs on the side. There are, of course, a few exceptions, notably in the area of tennis, where female stars are very visible in television ads and endorsements. In most other sports, however, this is not the case, and a female athlete must be truly world-class to receive lucrative endorsements. Mia Hamm and Jackie Joyner-Kersey are examples. This comparative paucity of media exposure for female athletes and athletics means a comparatively small involvement by young girls in sport, as they have fewer role models in the area, compared to boys. Also, the discrepancy in prize money purses both is indicative of and perpetuates a perception of female athletics being less interesting and worthwhile, which affects young girls' attitudes about sport as well.

Another difficulty for women in sport is that many traditionally male sports are team sports. This means that one woman being interested in playing that sport is not enough. She has to find four or five or twenty (depending on the sport) teammates to play with her, and four or five or twenty more women interested in playing against her team. All in a small enough local area for convenient scheduling of matches. When I was in high school, I played Ultimate Frisbee on a co-ed team. There was only one other high school anywhere remotely close to us that had an Ultimate Frisbee club, and they didn't really have enough people to field a team against us. Hence, we didn't get to play against anyone other than ourselves very much, and couldn't get school funding as a result. Trying to get a girl's Ultimate Frisbee team off the ground would to an even greater degree have been an exercise in futility, and that's with Ultimate being a fairly gender-egalitarian sport to begin with. Imagine what it would have been like trying to field a girl's ice hockey team!

With all these negatives, however, there are some positive aspects as well to women's increased participation in sports. Women getting more into sport and breaking into traditionally male sports are helping enormously to break down the gender biases that have limited women's opportunities in sports for so long. Just fifteen years ago, we would not have seen a TV commercial pitting Michael Jordan against a woman in a variety of sporting activities, portraying them as equals, and the woman taking joy and pride in her competitive edge. Mia Hamm, however, has refused to do anything less than the best, and she has been noticed. Her very uniqueness helps in a way, because it makes her more noticeable, and more young girls playing with the idea of getting involved in sports know of her and can see her as a role model.

Education and Athletics
Name: Jennifer B
Date: 2002-04-16 09:34:50
Link to this Comment: 1834


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Athletes and Education

Division I issues, especially those related to football and basketball, have dominated the discussion of collegiate sports because of the large impact they have on college life, and the problems that can exist because of athletics. Many believe that athletic programs provide a recreational outlet for students, but also an advertising instrument, which could benefit admissions and fund raising efforts. Athletic programs are beneficial to higher education institutions and provide educational success for female athletes.
It has been known that education and athletic issues have been debated over whether or not student athletes actually get an education or if they are just there to play sports. According to Siegel's article, knowledge and skills are learned through participation in sports and can be related to life situations. Also, sports provide opportunities for individuals to attend institutions of higher learning and gain access to academic programs. It has been argued that sports provide a way through which students acquire general attributes such as discipline, cooperativeness, competitiveness and a bunch of other qualities. Sociologist David Reisman has alluded to the importance of athletic experience when he said, "The path to the boardroom leads through the locker room" (Underwood, 1981). Many others feel similar to Reisman and would agree that athletics do provide advantages to students.
The focus on athletics for female students seems to be less problematic than those run by males and clearly the focus was on educational, developmental, and recreational benefits of sport, rather than the public relations aspect. Furthermore, from Siegel's article we can see that females tend to graduate at a higher percentage than males and female athletes tend to graduate at a significantly higher rate than females in general, while male athletes tend to graduate at a slightly lower rater than males in general.
Just as there are arguments about whether or not athletic involvement effects education, there are arguments about the impact of athletic programs on institutions themselves. It is evident that successful athletic programs can help focus a college community and can affect enrollment patterns. In a study done by McCormick and Tinsley (1987) they examined whether winning football programs affect enrollment patterns. They concluded that both size and quality of an institution's applicant pool varies with whether it has a big athletics program. Some students are really interested in the athletic programs to participate, but also whether they have a big impact on social life. Many student fans support teams that participate in major conference events and it is a big deal to go to the football or basketball game on a Friday night.
Athletics are a source of income for many institutions. Siegel's article mentions that Division I schools account for all of the revenue of the NCAA and most of the budget is returned back to Division I. Divisions II and III generate less than 1% of the NCAA income, but receive back over 7% of the money dispersed. The NCAA's prime concern is to promote intercollegiate athletics and it also supplements athletic scholarships to Division I schools. To help student athletes academically, the NCAA has allocated 15.25 million for the purpose of enhancing academic programs and services for student athletes.
Alumni also fund these institutions and some of them donate their money to academics while some of them give to specific athletic programs. One example would be the fighting Illini at the University of Illinois. When the controversy of their team mascot came up, a decision to change the name caused an uproar and alumni threatened to stop giving money to the athletic programs, mainly the basketball team. So far the name hasn't changed and alumni funding may have been part of the reason not to change. They have time and money invested in their schools and want to see them succeed.
Brooker and Klastorin (1981) also found a relationship between winning football games and alumni donations in the Big 10. Specifically, they reported that the number of alumni who gave to a university and their average donation increased with the institutions football fortunes. This was also found true of Ivy League schools.
As we can see, athletics can be profitable for many Division I schools and they have a lot time and effort devoted to marketing and promoting their athletic success. What they give to the NCAA inevitably comes back to them in the form of scholarships and donations from alumni. Education and athletics seemed to be linked and the NCAA is working to increase the resources available to student athletes, but at the time being, only female athletes have the most successful education experiences. However, athletes get an overall learning experience and develop skills and knowledge that eventually help them when they leave higher education institutions.

*Information from this paper has been taken from ESS professor Donald Siegel's article on Education and Sports used as the course packet for ESS 200 Sport: In Search of the American Dream

What are the major trends in youth sports today?
Name: Tai Cawtho
Date: 2002-09-30 22:37:21
Link to this Comment: 3049


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
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The Image of Women in Sport
Name: Annie Copp
Date: 2003-03-05 19:45:07
Link to this Comment: 4954

What are the images of women in sport? How has this image changed over the years? Surprisingly, the cultural ideal of women in sport has not changed much over the years. In the nineteenth century, women were encouraged to participate in "appropriate" activities as a way to stay healthy and beautiful. Into the twentieth century, women were still encouraged to participate in athletics, yet the emphasis was still on beauty. As the "baby boomer" generation reached adulthood, more and more women were participating in sport. With the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendment in 1972, women were given equal funding to men in athletics. However, as more girls joined athletic teams, it was still hard to break the century-old image of the female athlete. Even now, at the turn of the new millennium, the media represents the female athlete through sexuality and femininity.

In the late nineteenth century, women were encouraged to keep physically active in order to stay healthy and beautiful. They participated in sporting activities such as croquet, archery, sailing, equestrian, and tennis (Hult, 85). Girls experienced athletics in Physical Education class, and did not compete against other schools or clubs, as the men did. As team sports such as basketball emerged at the turn of the century, the game was changed for women. In basketball, dribbling and roughhousing was considered selfish and consequently removed from the women's game.

In the first half of the twentieth century, women'sPhysical Education began to change. There was more of an emphasis on team sports, and "elite" sports, such as swimming, gymnastics, riding, skiing, and tennis (Spears, 13). As in the previous century, the female athlete was expected to be "feminine, beautiful, strong, and self-confident, yet always fully cognizant of her delicate reproductive system (Hult, 89)." During this time there was the so called "skirt theory" declaring that women could only compete in sports in which they could wear skirts while playing. This time period brought the first intercollegiate competition in the form of the Play Day. In a Play Day, three or more colleges or leagues got together and split up into groups or teams. The teams then played each other. The Play Day evolved into the Sports Day, where the women played for their own school, just as the men did. However, the winning school was not honored and there were no coaches for the women's teams. As the Sports Days became more popular, the women became more competitive. The emphasis in women's sports was still on the athletic experience, rather then the outcome of the game or event.

The second half of the twentieth century experienced a huge increase in female athletic participation. This group of women demanded equal opportunities to men. In 1972, Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments, stating that "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." According to this law, women's athletics were to receive equal funding to men's athletics. Title IX did not change women's athletics immediately, and certainly did not change the image of the female athlete. We are still struggling with compliance to Title IX today.

As more women began to participate in typically male sports such as basketball, tennis, and baseball (or softball), their sexuality came into question. These women were seen as "tomboys" and boyish. In the 1970's tennis star Billy Jean King was accused by the media of being in a lesbian relationship in what became one of the biggest news stories of the year. When she came out to the public about her homosexuality, the media jumped on the story. Today, homophobia persists, and female athletes are consistently portrayed with their family, husband, or boyfriend, in an attempt to assure the pubic of their heterosexuality. Articles are written about how the female athlete balances the role of wife and/or mother with the training involved in her sport. In the WNBA there is a "glass closet" in which the public knows there are lesbian players but none have come out to the public about their homosexuality. There is in increased pressure on female athletes by the media to deny homosexuality.

In America today, forty percent of the sports participants are women, yet women only receive three to five percent of the media coverage (Playing Unfair: Image of the Female Athlete). Female athletes are portrayed off the court or field. When they are shown on TV, they are often called by their first names, which is very unusual in men's athletics. The media emphasizes sexuality and femininity. For example, tennis player Anna Kournikova has the most corporate sponsorship of any female athlete, yet has only won one singles tennis match. Jan Brace-Gowen talks about "gaze", "the impact of presenting oneself to be looked on (Brace-Gowen 404)." Photographs in Sports Illustrated and other magazines often focus on the attractiveness of the female athlete rather then her athletic ability. An example of this is when the United States women's soccer team did a photo shoot in which they posed naked with soccer balls strategically placed over their bodies. The media inaccurately depicts female athletes by emphasizing their beauty rather then their athletic ability.

As stated by Brace-Gowen, "fashion magazines are like instruction manuals (Brace-Gowen, 208)." How can girls be good athletes in a culture that is so intent on women being petite and thin? This question plagues our society today. Fashion magazines, sports magazines, TV, and every other portion of the media are feeding American girls with a cultural ideal that is impossible to meet. The image of women in sport through time has consistently focused on beauty. In the late nineteenth century, women participated in athletics to pursue a life that would lead to vigorous womanhood. As women began to participate in more athletic activities, they were limited by sports that allowed them to play in skirts. In the 1950's intercollegiate competition emerged in the form of Play Days and Sports Days. With the passage of Title IX in 1972 came a new wave of female athletes. These new athletes participated in all sports, from football to figure skating, and are slowly changing the image of the female athlete. However, as these athletes become more popular, the media coverage increasingly focus's on the female athlete's role as a mother and/or wife. Even today, we are trying to change to image of the female athlete as an athlete first and foremost, and to take the sexual "gaze" out of women's athletics.


Brace-Goven, J. "Looking at Bodywork: Women and Three Physical Activities" (2002). Journal of Sport and Social Issues. Volume 26, No. 4. pp.403-420.
Hult, J. "The Story of Women's Athletics: Manipulating a Dream 1890-1985" in Costa, M. & Guthrie, S. (1994). Women and Sport: Interdisciplinary Studies. Human Kinetics.
"Playing Unfair: Image of the Female Athlete" Media Education Foundation (2002).
Spears, B. "Prologue: The Myth" in Oglesby, C. (1978) Women and Sport: Form Myth to Reality. Lea and Febiger Publishers.

The Idealistic Woman: An Athlete or Not?
Name: Jennifer F
Date: 2003-03-05 20:40:55
Link to this Comment: 4955


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

The ideal woman of the twenty first century is not your average girl. She is glamorous, beautiful, and physically fit–without too much muscle. The "lady-like" feminine qualities that western women strive for elicit their heterosexuality. Western society expects that women athletes also possess ideal female qualities. The desire for acceptance and recognition has coerced female athletes to allow the media to portray them as sexual objects; whereas male athletes are portrayed as strong, accomplished individuals.

Media and advertisements are society's way of connecting to professional athletes. Male athletes receive a greater amount of exposure than female athletes. In a study conducted by George and Ashleigh Griffin of DePauw University, it was found that in 1999 women received only 6.7 percent of all reported sports coverage in the New York Times (George, 2001, p.1). The magnitude of male athlete exposure has far outpaced that of women while creating an idealistic male—fit, strong, and successful. Society is not familiar with female athletes because of the media's lack of exposure. Therefore, when female athletes are endorsed or presented, it is in a way that highlights their feminine qualities and not their athletic achievements.

Sports Illustrated featured an article on Serena Williams in the Winter 2003 Swimsuit Edition. The feature titled, "A New Racket: Serena Williams proves she's also No. 1 in a two-piece," includes three full page photographs of Williams in various white bathing suits (Sports Illustrated, 2003, p.124). The article aspect of the feature is about one ninth of the first page and mentions nothing about her U.S. Open win in September 2002, only the "cat suit" she wore (Cronin, 2002, p.1; Sports Illustrated, 2003, p.124 ). The article closes with a humiliating quote from the photographer Walter Iooss Jr., "She wasn't going to look like a typical swimsuit model but what she has is active beauty, a combination of femininity and athleticism." (Sports Illustrated, 2003, p.124). Not only did Sports Illustrated objectify Williams's body and ignore her athletic achievements, but it also felt compelled to compensate for her appearance.

The attractive appearance of the idealistic woman affects the way female athletes are endorsed. Growth in female athletics has generated an increased amount of advertisement and media exposure (Lopiano, p.1). However, the images of female athletes exposed to society are generally unethical and do not represent female athletics in a positive spotlight. Several female athletes have posed for Playboy. Phoenix Guard Lisa Harrison maybe the first female WNBA player to pose for the magazine (, p.1). She told Playboy (after being voted "Sexiest WNBA Player"), "It's a compliment to us as female athletes to be recognized as being more than just basketball players, being attractive and carrying ourselves in a feminine way" (, p.1). However, when rumor got out that she might pose, The Arizona Republic approached her and she commented, "I need the publicity, I need the money!" (, p.1). It is an insult to society when the only way female accomplished athletes can make money is by bearing it all for Playboy. Male athletes are endorsed more frequently and usually in less controversial advertisements than female athletes.

Lack of endorsements is not the only difference between female and male professional athletes. Female athletes are portrayed with less respect than male athletes. Sportscasters usually refer to female athletes by their first name, but when describing a male athlete, they would use his last name (Playing Unfair: Image of a Female Athlete).

The LPGA gets a lot of disrespect; it is evident that society views the organization on a lower tier than the PGA. Annika Sorenstam the top player in the LPGA expected an invitation on February 12, 2003 to play in the PGA. Along with the invitation, emerged a fair amount of news stories. Sport Illustrated printed an article by Rick Reilly offering Ms. Sorenstam advice in letter form. The article begins, "Dear Annika," from the very beginning the level of respect is established (Reilly, 2003, p.1). The article proceeds making sexist remarks on how the PGA is different and less "cordial" then the LPGA. He analyzes everything from pairings to pressure, "If you choke, you'll set women's golf back to long skirts and bonnets." Reilly also suggests that there is going to be a penalty for losing to Ms. Sorenstam (Reilly, 2003, p.1). The whole article is full of disrespect toward Annika and the LPGA. Society reads this type of article and believes that women are inferior. Society's views on women prove that the today's ideal woman hinders a female athlete's ability to receive the same respect as male athletes.

Female athletes spend the same amount of time training and playing as male athletes. However, they remain on an unequal playing field with regard to endorsements and exposure. The "idealistic woman" plays in an important role in how females, athletic or not, are expressed to society. Models appear in magazines in provocative poses wearing revealing clothes. The images express a powerless, beautiful sexual woman waiting for a man. Female athletes are presented to society as the idealistic woman. Many accomplished female athletes go unnoticed due to their lack of ideal qualities. In order for female athletes to be exposed on an equal level as male athletes, the ideal woman in western society needs to gain independence and respect. But, until female athletes are recognized for their accomplishments and not for their bodies, they will be posing in Playboy to make a living.

Work Cited:
2003. A New Racket: Serena Williams Proves She's Also No. 1 in a Two-Piece. Sports
Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Winter 2003. p.124-126.

Cronin, M. 2002. Serena Knocks Venus Out of Orbit to Win Title U. S. Open. 8
September 2002. 2 March 2003.

George, J. J. 2001. Lack of News Coverage for Women's Athletics: A Questionable
Practice of Newspaper Priorities Women's Sports Foundation. 20 August 2001. 2 March 2003.

Lopiano, D. 2001. Swimsuits, Sex Objects and Today's Female Athlete. Women's Sports
Foundation. 2001. 2 March 2003.

Playing Unfair: Image of the Female Athlete. (Video)

Reilly, R. (2003). First Date Advice. Sports Illustrated. 19 February 2003. 1 March

2002. Sexist Babe of the WNBA. 16 July 2002. 2 March 2003.

Name: Emmi Conno
Date: 2003-03-05 23:20:19
Link to this Comment: 4960

Cowboy. Cattle. Horses. Leather. Dirt. Mud. Sweat. Blood. Guts.

This is a critical time in the history of women in sport. Currently there is a review of Title IX being submitted to the Office of Civil Rights and if passed, the recommendations could cause backward steps in women's sport. I am writing a movie script with these events in mind. What direction would women's athletics go in the next ten years if these recommendations of the review get passed? Will women begin to loose the opportunities they have fought for in the last 30 years? This is what I tried to capture in "Rodeo."


My name is Tessy Mae. I was 16 years old in 2010. My life consisted of school, family and the American Junior Rodeo Association (AJRA). My dad was a professional bull rider and granddad was as well. My mom was a highly ranked barrel racer, but retired to work for the Women's Profession Rodeo Association (WPRA/PWRA).

Growing up, one of my heroes was Tammy Kelly who rode when I was younger. She dominated bull riding in the 1990's and early 2000's by winning five consecutive world titles from 1994 through 1998. In 2002, she secured her sixth title in nine years before she retired after that year.1 Another inspiration of mine was Sherry Cervi, a World Champion Barrel Racer. In 1999, women began to receive winnings that rivaled the men's and Cervi took in more earnings over the year than all of the men except for the All Around Champion.2
Between looking up to these great women and being influenced by my family, I was inspired to grow up to be the WPRA World Champion. I consider myself fortunate to have role models like these strong women and my own family in my early years.

I could only compete in the AJRA until I was nineteen. After the AJRA, most young cowgirls and cowboys competed in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) while receiving a college education at one of the 137 universities and colleges that participated.3 Education was important to my family and I was expected to go to college. I had always imagined that I would participate in the NIRA; however, due to events happening that year, it looked like my dreams might be impossible. For you to understand why this was so, I have to tell you the history of the NICA and women's opportunity in sports.

The NIRA was established in 1949 and was made up of 13 member schools that represented Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming and Texas. Over the next two decades its rodeos and championships gained popularity, which resulted in national television coverage in 1962, '64 and '67 and national sponsors who offered scholarships to the regional and national champions beginning in 1975.3 So far the NIRA has never been a part of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). Therefore, the NIRA never received federal funding. As a result, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 had never effected the association until now.

Title IX was an amendment of the Civil Rights through the United States Department of Education that prohibited discrimination based on sex in all programs that received Federal funding, from classes to athletics to student activities.4 One of the many provisions in Title IX was that a fair share of funds for all areas of athletics went to female athletes. For an institution to fulfill the regulations of Title IX, it needed to prove that there was progress to equality in opportunity or women athletics received funds and scholarships proportional to the female student population. In order to abide by one of these compliances in 1972, the institutions had to make dramatic changes that resulted in an exponential increase in women's participation in organized, competitive sport.

In 2003, less popular male intercollegiate programs, such as wrestling, began to complain that their programs were getting cut to meet Title IX compliances. Even though many people demonstrated that these programs were not getting cut because of women's athletics, but rather because of the expanding men's football and basketball teams, a review of Title IX was completed.5 The review concluded that the compliances were outdated and adjusted them to be more lenient. The opportunities and funds for women's athletics could now be three percentage points lower than the percentage of women enrolled in the institution. But these changes were just the beginning.
In the years that followed, the complaints about Title IX continued. More recommendations were passed, which resulted in fewer opportunities for women. At a typical institution, 50,000 opportunities for female student athletes and more than a $100 million in scholarships and funds were lost in 2003.6 It was amazing that women's athletics, after 30 years of building, started to crumble.

Then one day in school I heard that the NICA, which had been steadily loosing sponsors, was going to become apart of the NCAA. The catch: only the men's program was being instituted because of increased funding for men in the athletic association with the Title IX reviews. The NCAA didn't need the women athletes to fulfill any sort of requirements; therefore, the women athletes were left behind. There was no way that the NICA could afford to continue it with just women in competition. It looked like I wasn't going to compete in college after all.

Rodeo was one of the first sports that gave equal opportunity to women. Women had been competing since the first rodeos in the 1880's.7 Not many other sports compete with equal opportunities, regulations and purses for women. I couldn't believe that this could be lost. I decided to fight it.

With the support of my family, I began by filling a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. This lead to a lawsuit, which brought the media, and soon my fight was in the national news. I gained a lot of publicity and support, especially from the WPRA/PWRA and the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA). Despite the fact that my lawyers and my family put up a solid fight, we lost because of the changes that were made to Title IX since 2003. Now Title IX didn't state that women needed to be represented by their enrollment in an institution. Lawfully the NCAA could include just the men's NICA and leave the women's behind.

My family was stunned. My mother had talked about the leaps and bounds that women in sport had made during her generation, whereas I could talk only about the backward motion of women's sports for my peers and myself. Here we were, almost 40 years after Title IX had built women's role in sports and the classroom to a peak, tearing the progress down to where I couldn't participate in my sport while receiving a college education. Yet my younger brother would get a scholarship.

I graduated high school and was named "2011 Miss AJRA" the following year. My family was proud of my achievements. I was proud of myself. Together my parents and I had worked out a deal where I could attend the local community college and join the professional circuit on a limited basis. It was a busy year between traveling to rodeos and taking classes. There were times I didn't know if I could make it, but in the end I placed third in the World Championships. I proved to myself and to many others that women in sport would continue.


Another One Bites the Dust
Name: Elisabeth
Date: 2003-03-05 23:34:41
Link to this Comment: 4961


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

As I browsed the internet for sources about women's portrayal in sport media I typed in things like

'Female Athletes in Movies,' and 'Films about female athletes.' In response to these inquiries,

Google shot back at me about 150 different websites where I could by various posters, or even in

some cases, porn with female athletes of my choice in them. This was quite the opposite of what I

was looking for, and especially irritating when the reciprocal search with male athletes returned with

such sites as 'The All Time Top Sports Movies.' A difference that is both astounding and

disheartening, but at the same time not surprising.

In my searches I also came across the demise of a supposed step towards equality, in the world of

sports and female representation, the Women's Sports Illustrated. This last December (2002) was

the last month to have a new issue. Not unprecedented, this women's version of another

predominately male-athlete oriented magazine, was not making enough money, despite their noble

motto to provide a good magazine for 'women for whom sport is not a means to an end—an ab or

bicep—but a way of living ones life.I' (Susan Casey, managing editor at SI for Women) The concept

of which is one that has constantly presented itself as an obstacle to women who chose that lifestyle,

with their sexuality and womanhood brought into question as a result.

The actual establishment of SI for women as a valid sports magazine, getting away from the

predominant stereotypes of media portrayal of women, had been in question towards the end of its

run. The magazine, according to Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune, folded under the economic

pressure of needing to gain a larger audience.

"When the magazine began, it covered female athletes in much the same way that Sports Illustrated

covers male athletes: as professionals worthy of profiles. Of late, however, the magazine has

become almost indistinguishable from health and fitness how-to magazines such as Self and


Even within the women's athletic magazine community there are such varying views on how to

portray female athletes. Women's Basketball a magazine out of Wooster, MA tried to show their

athletes out of uniforms, but not tastelessly. "Lois Elfman, editor in chief, said the magazine has

grown steadily and now makes money for its parent company, Ashton International Media -- and all

without making its covers look like Playboy. III" Within the skewed perception the public is given and

responds to, there are levels that vary and those who direct the types of images we see consider the

high feminization to be better than the sexual objectification. Both detract heavily from the

independent view of a strong, successful female athlete. '"I do capture my women cover subjects as

people, not in their uniforms. If I say to [WNBA star] Lisa Leslie, `Put on a push-up bra and a thong,'

that's wrong. She wouldn't go out that way. But a lovely evening gown? She loves that. My line is,

`How do these women really look?' They're in their own clothes -- they're just not sweating," Elfman


But does it really make a difference which kind of spin is being put on the female athletic


Both messages say that to just be a successful athlete and a woman is not enough.

The issue of the Sports Illustrated for women has another side. A lot of feminist thinkers did not find

that the magazine a step in any direction for women in sport. The pictures and images representing

female athletes still are emphasized sexually and femininely.

"The camera angles enhance breasts and curves and abdomens and butts," said Margaret Sullivan,

a Columbia College Chicago professor who teaches courses in sports marketing. "I was really

hoping that the new focus on professional women would heal some of that, but it hasn't


So once again, the issue of economics and what will support a financial endeavor, in other

words, what people will buy, and the desire to equalize the position of female athletes in our society

are head to head. But what changes first? If a company is out to make money, they will follow the

messages sent to them by the general public and until that message changes, none of the images

that we are presented with will either. In her farewell letter, Susan Casey, the managing editor of

Sports Illustrated for Women, wrote "You (the readers) told us what you loved about SI Women –

seeing strong, inspiring characters on our pages instead of models." And until that becomes true for

everyone else, headway cannot be made for the true equality of female athletic representation in the



Keller, Julia. "Sports Illustrated Women is folding: Is that bad?" Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. ISSN: 10856706. (Oct. 21, 2002).

Casey, Susan. "Saying Farewell." Sports Illustrated Women (Online: November 7, 2002.

Top Ten Ways Sports Illustrated Disrespects Women.

Level Playing Field
Name: Angela Mur
Date: 2003-03-06 00:26:21
Link to this Comment: 4962


Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
Student Papers
On Serendip

Title IX's implementation has been key to the development of women's sports in the last few decades. There are numerous statistics showing the growth of female participation both at the high school and collegiate level due to this law. Title IX is now under fire because some men's sports are losing funding and being shutdown. This law has forced schools to make changes to level the playing field between the opportunities for men and women and any moves to weaken the law would be severely detrimental to the progress that has been made so far. Women's sports have been kept in the back for many years, and it's only been in the last few decades that major strides have been made. There should be no ground given in the pursuit for equality.

First, the effectiveness of Title IX in increasing female participation is incontrovertible. The number of women playing on college teams has increased from 29,977 in 1972 to 150,916 in 2001 4. The number of women playing on high school teams has increased from 294,015 in 1972 to 2,784,154 in 2001 4. These are very significant numbers especially when compared to the increase of men which is only 300,000 for high school and 38,000 for college of the same periods of time. This is due to the increased opportunity for participation reaped from schools being forced to develop their women's programs.

There have been many articles written suggesting that Title IX needs to be changed. John Irving recently wrote one such article stating a few of the more common arguments. He is quoted as saying:

"In 1982, there were 363 N.C.A.A. wrestling teams with 7,914 wrestlers competing; in 2001, there were only 229 teams with fewer than 6,000 wrestlers. Yet, in that same period, the number of N.C.A.A. institutions has increased from 787 to 1,049. No wonder wrestlers are unhappy." 2

I read the study he's referring to as well, in fact, for reference, it's the first site noted in my bibliography. If you note the other sports such as football where the participation was 40,733 in 1982 and 56,804 in 2001 1, you can see where at least some wrestling positions, and money, have gone. Also, he makes the case that women just don't have the desire to play sports to the degree that men do. Well, considering that has been the mindset for, oh, most of history (save a few societies, such as Sparta 3), then, yes there are still women out there who think that athletics are for the men. What needs to happen is that society needs to realize and endorse that it's an individuals choice to play a sport regardless of gender, race, sexuality, etc. and if it goes against societies norm then that's ok. Using an argument that women aren't joining athletic teams fast enough (30years), considering the history, is horrid. It's only in the last generation or two that the stereotypes are being broken - well, tested - and a little more time of waiting for numbers to balance is certainly the least society can do.

It's not to say that women's sports aren't making improvements. The previous numbers in participation attest to that. In the past decades that this law has been around the number of women's programs has nearly doubled1. Schools are finally recruiting women, not to the degree that they recruit the men, but it's a start. And spectators are slowly realizing that women's sports are just as good as the men's. Examples of women's sports that are starting to open up are basketball, and pro women's tennis. The UCONN vs. Duke game that was broadcast on ESPN2 was the most watched women's regular season game with 1.226 million viewers. This fell just behind the second most watched men's game with 1.248 million viewers 5. For women's tennis, the appreciation of the game was demonstrated when the women's finals was shown prime time while the men's was shown in the afternoon. Once more people start to open up to the idea of women's sports being just as fun to watch as men's, then the growth will be even more evident.

Women's sports are making great strides with Title IX, though there's still road to travel. The funding needs to be made more equal, and much more patience must ensue. There have been only a few decades of work to offset the generations of meager women's athletics. The laws are not perfect, as things rarely are, but they have been doing an outstanding job so far. From increasing women in high school sports nearly ten-fold to providing many more collegiate opportunities, Title IX is a cornerstone for women's athletics. This work must be continued in order to ensure equality between the genders.

1) NCAA Year-By-Year Sports Participation 1982-2001 -

2) Wrestling with Title IX , John Irving; New York Times; January 28, 2003

3) Prologue: The Myth , Betty Spears

4) Title IX and the Wrestling Coaches Association Lawsuit -Women's Sports Foundation

5) Big East Women's Basketball -

Name: xxxxxxxxxx
Date: 2003-03-06 02:36:43
Link to this Comment: 4966


Bodies of Evidence: Women's Bodybuilding and Cultu
Name: Millie Gen
Date: 2003-03-06 08:36:46
Link to this Comment: 4970

Millie Gentry
ESS 200

Bodies of Evidence: Women's Bodybuilding and Cultural Ideals of Femininity


"Prizewinning Bodybuilder Quits Taking Steroids Because ... Drugs Were Turning Me Into a Man." The words jump from the page, as much today as they did in the1987 National Enquirer article, which sensationalized bodybuilder Tina Plakinger's use of illicit drugs in order to achieve an "unnatural"(i.e., hypermuscular) shape (Balsamo, 1994, p. 343). While the Enquirer is by no means a scholarly enterprise, this does not invalidate its critique of the hypermuscular female form. Inherent in the Enquirer's message is the popular notion that the human body is gendered, or more explicitly, that conspicuous displays of physical strength and prowess are reserved strictly for men. Although female bodybuilders argue that they challenge feminine norms, further analysis reveals that despite the transgressive nature of female muscularity, women's bodybuilding is not immune to the cultural ideals of femininity and sexuality that persist in American society. The delegitimation of the female bodybuilder, combined with her drive to conform to stereotyped feminine ideals, works against the paradoxical image she projects to actually maintain patriarchal notions of femininity.

Muscles as a Gendered Entity: The paradoxical nature of women's bodybuilding

Historically, brute physical strength and sexual power are synonymous. The subculture that surrounds male bodybuilding is based on the antiquated notion of male musculature as the physical embodiment of masculinity and power (Klein, 1993). Thus, "for men, bodybuilding appears to fulfill a need, through the creation of virile, hyper-masculine physique, to restore feelings of self-worth and self-control" (Hall, 1996, p. 53). For women, this ideology implies that "female muscularity is ... a sign of masculinization" (Hargreaves, 1994, p. 169). Therefore, female bodybuilders who drive to alter their bodies in order to achieve proportions equal to that of their male counterparts, challenge the very idea of sex differences and male hegemony. These women who aim to acquire a physique that "magnifies power and self-assurance" not only call their own femininity into question but also resist the patriarchal ideology that endeavors to control them (Klein, 1993, p. 174, MacNeill, 1994, Hall, 1996). In this way, the very nature of women's bodybuilding is inherently paradoxical.

Taming the beast: The sexualization of the female bodybuilder

As the image of the female bodybuilder—a so-called "androgynous beast"— threatens the very existence of the body as a gendered entity, and thus the foundation of any patriarchal society, her image must be renegotiated into hegemonic ideology (MacNeill, 1994, Hall, 1996). This figurative "taming of the beast" is achieved through the sexualization and objectification of female bodybuilders. The voyeurism inherent to the sport of women's bodybuilding lends itself well to this subversive "patriarchal subordination of women" (MacNeill, 1994 p. 286). Women's bodybuilding competitions are little more than beauty pageants where taut, tanned, and toned bikini-clad women vie for the approval of a panel of judges who, according to the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB), must:

First and foremost ... bear in mind that he or she is judging a women's bodybuilding competition and looking for the ideal feminine physique. Therefore, the most important aspect is shape, a feminine shape. The other aspects are similar to those described for assessing men, but in regard to muscular development, it must not be carried to excess where it resembles the massive muscularity of the male physique. [emphasis added] (Balsamo, 1994, p. 346)

Adding femininity, specifically the patriarchal definition of femininity, to the list of judgeable criteria, allows for maintenance of gender differences and hegemonic ideology through the objectification and sexualization of the muscular female form (MacNeill, 1994).

Female bodybuilders, in an attempt to reflect this spurious "feminine" ideal, actively sexualize themselves. As they parade before a panel of judges, female bodybuilders "smile, kiss the camera, ...create seductive looks", and suggestively pose (MacNeill, 1994, p. 279). For these women, posing is a turn-on—a tactic meant to attract male desire, and thus reaffirm their femininity (MacNeill, 1994). These women invite the gaze of men in order to prove their heterosexual appeal, and as female bodybuilders do this, they are unable to "escape the effect of the dominant culture, especially that culture's image of femininity" (Brace-Govan, 2002, p. 405). To construct an image worthy of the typical male's attention, a female bodybuilder must offer her body as a sexual object, which only functions to reinforce hegemonic ideas of femininity.


Despite the transgressive image of the female bodybuilder, the sexualization and delegitimation of female musculature work together to reinforce the patriarchal subjugation of women. By subjecting their bodies to societal interpretation, female bodybuilders relinquish control over their own physiques. This renders these women unable to resist hegemonic notions of femininity. Thus, while these women may enter the sport of women's bodybuilding in order to exercise control over their physicality, in their drive to conform to the feminine ideal of dominant society, female bodybuilders only perpetuates the idea that muscles truly are a gendered entity.

Balsamo, A. (1994). Feminist Bodybuilding. In S. Birell & C.L. Cole. (Eds.),
Women, Sport, and Culture (pp. 341-352). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Brace-Govan, J. (2002). Looking at Bodywork: Women and Three Physical Activities.
Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 26(4), 403-420.

Hall, A.M. (1996). Feminism and Sporting Bodies: Essays on Theory and Practice.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Hargreaves, J. (1994). Sporting Females: Critical issues in the history and sociology f women's sports. New York, NY: Routledge.

Klein, A.M. (1993). Little Big Men: Bodybuilding Subculture and Gender Construction.
Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

MacNeill, M. (1994) Active Women, Media Representations, and Ideology. In S. Birell & C.L. Cole. (Eds.), Women, Sport, and Culture (pp. 237-287). Champaign, IL:
Human Kinetics.

Marketing the Ideal Woman:The Exploitation and Obj
Name: Sara Shoms
Date: 2003-03-06 10:20:19
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Sara Shomstein
ESS 200
Professor Christine Shelton

Marketing the Ideal Woman:
The Exploitation and Objectification of the Female Athlete

We live in a world where cultural ideals, stereotypes, and barriers permeate all disciplines, including sports. Our world is bombarded with overly sexualized and objectified female athletes in our advertisements, movies, and magazine covers. Ultimately, these images are detrimental to the female athletes and to our society as a whole, all the while perpetuating and amplifying cultural ideals that are unrealistic, unhealthy, and discriminatory.
Historically, it has been the practice to exploit female athletes and objectify their bodies for profit. In Spears' Myth (1978), she sites that as early as the 1920's, newspapers, real estate firms, and advertising agencies used female athletes to sell their products. She quotes Paul Gallico, a sportswriter from the 1920's, as saying:
" Newspaper publishers discovered that, whereas reproductions of nightclub cuties in leotards or tights might bar them from the mails... photographs of an octet of naiads, lined up at the end of the pool in their wet, clinging, one-piece garments were legit, even through more revealing" and that "An appreciable part of the great Florida real estate boom was built upon photographs of girl swimmers used in advertising and certainly no newspaper suffered a drop in circulation when it was able to publish this kind of cheesecake".

The increase in support, participation, and popularity of female sports has coincided with " the commercialization of the female body and the commercialization of sexuality" (Hargreaves,1994 ). Since Title IX was established in 1972, the number of females participating in sports has increased significantly and it is ultimately sex that sells. It is used in most marketing and advertising today in the western world. Female athletes are sponsored by various sporting goods and clothing brands with attire that has a sexy and "trendy" image, rather than practical look. The poses in magazines are "glamour poses" with revealing clothing and not action or skill related. (Hargreaves, 1994) Even more disturbing, in many cases, female sports related advertisements use waif-ish models with anorexic, pre-pubescent figures. These are unrealistic depictions, but nonetheless, in accord with the majority of all mainstream advertising. (Schell, 2003)
Hargreaves (1994) believes that our society is overwhelmed with images of "masculine" men and "feminine" women so that it becomes "universalized", natural, and acceptable, whereas in actuality these are constructed images. These images stemming from objectification are primarily related to the "male gaze. (Berger,1980). John Berger is quoted as saying," Men act; women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. Thus she turns herself into an object—and most particularly an object of vision—a sight" (Berger, 1980). Our society and even our athletes who are exposed to media become comfortable with these ideas and something outside of the "norm" seems wrong.
In some ways, the female athletes are not passive in this exploitation, but active participants exploiting themselves. They know that sex sells and many might feel obligated to perform in certain manners in order to secure sponsorship, gain media attention and be financially successful. Like other young girls, they grew up with the same media images, eventually becoming part of the system. A prime example of sexualization and objectification is Anna Kournikova, an athlete who has been given enormous media attention for her glamorous look but also criticism for her image. Regardless of her talents, it is obvious that her popularity stems more from her looks and less from her accomplishments as an athlete. Serena Williams and Venus who are described as powerful hitters and having very muscular physiques are always careful to portray themselves in extremely feminine manners. They are power hitters and can act aggressively on the court, but off the court they must reinforce their femininity.
Women, who choose not to adhere to stereotypes, are labeled as either "butch" or lesbian. Leonard II (1998) mentions article titles like " The Secret Scandal of Women's Tennis", referring to the stereotype of female players as being lesbians. It is unfair and cruel to those players who are homosexual who become alienated and shunned, but also difficult for heterosexual players who are not "glamorous". They must defend and prove their femininity in other ways like being pictured with their husbands, families and children in articles (Hargreaves 1994). Ultimately, it has an overall negative effect on sports and creates a hostile environment that divides women in sports where there needs to be more unity. It also places unnecessary pressure on athletes to fit ideals and images that are unrelated to their performance in their careers.
The basic message that the public absorbs from the media is that female athletes must be feminine in order to succeed and be accepted. There is nothing negative about wanting to be beautiful but it seems strange that athletes are placed on magazine covers for their tremendous accomplishments and abilities, yet they are depicted as fragile and in entirely un-sports related contexts. This should not be the main objective, but rather something supporting their talents. Male athletes are scene as athletes first and men second, but an expectation exists that women must be female first and athletes second.
Schell believes this is primarily hurtful to young females who are easily influenced and can greatly effect how they socialize in sport. They are given the idea that only physically attractive, white, and young women can play sports. By creating these stereotypes, we are also limiting the number of role models that young girls have available to them and may discourage women from participating in sports that are seen as less feminine. Women are being subjected to absurd expectations of an "ideal" and exploited and objectified in the process. This process is hurtful to our female athletes as well as our society as a whole and we must come to a point where we can be accepting of all people and expand our definition of the ideal women, or rather come to the realization that there should not be and there cannot be an "ideal" women.

Works Cited

Berger, J. p. 44-45 in Berger, J. (1980) Ways of Seeing. Penguin.

Hargreaves, J. "Femininity or 'musculinity'? Changing Images of Female Sport" in Hargreaves, J. (1994) Sporting Females: Critical Issues in the History and Sociology of Women's Sports. Routledge.

Leonard II, W and Murphy, P. "Sport and Gender" in Leonard II, W. (1998) A Sociological Perspective of Sport. Allyn and Bacon.

Schell, L. "(Dis) Empowering Images? Media Representations of Women in Sport" in Issues and Action (2003) Womenssportsfoundation.Org.

Spears, B. "Prologue: The Myth" in Oglesby, C. (1978) Women and Sport: From Myth to Reality. Lea and Febiger Publishers.

Race-Based Stereotypes in Sport: do they confer an
Name: Mary W. Ja
Date: 2003-03-13 16:36:10
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ESS 200 Web Paper II
Sport and the American Dream March 13, 2003
Professor Christine Shelton Mary W. Jayne

Race-Based Stereotypes in Sport: do they confer an advantage or a disadvantage?

Sport has long provided several major reasons for hope to Americans of all races who seek an optimistic prognosis for the future of relations between the races. There are at least four aspects to the myth that sport provides the ideal venue for racial progress:
„X Sports prowess gives those who may have lacked educational and other oppor-tunities unparalleled upward mobility ¡V the chance for a lucrative career as a professional athlete.
„X Sports stars display, in a general way, the achievements members of minority racial groups are capable of ¡V thereby serving as positive role models to youth.
„X Members of many different racial groups can interact on athletic teams in a positive way.
„X The significant progress of racial integration in sport shows the world that Americans have at least begun to overcome a history of racism.

How true is the myth of the sports antidote to racism? Do we confer any real advantage upon an athlete of color by selectively praising his or her performance in sport? Does it represent racial progress to hand out such praise? Are whites actually making up for generations of segregation in sport ¡V when they cheer for black athletes as blacks? In order to adequately answer such questions, it is first necessary to set up a framework for a thorough analysis of racial stereotyping.
Donald Siegel (2000) takes account of research that ranks African American ath-letes as physically superior to European Americans, but notes that such a focus on physical differences ¡§reinforces stereotypical ideas about black physical prowess rather than exploring the significance of motivation, intellect, discipline and hard work in accounting for athletic success.¡¨ Siegel chronicles the progress of racial integration of the three major professional sports of basketball, football and baseball since the end of World War II by noting that at the end of the 20th century, respective-ly 77%, 65% and 15% of all professional athletes in these three sports were African American. He adds that, not only do athletes of color dominate by their representa-tive numbers in these and other sports, but they also excel in athletic performance in certain sports, as measured by such standards as Olympic medals. But is it healthy for our society to even acknowledge measurement of so-called racial differences? Jay Coakley (1998) observes ¡§Sport is unique in the sense that it . . . may trigger a form of race awareness that makes skin color and certain cultural differences very import-ant to many people. When this happens, race and ethnicity become ¡¥identity handles¡¦ used to differentiate athletes . . . This, of course, can be dangerous.¡¨

In fact, research considered by Donald Siegel persuades him that, when examined closely, most studies that attempt to differentiate between the physical attributes of athletes of African descent and European descent are inherently fallacious. He sum-marizes: ¡§The point . . . is that systematic variation in body configuration does not co-vary with any meaningful designation of biological race.¡¨

Like Siegel, Louis Harrison, Jr. observes that humans tend to lump together dis-parate morsels of actual experience with opinions they may have overheard or read ¡V into a schema that perpetuates itself as a faulty racial stereotype. The stereotype then reinforces itself by becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is generally accepted that such stereotypes render damage to African Americans, who may think that they are limited to pursuing only specific opportunities in specific sports. Coakley represents the pattern that is set up, for African American males especially, in table form. He shows how a perception of limited opportunities drives young black men to excel in certain sports, thereby perpetuating the idea that they are physically and culturally best suited to these sports and actually leading to fewer opportunities in other arenas.

Examples of successful efforts to overturn such stereotypes abound. A Philadelphia Department of Recreation swim team has produced a number of nationally ranked young African American athletes. This achievement flies in the face of a predominantly held stereotype that the African American body type is not well suited for swimming and that a lack of exposure to the sport insures poor prospects for success for African American swimmers.
Dr. Beverly Pittman of Penn State University¡¦s Department of Kinesiology has chosen to focus on the cultural heritage of African Americans, in her crusade to promote health-giving physical activity in the black community. Thus, she has leap-frogged over the controversy surrounding racial and ethnic stereotyping in organized American sports. Dr. Pittman concentrates instead on the essential spiritual, family and community-based role of dance in African societies and works to reintroduce such activity. She finds a special urgency to this work, after the 1996 Surgeon General¡¦s Report identified African Americans as a ¡§special needs population¡¨ within a nation that, as a whole, should increase its level of physical activity.

The experts cited above, as well as many other representatives from various sports, are united in their view that, overall, any form of stereotyping, even the imposition of so-called positive stereotypes, confers no real advantage to a group of athletes. In fact, most scholars and observers of sport find that applying stereotypes should be avoided. As Louis Harrison, Jr. and others have noted, there is a natural human tendency to simplify cognitive processes by creating and promoting stereo-types, especially as we think about those we perceive to be in a different group from ourselves. However, we should resist this tendency. It diminishes our view of others and of ourselves. We should persist in gathering fuller and deeper levels of informa-tion about others, so as to ¡§build our hierarchical default system [higher]¡¨ and rely less on stereotypes. To the extent that participating in or watching sports broadens our experience along these lines, we all benefit.

1. Coakley, Jay J., Ph.D. ¡§Race and Ethnicity: are skin color and cultural heritage important in sports?¡¨ in Sport in Society: issues and controversies, 6th edition, McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA

2. Harrison, , Jr., Louis, ¡§Understanding the Influence of Stereotypes: implications for the African American in sport and physical activity¡¨, in Quest Magazine of the National Association for Physical Education in Higher Education, 2001

3. Pittman, Beverly, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University Department of Kinesiology, Classroom lecture at Smith College, ESS 200, March 4, 2003

4. Shelton, Christine, Ph.D., Smith College Department of Exercise and Sports Science, Classroom lecture, February 2003

5. Siegel, Donald, ¡§Race and Sport¡¨, 2001

Gender and Non-Traditional Sport
Name: Samantha V
Date: 2003-03-18 19:51:06
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Samantha Varma
Women, Sport, and Film
Question #2
March 19, 2003

Gender and Non-Traditional Sport

What are the cultural and personal costs for women and men participating in sport not traditionally associated with their gender? What are the gains of crossing established gender lines within the context of sport? These questions are inexorably linked to cultural and societal definitions of feminine and masculine that are read and interpreted through the physical body.1 The personal and cultural costs and gains are negotiated through the presentation of the individual body and its assessment within the larger framework of society. Indeed, cultural expectations do "frame" the body viewed, as it manipulates its interpretation and judges its acceptability.
The body is a text, constantly transmitting messages that are continually assessed by society.2 Dominant societal norms dictate acceptable examples of feminine and masculine body types. As discussed in class, the representations of women are overwhelmingly viewed through the "male gaze". The dominant interpretation -a heterosexual male interpretation- judges the body's desirability, which therefore informs its cultural and societal acceptability.2 Judgments are not limited to acceptable ideas of femininity in women, but also to the acceptable ideas of male masculinity that are antithetical to the standard ideas of feminine. Interestingly, satisfactory ideas of masculinity are not limited to one body type: acceptable male bodies are varied in ways the female body is not. This is because the dominant gatekeeper of acceptability is not concerned with the desirability of the male body, but only that it retains it masculinity and avoids all implications of the feminine.3
The cost for women athletes participating in non-traditional sport can be different from men participating in non-traditional sport. The cost is as high as the sport's effect on her body. For example, a female bodybuilder participates in a sport that alters her body in ways that diverge from accepted norms.4 Not only does the sport itself challenge ideas of traditional female athletics, but also the idea of the traditional female body type. The purposeful creation of a muscular and strong non-traditional body type by the female bodybuilder not only 'betrays her sex', but also societal and cultural expectations. Therefore, it is not only her activity that challenges society, but her body as well. What is perceived as an achievement by the bodybuilder is meet with hostility and rejection by society. In fact, it is the pride of this achievement that most likely provokes much of the resentment. The bodybuilder deliberately creates and presents her body according to her own interpretation; however she has no control over society's reading and interpretation of her body: "appearances may be controlled by a woman but its intended meaning is established by discursive texts outside her control."5
Men participating in non-traditional sport, unless he is well known, face challenges by the action of the sport and not appearance of their body. The male athlete, therefore, is able to avoid judgments of society when outside the athletic context. For example, the body of a male synchronized swimmer does not 'give away' his participation in non-traditional sport.
The different experiences of men and women participating in non-traditional sport illustrates cultural perspectives of female and male athletes that are often reinforced by images created by the media: judgments of women in sport revolve around the desirability of their bodies as prescribed by the "male gaze"7; while judgments of men in sport are based on the type of athletic action, as established by male standards of the masculine. Compare the images of female athletes, often in provocative poses outside the athletic context, with those of male athletes in moments of athletic action.
Despite the costs female and male athletes undergo when participating in non-traditional sport, the long-term personal and cultural benefits are substantial. By challenging established gender roles within athletics, women and men demonstrate personal ownership of their bodies.8 By choosing to create body types and participate in non-traditional sport, not only do these women and men pursue individual pleasure, they force us to question cultural definitions of feminine and masculine and to reexamine societal expectations of gender.

Gender and Non-Tradtional Sport
Name: Samantha V
Date: 2003-03-18 20:03:47
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My footnotes did not make it into the web text. My source is-
Looking at Bodywork: Women and Three Physical Activities, by Jan Brace-Govan, from the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, vol. 26, no. 4, Nov. 2002, pp. 403-420.
Footnotes and citations:
1- p.404
2- p.404-406
3- p.404, 409
4- p.407-408
5- p. 414
6- p.405
7- p. 403
8- p. 404

Role Model: A Screenplay
Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2003-03-19 00:16:05
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3. Using the four topics, history, race and class, gender, and sexual orientation in sport, assume you are a screen writer in the year 2010. You have been commissioned to write a movie script about women's sports and current society. What is the theme? Who are the protagonists? What are the issues and how does the movie end?

If I could write a screenplay about women in sports, I would choose several groups of women athletes and run their stories parallel to one another, to meet up only at the very end of the film. The first image I would want would be a bird's eye view of a city and surrounding suburbs. It will not be clear which city it is because I want it to be clear that all the characters are American athletes, and that they all live in a place that looks like this image.

I would then begin the film by showing several girls of about ten years of age playing soccer on a field in an American suburban neighborhood. They are laughing, making some good passes, perhaps scoring a goal against the opposing team. Then the camera fades out, and on the black screen the words, "20 Years Later" can be seen. The screen lights up on the home of one of the girls from the soccer team, who is now 30 years old. She is preparing her home for a party. We can see that the table is set for many people. The doorbell rings. Other women arrive for a reunion with their childhood friends with whom they played on a soccer team.

As the women sit down at the table to eat, the camera cuts to an ice rink. The camera swerves around the ice quickly showing the speed and strength of the players as they move. Then the camera zooms in on one of the players and we see that she is a woman. She has often been teased about her sexuality, although she is straight.

The camera cuts again to a city basketball court. There are young African American men playing together. The camera zooms in on one man's faces like the former soccer player, and the ice hockey player we saw before. These will be three of the main characters in the story. This man also happens to be gay. Although it is considered masculine to play sports, he has still suffered some discrimination.

The final camera cut is to a retirement home where we see an elderly man sitting in his room looking at a woman in a photograph that rests on the table next to his chair. This man was a famous athlete and his wife also played a sport, but he was successful, while she became a mother and housekeeper to him.

The film will continue to go around to each location and tell us more about their lives. The women who used to play soccer as girls discuss their present lives and how their childhoods contributed to that. By playing sports these women learned about their own strength and leadership abilities; however, none of them became professional athletes. They discuss why none of them pursued sports as they grew older, and what this might mean for women in general. None of them ever considered playing sports an option as a career, although they still enjoy exercising for fun and fitness.

In contrast to the women who played soccer when they were young but did not continue in their adulthood, we have the team of women ice hockey players. I am not certain if there is any professional women's ice hockey now, but in 2010, the sport is growing in popularity. These women are beginning to be taken seriously by the public. We will see how they are ridiculed and discouraged even today by following one woman through a day in her life. I imagine weaving her day carefully with the conversation among the former soccer players. How would their lives have been different if they had pursued sports? This question will be answered as we see the experience of the female ice hockey player. Men who see her lifting weights at the gym tease her for having a muscular physique, saying that she looks manly. We also see her after a game signing autographs for people, particularly young girls.

The professional ice hockey player continues to be a role model even in the lives of the male characters. The african-american basketball player comes to see one of her games. Afterward he waits for her to leave the rink, and asks her questions. She allows him to follow her to dinner, and they become friends. They discuss the issues that male and female athletes come up against in their careers, particularly sexuality and image.

This discussion flows into a flashback that the older man has remembering a night with his late wife. The camera switches from the ice hockey and basketball player eating dinner in a restaurant to the elderly man and his wife doing the same. They are celebrating his win at a golf tournament. The wife asks if he will still go out and play the course with her. They laugh and agree that she is a good match for him, even if he is the pro, the man. We then switch back to the elderly man in his room, and see that it is he who is having the memory.

Finally, we return to the grown-up soccer player. She waves goodbye to her guests, and then the camera fades to an image of her carrying a suitcase onto a plane. She sits and the plane takes off showing the same bird's eye image from out the window that we saw at the beginning. When the plane lands, the woman continues her travel to see her father, who happens to be the former athlete now living in a retirement home.

As the film ends the viewer will question how the young soccer player was affected by her father's career. She did not pursue a sport, and neither did her mother. The professional ice hockey player continues to influence other athletes, as she might have for the grown-up soccer player years before. The message is that American women in 2010 have sports as an option of career, or for fun, but that men still dominate the field, even from father to daughter. The african-american man does not suffer the same troubles as a gay woman might if she was an athlete, but he does look up to a professional female athlete. I would hope that this film would leave readers looking at sports in a new way. There has been progress of minorities in sports, and discrimination has been reduced, and some stereotypes have been reduced, but these issues still remain relevant.

Redefinitions: My Film about Women Sport and Film
Name: Alice Goff
Date: 2003-03-19 16:55:11
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A constant theme we have explored throughout our discussions and screenings of the films in this course has been the breaking out of molds and traditions, and the redefinition of the image of women through physical activity and ambition. Women's official and state-sanctioned entrance into the arena of professional sports since the inception of Title IX has been in and of itself a huge breaking of presupposed definitions and stereotypes of what constitutes acceptable womanhood. Unfortunately, as we see today in the continued stereotyping of women athletes and the disadvantages they face in the eyes of media coverage and funding, this redefinition has come up short. As a consequence of Title IX, women have become generally accepted as able to perform competitively as athletes, but their role as athletes has not yet been defined as quintessential elements of what it is to be a woman. We see this stereotype promulgated in some of the movies that we viewed in class. For example, in Blue Crush, the main character is portrayed as having to decide between her relationship with the football player and her career as a surfer. The two are ultimately incompatible and set up in a way that conveys the message: women are either athletes OR women, not both. Athleticism is not a defining characteristic of womanhood. The same occurs in Nation Velvet when Velvet is ultimately forced to "become a man" at the end of the film in order to compete in the race. We get the message from these films: athletics are something periphery to what it means to be a woman, not something which is defining of what it means to be a woman.
In my vision for a movie that deals with the issues, my central theme would be the breaking and redefining of traditional gender roles which, despite Title IX and the extensive cinematic dealings with these issues, have to a large extent remained unaltered. My movie would involve a team, but not one involved in competition with another team, but rather in a competition with themselves. I think rock climbing would ideally fit this notion, because it is a sport which involves team work, but also is at the core a matter of competition against oneself. This would be a metaphor for the necessity of women's sports to be seen not as in competition with men's sports, but in competition with themselves, and defined by themselves. Women define their role in athletics, ultimately, not men.
So, a group of rock climbers would be the main character group. They would be involved in a test of endurance in which they were proving to themselves their abilities as rock climbers, and their legitimacy as women athletes. Each member of the climbing team would physically portray a stereotype of women, each in a distinctive way. One character would be seen as 'girly', well-made up, delicate, etc. However, her actual gender identity would be contrary to what the viewer would most readily assumer. This character would be gay, in an effort to contradict the normal visual stereotypes of homosexuality in women, and in sports. Another character would look more "masculine", leading the viewer to assume that she is homosexual, but in fact be straight. Again, this serves the purpose of disrupting traditional gender stereotypes and prompting the viewer to re-define their notions of femininity and masculinity and its relationship to women in sport. Another character would be scared of heights. I think it's important to portray not all women in sport as being fearless conqueror, but also to exhibit the vulnerability involved in any athlete and make that into an acceptable vision of a woman athlete.
The plot would involve these women challenging themselves to climb Half Dome. They would get caught in a storm and have to make the decision of whether or not to continue the climb and take the risk of injury. The storm would be a metaphor for the intimidation that women face from external sources (ie. men, the media, etc.) that challenge their ability to perform to the best of their ability and challenge their viability as athletes. They would decide to risk the storm and continue the climb. The climb itself would be representative of the journey of women in sports since Title IX and end, with the women at the end on top of Half Dome looking over Yosemite Valley. The ending dialogue would be:
Climber 1: My camera survived, I guess that means we should take a picture.
Climber 2: No, let's not. No photograph is going to do justice to this moment.
The photograph is representative of my view of the decision facing women in sport today. They have the choice of following the media and seeking to best "represent" themselves to other people, or to simply continue to be athletes for the sake of being athletes—because it is what they love to do, and is a rich, defining element of their lives. Media coverage is not the answer to women's sports. The answer is in the confidence of every athlete to challenge herself with the notion that she is a woman, and defining of her womanhood is her viability as an athlete.

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