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The Evolution of the Image of Women in Sports
Name: Kate Tucke
Date: 2004-03-02 01:45:41
Link to this Comment: 8619

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - 2004
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Kate Tucker
Women, Sport and Film
Spring 2004

1. Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

All of the films that we watched provided different perspectives on how the image of women is situated in our culture. From the first movie, Dare to Compete, which highlighted the development of women's participation in sports, to Love and Basketball, which fully accepts women's participation in sports, we examined a range of views and opinions on the proper role of women in sports.

Dare to Compete presented images of women in sports over many years, highlighting the evolution of female athletes. At first female athletes still had to be dainty. They were women first, and athletes second. Women were believed to be too fragile for most sports and were told that they would have problems reproducing if they were too physically active. The women you see in sports early on were very feminine, both while participating in sports and in their personal lives. The women who were not as feminine suffered from criticism and felt great pressure to change their appearances to fit in with cultural norms.

As the century progressed, the physicality of women in sports became more acceptable. Women who were not as feminine still had to deal with prejudice, and were sometimes labeled "homosexual" as a derogatory statement. Although there are still stereotypes that many women feel bound to, we see at the end of the film that images of women as athletes, rather than athletes as women are now acceptable. The Nike commercials are a good example of this. These commercials extol the physical prowess of women. Dare to Compete demonstrates that the images of women in sports have changed drastically throughout the twentieth century.

The women in Bend it Like Beckham had to deal with cultural stereotypes against women in sport. Jess' mother had strictly confined ideas of how a woman should look. She did not approve of Jess playing soccer, but if she did it was important for her to keep her legs covered. The issue that comes up repeatedly in this movie is the popular notion that women will not be perceived as women if they are 'sporty'. Jess' mother is afraid that men will not be interested in her because of her athleticism and Jules' mother blames her daughter's lack of a boyfriend on her participation in the soccer team. Although the two mothers represent different cultures, both of their cultures state that female athletes are not feminine or desirable. They are certainly not normal. I think one of the important distinctions in this film is that, while there are certainly many who uphold that belief, there are many others who see and appreciate female athletes. Even Jess' father come to appreciate her athleticism by the end of the film.

An important moment in the film occurs when Jules' mother mistakenly believes that Jules is a lesbian. Although this is humorous in the film, it shows that the image of female athletes is still equated with the image of homosexuals. I think this once again is rooted in the misguided belief that no one in mainstream society would find a female athlete desirable.

In Girlfight, the protagonist, Diana, seems to be determined to fight against cultural norms. She embraces her image as a boxer and female athlete as a way to rebel against society. The main conflict in Girlfight is that Diana is participating in a sport that is almost entirely dominated by males. Women may be able to participate in sports, but Diana must struggle to become accepted in the more violent, more male, sport of boxing. This demonstrates that, at some level, women are still not accepted as truly the athletic equals of men. Still women must be confined to sports that are nicer and less violent. Women are seen as competitive, but not as fighters. Diana breaks this stereotype by insisting that she be treated equally. In the end, she fights her boyfriend and win. In the ring, she must be considered an equal. Girlfight is unique in that it presents competitions between the two sexes. Unlike the other films we watched, boxing is categorized by weight, not sex. Interestingly, this seems to achieve true equality in ways that segregating athletes by sex does not.

Love and Basketball is the only film we viewed that accepts the image of women as athletes without question. Although the protagonist, Monica, does face some discrimination by her high school classmates, this does not deter her. She follows her dreams and is accepted into a fully functioning collegiate basketball team. The film does not focus on her struggles as a female athlete, but rather her struggles in life. It is very enjoyable to see a woman being athletic in this film and still being portrayed as attractive to the opposite sex. Those who do not accept her athleticism are depicted as being old fashioned, rather than the majority opinion.

These films represent a good view of how the image of women in sports has changed in recent years and presents a good examination of the obstacles that female athletes still face. Although it is currently acceptable for a woman to be athletic, there are some sports where female participation is still not accepted, as we saw in Girlfight. While mainstream society may accept female athletes, they still struggle in some cultures, as we saw in Bend It Like Beckham. This film also showed the stereotyping of women's sexual preferences that female women must endure. Another problem that women can face is a lack of venue for their athletic ability. Monica was forced to go overseas in Love and Basketball so that she could play professionally. Fortunately, she did eventually find a way to play in the US. What all these films demonstrate is that the image of women in sports is continually evolving. From the start of Dare to Compete when female athletes were almost unheard of to the present day, there has been change at every step of the way. Hopefully, by the time this century has ended, women will be able to assume their own personal identities, rather than being labeled as a certain 'type' simply because they are athletic. I think the progress we've seen so far is a great indicator that this may someday be possible.

Fierce Competition
Name: Nicole Wit
Date: 2004-03-02 21:14:00
Link to this Comment: 8640

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and Film - 2004
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Upon watching the films during this course we see many strong women. Female Athletes whose bodies are in peak condition from the real life champions in the documentary to the female boxer in Girl Fight and the passionate basketball player in Love and Basketball. However stories of real women are not always as ideal as those of Hollywood. Failure, both mentally and physically, is at times a harsh reality. Sometimes when somebody is physically injured it keeps an athlete from the game entirely, if the injury is severe enough. But one may recover physically and never have quite the same mental attitude. The main character in this plot will encounter both physical and mental set backs and either triumph over her hardships or be defeated.

A fourteen-year old girl runs into the gymnasium of her middle school with her teammates. They do their warm up routine to stretch their muscles. Form one of two sets of bleachers a handful of people cheer, mostly bored younger siblings and parents supporting their little girls. The baskets have been lowered at opposing ends of the court. The referee sounds her whistle for the game to begin. The two tallest girls from either team stand toe to toe posed for the toss up. Third quarter, the away team has the advantage. The fourteen year old is playing with all of her strength of body and heart. The ball is thrown; she intercepts it. Dribbling down the court, she goes for the open lay up. In mid air she is struck by a vengeful for whom threw the misguided pass. They take a hard fall jumbled on the floor, out of bounds. The girl from the visiting team stands up. The other does not. She is on the floor grabbing her knee. The coaches run out to her, and lift her up to take her back to the bench. The game continues as she sits with a towel over head to hide the tears of anguish.

A few doctors later and her joint is still not quite the same. She struggles in high school trying to get back on a team, but her knee fails her. Eventually she becomes scared to even hoops in her backyard for fear of hr knee's health. She does not want to continue injuring the same knee for fear of becoming crippled. Eventually she gives up on joining a team. But despite all this the dream of playing nags at her. Though she is fine with her current state and rationalizes the thought of all the running, the practices, all the work is not worth it, it still doesn't die within her.

The idea of the game never dying within the girl makes her a self -protagonist. If she knows that getting back in the game is impossible then she could deal with her loss. But she does not know for sure. The knee is not completely unhealthy, but yet never quite healthy enough to allow her to play. She continues to push towards joining a team again, but the knee disappoints her every time. It gives out every year, for three years, the week before try-outs. So she can deal with the realization that her competitive career, no matter how minor, is terminated. She is reassured with the knowledge that backyard hoops or a game of horse on the playground is not out of the question. But even that comes and goes. One day, one sunny day, she will take the shot and when she lands her knee will falter. She will lay on the ground limp with pain. When she regains her composure, she will hobble back to her room. Then the knee will begin to heal again, and soon she will be able to walk again with relatively little pain. And she will be drawn back to the hoop to start the cycle again, because the knee keeps taunting her. She loses weight to make herself healthier and to have less pressure in her joints. She runs to strengthen the muscles, but it never works. Just as she begins to get herself back in the game her knee will fail her, but she does not want to accept this.

Alas, she had to give it up. She gave the game up when she became enamored with another sport: Foosball. It is a game that put to use her hand eye coordination. The skills she used to put the ball through the net, now guided the plastic men on metal rods back and forth across the foosball table. She put her heart into her new passion. Luckily she lived in a town with a foosball league. Amateurs would gather on Tuesday nights to challenge one another to high intensity bouts of foosball. From these early exposures in Bert's Big Bowling Alley, she honed her skills until she was a superstar. Endorsements began to roll in. Eventually she quit her part time job at the local café because such companies like Spalding, Champion, and finally Nike were vying to put her name on their products. The day came when she traveled south of the border to South America where there are professional leagues for these specialized athletes.

Though she failed utterly in her first sport love, she found her niche in another. When she accepted her shortcomings and moved on is when good things happened to her. And she was still able to pursue sports even if it was in another venue. Once she got over her obsession with basketball and explored her other options she discovered foosball. Though she excels at foosball now, it does not function as a substitute for basketball. Basketball will always be in her heart even though she plays another sport now.

Painting a Picture of Perfection
Name: Kelsey Smi
Date: 2004-03-03 16:22:17
Link to this Comment: 8657

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports04/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2004
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In society today, divorce is common with approximately 60% of marriages not lasting. Prior to their parents splitting up, children struggle with how to thrive in an environment where their parents are constantly arguing. This is the backdrop for my screenplay. One of the protagonists, Kristi, is an artist who goes running for several hours every night, returning after midnight when she is certain that her parents are asleep. She is a thoughtful and taciturn character who thinks that she is to blame for the problems that her parents are experiencing. As time progresses, Kristi becomes increasingly hopeless about her life and her paintings reflect her emotions because Kristi uses increasing amounts of dark colors.

Amelia, another protagonist, is an athlete who plays soccer every fall. The rest of the year, she satisfies her desire to exercise by running and lifting weights. As Kristi's best friend, she knows that Kristi is suffering and wants to help. She has a disposition that is markedly different from that of Kristi: she is not afraid to yell at friends who are twenty feet away and she always speaks her mind in a forceful way. Amelia lives next door and sees Kristi leave every night to go running. After trying without success to get Kristi to talk about what is happening with her family, Amelia runs with Kristi one night. After they are gone for about an hour, they return and Kristi's parents are still fighting. They both decide to spend time in Amelia's bedroom.

Amelia tells Kristi that she is impressed by her ability to run fast. Kristi replies that it is what she must do to get away from her parents every night. Amelia suggests that Kristi join the cross-country with her the next spring, but Kristi is not interested. Amelia asks Kristi what she has to lose and Kristi replies "time", an answer that does not impress her friend. Amelia asks Kristi if she will try being on the cross-country team for four weeks so that she can see how it goes. Kristi agrees.

Kristi discovers that she loves to run every day after school. Her parents get divorced midway through the second semester. She annoys Amelia by her ability to run faster. The two friends constantly race each other and both improve as a result.

Depiction of males should also be examined. This can be done by having Kristi's younger brother, William, also participating in sports. He plays basketball because his father forces him to do so and he consequently lacks the athletic drive that his sister possesses. William can be far more focused on his appearance than his tomboy sister Kristi. He is also moody most of the time and shouts at his family member, blaming them for his problems.

The movie should show Kristi painting and show how her paintings change over the course of the movie. After Kristi's parents split up, the colors should be bolder and brighter. As Kristi becomes increasingly interested in running, the style should become livelier. The subject matter of the paintings should also undergo change: Kristi goes from painting nature scenes to painting her and Amelia running outside at night to painting her and Amelia racing after school.

The conclusion of the movie involves Kristi and Amelia being better friends than they ever have before. William's story ends happily as well since he decides to drop playing basketball in favor of writing. This solution helps him to control his emotions better since he becomes satisfied with who he is instead of trying to be happy by doing athletics like Kristi.

Stacking Up
Name: Amelia Leo
Date: 2004-03-03 18:47:45
Link to this Comment: 8663

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Amelia Leonards
Women, Sport and Film
Assume you are a screenwriter 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?

Due to the nature of this course, most of the films that have been shown concerned the discrimination women face when they attempt to compete against men in athletic areas that have long been considered unfit for their participation. Divisions of sport that could be regarded as more gender neutral were not mentioned nearly as often as those which have a long tradition of masculine head butting and back slapping, and athletics which are deemed feminine were not brought up at all. If the indignation felt by the protagonists of films like Girlfight is any indication of the present attitude of women towards sex-based discrimination in sport, it is entirely possible that we will have come a long way in the fight for equality by the year 2010. The following scenario is purely hypothetical and the future of the sport involved was manipulated for the purposes of this paper only.

The activity of cup stacking has gained much popularity as a sport in the US today and is beginning to become known in areas outside of the country, such as Great Britain. It involves the stacking and dismantling of several predetermined cup arrangements in a specific order, with rules determining the exact manner in which a competitor must achieve this. The most important of these regulations is the ban on using both hands on one cup, as the active participation of both hands improves dexterity and assists right brain development. This is the side of the brain which promotes awareness, focus and rhythm, which are very important skills for the cup stacker and average person alike. Competition can take place on both an individual and team level, the clock and one's personal record being the antagonist in the former scenario. Boys and girls compete without regard to gender in this sport, though the record holder for speed stacking the cycle formation is female, clocking in at 7.43 seconds. It has been observed that women generally possess more dexterity than men, which would give them a natural advantage in sports of this nature. This observation has led to a hypothesis concerning the domination of women in the future of cup stacking, which is the focus of Stacking Up, brought to you by Pickled Newt Pictures.

Over the past ten years women have become the dominant force in the cup stacking movement while male participation has been slowly disappearing. Now, in 2010, male involvement is below 1% in the US and not much higher elsewhere in the world. Once it became obvious that females had the advantage, (at least initially), many boys found it difficult to continue competing under "unfair conditions" and simply gave up. Over time cup stacking became regarded as a girl's sport, and most boys view it in a negative light, which is strengthened by the resentment many of them feel for being left out. There is one boy, however (Andrew Gais), who dreams of becoming the US cup stacking champion. He's been practicing since he was little; he works 3-6-3 combinations on the countertop before clearing the dishes at home, at least fourteen glass beakers from the chemistry lab at school have given their delicate (and ultimately breakable) lives to his obsession. . .wherever he goes, whatever he's doing, he compulsively stacks anything he can get his hands on. This includes toy poodles. Unfortunately, they don't appreciate the beauty and simplicity of a well executed 'cycle' formation, especially when they are made an intimate part of it. The boy luckily manages to escape with all of his fingers intact. But Andrew finds it difficult to achieve his dreams; his father, an ex football player, does not support his son's passion for a sport he considers 'ridiculous', while his mother believes his time could be spent in more productive ways than upsetting the neighbor's poodles. His friends (the few people who can see past his odd obsession to the caring and friendly boy underneath) advise him to move on and study something that will bring him large amounts of money in relatively little time. People who cannot see through the unusual exterior to the sweet interior believe he is completely insane and label him a fruit for taking so much interest in a decidedly feminine sport. Fortunately, he meets Alice Liptschtz at a cup stacking convention in MI, where she beats the current world record by 20 seconds. The two fall into conversation, and before the day is over, she has agreed to coach our protagonist to enter the local trials.

Since he has technically been practicing for 11 years, she is able to train him up for a competition in very little time. Andrew wins his first trial, and goes on to compete in the regional championship. Medal after medal is awarded to him as the judges perceive and wonder at the immense talent the boy possesses. Meanwhile, all of Alice's friends vocally abuse her for agreeing to coach a boy, and a successful one at that. She slowly begins to regret her decision, and finally attempts to break off their relationship, which has blossomed into friendship and even love after he is entered against her in the final championship speed stacking competition for the US. Andrew wants to remain friends however, and invites her over to his home for dinner with his family the night before the competition. While they are walking around the perimeter of the horse enclosure (he lives on a farm), one of the horses, maddened by a slight injury it had suffered earlier in the day which had gone unnoticed, charges Alice, who is too stunned to move. Fearing she will be injured, Andrew throws himself in front of her while attempting to push the enraged animal away with his left hand- there is a horrible tense moment when the kids hit the ground and the horse prepares to strike- and before anyone knows what has happened, the boy is gaping down at the stump where his left index finger used to be, the horse's anger is turned to fright at the scent and taste of human blood, and Alice is left to regard the scene in utter horror. There is a slow motion shot of Andrew's golden cup-stacking ring spinning through the air to land amidst churned up mud and dirt.

Obviously Andrew is unable to compete in the championship the following day, and Alice is declared winner by default. There is a high degree of tension between the two of them, but in the end, Andrew swallows his bitterness and approaches the winner. For he has come to a startling realization; he loves her more than cup stacking. Once he declares his love, he proposes a plan to become her manager, and there is a fading shot of the two of them cup stacking off into the sunset.

Obviously the main protagonist is Andrew, who must ignore the derision of his fellow cup stackers as well as the complete lack of encouragement and support from his friends and family. Alice is also a protagonist, for she assists Andrew, but she also has a goal of her own: to remain the US cup stacking champion. In the end everyone gets what they desire, which is why critics believe that this will be the most popular movie to hit theatres this summer.

Title IX to Today
Name: Julia
Date: 2004-03-03 20:26:16
Link to this Comment: 8666

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports04/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2004
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Great inequalities in the educational system between the sexes have occurred for
many years and still occur today. Efforts have been made to rectify this disparity, but the one that has made the most difference is Title IX. Passed in 1972, Title IX attempted to correct the gender discrimination in educational systems receiving public funding. The greatest correction it made was in the area of athletics, but social justice of Title IX applies to many other areas as well. Title IX has an effect on women who are not athletes in many ways, including quality of education, receptivity to education, empowerment and creation of ideals.

Title IX qualifies as a social justice issue because it addresses social
inequalities. Women before Title IX were not accorded the same rights as men in federally funded school systems, such as quality of education in certain circumstances or equal opportunity to participate in sports programs. These inequalities in education lead to further injustices, such as unequal distribution of women in high level positions and unequal pay, since women who have a deficient education do not rise as high as women who received an equal one. In athletics, women who did not have an opportunity to participate in the athletic program of their choice may not have reached their full potential. This is usually due to a lack of equipment or instruction, but it could also lead to a missed opportunity to go to college.

In many schools, women who became pregnant were often relegated to "alternative" educational programs, the participation in which was mandatory. After Title IX, schools could no longer force the student to go to an alternative school, which often was substandard. These students could not be singled out or treated differently than any other student with a medical condition. These restrictions on the treatment of pregnant students allow the students more freedom, and not be limited to their condition. They could still receive a quality education from their school and thus have the opportunity for further advancement in life. Pregnant students could still enjoy normal student involvement and not be stigmatized, as teenage mothers often are. For pregnant students, Title IX could change their lives.

Sexual harassment has been a problem in school situations; it inhibits a student's ability to learn since the student concentrates on the problem of dealing with the harassment instead of concentrating on her education. This occurrence of harassment can make a student fearful of going to school, fearful of authority figures and distrustful of adults in general. A woman who either is fearful or distrustful of men or women at an early age can suffer social inhibitions prohibiting her advancement through life. Title IX's prohibition on sexual harassment frees students from these fears and leaves them able to lead a normal life. Although Title IX does not eliminate the possibility of sexual harassment altogether, it does provide recourse to the student and the student's family through means of liability damages. Restrictions are placed on when the liability comes into effect, but it is a step forward in dealing with sexual harassment.

The benefits to female students interested in athletics are obvious, but a secondary
benefit to the rest of the female community is their empowerment by proxy. School spirit is often a part of middle schools, high schools and colleges, and the football team is usually what determines how much school spirit the school has. With equal opportunity and equal funding to female teams, the women of the school feel empowered by the successes of those teams as well. It sends a message to women that they are also able to do anything they want, and receive as much support as men do. They need not feel relegated to a secondary position just because of their sex. This empowerment extends to all sorts of areas, such as mathematics or the sciences, where women were originally told that they would not excel. Women can now think that if they can play sports, nothing is stopping them from studying mathematics or the sciences. This achievement in the world of sports gives women confidence to try anything they want to do.

Lastly, the fact that women are now playing sports and going places that were essentially forbidden to them creates new ideals in they eyes of women themselves and the eyes of the public at large. Over the years after Title IX, the ideal of a woman has shifted from a demure, quiet, stay at home woman to a headstrong, physically fit, intelligent woman. This new woman does not back down or give in when she faces a challenge, but meets it head on. She aims for the top and will not settle for less. She is all that she can be. Due to this new ideal woman, the public has changed its expectations of a woman to coincide with the ideal. It is relatively uncommon to see a woman on a television show that does not work, and oftentimes they work at high positions such as doctors or lawyers. If she is married, she often has more say in the relationship than the man, a complete switch of earlier roles. These new ideals have mostly improved the public's view of women and improved women's view of themselves.

Title IX has drastically changed the lives and the quality of the lives of women. The law deals with schooling and sports, but the reach of it extends much further. Women are not told that they are equal, and then receive unequal benefits anymore, and they have the same opportunity of education as men. Although Title IX is not the only reason for the status of women today, it helped greatly in the process.

The Image of Women in Sports Today
Name: Jessica Bo
Date: 2004-03-04 14:53:56
Link to this Comment: 8673

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports04/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2004
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We live in a world that changes quickly, so it's no terrible surprise that the image of women in sports is changing quickly, as well. Relatively, it hasn't been that long since women were not even socially permitted to participate in sports or any kind of physical activity-- now, I dare say, it's nearly expected. There are still remnants of past gender-types, but overall I think the image of women in sports has changed dramatically.

It used to be that women were not allowed to participate in sports-- beyond just being seen as unbecoming and unfeminine, it was actually believed that physical activity would harm a woman's reproductive system. Men did not think that women should or could do the same things that men could do-- and maybe they were a little bit afraid to have women try, because of all the perceived notions that a success would shatter. But women tried anyway and, lo and behold, succeeded. So society had to face up to the fact that, yes, women could not only participate in sports, but they could excel at them.

The change didn't happen overnight, of course. Women worked their way into sports one by one, usually on a non-professional level, and it was usually only after women proved that they were not only good but very good at their chosen sport that they were allowed to participate on a professional level. I think this is one of the things that has carried over into women's sports even today-- or at least how they are portrayed. If a woman wants to play a sport, she is not allowed to be an average player-- she had to be as good as the best men, or better. Men get the respect of it being assumed that they're worthy to play a sport even if they're only an average player-- there's an assumption that, with time and practice, most men will become better players. However, it seems to me that it is always portrayed that a woman must show her talent immediately upon entering a sport-- if she is not seen to have some quality that makes her as valuable as the trained men, then she is out. Despite all the progress we have made, a woman still has to do more to get the same amount of respect that a man is given automatically.

Another aspect that has remained part of the image of women in sports is the element of being... well, pretty. More than anything, I see this as a holdover from the days when women had to prove that they could play sports and still be feminine, to-- I'm not sure what. Assuage fears that by playing sports, they were somehow going to be turned into men? At any rate, women weren't allowed to be anything except perfect, even while playing sports. They had to not sweat, not get tired, and always still look fresh and beautiful. Even to this day, the female athletes who do best in the media are not necessarily the ones who actually play at the highest level, but the ones who look the best. This is true even outside of 'performance' sports like ice-skating, where it is, to a certain degree, understandable that it's important for the ice-skaters to be attractive. The same is true of male athletes-- ugly male athletes don't grace the front of a Kellogg's box-- but not nearly to the same extent.

Another aspect of how women are portrayed in sports, today, is how closely the idea of female athletes have become tied to the idea of strong women-- and not just physically strong women. It seems to me that, because the movement of women into sports was such a defiant move, it became very closely tied to the feminist movement. Today, we perceive strong women as women who are not only in control of their minds and their lives, but their bodies as well. To this end, part of the 'strong' woman image is a woman who participates in some kind of physical activity-- be it a sport or yoga or simply jogging every day. Strong women are women who are in touch with their bodies and the needs of their bodies, and therefore they dedicate time and effort to improving their bodies, in one way or another. And while this may be the generally accepted image, I don't think it is necessarily true. Commercials and media may portray physical activity as a medium through which a woman can triumph over social boundaries and become a better person, but if you are a woman, and you decide to do a physical activity because the media tells you that you should or otherwise you'll become fat and ugly and weak-- well, isn't that just caving to social pressure all over again? I feel as though we've sort of done a 180 degree turn-- from it being unacceptable for a woman to want to participate in a physical activity to it being unacceptable for a woman to not want to participate in a physical activity. It used to be that the ideal woman was a little plump, with curves and that little bit of extra weight that told the world she was a wife and a mother, and that her husband could support you well. Now women are supposed to be skinny and a little bit muscled, to tell the world that they're independent and strong enough to get by on their own. Ideas about what a woman is supposed to look like have changed, and while I think that the change probably happened along with women entering into sports, I don't think that the change is necessarily acceptable.

I agree that women should be in touch with, and comfortable with, their bodies. But I don't think that a woman needs to go to the gym or run a mile every day to be comfortable with her body. And I don't think that it's necessary for a women to be skinny and muscled if that isn't her body type. Even today, society still has an image of the perfect woman-- and just because it has changed, doesn't mean it has gotten any better. Sports and physical activity can be places where a woman meets goals and surpasses expectations-- but I don't think they have to be. And if a woman is going to meet goals and surpass expectations, I don't think they should be anyone's goals or expectations but her own.

Women, Sports and Stereotypes
Name: Sreenjaya
Date: 2004-03-04 15:38:14
Link to this Comment: 8675

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1. Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

In almost all the movies we have seen, the women go through a series of changes as they grow older. They might or might not choose to continue with their sport (although movies are usually shy of showing women who actually choose to abandon a blossoming sports career in favour of something more 'socially acceptable'). However, when we first meet the female heroine in almost all the movies, she is a young tomboy. The figures of Jess in 'Bend It Like Beckham' or Monica in 'Love and Basketball' are remarkably similar as children. They both wear boyish clothes, shun typically girly clothing, and prefer to spend their time with boys. Of course, the movies make it amply clear that these girls only want to play sports with the boys – they have no sexual interest in them. In 'Bend It Like Beckham', for example, Jess is clearly contrasted with the other Indian girls who watch the local boys playing football not because they like the game but because they want to see the boys with their shirts off. Even in 'Love and Basketball', Monica loves Quincy, but she never lets him see that until after prom night; before then, they are simply neighbours, friends and ballplayers. Even in a movie like 'Remember the Titans', which has no clear female protagonist, the little girl is shown hanging around boys all the time with her father, but she too has no interest in them except as sportsmen.

The second stage is when the female protagonist has to confront her biological femaleness. This happens with the little girl in 'Remember the Titans' when she starts spending time with Coach Boone's children, who are more conventionally "girly". At first she scorns them, but after a while a friendship grows up between them. Sheryl will never be the kind of girl who plays with dolls, but she certainly learns some 'feminine' decorum from the Boone girls. Similarly, Monica's sister dresses her up for prom night, and she is plainly uncomfortable in her dress, not knowing how to sit properly, but that is her first introduction into the world of the typical 'girl'. Indeed, by showing her deep friendship with her sister, the movie suggests that the older girl was influencing Monica in a lot of ways. Whenever she felt bad about herself, the movie suggests that she would compare herself to her sister, who was more conventional. Jess and her older sister share an almost identical relationship – the older girl looks out for the younger one, and is more typically the kind of daughter that their parents might want. This stage in the development of the female protagonist is, as already been mentioned, marked by a sense of inferiority. Earlier, the female lead had never felt different from other girls, or had any sense that society expected some things from her because of her gender. With puberty comes the realisation that girls must sometimes bake pies, cook meals and go out on dates. Of course, this means that the protagonist rebels against the stereotype, at least to some extent. Jess doesn't want to learn to make chapattis and Sheryl doesn't want to play with dolls, for example.

The final stage in the development of the female protagonist in most of these movies is when she finds the ideal balance between the socially acceptable feminine stereotype and the sportsman she wants to be. None of the movies show the women repudiating these stereotypes completely, choosing to continue being the tomboys they were in their youth. Rather, all the movies emphasise that compromise is the key to happiness. In this, they all bow to today's cultural ideas about sport. While society has moved a long way from the earlier restrictions that women had on being allowed to compete, it still sees women who are completely unfeminine as 'abnormal' (to use a strong word). Sportswomen are, in effect, liminal to society, and thus as anthropologist Mary Douglas says, a source of danger. Society works by establishing differences, by marking out an 'us' and then contrasting that to a 'them'. While this is not so true of today's cosmopolitan culture, it is still definitely true of gender stereotypes. Women who don't act like 'women' are neither clearly feminine nor clearly masculine; from their ambiguity stems their potential for threat to the social. Consequently, it is not surprising that these movies stress that the female leads all compromise, not on their sport but on their general deportment. Jess learns to wear a sari, Monica settles down and has a baby, even the little girl – Sheryl – grows up and starts wearing formal skirt-suits (as shown in the opening sequence of 'Remember the Titans', at the funeral). It seems even more significant that this is not only the case in movies. In real life too, we find this happening. For example, in the first movie about women sportsmen, we find the dramatic transformation of the sportswoman who was a champion jumper, runner and even diver. After a certain point, she discards her boy-short hair and her shorts for longer dresses, longer hair and a husband. She even abandons sports like running and jumping for something more sedate – golf, in her case. This was, to me, the most crucial point to remember when watching all these movies – they are not portraying idealised situations. Rather, in showing the transformation of the tomboy into a sort of 'superwoman' who combines the best of both worlds, the movies are only reflecting real life.

Apologies and Compromises: Images of Women in Spor
Name: Jessie Pay
Date: 2004-03-04 16:05:18
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There is, of course, a huge difference between the ways women are typically supposed to act and what is expected from a typical athlete. Whereas women are expected to comply to their gender role prescribing passivity and compliance, athletes are connoted with an aggressive, competitive nature. Furthermore, society trains women to be ashamed of their bodies and supplies an unrealistic ideal body type and encourages restricting feminine clothing, whereas athletes must have a keen understanding and appreciation of their bodies. In this way, athletes are implicitly coded as male. Though women and men can both be great athletes, of course, gender roles limit the social image and expectations for individuals based on their sex. It is culturally impossible for a woman to be considered both fully athletic and fully feminine – or, in the words of a Bend It Like Beckham character – "There's a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a fella!" This is particularly problematic for films portraying women in sports. Mainstream cinema tends to glamorize women and portray them in ways that comply with their gender role. To at the same time depict them as athletic presents conflicts with their filmic image. As a result, films which feature a female athlete tend to compromise her athletic image and apologize for her gender-nonconformity and participation in sports in a variety of ways.

In all of the narrative films we watched for class that featured women in sports – Bend It Like Beckham, Girlfight, and Love and Basketball – there was a very clear heterosexual love interest interwoven for every female athlete. Though I am not purporting that straight women cannot be athletes or that they are compromising their athletic interest through their heterosexuality, the presence of that orientation is a very strong assurance of femininity in cultural imagery. If a woman can still be subject to and controlled by the "male gaze" (that Laura Mulvey and so many other art historians have written about), she is not a threat to the status quo and male power. According to this "theory of the gaze," the male protagonist in a film is generally used as for the presumably male viewer to project his own desire of control over the female image. Through the onscreen male's gaze, the woman's image may be appropriated and the viewer may have the illusion of control over the woman. In these films, then, the woman, though she is seemingly in control of her own body and image through her character in the film, is still ideologically subjected to male control.

Interestingly, none of the films touched on the issue of homosexuality significantly. This is a conspicuous absence and one that needs to be considered. In fact, according to movie trivia, homosexual interest between the two main characters was specifically written out of Bend It Like Beckham ( Additionally, Love and Basketball was fraught with heterosexual interest and featured what many in our class would agree was gratuitous sex scenes. All of this is to emphasize the women's adherence to traditional values.

Significantly, the only established athletic authorities depicted in the film were men. The star athlete in Love and Basketball, despite it being a film about a girl's drive to succeed, was a male pro-basketball player (Quincy's father). Indeed, the female role-models in Monica's life outside of sports were all exemplary of feminine passivity and also staunchly opposed to Monica's involvement in sports. Notice the title of Bend It Like Beckham, and the posters decorating Jessie's room. Jessie's ideals are all represented by men and masculinity, and like Monica, the women in her life represent the traditionalism she loathes. When Diana, of Girlfight, enters the gym, she also enters a male-centered environment. Even though all of these women were portrayed as successful in sports, they were still clearly tokens, and essentially out of place in a man's world.

Not only were all the male sports authority male; the male coaches who represented the women's teams or women were also somehow disabled. The coach in Bend It Like Beckham had suffered a knee injury and could not play anymore, which is why he coached a girls' team instead. Diana's trainer was a washed-up ex-boxer who initially did not believe in Diana's worth as a boxer. The images of both of these men is significant to the film's meaning. Neither of these men are at their peak, and clearly stand at a disadvantage to other, more ideal, athletic men they are surrounded by. They are, in effect, de-masculinized. This, perhaps, is their excuse for coaching women, and is has powerful meaning in terms of the theme of women in sports.

None of these devices were present in the film we watched featuring male athletes, Remember the Titans. Indeed, apologies are not necessary in a film that portrays men in sports – they are already being quite masculine and in accordance with their gender role simply by being an athlete. Women in sports, on the other hand, are immediately questionable due to their activities. They have to prove their inherent femininity, exactly because they are entering a male-defined field.

The Ripple Effect
Name: Jen Colell
Date: 2004-03-04 17:28:18
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Section Nine affects all women, not just athletes or children young enough to benefit from equalized funding. Women of all ages, all traditions, and cultures, even/especially the older generations who are being confronted with the changing image of the woman as projected through their grandchildren and children who are benefiting and changing in correlation to section nine. This is seen in all the movies we've watched this semester, and I assume is experienced in most homes and families with young woman. The value system held by the older generation is being met full on by new values, and as Jessie mentions in Bend it Like Beckam, the closer she gets to being who she is now allowed to be, the further she gets from who her family expects and knows her to be. It's not just sports or the new generation benefiting from section nine that is changing; everything is required to change to adopt this modern woman into the family structure.

The first group most affected by the new young woman of today would be the older woman of yesterday. Family conflict concerning mothers and daughters in relation to sports was a theme throughout the films. In Love and Basketball, Monica and her mother finally have a confrontation, and her mother admits she gave up her dreams for her husband, children, and their house, but she also declares she would do again, that her family and their happiness became her purpose, and she wouldn't give that up. This notion of the family as the female sphere repeats especially in Bend it Like Beckham. The woman of the family seem to have a spy network of gossiping older women who actually make it their duty in life to learn about and derail inappropriate female behavior. Unfortunately for Jessie, this includes sports (or anything with her legs showing). Her mother teaches her to make a meal, and insists she learn other "wife" activities involving the home, but as with Monica, this casting of the old on the new never quite takes because of a complete difference in cultural upbringing and its significance for women.

At the end of both these movies, all the women essentially compromise. Monica's mother admired the "fight" in Monica, and she tells her to try for Q. Jessie learns to cook and play soccer, and the older women of the neighborhood become more lenient (although it does take the father, symbol of the patriarchy, to get the women to accept Jessie and her goals). The lives of the older women are profoundly affected by how their children come to define themselves and their role in the family and to their mother's and father's.

Even the men are hugely affected by Section Nine. Jessie's father learns to fight discrimination, and at the end of the movie, he takes up cricket again. The movie most profoundly related to this encroachment on the masculine by the feminine is clearly demonstrated in Girl Fight. Diana seems to stop fighting in school, but she clearly continues to fight the men in her life, especially her father who essentially beat her mother to death. One of the most powerful scenes in the movie is the moment when the tables turn. Diana beat her father. While he is begging, she continues, asking whether her mother had begged, whether he had stopped. Diana, in a more dramatic way, is a mirroring of Monica; both saw the helplessness and subordination of a woman they identified with, and combined with new opportunities within the culture, both rebelled against that quiet, docile image. The fight is a constant motivator for these women, and it is admired by the other characters. It is the battle the women wage against, not only their mother's submissiveness, but their own potential subordination that propels the characters forward. Even Jessie in one scene is clearly ordered by her father, who is fed up with her, to do something, and it is clearly expected that he, more so than Jessie's mother, will not be disobeyed. The men in these movies are forced down a step, or in Diana's case, literally knocked out and knocked down. This makes room for the strong female characters. Diana is a boxing champion because her boyfriend wasn't; he had to loose, men have to loose, for Diana and the occasional women to be allowed to win.

Ultimately, sports becomes an allusion to agency; where are women allowed to go and where are they allowed to move themselves? Sports is a physical motion, an exhausting battle, ultimately illustrating the battle for self-agency. Everyone is affected by the metaphor because the women must move within her female as well as society, and as she moves through the value systems, stereotypes, and ideals, she sets off ripples and waves that touch the world around her in profound and meaningful ways. The older women are forced to take her into account. The men are forced to let her take herself into account. The whole relationship between the athlete, their family, and their relationships with people change as the athlete changes.

Section Nine gave women the opportunity to compete, to fight, and play for their dreams while being women. They can still have families, Jessis can still cook, but they are very different from their predecessors and their mothers. They are a different type of woman, a new sort of daughter, and a unique version of the sister with new requirements and demands. The family must change its demands and requirements. Everything in relation to gender must change to make room for the mobile, dreaming, fighting women.

Extreme Roles of Women
Name: Sarah Halt
Date: 2004-03-04 18:00:59
Link to this Comment: 8685

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Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

Sports are so prevalent and popular these days that we often see them as symbolic of real-life issues and real-life drama. The football field can illustrate the battle between good and evil. The baseball pitcher, nearing retirement, can come back to give one last game and wow the crown one last time before gracefully surrendering the field. Isn't that what sports represent? The good guys (i.e. your baseball team) go to battle against the bad guys. It's not quite war, but it might as well be war without causalities. If they win, you celebrate. If they lose, you say, "Well, there's always next time." But if we can say that sports represent real life, do the players always represent real people? Is the quintessential soccer star also the quintessential man? He's controlled, fit, focused and aggressive. He wants to succeed and he wants to do his personal best. These are all admirable qualities.

But here is where we run into a problem. In the past, sports were generally dominated by men. Qualities that are usually associated with masculine imagery are still prized in sports. An athlete should be strong, aggressive, dominating and relentless. Unfortunately, these qualities were not always valued in women. Women, traditionally, were seen as the weaker sex. They couldn't handle straining themselves or they might damage their ability to have babies. Babe Didrikson, arguably the sportswoman of the century, blamed her infertility on her zeal for training in her youth. Tired, "collapsing" women on the track field at the 1928 Olympics were enough to keep women from the Olympic track world for many more years.

Allegedly this image is changing. And women are undeniably supposed to be tougher now. We're supposed to be able to make a go of it in the business world. We can play sports and Mia Hamm can challenge Michael Jordan on TV commercials. Yet, it's often the case that extreme images win out over moderate ones. It almost seems like a woman has to be an aggressive go-getter, a housewife and or both at the same time. In many of the movies we saw, the sports woman couldn't find a happy medium. In Girl Fight, we see that a woman has to chose one role or the other to play; Diana chooses to be tough and she alienates her boyfriend. She is one extreme. Jes's mother in is another extreme. She wants to be the perfect wife and sports have no room in her world. Yet, in Love and Basketball, the woman must become the Renaissance woman. She must put aside her life of being a tomboy, make herself attractive, marry and have a child. At the same time, she may get sweaty and play sports.

I would argue that these ideals shouldn't have to be so extreme. Why does a woman have to choose one (be sporty) or the other (be a lady) or both (be a perfect woman who balances sports, marriage, babies, etc)? Some girls don't want kids. Some do. Some want a kid and want to play a sport, but hate make-up and dresses. Perhaps this hearkens to today's society in which labels dictate everything.

I played softball in high school. On picture day, our first baseman drove home to put on some make-up before she got her picture taken for the team. She argued that her mom showed these sports pictures of her to everyone in her family. So, she said, she wanted to look nice. But she quickly became the team joke. Her old name was set aside and from then on everyone called her "Estèe" (in honor of "Estèe" Lauder, the brand name make-up). Yet, this same year, our left fielder brought in glitter eye shadow. She said it would raise moral and so before every game she'd ceremonially put eye shadow on our eyes. No one thought this was odd, especially in comparison to our behavior toward Estèe. On one hand, a girl who wanted to look nice in a picture was mocked. On the other hand, everyone put eye shadow on before a softball game. I think this represents the tension that exists between the role the woman should play and the role she plays in sports. Everyone thought Estèe should act like a real sportsperson and not get made up for a picture. At the same time, everyone was concerned with their appearance on the field. It's a strange paradox.

Another example is the incident involving the American soccer victory in the 1999 Women's World Cup and Brandi Chastain. These women were praised on their trip to the top. Little girls started buying T-shirts with the number "8" on them so they could connect themselves with the amazing Mia Hamm. For the first time, women's sports were covered seriously. These were tough women; some were married, some weren't, some had kids, some didn't. They were different from each other and they were real After scoring the winning goal in the final game against China, Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt, dropped to her knees and yelled in victory. Most of the audience yelled along. But suddenly, a controversy rose up. Chastain had ripped her shirt off. Despite the fact that male players do this in victory all the time and despite the fact that Chastain was modestly covered by a sports bra, a lot of people had a problem with her actions. It wasn't seemly for a woman to do such a thing. Yet, if you watch TV enough, you'll inevitably come across a Victoria's Secret commercial. These women, none of whom have Chastain's muscular, well-taken-care-of body, writhe under water in their underwear to advertise bras and panties. This is a terrible double-standard. Although you occasionally hear someone complain about the models, usually they're accepted. I do not want to discredit these models, as I'm sure they worked hard to get to the positions they are in today. But it doesn't seem fair that a woman who sculpted her body into an athletic machine should be chastised for showing her body in a moment of victory.

In conclusion, I think sports help the role of women in society. Because a seven year old sees Mia Hamm or Julie Foudy play on TV, perhaps when she grows up she'll know it's okay for a woman to have different characteristics that define her. The little girl could grow up to be a softball player and never marry. Or she could become a lawyer and mom. Or she can grow up to be a caterer and a lesbian. And hopefully, no matter what role this little girl fills, she can be comfortable in it because she is not bound by labels.

The Owner: Provocation through Comedy
Name: Megan Lash
Date: 2004-03-04 18:38:51
Link to this Comment: 8686

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If I were to write a film concerning women and sports, first of all I think I'd make it a comedy. I think sometimes it is easier to convey serious thoughts through a comedy, because the viewer doesn't feel so tangled up in the emotion of drama, leaving them laughing and in a good frame of mind to consider the points being made by the film after they watch the film. I think this idea is much akin to the idea that it is easier to discuss issues and problems of race and gender through a forum like film because a person can identify with an idea being expressed without having to take responsibility for the authorship of the idea. I think that a comedy is more capable of providing a powerful ending because the viewer isn't expecting it.

Obviously if I were a screenwriter I would want to write a film that was unique and distinguishable from the other films made about women in sport. This might at first seem difficult, given the proliferation of films made on the subject, but they follow a lot of the same trends.

One of these trends is the portrayal of the latent aggression in women that is released through sport. Women are not permitted by society to be aggressive in any area and still maintain their femininity. If I were to write a film I would include this theme and I would try to show that women can be aggressive in many areas. Their aggression can be in something other than sports, for example, business. I think a situation that would show this and also be comical could be perhaps a woman that owns a sports team.

Another issue is the fact that all of the women in the films we watched were made to prove their femininity. I don't think that it is necessary to prove that a female athlete must stand up to an accepted level of femininity. There really is no reason to make a female athlete buy new dress shoes or learn to put on lipstick. I really don't think that it is necessary for any woman to prove their femininity whatsoever, especially not in these superficial, commercial ways. So if I were to write a film, she wouldn't go through that trouble. Her power suit could be pants and she wouldn't have to wear makeup. This is not to say that she'd be overtly masculine, either. I think there are many natural ways to be feminine without makeup and certain clothes. She could be very caring and motherly, or sweet, or any of the other things you can think of that makes a woman a woman other than just what she buys.

So my scenario so far is a woman who owns a male sports team and is just not very feminine. I think it is very tempting to leave it at this and Hollywood-ize it by leaving the woman in power (however this would be somewhat radical) and turning her into a feminine woman as one of her players falls in love with her and they live happily ever after. Another ending to this is that she now spends so much money on her makeup and clothes that she goes broke and has to sell the team. To a man. This would be fairly amusing.

I think however it would be interesting to take this in a different way. I think it would be interesting if she was a lifelong player of this sport and her rich father bought her a professional team. So offended would she be by this action, basically telling her that she'll never be involved in professional sports any other way than this, she intends to ruin it. She then has second thoughts, after her plan is in action of course (it has to be Hollywood-ized somehow), after finding out that the arena that the team plays in is to be torn down if the team moves out of the city. (It would have to be established in the beginning that the arena has a special emotional meaning for her.) The players complain that she doesn't want to treat them like a professional team so they'd rather move out of the city anyway. But in order to save the team, she joins it undercover. There are a number of films about men in disguise joining women's teams, why not a film about a woman joining a man's team, undercover, and succeeding? By making this a comedy, it is already built-in with a level of acceptedness. People generally don't go violentely against what they can laugh at.

So the woman joins the sports team under an assumed name and leads them to victory. This isn't difficult to think about if the woman is not very feminine, so maybe another way to think about it is the same scenario but with a woman that is very feminine in a traditional manner. However I think that would be too comical and never taken seriously, it would be almost a parody of itself.

The last issue that concerns me about the films that we have been watching is that in each one, the woman athlete is not only forced to prove her femininity but also her heterosexuality. I cannot think of a film where a woman athlete is admittedly homosexual. This is, or should be, a new age of acceptance and I think that by portraying women athletes as both hetero- and homosexual it will reflect real life more readily. I don't believe that the point of film is simply to reflect life but I also don't believe that the point of film is simply to provide a story and images that are easily accepted by everyone. All changes are difficult at first and I think that portraying a woman athlete as homosexual is something that should be done. Perhaps it should start with a feature film that concerns the life of a real-life homosexual female athlete.

In response to my last issue, I round out my explanation of my story. The woman-heroine joins the team and saves the day. I would try to make the film skirt the issue of her sexuality until the end when you find out that she's homosexual, but she's endeared herself so much to the viewer that it confounds a viewer that has a prejudice. I think comedy is the best way for this, because if it's a drama the viewer is going to get so caught up in the emotion of the film that they won't think as much about what they get out of the ending. If it's a comedy a viewer never has to think very much and a startling ending like that can be very effective in provoking post-film thoughts.

A Bat in the Wind
Name: Katie Haym
Date: 2004-03-04 19:11:39
Link to this Comment: 8688

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Assume you are a screenwriter 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?

"A Bat in the Wind"
Timeless themes of equality, truth and perseverance are presented in this heartwarming tale of one courageous softball player and the wiffle bat that she adored. It all begins one summer day shortly after Tegan's sixth birthday. The scene opens with the young girl enviously watching a group of children play wiffle ball in the park across the street from her grandmother's house. She furtively glances behind her at the kitchen entrance and listens to the sounds of lunch preparations while contemplating the distance to the door. With a determined look in her eye, she takes a shaky deep breath and dashes out to the park to join the game, all the while looking back and wondering what her grandma would say. She approaches the field and stands by the rusty fence behind the plate. One of the older girls – she looks about ten or twelve – spots Tegan and invites her to join in. The kids show her how to swing the bat and the pitcher starts to toss the ball in her direction; they let her keep swinging until she hits one. When she does, the light wiffle ball catches the wind, floats high in the air, swirls around a bit, and lands two inches from Tegan's feet. After staring at the ball in wonder, she looks up and a slow smile spreads across her face. The other kids laugh and Tegan joins in with glee. The boy at first base looks at his watch and yells, "Hey, it's lunch time," causing all the wiffle ball players to scatter and race home in search of food. The girl that invited Tegan to play tells her to come back tomorrow in the morning to play a game with them and Tegan agrees with an enthusiastic nod of the head. She turns to run back for lunch, and sees her grandmother waiting by the fence.

"Why didn't you tell me where you were going, Tegan? I couldn't find you in the house and I was worried."

"I thought you'd be mad at me," the young girl cried.

"For playing a game?" her grandmother asked. Tegan nodded with a shameful look on her face. "No, I'm not mad at you! I think it's wonderful. In fact, why don't we go to the store tomorrow and get you a ball and bat of your own to practice with?"

The next day, Tegan's grandmother bought her a yellow wiffle bat that sang in the wind and a ball that whistled as it flew through the air. Tegan played wiffle ball for two years before moving up to softball, but she always kept the wiffle bat that her grandmother gave her.

Later, when Tegan gets to high school in 2010, she is disappointed to learn that her school doesn't have a girl's softball program. She makes inquiries to the athletic director, who curtly informs her that there used to be a softball team, but funding was reduced and there is currently no room in the athletics budget for another sports team. He suggests that she join in with one of the local softball programs, but Tegan argues that many of her classmates and other girls in the high school are interested in playing and that a school team would be appreciated by the students, especially the girls who want to participate.

"The boys have a baseball team; why isn't there a softball team for the girls?" she demanded.

The athletic director gave an impatient sigh and said, "Look, I'm not against having a softball team – I'm actually all for it, but the money just isn't there. The sports program has taken some big cuts in the past couple of years, and the cost of adding another team, the equipment, coaching, it's just too much for right I said, there are some pretty decent softball programs in the area, I think you'd do fine at one of those."

That night, as Tegan is passing the field where she first started playing wiffle ball, she decides to challenge the school's athletic fund distribution. With her grandmother's help, she starts to research the Title IV law and tries to form a proposal that will allow for the addition of a softball team to the school's athletic program. When she presents it to the athletic director, he surveys it with suspicion.

"I appreciate all the work you put into this, but I'd like to remind you that part of my job is planning the budget, and this simply is not feasible. I can't cut a percentage of the funding from the football and basketball programs; it's just not an option – the revenue that they bring in –"

"Excuse me," Tegan says, placing a copy of Title IV on the director's desk, "I don't think we have any other options; I've looked into the distribution of funds in this school's athletic program and the percentages of students who play sports, and they don't quite comply with these regulations."

"I don't see how we can manage this...," the athletic director replies, shaking his head. "This will cause problems, but I can see that you plan to see this through, and I don't think a court case is what this school needs.... [Dramatic pause] Alright – I'll work with you on this one. With fundraising and some adjustments to the budget, we can try to get a softball team going."

"Thank you so much!" Tegan exclaims.

While walking home she passes the old park where it all started, and sees a group of kids gathering. She races to her room to retrieve the wiffle bat her grandmother gave her, and joyfully joins in the game. Two years later, her school's softball team re-entered the league that it had left a decade before, and Tegan was the first to the plate.

The End.

This movie would deal with issues that still face women in sports today. Although the question of whether women should play sports has been for the most part settled, problems still exist with the equal funding and opportunity. Tegan's early positive experiences with sports helped her to develop the determination necessary to work towards the change that she wanted to see. The happy ending comes through her strong will and love for her sport.

Women in Sports in Today's Culture
Name: Jenna Rosa
Date: 2004-03-04 19:37:13
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1. Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

Only recently have women been able to compete in a very public way, with established leagues, payrolls and plenty of endorsement opportunities. Title IX has allowed teams of girls for almost every sport as well as better opportunities for sports scholarships to college and many other privileges only given to boys for their talents in sports. Under all these legal provisions and establishments for the encouragement of women in sports, women should now really be able to do any kind of sport they want in as much freedom as is afforded to men in sports.
Although women have been given so many freedoms in this field, it is the social aspect, the audiences of sports, the people of our biased culture that is now hindering women who wish to be known as athletes and competitors. Our culture is filled with deeply imbedded ideas about power and strength and competition being masculine qualities, and for women to want to embody these things is confusing and goes against our unconscious stereotypes about the abilities and attributes of men versus women. The acceptance of women in sports becomes not a matter of ability of talent in their field, but rather is based on ways women can be what is considered by our culture to be feminine while they play their sport. If a woman can still be what the average person thinks of as a woman while also displaying talent, her "masculine" attributes can be more accepted by the audience and so the woman is more accepted.
There has long been a stigma of strong women as masculine, base, somehow not as good and pure a character as more demure, quiet, passive women. In sport, women cannot help but show their aggression and competitiveness just as men do in sport, but this is often what leads to a natural confusion by a society. Every society has certain mores and prejudices which are not necessarily harmful but are rather integral to the function of that society. After generations of establishments of gender roles and differences of behavior between the sexes, these ideas become deeply ingrained in the society and form the basic culture of that society. Most of the Western world has designated the roles of men to be the bread-winners of the society, the protectors, the strong and able ones who women depend on for stability and survival. Women are the care-takers and are gentle and motherly, taking care of the basic needs of others and rarely thinking of themselves. These gender roles have been integral to many societies throughout the world, and though many individuals may disagree or rebel against them, they are still part of the traditional culture.
Manifestations of how these prejudices can be unconscious but still very apparent are seen in the field of sports. Sports have been present in cultures from which ours derives for centuries; they seem to be a very naturally human outlet. More recently in our culture, teams have been established consisting of players who have reached celebrity status based on their abilities, their looks and their attitudes. Generations of sports fans follow these teams and develop a very strong loyalty to the players as well as the sport itself. When women began to publicly play sports and new women leagues were being formed and being shown on TV, it took a while for people, both men and women, to accept them and follow them with any degree of loyalty comparable to that of the pre-established men's sports. I know many people who don't feel the same excitement watching a women's game as a men's game because the women's leagues have not gained the level of acceptance in these recent years that men's sports have enjoyed for centuries.
One way women have tried to gain acceptance while still playing their sport is to balance femininity, sometimes to a comical level, with their culturally masculine traits. Sports magazines that have articles about woman athletes often first show them playing with their kids or in their kitchen, or even more degrading, wearing almost nothing so that if you saw them, you would think they were underwear models, not athletes. In the movie Blue Crush which we saw during this class, the main character had to have a somewhat superfluous relationship with a man in order to establish her heterosexuality and then wear revealing bikinis which mysteriously never budged despite all those vicious waves she was supposed to be so able to conquer. This movie showed how desperately many women try to be accepted as likable people who also happen to be athletes. The idea is if everyone can accept her first for her femininity, the confusing masculine trait of athleticism will be easier to swallow.
The concept of women in sports can also be an intimidating and threatening thing for many people, not only men. If gender roles are indeed so important to the foundations of a society, than can digressing from these roles harm the society? The problem with the situation is that culture and social mores rarely take into account freedoms of the individual and the choices individual make. There are many women who truly want to get married and stay at home with their children and devote themselves to the needs of theirs husbands and children. However, there may be just as many women who want to get jobs or live in unorthodox familial situations or play sports. It may take time for these desires to also be generally acceptable by our society, but what is needed is not change but flexibility. If more people can understand that people need to do what they think is right and set goals which they can work hard to accomplish, then people may be less likely to persecute each other about life paths dictated by the individual rather than by society.

The Flying Four
Name: Talia Squi
Date: 2004-03-04 20:27:06
Link to this Comment: 8690

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The Flying Four
A group of high school girls who have all joined a crew team for various reasons. Some are athletes, some want scholarships, some are the right body types, some have never been athletes, some have friends on the team, and some are being made to by their parents. The team is small and no cut and always in need of more rowers. As they row they come together as a team, they all gain in confidence and learn what it is to be an athlete both on and off the water. The protagonists are a novice four, that means five girls who have never competed in crew before racing a boat with four rowers and a coxswain (cox for short). The coxswain is normally small, in High School women's rowing they try to get as close to 110 pounds as possible, who yells out commands, steers the boat, and encourages her rowers. She is the only one facing forward and is generally sitting in the back of the boat. The four rowers in a four face backwards. The stroke is the rower closest to the cox and faces her. Behind the stroke are 3 and 2 and bow is in the front or bow. Although the novice four is not the entire team, the boats practice in shifts so they don't spend much time with the rest of the team.

The five girls are all there for different reasons. The cox, Hannah, is actually the only one who had been involved in sports before, but she is the smallest, loudest, and most of a leader. Stroke is Amanda, who is tall and has the "ideal" build for crewing and decided to start in hopes of getting a scholarship when she goes to college. Lauren, the three seats, is being forced to participate in a sport by her mother and heard that you wouldn't have to run for crew. Diana, two seats, is Amanda's best friend, and decided to tag along, and Jessie who thought she'd join for kicks is bow. Once they are set into boats, they have their first water practice as a team. Their coach, Molly, grew up having to fight for the right to participate in a sport other than cheerleading or dance, and feels that the girls have to live up to her legacy. They should be proud and see themselves exclusively as athletes, especially when they don their uniforms. There is not time for fun or flirting or goofing of, because she had to fight for these girls to be here.

On the water they are as disorganized and bickering as any crew team, but as they learn to work together they improve. Their equipment is old and shoddy as the team is only in its second year and they are severely under funded. Because there are very few crew teams in their regions, they have to go long distances to go to the three regattas that they do go to that season. Each girl things of giving up at some point; bow thinks that the stroke is setting the pace to fast; the ports don't feel that the starboards are pulling hard enough; the stroke thinks everyone is "rushing" her, and they are all cold and wet and frustrated. The girls have to try to balance their five weekly lake practices with weight training and classes. Because of their rigorous schedules they become each others best friends, because they at least all have the same schedules. Although they find that they love this quirky sport, they increasingly find themselves in conflict with their coach, who does not sympathise with their desire for free time.

Even though they have different plans for their future rowing careers, they don't want to dedicate their whole time in high school exclusively as rowers. They also want to be known as students, dumb teenagers, girlfriends, friends, sisters, and daughters. They are all sick of smelling like the polluted lake, of having blisters on their hands, and never having time to spend with their friends. Then comes the first regatta, they load the boats on to the trailer with the rest of the team, drive six hours, and roll out at the location of their first race. Of course it is raining, of course it is freezing, and it is the first week of April after all. The team sets up tents, prepares the boats, and before you know it they are on the water. Four boats with each with four stoic rowers and a cox tucked into the stern are lined up next to them. Hannah is worried about steering the boat straight, the stroke about what pace to keep, everyone's stomach's are full of butterflies and they are off. They pull hard and they tie for last. They come out exhausted and heart broken, but Molly is waiting at the finish line to fish her boat out and get them off the dock. She comforts them pointing out that they were racing teams that were cut and only let their top novices compete, and these teams were private clubs with plenty of funding, and people who had been rowing since they were young. They realize that although their coach, cannot understand their lack of focus, she really does care for them as a team. They are determined to improve.

They spend the rest of the season training harder than ever, dreaming only of the ribbons that they will win in their final regatta. The time for them to prove themselves comes, they line up, they row their hardest, and finish third in their heat, and fourth overall. No ribbons, no pictures in the paper, and now trophies, but they come out realizing that they worked their hardest and they became a team. They no longer bickered or tried to blame other team mates on the failure of the boat. They all cared for each other and came out glowing with the knowledge that they could not have rowed any harder or better. The coach works as an antagonist in some ways simply because the girls cannot understand her. Molly won't let them show their midriffs for instance, even when they aren't in uniform. The girls think this seems prudish; old fashioned, and downright uncomfortable, while Molly thinks the girls are trying to make themselves sexual objects instead of athletes. These clashes are common and as time goes on they begin to understand that they are simply coming from different experiences. The girls come to appreciate the coach's struggle and the coach appreciates that to be a high school athlete, one does not have to think of only one's sport. The girls learn what it means to be an athlete, to have confidence, and dedication. They learn what it means to work hard for something and that sometimes the journey matters more than the goal.

Women, Sport & Film
Name: Laura Sock
Date: 2004-03-04 21:02:27
Link to this Comment: 8692

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Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women
in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

In some ways, women today face more pressure to be perfect than ever before in history. The feminine ideal of the
past has been replaced by a new face — stronger and more independent, but under no less pressure to conform to society's
expectations than her predecessors. Today's woman must be all that she was in the past, and more. In addition to being
beautiful, feminine, and demure, she must also be physically fit and academically and socially successful. It is no longer
appropriate for a woman to depend on anyone, for that would imply subordinance and inferiority. Instead, woman must fill all
of these roles on her own. Although achieving independence is an important step for women, it brings added pressure. This is
especially visible in films about women in sport. These women experience these pressures at an intense level. They are
expected to be phenomenal athletes, and are not held to a lower standard than men. However, they must also be beautiful — if
they are not, they face the possibility of discrimination. Added to this is the pressure that they are representative of the
entire gender. Films about women in sports show the intense pressure on female athletes to fulfill all aspects of the ideal

This is evident in films such as Bend it Like Beckham. Both main characters, Jess and Jules, face pressure from their
families, teammates and society in general to be the best at both playing soccer and being female. The pressure to excel in
sport comes from their motivations and their teammates. For Jess and Jules, it is especially important, since they are
representative of all women footballers. They are on one of the few teams for women in the area. If they play badly, others
will believe that women are not good enough athletes to deserve the funding or resources for a team. There is also pressure
from their male friends. Although Jess is accepted as a member of the group when she plays football with the boys, they are
suspicious of her involvement with a women's team. It seems that it is acceptable for a woman to play with men, but not for
women to have an independent team of their own. This pressure to prove herself a real athlete to her male friends forces Jess
to perform to a high standard at every game and practice. There is also pressure on both Jess and Jules to perform as part of
a team. All of this pressure is on the characters to present an image of the ideal female athlete: strong and successful.
Because they must represent their entire gender, there is no room for mistakes. Pressure from all aspects of their
lives makes sure Jess and Jules never forget the ideal they are trying to live up to.

Both Jess and Jules face pressure from their families to conform to the feminine ideal of beauty as well as strength.
Their relatives, especially their mothers, believe it is imperative to their success in life that they present a pretty face
to the world. Jess' mother wants her to identify more with her feminine qualities — like showing her midriff and wearing her
sari tighter in the chest. Physical imperfections, such as Jess' scar, are to be ashamed of and hidden. To her mother, Jess
will not be successful until she can also cook properly and maintain a household. Catching a husband will prove Jess' worth
as a woman in her mother's eyes. She does not recognize her athletic ability as something to be proud of, because it has
nothing to do with the feminine ideal she believes in. Jess' sister also supports this, and feels that Jess is wasting her
time on pursuits that don't involve boys and finding someone to marry. This clash between the two cultures gives Jess two
ideals to live up to — the one her sport pushes her towards, and the one her family wants her to attain. Jules also faces
this pressure. Her mother is very feminine and wants to relate to her daughter. Although her father supports her athletic
pursuits, her mother wants her to also be a "girly girl." This also relates to Jules' sexuality — Jules mother is afraid
that she is a lesbian because she does not care about her appearance. Both characters face pressure from their families
to conform to the old ideal of the feminine, even as they must strive to be perfect athletes.

This same paradox is repeated in almost every movie involving a female athlete. They must not only be successful in
their sport, but they must also be successful "women" by securing a love interest and being beautiful. If they fail to attain
perfection as an athlete, they let down other women by not representing the gender as being capable of all that men are. The
female athlete must succeed because to not do so would be to show the world that women are inferior. In order for this to be
positive; however, the woman must do so while looking beautiful. Her athletic prowess must not prevent her from securing a
(male) boyfriend. If she does not do so, she has also failed, for she demonstrates that women who are athletes cannot handle
the most important responsibility of being a woman: childbirth. Today's feminine ideal still revolves around the idea that
women are meant to have children. If a woman does not, she has not achieved her potential. If she chooses not to, she is
denying her heritage and the rich history of womankind. The female athlete must be sensitive to this and show that, even as
she succeeds in a traditionally male arena, she can satisfy this most basic of feminine ideals.

Although women today are less restricted than they were in the past, they are under no less pressure to conform to
an ideal. Instead, the ideal woman has become more complicated. A woman must be successful in a nontraditional area — be it
her career or athletics — and also conform to the old standard of beauty and sexuality. This is evident in films about female
athletes, who face immense pressure to be perfect both on and off the playing field, and to represent their gender in a
positive light. Although women have more options, it is no easier to be female now than it was in the past. If anything,
women today face higher expectations than ever before.

"Men Can't Jump...But Women Can"
Name: Naomi Spec
Date: 2004-03-05 00:22:56
Link to this Comment: 8694

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports04/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2004
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As the year 2010 has arrived, the problem of the portrayal of women in sports no longer lies in their fight for equality and opportunity, but in fighting off the competition with men. It is no longer an issue of women not being taken seriously or being looked down upon if they decide to be athletes, but that men want to take part in competition with women in sports. This film thus focuses on the struggles that the male protagonist faces in trying to compete with the popularity of women's sports and his desire to take part in the world of women's sports.

Women in this film are portrayed as strong characters who are highly capable of doing what they do -- being professional basketball players. Their struggles lay in their dealing with fame and all the complications that it entails. These include rumors of financial problems, affairs, and infighting among teammates. The female protagonist is a character who can "do it all." She has a family, including two young children and a husband. She was raised in a proper household, but held on to her dreams of playing basketball for a living. The beginning of the film shows her struggles as a child in fighting against stereotypes, being taken less seriously than the boys, and being discouraged from playing sports. However, as she reaches high school and beyond, the sky is the limit. Her opportunities increase as women's sports in the general society are given greater emphasis and professional leagues are established for all sports that had an equivalent male league. The women's leagues' visibility and popularity rise among fans who become disillusioned with all the infighting that had been occurring in the male leagues. Soon, the financially disadvantaged male leagues decide to challenge the women's leagues to compete against each other. This is where the major climax of the film occurs.

The male protagonist had been involved in a financial scheme within the male basketball league which ended in the murder of a major basketball star. He ends up broke, without friends, and with no possibility of playing professional basketball, especially in light of the financial distress that the league was experiencing. He knows of the success that the women's teams had been recently having and approaches the manager of his ex-team with a plan for reviving the popularity and financial wellbeing of the male league. His idea is to combine forces with the women's league and begin competing against their teams, with the possibility of even beginning co-ed teams, depending on the public's acceptance of the male-female teams playing against each other.

Since most of the public already viewed the female players as superior to the male league in their playing abilities as well as in their personal comportment, they were intrigued by this notion of male and female teams competing against one another. At the first game where a women's and a men's team play against each other, the stadium is packed. There are far more fans in support of the women's team than the men's. Prior to the start of the game, the audience sees the female protagonist's nervousness as she remembers the way she had been teased by her male classmates as a child for liking to play basketball. Having not played with males since childhood, she is not quite certain what to expect from this game. But, the coach and her teammates are all positive and sure of their capability to beat the men's team just as they beat other women's teams.

At the same time, the audience sees the male protagonist's demeanor prior to the game. He is laughing with his teammates in the locker room, completely relaxed, espousing the idea that this will be an "easy win" and that this is their real key out of financial distress and their decline in popularity. Then, in contrast, among the fans in the stands the audience sees support for the women's team almost across the board. Almost all of them are carrying signs, banners, and wearing jerseys with the female team's logo on them. The national media has been discussing this event for the several months leading up to it, and many bets have been going around about who will win the game.

The game takes place and in the last few minutes of the game the score is tied. The audience sees the nervous faces of both the male and female protagonists. Through the end, the female team members maintain a positive view of the game and maintain confidence in winning. They know that their future popularity may depend on this game and that if the men win, perhaps they will return to their former glory. At the same time they retain a confidence in their abilities and in their past accomplishments – they are certain that they can win this game. On the other side, the male team is truly worried. They too know that the outcome of this game weighs heavily on the future popularity and acceptance of the male league. The time-out is up and the players return to the court. It is the last few seconds of the game and the score is still tied. Then as the last two seconds appear on the scoreboard, the female protagonist shoots and scores a "three-pointer," becoming the triumphant victor of the game.

After this historic game, the media swarms the players and everyone is discussing the game. It becomes the biggest sports story in a long time, even making news stories on the national evening news. There are fans on both sides who each defend their favored league – the men or the women. A new breed of fans thus arises – those who like watching male versus female basketball. In light of this interest more inter-gender games are scheduled. This trend also branches out into the other sports leagues. These games become very popular, more popular than either male or female games alone had been earlier, allowing both leagues to prosper from the initial event. Now neither the men's nor the women's league is favored over the other, and they are simply involved in a normal sports rivalry as individual teams regardless of the players' sex. Both the male and the female protagonists are successful within their own leagues and in their personal lives, both achieving what they had initially set out to accomplish in their lives – to play basketball.

Remember the Titans 2: Invasion of the Gorgons
Name: Dustin Rau
Date: 2004-03-05 00:40:20
Link to this Comment: 8695

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports04/">Women, Sport,
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Years after the heart-wrenching tale of young males overcoming racism by bonding over sweat and spandex pants comes the sequel, Remember the Titans 2: Gorgons. Instead of addressing the racial issue, it will follow the integration of women into the tradition of football. The unification comes about when a professional football is given the choice to drop out of the world altogether or merge their male and female teams due to new law that states that all teams must be coed.

The story opens in the locker room of the women's football team. The team is fairly new, shown by new equipment and jerseys, with their mascot, the Gorgon, proudly emblazoned in green on white jerseys. Redefining Title IX years before had brought about this change. Women must have exactly the same sports as men, with the same funding. Somehow, it all worked and women's sports are finally on par with men's sports; even as women draw the same size crowds, however, they still maintain a physical and strategic difference from the men. Women, in football especially, play a quicker, more strategic game than men. Men over the years have gotten bigger, stronger and more stupid. Strategy developed into a clash of shoving bodies. But now, the schools have run out of money. Also, the fans have become restless, waiting for the sport's new development.

When the team integrates, it becomes doubly sized and doubly staffed. No one wants to give up his or her position, least of all the coaches. In the tradition of the original movie, the non-traditional coach becomes the leader of the team. With a female as head coach, men, especially the drugged and technology enhanced male players must learn to cope with this loss of authority. The movie medium is perfect for representation of this situation; the coach berates an unruly player while he towers above her, roughly three times her size even as she puts him in his place. With such a size difference, drama ensues, as some female players get hurt. Women's status as an equal sex is tried and triumphs as the men and women learn to work as a unit and stop trying to kill each other.

The public wants none of the political or economic burden of the shift. They want their old sports back; sports as a whole evolved since the first movie. Many sports not only integrated, but classic aspects of the games were tossed as the players grew too strong for the traditional rules. For example, three-dimensional coed soccer dominates Europe. With all the changes, the public doesn't notice at first the integration. But soon the traditional gender battle arises. The equality of genders is attacked as well as the place of the genders. A movement is started to send women back to the home.

Gender identity plays a huge role in this film. Men become aggressive brutes, creatures of pure testosterone, and women become adaptable, thinking players. There are crossovers within the teams; a lithe man who forms strategy ahead of muscle and a woman who enhances her strength like a man to gain the edge must both find their way into the team and together.

The relationships will differ in form from Remember the Titans. Heterosexuality, no longer the oppressive regime of 20th century sexuality, still dominates but same sex couples must face the bigotry that minority brings. This is also addressed in the intra-team tensions that arise. The team must learn to cope with all of their differences to function as a unit.

As championship nears, the team must now face the public. They've come under fire in the end for their integration and now they must show, for the greater good of humanity how wonderful and fuzzy integration has been for them. After all, Disney owns the rights to the first movie and likely, in keeping with tradition, makes the awful sequel.

The movie ends with the championship won and tragic accidents all around. A riot breaks out in the game and a player is killed trying to calm the crowd. Players become injured, especially the women. While the game is won, football itself dies, becoming two separate sports for the genders. This seems to calm the masses and the players must now cope with the loss of comrades. The women move on to a tactical game with shifting terrain and new rules to make strategy more creative. The men begin augmenting their bodies to become half machine, beating the heck out of each other and bringing a coliseum feel to the game. They begin to face stigma for this and the shift in status between men and women changes.

The moral of the story is that men and women are different but face the same issues, especially in sport. They must cope with the same racism, homophobia and gender roles that have plagued them all through history.

Images of Women in Sport: The Good, The Bad, and T
Name: Katie Aker
Date: 2004-03-05 01:48:35
Link to this Comment: 8697

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports04/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2004
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Throughout history, men have placed limitations on women's activities, including sport. Women have gone through times where physical exertion was considered too stressing for women, physiologically and emotionally, as well as everything short of encouragement. The image of the pre-sport woman, twirling her umbrella while being drawn by horse and carriage attired in full petticoat, etc., is a sight that shows how far women have come, but how much more still has to be done to achieve equality. I view the image of women prior to sport as 'ugly' because not only was their right to partake in sports suppressed, but also their rights as women and as citizens. This image of women, however still persists until modern day. Albeit not to the same degree, but women's opportunities in sport are still less than the male counterpart, as well as the restrictions that this male society still imposes on women's sports, especially through the media. Through poor media coverage of women's sports by male-run organizations, the advancement of the sport has suffered tremendously. The television industry poorly advertises women's sporting events, such as basketball, and never shows them in primetime. The US women's soccer association was even dismantled due to lack of support. With publications, the only time women are featured are as either inactive or sex symbols, when editors could be using these media outlets to promote women in sport instead of degrading and downplaying them. Women's sports will never become mainstream without social change.

The 'bad' image of women in sport would most definitely have to be the objectified woman whose talent in her sport is overlooked because of her appearance. Society expects her to 'stand there and be pretty' and if she can play her sport well too, that's a bonus. My modern day example of this is Anna Kournikova. She uses her sex symbol status for self-promotion and money making opportunities when she could also be helping to break barriers in tennis for women. She is not known for her sport prowess, but rather for Enrique Iglesias girlfriend or the Adidas commercials. The men of society just fuel the fire that is Anna. Sports sex symbols, like Anna, set fire to advancements women have made in sport, just like with any other women's movement. Anna has the looks, the boyfriend, and any other typical feature that a male dominated society typically looks for in a woman symbol. They would rather focus on the meek Anna who is not even a good tennis player than tennis legends. These symbols encourage objectification instead of appreciating women for their talents and strengths. Another prime example is the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Even the Women's Sports Illustrated magazine had a male swimsuit issue in its last year of publication, a sign that the magazine was doing more harm than good to women's sports.

Other 'bad' images of women in sport are the stereotypical assumptions currently inbred and projected into our society. The first of these is the 'too masculine' woman. Society thinks that she is either homosexual, wants to be a man, or both. In many parts of society, if a woman doesn't automatically let a man dominate her she's considered radical, a feminist, a lesbian; all or none of which could be true. Women who partake in high contact sports, such as rugby, are looked down upon by the traditional sector of society as wanting to be men and to possess their power, and that is the only reason they are playing the game. However, it is not the power of men these strong athletes want, but the power within themselves to succeed, which is not gender specific. Women play sport because they have the drive to succeed, to compete, and to win, which is present in all humans, not just males. This same determination is present in all female athletes, no matter what their sexual orientation. The mainstream idea, however, is that in order to be strong and successful in sport, the woman has to have a man in the background supporting her and 'getting her through the competition'. This concept was present in Bend It Like Beckham, Girlfight, and Love and Basketball. A heterosexual female protagonist participating in predominately male sports is acceptable to society, as a movie with the female protagonist having a girlfriend would be pushing the bounds of society, although it would be a realistic situation. The optimal situation in a film promoting women in sport would be to have no love interest. It would send the message loud and clear that the woman achieved the glory on her own using her inner and physical strength, not because she was in love or her boyfriend let her win the match.

The 'good' image of women in sport is the strong, independent, and talented athlete that would give any male a run for his money. She is strong willed, determined, and has a bit of that necessary competitive attitude that completes any great athlete. Her sexual preference, interests, and off the field endeavors should only be public if she wants them to be and should never overshadow her skills in the game. Because of society's prejudices, preconceived notions, and general attitude towards women, this ideal woman athlete is not yet achievable in a society dominated by men. In a society with so many prejudices, men don't want women to be as strong as or stronger than them. The image of women in sport that is 'good' to society is cyclic, since it depends on the state of the culture. Currently, with pop-stars and thinner than ever supermodels, society is definitely in a state of objectification. to the men of this society, who promote such mishaps as Janet Jackson's accident on stage during the Superbowl halftime show, women shouldn't be more than cheerleaders or non-sport related entertainment at major sporting events. Until men realize that women are their equals on all levels, the image of women in sport will never reach its 'good' and ideal image.

Images of Women in Sport
Name: E.A.Hanson
Date: 2004-03-05 02:53:30
Link to this Comment: 8698

E. A. Hanson
Prof. Campbell
Women, Sport and Film
Web Paper – Topic 1

Images of Women in Sport

Over the years the perception of women in sport has changed considerably. In this course we have viewed several films all dealing with the depiction of female athletes in an attempt to gauge society's current perception of women in sport. I will briefly summarize each film and the main themes of the films before providing a description of the female athlete which I will infer from commonalities between the films.

The first film we watched was a documentary entitled, Dare to Compete; it provided a brief history of women in film, focusing primarily on American women in sport from the late 19th century to the present. From this film we gained a notion of where women have been and how far we've come in the sports world. In fact, the growing equality, autonomy and independence of women throughout the 20th century from the suffragette movement to the adoption of Title IX and the Equal Rights Amendment is linked directly with the growing prominence and acceptance of women in sports. The main themes of the film, along with the examination of women in sport, were the celebration of the female athlete and how far women have come in the sports world as well as a reminder that female athletes have not yet attained the same status as male athletes.

The second film we watched was, Bend it Like Beckham, about a British girl of Indian descent who wants to play soccer. The conflict in this film deals with the opposing views of the athletic, modern, westernized-protagonist and her supportive, but more conservative and traditional parents, who worry about their tomboyish daughter who would rather play soccer than learn how to cook a full Indian dinner. The basic theme is the value of embracing your culture as well your individual goals and that more traditional feminine roles and the role of the female athlete are not mutually exclusive.

The third film we watched was, Remember the Titans. Remember the Titans, traces the racial integration of a Virginian high school football team in the 1960's as well as the racial integration of the high school. While this film is about a male football team and women are minor characters within the film it shows how sport can unite people from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds

The fourth film we watched was, Girlfight; a film about a Latina who lives in the ghetto and becomes a boxer. The protagonist's struggle to be taken seriously as a female boxer, to find people who will train her and compete with her is one of the major themes of this film. However, this film examines not only the protagonist's role as an athlete, but her home life, love interest and inner turmoil as she learns to control and focus her aggressive personality.

The fifth and final film we watched was, Love and Basketball, a film that primarily traces the coming of age of a man and a woman, two childhood friends and basketball fanatics who both pursue professional careers in basketball while focusing primarily on the female protagonist. The main conflict in this film had less to do with the female protagonist struggling for approval from her parents and acceptance by society than any of the other films we've seen in this class. Instead, it dealt with the female protagonist's need to evaluate her priorities and decide what she wanted and how to divide and manage her time so that she could achieve more of her goals than simply to become a professional basketball player.

If these films were to be used to create a picture of society's view of the modern female athlete they would essentially present a picture of a strong, complex and well-rounded female. These women are not afraid to follow their dreams and train hard. While the picture presented is a positive one there are still certain social issues and stereotypes that appear to be attached to the female athlete. Aside from the protagonist in Love and Basketball, all of the women depicted in these films struggle with either their families, or society in general, or both, suggesting that a strong female athlete, while admired and respected in our society, is still not completely socially acceptable.

Also, none of the female athletes in this film are particularly "feminine" in terms of gender, an idea that seems to be acceptable to the filmmakers, and by extension to society, and yet supports the stereotype of the "masculine" female athlete. Yet, all of these women are heterosexual and they all have the boyfriends and crushes to prove it thus suggesting that the stereotype of all female athletes as being "butch" lesbians is quickly becoming laughable. However, if the women's sexuality is still being called into question during the film then the same must be true within the larger society. While we no longer seem to vocalize, or truly believe it, there does seem to be a remaining worry that all serious female athletes are lesbians. Thusly, all of these female characters are heterosexual. However, all of the female athletes portrayed in these movies are tomboys. They frequently resent wearing skirts or other feminine articles of clothing. Many of them don't even know how to walk in heels.

Thus, to present an image of today's female athlete as derived from the list of films we have viewed during this course the female athlete is well-rounded, trains hard, and is tomboyish despite the gender restrictions placed on her by her parents or society at large. She is also heterosexual and must learn which of her life goals are the most important to her. This description seems to fit in with the currently acceptable rules of conduct within society.

Works Cited
1. Bend it Like Beckham, prod. and dir. Gurinder Chadha, 1 hr. 52 min., Fox, 2002. DVD
2. Dare to Compete : The Struggle of Women in Sports, prod. and dir. HBO, 1 hr. 21 min. HBO, 1999. DVD
3. Girlfight, prod. and dir. Karyn Kusama. 1 hr. 50 min., Columbia TriStar, 2002. DVD
4. Love and Basketball. prod. and dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood, 2 hr. 4 min., Warner Home Video, 2002. DVD
5. Remember the Titans. prod. and dir. Boaz Yakin. 1 hr. 53 min., Disney Studios, 2000. DVD

Women, Sport and Film Final Paper
Name: Lindsey Gi
Date: 2004-03-05 03:08:41
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Portrayals and stories of women in sport and film are varied and unique to the woman, but some common threads can be found throughout these films. Understanding the culture of sport and how women are depicted as athletes in movies shows how society at large views women. The perseverance and strength of women athletes in unjust or unfair situations regarding their sport is a very important and all too common theme. Often in movies with women athletes, are breaking a mold or breaking assumptions about women. Such is the case in the three movies I will examine further that we watched this semester, Bend It Like Beckham, Girl Fight, and Love and Basketball. Another main theme of women in sport and film is the unifying nature of sport to bridge all sorts of differences and gaps through its emphasis on teamwork and cooperation.

Bend It Like Beckham addresses many pertinent issues of gender, sexual orientation, and traditional versus modern cultural values. Jess, the main character, has a great talent for soccer to the dismay of her traditional Indian family. She gets recruited for a team and has to sneak around her parents in order to be able to go to practices. Her family expects her to be like her sister, get married early, settle down, and have kids. The image of the woman in sport portrayed in this film is that of one breaking the mold that is set up for her by her family, and culture. Even within the context of her own team she faces prejudice and hardship because of her culture. In a game, a player on the opposite team calls her a racially charged name, which upsets Jess immensely and she fouls out of the game. Another barrier that Jess has to cross is that of gender. She is continuously told by her friends, sister, parents and other family that she is not supposed to like sports or be good at them because she is a girl. Her mother wishes she would espouse a more feminine lifestyle instead of doing 'masculine' things like run, sweat, be competitive, active, and play sports and interact physically with boys.

In Girl Fight, many of the same issues are touched upon, and a few new ones are added. Diana, the protagonist whose struggle is to train to be a boxer in a poor neighborhood and to live in a world that expects very little of her. The dimension of a boyfriend is added into this movie, as opposed to Bend It Like Beckham, where the love story takes a much lesser role. She has to wrestle (no pun intended) with how to balance her growing athletic career with her loyalty to her boyfriend, who is also a boxer. She eventually has to fight him in the ring, perhaps symbolic of the greater fight she has to deal with being a female boxer in a male boxer's world. She also quite literally fights with the other major male influence in her life, her abusive father. Symbolic also because her mother, most probably feeling there was no other way out, felt she needed to commit suicide rather than live in an abusive relationship and in a world with few opportunities. Rather than fighting, her mother gives up, where Diana confronts and beats (literally and physically) the odds stacked against her.

Love and Basketball also spoke to the theme of women athletes being required to make the choice between a personal and a professional life in order to be successful. Monica and her boyfriend, both very talented basketball players, break up because Monica has to make curfew in order to stay on the team instead of keeping her boyfriend company in his time of need. She made a choice and stuck with it, and it cost her the relationship. Another main issue that was addressed in this movie is the ease with which men can succeed professionally (and otherwise) at athletics and the difficulty with which women of equivalent athletic ability and talent have to deal with. In college, her boyfriend's games were always in the better gym than Monica's games, had more attendance and coverage than Monica's games, and he also had an almost celebrity-like status on campus whereas Monica did not. This inequality clearly shows us that our culture in general respects and reveres men's sports as opposed to women's.

The view of society on women's issues is clearly and poignantly portrayed through female athletes in film. Perhaps one day women will have as many athletic opportunities as men, but until then movies like Bend It Like Beckham, Girl Fight, and Love and Basketball need to be made and watched and discussed. Issues addressed in these movies are also symbolic of the tensions of the culture at large such as cultural differences, socioeconomic conditions and lack of opportunity, as well as questions about sexual orientation.

Title IX and the Expansion of Educational Rights f
Name: Kate Amlin
Date: 2004-03-05 07:58:09
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Title IX legislation, passed in 1972, expanded the rights of an individual in educational opportunities. It equalized academic prospects for individuals by ensuring that males and females must have equal access to educational possibilities. Title IX is traditionally attributed to the growth of athletic programs for women by demanding that programs for women are given the same amount of money and attention as men's teams. However, Title IX has dealt with a plethora of equality issues in education that have been overshadowed, for the most part, by the legislation's impressive impact on women in sports.

Title IX is attributed to have an important effect on the number of women in higher education. Richard W. Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education, asserted that, "The great untold story of success that resulted from the passage of Title IX is surely the progress that has been achieved in education. In 1971, only 18 percent of all women, compared to 26 percent of all men, had completed four or more years of college. This education gap no longer exists. Women now make up the majority of students in America's colleges and universities in addition to making up the majority of recipients of master's degrees. Indeed, the United States has become a world leader in giving women the opportunity to receive a higher education." (25 Years of Progress, The U.S. Department of Education, Many universities and colleges did not allow women entrance before the legislation (The Legislative Road to Title IX, The U.S. Department of Education, p. online). Title IX has had a huge positive outcome on the availability of higher educational opportunities for women by making sure that women are given equal opportunities to men that help them graduate from and achieve academic success past secondary levels of schooling. This has logically resulted in an increased number of women in more specialized and higher paid jobs. Title IX is effectually changing the face of the American workplace by giving women the opportunity to learn, compete, and surpass men.

Title IX also increased the opportunity of women to be free from sexual harassment in schools. It made sure that, "A high school student who was allegedly subjected to sexual harassment and abuse by her coach-teacher could seek monetary damages against a school district under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972" (Wooster, "Sexual Harassment of Students under Title IX," p. lexis-nexis). It is extremely important that young woman are given a voice to address abuse in the educational system. Title IX ensures that violations of a woman's physical integrity will not go unnoticed.

Title IX makes sure that pregnant and parenting women will not be excluded from public schools. There is absolutely no reason why a young mother should not be given access to education. Denying pregnant and parenting women from public schools is an antiquated ideal left over from a time where young girls who became pregnant were labeled as outcasts for their perceived sexual promiscuity. Title IX breaks this stereotype that women who are pregnant or mothers can't learn and guarantees that young pregnant women will not be discriminated against.

Title IX has helped women enter the academic world, where they have achieved fantastic success and surpassed expectations. Without Title IX, women would still be kept out of the best universities in the country. Without Title IX, most women would not have access to graduate degrees. Without Title IX, pregnant girls would be forced to drop out of school. Without Title IX, the majority of schools would still only have limited opportunities for women in sports.

But Title IX is in no way a panacea for the sexual inequalities that are deeply imbedded in the American way of life. Legislation has not changed mindsets. We must make sure that women continue to become more involved in traditionally male-dominated fields in the educational system and in society. Women need to be encouraged to specialize in math and the hard sciences. Women need to fight so that standardized tests do not include male-oriented biases. Women need to make sure that the bleachers are filled for athletic events involving women's sports teams.

Title IX has helped women achieve success in the educational arena, but its success is by no means enough for women in general. Educating women goes far towards breaking patriarchal stereotypes, but we need to make sure that all of society is women-friendly. Activism that is backed with such precedent as Title IX will do wonders to increase the influence and power of women in society.

"Title IX: 25 Years of Progress." The U.S. Department of Education, June, 1997. Accessed 9 pm, 3/4/2004. Page available at
Wooster, Ann K. "Sex Discrimination in Public Education under Title IX," The
American Law Reports Federal. 1999, West Group, accessed at 9 pm, 3/4/2004. p.

Women, Title IX and Film
Name: Heather Pr
Date: 2004-03-05 08:33:35
Link to this Comment: 8702

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When I was younger I can remember watching old movies with my mother every Sunday. I loved watching the dashing men sweep away the pretty women and the extravagantly cheesy music. However much I loved the romance part of the story, it always struck me as kind of funny the way the woman was usually a very passive part of the whole relationship making model. She waited for him to kiss her, and the (or I should really say perhaps then) the ball is in her court and she has the ability to make decisions. In countless movies the woman is mad at the man and so what does he do? He grabs her and kisses her passionately. I always thought that it looked like it hurt. Some guy mashing his face into yours when you really do not want to be kissed? Not pleasant. My point in all this is that if you look at movies like these and then watch, say, Bend it Like Beckham or Girl Fight, the woman is actively choosing her sport, her path in life, and her relationship. Women now have the right to be empowered in film (despite the still pervading Hollywood kitsch) and on of these ways, is inherently, through sport.
Sport empowers women. That is a proven fact, and for many of us Title IX babies, a no-brainer. The question is why? When Title IX was still a fresh, new thing, for women sport served as something once denied them that they could finally experience. It represented getting the ball and being able to play just like "one of the boys." Now women were on an even playing field, and that is always empowering. For these women it represented a chance more than anything else, but women of my generation get something else out of sport that makes the modern woman different.

In films across the board, sport or no, the image of woman is changing. She is thinner, yes, to keep up with the Hollywood standard of the waif, but she is also fit and muscular. Jada Pinkett-Smith is my favorite example of the new Hollywood body. She has muscular definition in her body but she is still very feminine. Women are expected (not just in Hollywood) to go to the gym regularly and work out. A woman who is not physically fit is not as attractive in today's modern world and that is the truth. On any given day on Bryn Mawr's campus, you can see hundreds of women working out in the gym or running outside. If you asked them why they do this activity so religiously, I am sure that almost no one will say, "I am trying to get thinner to catch a man." Most times, she will tell you that she enjoys being fit and it makes her feel healthier and happier (that she can still fit into a size 6).

So what does this overall change mean for women in the movies? Well, it allows them to be more natural and aggressive without seeming mannish. No straight man alive will tell you that the character Jules (Bend it Like Beckham) running around in soccer shorts and a sports bra was at all mannish. Nor would most of them have a problem with Monica's (Love and Basketball) choice of workout apparel. In every film where the woman was misunderstood as boyish or gay, it came from either an older generation or from a group of vilified prissy girls (who, interestingly enough, are always depicted as slutty, as opposed to the main character's very romantic brush with love). To a younger woman watching these films, the mistaken identities and sexual preferences seem comical, and are usually portrayed as such. We genuinely see nothing wrong with sports or the women who play them, but many times can relate to the way our mothers think about our choices in lifestyle. I think that films include this element not only as comic relief but as a way of commiserating with ever woman whose mother would rather they play with dolls than steal first base.

Women of my generation become empowered through sport because they are doing something active and healthy that is for themselves. One must perfect one's own form and body before she can be an active part of the team. For so long, women have only been seen as social, group-oriented beings. Title IX has not erased that from our upbringing. Young girls are always taught to play nice and stay in groups with other girls. While it is nice to have company, there is not the same sense of personal achievement and always remember, being the leader is bad. So when a woman can go out and score a goal on the soccer field, that is not just a point for the team, it is a personal victory. This is why sport has become such an important theme for women of my generation. Each woman we have watched in these movies was a winner because she achieved her own personal goal and not just that of the group. These days it seems the only acceptable goal for a woman in film is that of conquering a man, but in sport films, these women get to do something greater, something for themselves.

Women in Sports
Name: Katherine
Date: 2004-03-05 10:56:23
Link to this Comment: 8703

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In the last one hundred years women have made tremendous in roads in many facets of life. Of that there can be little doubt. Women may now hold jobs, own property and participate in professional sports. Today women can compete in sports, once a vestige of male domination; there is now room for women in that arena. But even today women in sports are not portrayed in the same light as their male counterparts. To a large degree this is because of today's cultural ideal of women.

Since the beginning of this century women like Babe Didrickson and Billy Jean King have brought female athletes into mainstream acceptance. In earlier times women had not only not been encouraged to be physical it was thought to be harmful for them; females were thought to be weaker than men and not able to stand the physical rigors of sport. Many thought excessive physical activity would damage a woman's reproductive system leaving her unable to have children. Others believed that too much exertion, mental or physical would make a woman more and more manly. Of course women whose families had limited financial resources could not afford to keep them from helping on the farm or what have you but it was not the accepted norm and as soon conditions would permit it, the women were sent back to the house to cook or sow.

During this century women have been able to break out of the traditional female mold. Women have broken the chains that bond them to the home and have emerged into all sorts of male dominated arenas, including sports. Women have become athletes in their own right. In the last ten years there has been validation for the female athlete. The WNBA was created giving women a professional league in a mainstream traditionally male sport for the first time since the All American Girls Professional Baseball League went out of existence in the 1950s. And recently a woman made the cut and participated on the professional golf circuit with the men. Today, we see women athletes in the media regularly. Women's college basketball is given airtime on weekends just as men's is.

But even today women athletes are not on equal footing with men. Women are not permitted to be masculine, they can be athletes but they need to keep their femininity intact. Even a great athlete like Babe Didrickson was forced to change her image to suit our culture's sense of what a woman should be. And while a women may be given endorsements she is expected to look a certain way we she does them. She may sweat on the field or the court but not on camera.

Some women athletes are still not accepted. Women who body-build are not given the same respect as men who do. While many may not find a man bulging with muscles to be attractive they do give them a certain measure of respect. Women are accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs and are considered unnatural. What woman would want to look like that? To look like a man? Because it is true, many of the women who body-build look much more masculine than the ordinary woman on the street do.

All of this related to our cultural ideal of women. It is all right for women to be athletic now as long as they keep it within certain guidelines. A woman should look like a woman and she has to be able to balance her sport and her life. If a man is a nomad, moving constantly he is devoted to his sport. And if he has a wife and children they are proud of him and wait patiently for the day he comes home. If a woman does the same she is denying herself a home and family or she is abandoning her children in pursuit of a game.

Female athletes have come a long way in the past one hundred years, as have women in general. But there is still a long way to go and in order for women athletes to achieve true equality our culture's ideals will have to be adjusted to make way for them.

Bodies in Motion
Name: B. Zera
Date: 2004-03-05 13:33:07
Link to this Comment: 8704

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If, in six years time, I had become a successful Hollywood screenwriter and was commissioned to write a screenplay about women in sports, I would have a hard time deciding what to write about. There are currently so many sports that women participate in that I cannot image what will be available in the future. Out of all the athletic activities in which women participate, I feel that gymnastics has been overlooked by Hollywood; therefore, I would most likely make a film based on that. I happen to be a fan of rhythmic gymnastics, and would like to see it gain more popularity in the United States.

Rhythmic gymnastics is an amazing combination of athleticism and grace. Rhythmic gymnasts use accessories to enhance the aesthetic movement of their bodies. The most common accessories are a small ball (approximately 7" in diameter, weighing slightly less than a pound), a piece of knotted rope (must be proportional to height of the individual), a hoop (about 35" in diameter), a set of clubs (similar to juggling clubs and are about 20" long), or a six meter ribbon.* The gymnasts are expected to perform throws, twists, rolls, jumps and many more ballet-like movements, using their chosen accessory to accentuate their movements. While this elegant sport is embraced across Europe and into Asia, the United States has shown little enthusiasm for rhythmic gymnastics.

In my screenplay, I would choose to follow a rhythmic gymnastics team composed of high school girls. High school girls are the ones who would be competing in championships, and this movie would hopefully cause attendance of said meets to increase. I would write the script so that the movie would not get anything higher than a PG-13 rating. This would ensure that the majority of the population could go see the movie, and could bring their young children to enjoy it as well. Allowing young children to view the movie could increase interest in the sport from a younger age (as most rhythmic gymnasts start when they are very young).

Out of the entire cast of women, I would pick a single protagonist to focus on. For the sake of the movie, she would most likely be the team captain – someone who is more experienced and has a better chance of winning in competition. People like to watch movies with successful conclusions, therefore the team that the movie followed needs to be able to win at the end. Therefore, it makes sense that the main character be of the top athletes.

As for the issues that the movie would address, a few of the more prominent ones would be: women as competitive athletes, body image issues, athletic events with group scores (most people view gymnastics as an individual event) and the confusion of the public that sometime so graceful can be counted as a true sport.

The film would follow this small group of girls as they practice more than thirty hours a week to train themselves in a sport which the general public does not acknowledge. It would show their friendship through sports and to each other as they deal with possible animosity from outsiders. The girls would have a rival gymnastics team whom they eventually compete against in the championship. Their competition would have to use underhanded means with which to try and win, or else the viewers will not feel as strongly for our protagonists. The competition will not be totally evil, but just enough to make people dislike them.

After our protagonists' long struggle, our heroines will win the competition, and finally get recognition from their community, who now sees the girls as the athletes that they are. I enjoy happy conclusions and so does most of the theater-going crowd – plus, happy finales always sell better. I would be trying to promote this sport through the movie, and would therefore need to paint it in as positive a light as possible, while still creating a drama out of sport for the script.

*The measurements of accessories that I am not familiar with were taken from and converted from metric units.

The Image and the Ideal : The Ideal of Women as Re
Name: Tiffany St
Date: 2004-03-05 14:21:02
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The ideal images of female athletes presented in the films for this class have had a strong connection to the images of ideal women in society in general. Like the ideal image of women, there are many variations of the ideal image of female athletes. While Dare to Compete tracked the evolution of the role of the real female athletes, the feature films we watched presented varying views of the ideal female athlete, which has been different in different times and places.

Remember the Titans was set in the seventies, and the female characters were appropriately demure. Coach's daughter was a football fan, but never actually played football. She was, at best, a well-informed cheerleader. She could follow the plays--more than I myself can do--and would probably have made some quarterback a great girlfriend some day. While the ideal here is not of a female athlete, it is still relevant to the course. The ideal is of the female spectator--the athletic support. She went to the games and cheered on her father and the team. As a young girl she acted as a mascot.

Bend it Like Beckham depicted a young, beautiful girl who just wanted to play. Jas retained a high degree of femininity in spite of her athleticism. She girlishly falls for her off-limits coach, and is terribly ashamed of her body, especially the scar on her leg. She is a girl first--not even really a woman--then an athlete. The development of the character in the film is minimal. It is the world around Jas that is forced to develop and change to unrealistically meet her needs.

Love and Basketball uses sport, and particularly basketball as a metaphor for love. Monica and her boyfriend are both basketball players, but unlike in the film Girlfight (see below) they never come into direct competition. The two times they do actually play together, the games are absolutely not about basketball. When he loses to Monica, it is because he wants to, not because she is actually better than he is. Moreover, the reason he wants to lose is based entirely on her femininity. Monica is a good player, but is not a threat to his masculinity because anytime he wants to he can put her back in her place.

Diana of Girlfight represents a real threat to her boyfriend's masculinity. Not only does she force him to seriously compete with her on equal terms, but she actually beats him. This film addresses Diana's athleticism in terms of it being a threat to her femininity and a threat to her boyfriend's masculinity. Amazingly, and perhaps a bit unrealistically, both issues are resolved into a happy ending.

These four fictionalized accounts of athletics depict very different ideals of the female athlete--or non-athlete--and reflect the multiple ideals of women in society. All of the main female characters are in someway idealized--they are forced into molds of what they should or should not be--but each of their prisons has different set of bars. There is not one single ideal of the female athlete, just as there is no single ideal of woman.

Images of Wimen in Sport: Cultural Ideals of Women
Name: Rachel Rob
Date: 2004-03-05 16:11:34
Link to this Comment: 8708

Rachel Robbins
PE: Women, Sport, and Film
Final Paper

Images of Women in Sport:
Cultural Ideals of Women

Images of women in sport, and the cultural ideals of women have moved somewhat synchronously through time. As notions of women's roles and perceptions of women change, so too did the portrayal of female athletes, and the acceptance of female athleticism into cultural norms. Likewise, as women began breaking the gender barriers in sport, the perceptions of women's roles changed and the change in portrayal and perception, led to increased acceptance of women as athletes.

In the documentary that we viewed the first time that the class met, we saw images of women who were strong competitors and driven athletes that were competing more with society's expectations and limitations on them as women, than they were with other competitors in their given fields. They faced images of women as weak, passive, and domesticated. These images led to the fallacies that riding a bicycle would damage women's reproductive systems, that it was unladylike to sweat, and that even something as non-competitive as pushing a baby carriage "freed women too much." It was these perceptions of the late Victorian era, and the early decades of the 20th century that prevented women from running great distances, and shrouded the athleticism and tenacity of a tennis match in the guise of a show of fashions.

The next movie in the series involved images of women with respect to cultural and familial expectations. In "Bend It like Beckham" the predominance of role expectations on the main character were derived from her family, and her mother's expectations of her as a daughter. She was constantly being told or called to cook, to prepare things for meals or events, or to go shopping, and to show more of a concern in female interests. In this film, the balancing of cultural values and gender expectations were the character's main conflicts in addition to working at being a competitive athlete. The images of women according to cultural ideals may have lent a hand in preventing there from being a professional women's soccer team, and also may have prevented women from earning equal salaries as the men who played on the professional squad.

In Girl Fight, the issue of inclusion in a male driven field was a victory of Title IX and of Dianna as the main character in the film. This film is an example of cultural ideals following athletics. Because there were no other women training at the gym where Dianna worked out, and because there were relatively few female boxers as her competitors, the issue of images of women in her sport being affected by cultural ideals is mute, because there were so few women actually in the ring. Because of this, the main predetermined expectation that she faced as a women in her field was that she should not be a boxer. This sentiment was evident in the way that she was treated as she was attempting to register for lessons with the trainer.

I also found it interesting the way that the film was marketed though the images and photographs displayed on the films box. The box was very careful to show images of Dianna with her hair down, and next to and with her male counterpart, and heterosexual love interest. The positioning of her body as she is throwing the punch that is on the back of the box is also an image that in it's silhouette is very similar to traditional portrayals of the female figure, and therefore less masculinized than it might otherwise be.

In the film love and basketball, the cultural ideal based on the expectations of Monica's family and environment, seemed that the women in support of men either as a husband or as an athlete were the ideal images of women. In this film the role of the athleticism almost acts as a backdrop to the greater issues of relationships and balancing expectations with sport.

In "Remember the Titans" the main conflict was not one of gender inequity, but rather of racial inequity. Viewing the theme of images and ideals with regard to race rather than to gender, it can be said that as society changed, the football team was able to have a Black coach, and was able to integrate the team. This integration in turn led to the formation of value changing friendships, and ultimately to the overall increased acceptance of integration and altered views and racial perceptions. In this way, society's expectations influenced sport, which in turn influenced society.

Pertaining to images of women and women athletes, this same type of cyclical pattern of change occurred. As notions of women's roles and perceptions of women change, so too did the portrayal of female athletes, and the acceptance of female athleticism into cultural norms. There are still many barriers to break in society as well as in athletics, but we have come a lone way from worrying about damage to our reproductive organs, and as women keep challenging the gender barriers in sport, the perceptions of women's roles too shall change.

Title IX: A Social Justice Issue
Name: Jessica Le
Date: 2004-03-05 16:26:18
Link to this Comment: 8711

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No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational programs or activity receiving federal financial assistance. (Preamble to Title IX)

Title IX was a social justice landmark for women in the United States. Women who directly benefited from Title IX were athletes, as it gave them opportunities to participate in sports in schools, receive the same amount of funding as the male sports programs, and for the first time gave women the opportunities to earn scholarships for sports. Indirectly, Title IX had an impact on all women in the United States, because it entitled them equal opportunity to education and created a provision against sexual discrimination. Title IX changed the expectations of women by giving them the opportunity to choose and compete, athletically, scholastically, professionally, politically, economically and socially.

Each Federal department and agency which is empowered to extend Federal financial assistance to any education program or activity, by way of grant, loan, or contract other than a contract of insurance or guaranty, is authorized and directed to effectuate the provisions of section 1681 of this title with respect to such program or activity by issuing rules, regulations, or orders of general applicability which shall be consistent with achievement of the objectives of the statute authorizing the financial assistance in connection with which the action is taken. (Title IX section 1682)

The visible effects of Title IX were mainly seen in the athletic arena, but the subtle effects of Title IX came to all women in the United States in the form of education. Education creates opportunities, channels creativity and challenges all students. As the proverb goes, ¡°knowledge is power¡±. By granting women opportunities previously granted only to men, Title IX empowered women by allowing them to pursue higher degrees, compete in athletics, and enter vocations and educational fields that had always been male dominated. Title IX required all high schools to provide equal funding and support for boys¡¯ and girls¡¯ sports; this was also extended to scholarship opportunities, broadening educational opportunities for women. Title IX also reduced the drop-out rate in high school by prohibiting schools from suspending, expelling, or discriminating against students who were pregnant. After Title IX, more girls were graduating from high school and going on to attend college or receive higher degrees.

Before Title IX, the number of women attending colleges and receiving higher degrees was significantly lower than the number of men receiving bachelor and higher degrees. Since 1972, the number of women earning master¡¯s degrees and doctoral degrees almost doubled. Women earning medical, law, dental, veterinary science, and pharmacy degrees also rose dramatically. In 1972, women earned just seven percent of all law degrees; by 1997, women received 44 percent. In the 1970s women earned only nine percent of all medical degrees; by 1997, they received 41 percent of medical degrees. In 1977, only twenty-five percent of all doctoral degrees went to women, by 1997 women earned 41 percent of all Ph.D.s. Women were also entering the business world, a field previously reserved for men. Since 1972, the number of women earning business degrees rose significantly; this not only opened the job market to women, but it also had a profound impact on women¡¯s lifetime earnings.

Since Title IX, women are able to hold as much power as men; women are no longer considered inferior or second rate; whether it be on the tennis court, or in the courtroom. Pregnant students are no longer forced to drop out of school; married or pregnant women are no longer forced to leave their jobs. Before Title IX, the primary roles expected of women were that of mother and wife. Today, women are not limited to this, and more importantly women are no longer forced to choose between being a mother or being a student; being a wife or being a business executive. Title IX is a social justice issue, because it grants women to aspire to what they choose and what they are capable of.

Title IX grants gender equity, thus it also affects men. Women entering the different vocational fields also opened up avenues for men. One example would be the field of nursing. Men have been discouraged from pursuing nursing; in 1972, the number of men with nursing degrees was 1 percent; by 1996, the number rose to 5.

No person in the United States shall, on the ground of blindness or severely impaired vision, be denied admission in any course of study by a recipient of Federal financial assistance for any education program or activity; but nothing herein shall be construed to require any such institution to provide any special services to such person because of his blindness or visual impairment. (Title IX section 1684)

This section of Title IX affects both men and women; visually impaired individuals were not only limited by their vision, but also by the stigma that society placed on them. Title IX removes much of this stigma by prohibiting discrimination against visually impaired persons. The importance of Title IX extends beyond just the changes it brought for female athletes; it brought about social progress by removing stereotypes and discrimination. It brought about social awareness of the different forms of discrimination in existence in the United States and changed the dynamics between men and women.

"Grass Roots"
Name: Sarah Mart
Date: 2004-03-05 18:03:42
Link to this Comment: 8712

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports04/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2004
On Serendip

If I, in six years, wrote a script about women and sports it would be a lot different then the movies made today. Movies made today are all about hope, success, and triumph. In six years I suspect the consumers will be tired of watching women play sports and there will no more professional venues for women to play ball in. All those girls that looked up to Mia Ham, ect., will be left longing to run through a 100,000-seat stadium.

My protagonists will be the young adults that grew out of today's "tween" generation. This is a generation of girls that know physical excellence is possible for women because they were pressured to play and shine during school but now they have no forum to show off. In my movie, the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association) has been dissolved and neither will the short-lived WSA (Women's Soccer Association) because of low-ticket sales and Nielson ratings. These young ladies will have to find an audience if they want to play.

Sports sells, but sex sells more. The antagonists in my movie will be male chauvinists who try to convince the ladies to play in bathing suits. Of course the girls don't agree, and through grass roots campaigning and funding they start a sports league in which they can play. They find their popularity and audience when the media gets a hint of this story about humanity. Everyone wants to see a story of self-made success on the evening news after the reports of wars and drugs.

The movie will end on a semi-happy note. Yes, the girls have succeeded; they are having a ball playing ball. The movie will end with a burning question: "how long will it last this time?" The public may soon get tired, just as they did with the WSA after the 2003 season.

Are people watching because they enjoy watching competitive athletics? Or because they enjoy watching athletic women run and bounce up the field or court? Is the sport selling or is sex selling? Will Americans ever be able to separate sports from sex when it deals with beautiful women? These are the questions my film will raise.

Today's Cultural Ideal of Women
Name: Tera Benso
Date: 2004-03-08 11:50:54
Link to this Comment: 8720

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports04/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2004
On Serendip

In the Women, Sport and Film course, we examined the changing cultural ideal of the woman. Throughout the course, there was an important relation between being female and feminine dress. We saw that those female athletes who were able to compete athletically on the field while retaining a feminine appearance off of the field were more easily accepted as female athletes. In many cases, this feminine quality attracted the male spectator. Having a male love interest that reciprocated these desires validated these athletes as females. Despite the evolution of the female ideal, women are still pressured to demonstrate their femininity. Feminine dress remains the symbol of femininity to which women retreat. For men, sport takes on the role of revalidating one's masculinity.

The cultural ideal of a woman today is much more complex than years past. An ideal woman in the fifties was expected to be the ultimate homemaker. She should support her husband and children, cook delicious meals, keep a spotless home and embody an attractive, immaculately dressed wife and mother. A perfect example of this woman is Julianne Moore's character in Far From Heaven. Her days are spent perfecting homemade birthday cakes and catering to her family's needs. However, the movie takes a twist when she suddenly abandons her perfect life and perfect family. The ideal woman of today is no longer expected to fit the homemaker mold. In fact, many women who do choose to stay at home full time experience social scrutiny for not developing careers of their own.

In the movies today we see two images of the modern woman, yet only one of these two is today's ideal woman. The first, as we saw in Love and Basketball, is the mother homemaker. She, much like the ideal woman of the fifties, works in the house, watching her children, cleaning house and cooking. As Love and Basketball clearly represents, she receives harsh criticism from modern women attempting to liberate female ideals. In Love and Basketball, Monica is unimpressed by her mother's role as a housewife. Alternately, we have another image of the 21st century woman. She has a successful career while raising a well-adjusted family. She embodies much that the fifties housewife did-she is well dressed, can cook good meals, has a spotless home and supports her family. However, the 21st century woman juggles a career as well. In this respect, she gives up childcare, housekeeping and much of the cooking to outsiders so that she can focus on the important areas of her life. Her appearance remains very important yet she does not hesitate to use professionals in this area of her life as well. This 21st century woman is expected to be in shape. She is neither over weight nor undefined. But, like other areas of her life, athleticism cannot play too large a role. She must embody the well-rounded woman, her primary focus being family and career.

I would argue that a successful businesswoman must be a hard worker, driven, possess business room "game theory" and a competitive nature. All of these attributes are cultivated in organized sport. Therefore it is not surprising that the modern ideal woman participates in sport as well as supports her daughter's participation in sport. This allows females the same space as males, outside of the office or the classroom, to unashamedly compete and channel pent-up emotions. However, the area of sport, especially for females, is a unique space. Within this space, women can act as men do in sport. But this space should only act as a part of the well-rounded female's self-definition. She must also be pretty and smart and compassionate off of the field. This is where we see a split between women and sport and men and sport.

A male, be he 10 years old or 60, who is entirely wrapped up in sport is "just being a guy." It is socially acceptable for males to watch sports, think about sex, etc. However, we do see the male's image changing. The advent of the "metrosexual" demonstrates an increasing interest in appearance. As well, it is becoming more acceptable and even desirable for men to share their feelings. However, much like women, men must prove their heterosexual side while cultivating the previous "feminine" aspects of themselves. This heterosexual side for men is sport. The American male who is entirely uninterested in football is seen as less of a male just as a woman who is uninterested in her appearance is considered less of a female.

We are living in an interesting time, now more than ever gender roles are changing and the black and white differentiation between masculine and feminine is being questioned. However, as American society is dealing with these changing gender definitions, people find comfort in distinguishing certain characteristics that prove a person's retention of the traditional gender roles. For females, this is primarily make-up and feminine clothing, for males, a deep interest in sport. While it is now common for both sexes to take an interest in the other's "gender defining characteristic" a strong interest in this area, if not counteracted by traditional gender behavior, makes Americans very uneasy. As we have seen in Bend It Like Beckham, when a female defines herself primarily through sport, society jumps to the conclusion that she is a lesbian. Likewise, a male "overly interested in his dress" is labeled gay. Hopefully, as more females participate in sport, and as more males take an interest in their appearances, these two gender frontiers will continue to break down.

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