Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities has 50 remote-ready activities, which work for either your classroom or remote teaching.

Women Sport and Film - Spring 2005 Forum

Comments are posted in the order in which they are received, with earlier postings appearing first below on this page. To see the latest postings, click on "Go to last comment" below.

Go to last comment

Femininity, Sexuality and Gender
Name: Keti Shea
Date: 2005-03-20 13:09:18
Link to this Comment: 13659


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Select three of the films we watched and trace the themes that connected each of the films. Discuss what the director and writers might have had in mind when choosing the topic, story line and outcomes.
Pumping Iron II, A League of Their Own and Personal Best all highlighted the obstacles facing modern female athletes. Some of the recurring themes running throughout them were that of femininity and how it is defined in the context of women's sports, questions of sexuality and sexual orientation among women athletes and finally, the predominance of gender roles as they influence interactions between men and women.
Each film discusses the notion of femininity and its competing definitions. In Pumping Iron II, Bev faces discrimination from those within the sports arena. In other words, it is not just non-athletes who question the femininity of women athletes but also other athletes as well. This added an interesting dynamic to the film because it showed how women athletes themselves contribute to the negative stereotypes surrounding women's abilities in sports. For example, Bev's muscularity was treated with disdain and even disgust by some of the other bodybuilders who were themselves women. The main tension presented in the film was that between achieving one's maximum potential physically and adhering in some manner to social norms. Bev chose the former and was therefore castigated by various judges and other competitors who saw her as being overly masculine in her appearance.
A League of Their Own similarly treats the issue of femininity by presenting the tension between women as athletes and women as sexual objects. For example, the women were required to wear uniforms which impeded their ball-playing abilities and even began to put on "peep shows" for the audience in order to get more people to come to their games. In addition, the team members were subjected to etiquette lessons where they were taught how to act like a lady. Just as in Pumping iron II, there was a tension between reaching one's potential as an athlete and adhering to socially acceptable norms concerning what it means to be feminine.
Never was this tension more evident than in the case of Dotty who gave up a career in baseball in order to become a wife and mother. The end of the movie brought this decision into question by presenting Kit, the sister who persevered with the sport, coming into the baseball hall of fame surrounded by a huge entourage of family members. The film seems to suggest here that being feminine and being an athlete are not necessarily mutually exclusive: you do not have to give up one in order to have the other.
In Personal Best, it is not so much the notion of femininity of female athletes that is discussed as it is the idea of their sexuality. The two lead women in the film were displayed as sexual, perhaps even overly sexual, beings and as the film seemed to suggest, this was a direct result of their athleticism. The tension in the film was not between playing sports and being feminine but between playing sports and sexual orientation. Personal Best was the only film which portrayed a lesbian relationship and yet it did not overtly discuss questions of sexual orientation. Lesbianism among athletes was a sub-text to the main trajectory of the film. It seems as if Chris and Tory's relationship was simply a by-product of their athleticism, almost as if physicalness of females athletes induces them to be more sexual. Interestingly enough, the fact that Tory slept with a woman does not bring her femininity into question as we see her later on sleeping with a man. This adds an interesting if ambiguous layer to the film because although it bypasses the issue of sexual orientation in a somewhat superficial manner, it does not equate lesbianism with a loss of femininity as one might expect.
Another interesting theme discussed was that of gender roles and the relations between male and female characters. Personal Best presents the idea of sisterhood that bonds female athletes. In A League of Their Own as well, we see the team members come together in recognition of their common womanhood which is at odds often with a chauvinistic male coach. In these two films, the coaches express their initial unwillingness to coach women; it is only something they did because they could not find jobs with men's teams. Therefore, it is the women who provide the cohesive bond that hold the team together.
Pumping Iron II portrays men in a more positive light and also points out that women can be just as judgmental of other women as can men. In the film, Bev's boyfriend was presented as sympathetic and unceasingly supportive while it was some of the other female competitors who were the most critical of her. In an interesting reversal, it was the female judge who was disgusted of Bev's muscles while it was a male judge who was the most sympathetic. One reason why the films differed at times in how they present these themes might have been due to differences in who the intended audience was. For example, A League of their Own was clearly intended for a broad audience and therefore touched on some potentially controversial themes in a superficial manner. The director's intent was not to shock or even enlighten the film's viewers but rather was to provide entertainment value. The same might be true for Personal Best as well. The purpose of the film was not to invoke questions or elicit discussion but to provide a compelling storyline.
This is what differentiates the two films from Pumping Iron II in which the intent of director/writers was to evoke a reaction from the audience. The viewers are drawn into the film by the story of Bev but in so doing, we are confronted with certain issues and unsettling questions which force us to think about what it is we are watching. Furthermore, the audience in Pumping Iron II is sympathetic to Bev not just as a woman but as an athlete. This is different for the other two films where the viewers are so subsumed by the human story line, in the characters as women, that their role as athletes is almost incidental. For example, A League of Their Own could have been (with a slight title change) a film about some other sport besides baseball. In short, the human interest that we have in the characters is more important than what the characters represent as athletes.
In conclusion, the three films discussed above illustrate some of the debates surrounding the role of women in sports. These include issues of femininity and more specifically, how it is defined both by outside critics and among athletes themselves. A related theme is that of sexuality and the underlying connection between sexuality, sexual orientation and sports. Finally, we see the interesting dynamic of gender roles which at time reverse common stereotypes regarding men and women.

Treatment Of Women In Predominantly Male Sports
Name: Angeldeep
Date: 2005-03-20 17:03:19
Link to this Comment: 13675


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

The course Women, Sport and Film this semester dealt with the issues of race, class, gender and sexual orientation in films with regard to women in sports. Some of these films dealt specifically with the problems that are faced by women who participate in sports that are not traditionally thought of as sports meant for women. Examples of such sports are crew, baseball and bodybuilding. Three films in this course dealt with these sports at length: Hero For Daisy, A League of Their Own and Pumping Iron II. It is interesting to note that while two of these films are documentaries, the third is a film that is based on real events as well. Each of these films showed how the women who chose to take part in this sport were not taken seriously and how there were specific regulations that were placed on them just because they were women. The women in these films had to stand for what they believed in and prove that they were serious athletes and could chose to challenge the norm and still be successful.

Hero For Daisy is a documentary that tells the story of the women's crew team at Yale University in the mid 1970s. As women's crew was still a relatively new sport, the women's crew team got the short end of the athletic stick very often. They did not get locker rooms at the boathouse, and so they could not shower after they had been on the river. Several members of the team got sick because of this, and the authorities did not make any changes even though the team was a very competitive team and was having a better season than the men's crew team. Not only did the women have to put up with the ridicule they were exposed to because of their athleticism, they were also not supported by the school system, even though Title XI was in existence. Frustrated by their situation, 19 members of the team, lead by Chris Ernst, a student in the team who later went on to be an Olympic rower, carried out a demonstration to fight for their rights. They went to the athletic director's office and stripped, their bodies marked with the phrase "Title IX." The team voiced their disappointment at the way they were treated and read out their complaints to the director. This famous demonstration led to equal rights and facilities being provided for all the teams on the Yale campus from then on.
The director tells this story by following the life of Chris Ernst, and shows us the individual behind the rower and the strength of a woman who was willing to break the social norms in order to achieve what she had set out for. Even though she is a Yale graduate, Chris is a plumber by trade, and it is challenges to society such as these that reflect on the strength and courage of these women to be who they want to be without any concern towards what is expected of them. The personal touch that is leant to the narrative of the film because of the focus on Chris helps to bring the message of the film to the forefront much more effectively than if we had just been shown the facts relating to the demonstration.

A League of Their Own also tells a story about women in a sport they were not seen to be in, Baseball. Even the player who is appointed to be the coach of the team, played by Tom Hanks, is not ready to believe in the women as ball players. He even says in the movie, I don't see ball players, I see women. Not only did these women have to convince their coach that they were in fact ball players, even though they are women, they also have to convince the masses of the same sentiment. In this movie, in addition to the tension that is created by the fact that an all female league was being formed, there was a tension observed in the image that women in sports had to reflect. The girls in the league had to wear skirts and make up when they played and had to reflect their femininity in their manner. They had to take lessons on how to be ladylike and while all this seems preposterous to us, it is how the league functioned back then.

In this film the director presents the story by focusing on the relationship between two sisters who both played in the league. While this angle again lends a more personal air to the story, it also brings forth the director's judgment on the matter, especially in the last scene. When we see the two sisters at the end of the film, Dottie, who had chosen to give up Baseball and just be a wife, had ended up being all alone as she came to the inauguration of the section of women in Baseball at the Baseball Hall of Fame. In contrast, Kit, her sister, who had chosen to pursue her passion for Baseball, had been accepted for who she was by her family and they had all come to the opening with her. In effect, the director seems to be saying that it is okay for women to be in sports as it does not mean that they have to give up all the other roles that have been given to them, like those of a wife and a mother.

The third film that I have chosen, Pumping Iron II, tells the story of female bodybuilders. This film addressed very directly the question of what kinds of limitations are placed on women when they enter a sport that has been predominantly male oriented. Bev, a bodybuilder who had reached new heights with the way in which she had shaped her body, was targeted by the judges at the competition and was not considered the best bodybuilder, even though her body was the most developed, because in the eyes of other people she had lost her femininity. The question about the definition of femininity is raised several times in the course of the film, but is not entirely resolved. Some of the characters continue to create a stereotype with respect to what women are meant to look like, whereas other characters in the movie are able to look beyond the masculinity that is reflected in Bev's body structure and are able to see the woman inside.

By giving the documentary a slightly dramatic touch, the director is able to draw the viewers into the lives of the characters, thus enabling us to sympathize more with Bev and thus be more convinced that femininity really isn't something that can be defined as easily as the way in which a women looks physically.

Thus, these films raise the concerns with regard to way in which women are treated when they are athletes participating in a predominantly male sport and what stereotypes are attached to them. These films use the plot and narrative to draw the spectators into the stories and identify with the protagonists so that they can feel the injustices that are felt by these women and appropriately understand the situations.

Women in Sports: Three Films, One Message
Name: Joanna Sco
Date: 2005-03-20 20:26:21
Link to this Comment: 13691


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

This semester, we watched a series of films on women in sports—some documentaries, some fictional screenplays. But all of these films showed the human drama of their characters as female athletes. It highlighted their struggles and their triumphs, as well as giving the audience food for thought about the issues that still exist for women in society. Sports is not just a recreational activity; sports mirrors life. Sports cannot be separated from society. 'A League of Their Own' (1993) and the documentaries 'Dare to Compete' (1999) and 'Rocks With Wings' (2002) demonstrate the many complications that can arise in trying to reconcile their identity as athletes with their identity as women in society.

'A League of Their Own' is based on the formation and first season of the All-
American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAFPBL) during World War II. The
actual AAFPBL continued until 1954, thanks to the incredible efforts of the players in the league who proved they more than deserved the chance to play baseball. This film drives home the stress society places on these women to uphold the norm for femininity. People at this time are, for the most part, convinced that turning women into baseball players is abhorrent! They believe it is not acceptable for women to be athletes; that it is dangerous and jeopardizes the female players' very status as women. As a result, the women have to participate in regular beauty and etiquette classes, to help them 'preserve their femininity'. At this period in time, women are challenging the norms in all sorts of way, leaving the home and joining the workforce (as their country asked them) while the men are overseas. Yet women playing baseball seems to be a more difficult pill to swallow than women on the assembly line.

The unveiling of the women's uniforms emphasizes the stereotypical view of
femininity. In fact, many of the male executives involved believe that the only way to
attract people to the sport was to use the women's sex appeal. Short skirts, which Mae
points out "is not a baseball uniform", is the expected attire. When the women protest, the message is clear: "either you play in this, or you don't play for us". The pressure on these women to be feminine is demonstrated several times through the movie. When the scout visits an incredible hitter, Marla Hooch, he turns her down because of her masculine appearance. Marla can hit home-runs with her right and left arms, but not up to par! Fortunately, the scout reconsiders (after pressure from the Hinson sisters). Sadly, I think the movie itself conforms to societal expectations in developing Marla's character. She is made more 'feminine'—her features are softened, and she meets a man in a bar wearing a dress and make-up who she ends up marrying in the middle of the season. While it is nice to see Marla happy, why did her character have to marry and be softened up? She is an incredible athlete and member of the team, but her story is cut short. On a more positive note, the AAPBL, after a slow and difficult start, begins to draw large audiences who cheer the events on the field instead of the sexuality of the athletes. Although sexuality is still employed as a marketing strategy ('Catch a home run and win a kiss'), the emphasis is on these women being great athletes who deserve a place in sports even when the men return from the war.

The documentary 'Rocks with Wings' tells the story of the Lady Chieftains, a
Navajo basketball team in the little town of Ship Rock, New Mexico during the late
1980s. This film highlights not only issues of gender, but also issues of race and class. The coach, Jerry Richardson, is an African-American former basketball player himself, who is still reeling from his own racial struggle during high school and college. There is an initial clash of cultures when Jerry arrives in Ship Rock, but it is never addressed. Jerry inherits the Lady Chieftains as a losing basketball team, whose players only play for fun and not to win. He becomes determined to instill a winning attitude in these girls, but fails to understand their perspective as young Navajo women. He pushes for too much too soon, always criticizing the girls even when they do win. The film takes the time to show the Navajo culture, and to emphasize that this is a group of people who are not used to winning—they are used to victimization. Through sports, however, the Navajos—not just the women on the team, but the whole town—learn what it is like to overcome obstacles, to be winners. Ship Rock is contrasted to neighboring Kirtland, a predominantly white town with much more resources. Kirtland's ladies basketball team has been winning, pretty much unchallenged, until Jerry Richardson arrives and decides to shake things up. Ultimately, through basketball and their triumphs on the court, the Lady Chieftains start to believe in themselves and are encouraged to follow their dreams. Their first championship is a victory for the whole town, and means more than winning in basketball. Sports has brought them pride and self-belief which can carry them through the other challenges in their lives.

Finally, the documentary 'Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports' is
an uplifting journey through the history of women in sports. A large portion of the film
traces how the women-in-sports movement coincides with the greater women's rights
movement that occurred in the 1960's and 1970's. It addresses gender, race, and sexual
orientation. Martina Navratilova, an amazing tennis player, discusses her struggle with
the media in particular. Instead of focusing on her exploits on the court, the press
continually asked her about her sexuality and used their sports pages to speculate on this, rather than to laud her for her victories. Another incredible athlete, Babe, also represents the fascination of the media—and society in general—with female athletes and their stereotype that a women who is good in sports might be a lesbian. Babe excelled in
whatever sport she took on. Her appearance was initially considered 'masculine' and thus
the rumors started to fly; later, when she returns as a golf player, she has grown out her hair and eventually marries. Even in class, we speculated whether or not she married out of societal pressure and was really a lesbian; her talents were yet again pushed to the side.

The media also played a large role in setting women's sports backward when, in the first
Olympics that women were allowed to run a longer distance, the runners were reported to
have "fainted" and been very distressed. The myth that physical activity jeopardized a
woman's ability to conceive persisted for years and represents society's struggle to accept women as athletic and feminine. Being a mother is really the ultimate in femininity, and is the very thing society thought athletics must interfere with.

Another interesting piece of 'Dare to Compete' is the progress of black women in
sports. Black women were given the chance to compete in track and field before white
women; they excelled in it too. These female athletes may have helped inspire other
athletes to push themselves and defy society's expectations. Thanks to everything that
women achieved--from Babe, to African-American women's track teams, to Billie Jean
King's beating a male tennis player—the way was paved for my generation to participate
in sports and continue to challenge ourselves on the athletic field and to challenge
society's norms for women. There is still work to be done, but each story of women
succeeding in sports is a victory for all women.

Women's Achievement in Sports in Documentary Films
Name: Rosemary M
Date: 2005-03-20 23:38:04
Link to this Comment: 13715

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005 StudentPapers On Serendip

Women's Achievement in Sports in Documentary Films

The collaborative efforts of a film production staff are always directed toward a certain end goal. All of the ideas, tweaks, and physical labor are done with an end product in mind, with a set of expected results. Often, that goal is the conveyance of a story or a message. In the case of documentaries, the goal encompasses both of these things – the aim of a documentary is to capture reality and put actual people and events into an edited framework that relays a message about those same people and events. I am choosing, in this paper, to discuss and evaluate the three documentary films we watched in class, Dare to Compete, Pumping Iron II (a pseudo-documentary), and Rocks with Wings, all of which were different, but which were bred from the same desire to bring women's struggle and achievement in sports to the limelight.

Dare to Compete traced the careers of several important female athletes throughout the last century and the difficulty women have experienced throughout recent history in attempting to participate in sports and gain as much acclaim as men for their accomplishments. It was clear, as the movie progressed, that the filmmakers wanted to capture the stories of certain women in sports history who were extraordinarily talented, and use their personal struggles to explore the larger battle that women were fighting – equality as a sex. The audience bears witness to incredible feats; a woman swims the English Channel in record time, another wins every tennis match she plays (but one, when she was a bit intoxicated), and yet another fights for acclaim in a society where athletic women are only given the utmost admiration when they fulfill society's constructed idea of what a woman "should be."

A theme that arose time and again in class discussion, and one that was addressed by this documentary, was the concept of a woman as seen through the (theoretical) eyes of society. Dare to Compete attacked this issue in an historical context, and showed through footage the evolution of the woman, as an idea, throughout the past century. The woman, traditionally, has been seen as delicate, passive, and, ideally, beautiful. When a woman did not fit this definition of "effeminate," she experienced even more hardship than her fellow females. Billie Jean was one of the prime examples of this in this film. She was a fantastic tennis player, arguably the best, but because she did not fit the stock definition of what a woman "should be" she was slighted by the media, and afforded fewer opportunities than her female peers.

Pumping Iron II, a pseudo-documentary, also focused on this issue. The filmmakers, in a very clear and direct manner, set up the movie so that the message they were attempting to convey would be easy to discern. From the "behind the scenes" meetings with the administrators of the female body-building competition to the conversations between certain characters or amongst specific groups of people, it was clear that the issue at hand was the definition of "femininity" and how firmly society has its hands gripped on the word's meaning. The filmmakers make the audience love Bev, the protagonist, and mildly despise her primary rival competitor, Rachel, who embodies all of the aspects of the competition which are unfair. While she possesses toned muscles, she also maintains society's idea of "femininity." She wears make-up, fixes her hair, and tans in a booth for hours on end, while Bev pushes the envelope and participates in her sport for the sake of the sport.

Bev is not out to please the ancient male administrators or the judges, and knows going into the competition that she is something that they have never seen before, and that they might not accept that they might not accept her anomalous physique. The outcome of the movie emphatically reinforces the truth that women, despite all they have achieved, are still held to a set standard. Bev comes in last in the competition, a result that would blow anyone's mind. The fact that she was undermined was so blatant, so obvious – it lacked discrete subversion, which one would normally find in a situation like this. In other words, it's not just that she didn't win, but that she came in dead last. The filmmakers built up the film perfectly, so that when she lost this way, you really felt the impact. You really felt disgusted by society, and rattled by the affirmation that a standard still exists (and in a really bad way).

The third movie, Rocks with Wings, was farther removed, with regard to thematic content, from the other films we watched in class. This film focused more on the use of sports as an outlet for success by an arguably even more oppressed group – the Najavo. In this documentary film, the goal of the filmmakers was less immediately discernable. It appeared that they wanted to link the cultural attitudes and beliefs of the Najavo people to their behavior in areas such as sports. One woman interviewed said how the Najavo think cyclically, rather than linearly like "the white man," and so it is against their nature to forget what happened to them and to move on, while "the white man" just keeps moving, not looking back, not dwelling on the past. This attitude, this inability to forget, in a way, characterized the way the girls on the Shiprock basketball team first performed, when the new coach just arrived. They were accepting of defeat, and even more, according to the coach, they did not really have the drive to win. Since the dominant presence of the colonists in early American history, the American Indians have experienced nothing but tragedy and defeat – they are a dieing culture. The movie implied that this history of defeat was reflected in the performance of the Shiprock girl's basketball team until an outside force came in and transformed the attitude of the team.

Unlike the other films, this one did not focus on sexualized women in sports or the objectification of women in sports, but on sports as an outlet for women to achieve, and to succeed when other outlets are not available. Sports provided a way for these young people to achieve when they could not always flex their academic muscles. In the same respect, sports throughout history have been an outlet for women to achieve when they could not assert themselves otherwise. In Dare to Compete, women excelled in sports, and showed the world just how capable they were, and in Pumping Iron II, Bev dared to question the idea of "effeminate."

In all three documentary films, the filmmakers had different goals and different messages in mind, but the ideas conveyed in all of the films very interrelated. The sports arena has allowed women to pave a path for themselves – it allowed women throughout history to push societal boundaries, and to affirm themselves as equals in a world where equality is still a dream, as opposed to a reality, for many people. These three films were about extraordinary women, and most importantly, women who actually existed or exist today. Their achievements are tangible to us, because they actually asserted themselves, reached beyond their limits, and did things that no one expected them to accomplish. Documentary makers strive to give that reality to an audience – to make extraordinary things seem possible.

Name: Brittany P
Date: 2005-03-21 00:55:13
Link to this Comment: 13725

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005 StudentPapers On Serendip

Brittany Pladek

Brittany Pladek

Women, Sport, and Film

Final Paper


It's 1930 in Brest, France. Europe is still recovering from World War I, both physically, spiritually, and financially. Money is tight, and everyone is feeling the pinch---though some more than others. The film opens in a small farming town on the coast, where a family of six children is forced to send its eldest daughter, Jean, 16, away to work. She becomes a maid in a nearby boarding school for well-to-do young boys. The movie then switches focus to the boys' school, which, though not in abject poverty, has had to cut back on some of its more extravagant expenditures. One of the most relatively "painful" of these cuts has been the resources of the school's all-star polo team. During the war, the school patriotically surrendered its best stallions and geldings to the war effort. Not surprisingly, none of the horses were returned. There is now a nation-wide horse shortage. The school is forced to purchase a group of mares for their polo team, as opposed to the stallions it had previously supplied. The polo team despise the new horses, critiquing their strength, speed, and stamina---even before they have ridden them---because they are female, "mares."

Because she's a former farmgirl, the school assigns Jean to be stable-keeper. She's already good with horses (having ridden bareback on the family farm), and while there she becomes very familiar with all the mares. One day she's watching the boys practice. They are frustrated, spoilt, and short-tempered riders. Eventually she gets fed up with their behavior. After one of the boys dismounts, calling his filly unmanageable and tossing her reins disgustedly to Jean, Jean mounts the horse and proceeds to whip half the polo team. Thenceforth, Jean slowly becomes the boys' comrade and secret tutor, teaching them to respect and handle their mares; however, her status as a female peasant forever forbids her from actually participating in any polo games, despite the fact that she's the best rider in the bunch.

During this time, the foremost nations of Europe (trying to be friendly post-war) propose an international polo tournament. Jean is reassigned as a permanent stable-hand to the polo team, and travels with them to their tournaments. But what the schoolmasters don't know is that she does much more than watch: she and the polo boys (now her friends) cycle her in every other game. And they keep winning. Eventually the tournament narrows down to the Brest school and a prominent German team. The German team is comprised entirely of well-to-do, blonde-haired, blue-eyed gentleman's sons; they are mounted on imported stallions. They scoff at the Brest team, naturally, and, naturally, their cockiness gets them pummelled. But during the final minutes of the game, one of the German boys---fed up with failure---takes an illegal swing at Jean with his polo stick. It catches her horse's reins, wheeling him into a wall; Jean is thrown off, unhurt, but her helmet unsnaps and she is revealed as a girl. Though obviously the superior team, Brest is disqualified. They return to France, but only the headmasters of the school feel that the game was a loss. The team and coaches are more than satisfied. However, once they reach Brest, the school tries to fire Jean. The polo team rebels, refusing to play any more games should Jean be dismissed. Their tactic works: Jean remains at the school, and eventually succeeds to a coaching position. As for the horses, mares become the school's most prized polo ponies (as they are all over the world today).

This film would examine not only feminist, but also class and nationalistic issues. During the 1930s (and for a long while afterward), society was segregated along lines of class and gender. Jean, because she is a female peasant, lies at the very bottom of this scale. Her employers, wealthy sons of landowners, lie at the opposite end. Also around this time, theories of social Darwinism began to grow in popularity. Peasant girls like Jean were believed to be naturally weaker and stupider than her rich male employers; females in general were considered physically inferior, unable to compete with males in strength, speed, and stamina. This prejudice extended beyond humans to animals like horses. The boarding school at first balked at using mares because they were seen as sub-par (in fact, in terms of polo, it's usually the opposite).

These types of prejudices, while widespread in Europe and America, were particularly embraced by Germany, which was still smarting from its loss in WWI. Hence the German polo team's ridicule of Brest's riders and mounts: the Germans honestly believed that their blonde hair, blue eyes, and thoroughbred stallions gave them a Darwinian advantage. Their loss demonstrated the fallacy of social Darwinism as a theory, though, unfortunately, it also added to the French/German animosity which would flare up a decade later (when many of the boarding school boys would be shipped off to war and Jean would be saved by her gender----perhaps the film could make an epilogue of this?) The Germans' final loss also disproved the connection between class/gender and physical/mental performance. Poor female Jean was the driving force behind the success of the overwhelmingly rich male polo team. Not only that, but the "second-rate" mares the school's budget forced it to employ actually turned out to be better horses than the stallions they used when they had more money.

I chose this particular setting and story for three reasons. First, while there are several films about girls and horses, few of them deal with the fact that until very recently, women who rode at all were expected to do so sidesaddle, wearing heavy skirts. I wanted a film that reminded people of the Victorian notion of an equestrian woman, then promptly shattered it. Second, I wanted a film that involved international tension, in the tradition of "Miracle," which chronicles the 1980 USA-USSR hockey match. I like the idea of pitting two countries with (rhetorically, not practically) different philosophies against each other (France, author if not constant adherent of the "Rights of Man," and Germany, big-time supporter of Social Darwinism) and then forcing one of them to re-think those philosophies. Finally, I wanted to deal with the issue of class in sports. Jean is disrespected not only for her status as woman, but for her status as peasant. In France, this class-position has a particularly complicated history. Invoking that history by juxtaposing Jean's paucity with the bourgeoisie riches of an upper-class boarding school would add a dimension to the film that I have not seen treated very extensively elsewhere (in other movies, at least).

Final notes:

Jean, of course, is named after Jean d'Arc, Joan of Arc. If I had my way as a filmmaker, I'd probably name the boys of the polo team after Les Amis de l'ABC, the group of revolutionary students from "Les Miserables"---just to add a literary dimension to the movie's handling of class issues.

Ne Me Quitte Pas
Name: Meagan Hum
Date: 2005-03-21 01:29:10
Link to this Comment: 13727


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Meagan Hume
March 20, 2005
Women Sports and Film

Ne Me Quitte Pas

I have chosen to answer question topic number three with a screen play. The film should be shot as an independent film. It should be low budget and incredibly artsy. The reasoning behind this has much to do with target audience. The subject matter is definitely not mainstream and therefore the independent genre would lend itself best to this film. I have chosen to portray an impoverished young woman with much talent as a ballet dancer and her trials and tribulations in getting to a specific competition. I decided to make the young woman a lesbian because I hope by 2010, we will be able to make movies with gay/lesbian characters without having their entire identity consumed by one minute aspect. I chose the background of dance because I feel that it lends itself well to the independent film genre. It requires intense physicality while remaining artistic and expressive. The tragedy seen in this screenplay is truly an attempt to demonstrate realism with a message of hope. "Ne me quitte pas" translates to "Do Not Leave Me".

For this screenplay, we will focus on Ingrid Desrosier. She is a vivacious and troubled nineteen-year-old. Ingrid is passionate about ballet dancing and she is training very hard for the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. Ingrid is beautiful (I imagine Julia Styles) with a slight Quebecois accent. Growing up in the slums of Montreal was difficult for Ingrid, especially because her father left her to an alcoholic mother at age eight. A sense of abandonment has followed her. Ingrid's mother does not believe in her dream to become a ballet dancer and is constantly drunk. There are a lot of pertinent flashbacks to her abusive childhood throughout the movie.

We open with scenes of Ingrid dancing with ferocity. She is very determined and training hard. We meet her coach, a Baryshnikov-type with an ego to match. Simon is older and very gruff. Simon should be played by Gerard Depardieu. He is lamenting his fall from the top of the ballet world and therefore is aggressive and hateful towards his students. In the class, we can tell that he has some strange infatuation with Ingrid. He touches her perhaps a little too often. He drinks quite a bit. The audience should disdain him. One night, he tells Ingrid that she must stay after class in order to work some more on her piece. After some dancing, he kisses her and touches her inappropriately. This scene does not have to be graphic in order to emphasize how uncomfortable and awful this makes Ingrid feel.

Ingrid confides in her best friend, Dylan. Dylan is a brilliant scrawny boy. He should be completely likeable and fairly attractive, but not so attractive that he is arrogant. Dylan insists that Ingrid find another teacher—he is outraged that anyone has treated her this way. There is a seedy underbelly to this story. In order to make a living, Dylan and Ingrid work at a restaurant in Old Montreal and being in the restaurant scene usually involves a fair amount of cocaine abuse. These two are no exception. Despite her commitment to ballet, Ingrid cannot resist the temptation to escape her life through cocaine.

Ingrid attends one last class with Simon. He is particularly harsh towards her because she rebuffed him the previous night. Thankfully, he has a guest instructor, named Irina. I imagine Irina to be played by Portia deRossi. Irina has just finished an amazing career in Russia. She had to stop dancing due to a very bad knee. Right away, Irina notices Ingrid's talent. At the end of the class, Ingrid tells Simon that she can no longer take lessons from him and he proceeds to beat her. She stumbles out onto the dark street, bleeding and disoriented. Irina has not gone far and notices Ingrid's pain. Ingrid blacks out and wakes up a few hours later in the hospital, Irina at her side. In this scene, Irina gets the details of the night and makes sure Simon is arrested for what he has done. In addition, Irina is very insistent that Ingrid become her student.

Irina is a very tough instructor. She makes Ingrid repeat every phrase, every movement, over and over again. While Ingrid is clearly vexed by the abuse from Irina, she understands that Irina is helping her immensely. One night, after Ingrid's mother is abusive and angry, Ingrid seeks out Irina because she cannot find Dylan. Irina takes her in and they begin to talk. One thing leads to another and soon it is morning and the two are obviously intimately involved. Despite their budding love for one another, Irina does not lighten up on Ingrid during practice time. Ingrid moves out of her house and into Irina's house and her mother effectively drops from the storyline, aside from the flashbacks to childhood.

As the competition draws near and Ingrid is practicing almost twelve hours a day, she must quit working at the restaurant. Dylan confesses that he misses her and is offended that Ingrid would rather be with Irina in her spare time than hang out with him. For old time's sake, they ingest cocaine at his house. Dylan then reveals his deep love for Ingrid. Ingrid is forced to tell him why she has been with Irina so often. While Dylan is hurt, he is incredibly understanding, thus emphasizing his likeability.

The time for the big dance competition has arrived. In Bulgaria, Ingrid takes first place and gains worldwide ballet notoriety. She is asked to dance in several important ballets all over the world. Sadly, she cannot take Irina with her, as she is still struggling to make ends meet. Irina and Ingrid come to a point wherein they realize that they should no longer be together, but the relationship ends amicably.

Ingrid arrives back in Montreal and is catching up with Dylan. Sadly, in the few months that Ingrid has been gone, Dylan has begun to use cocaine excessively. He is convinced that he can drive home, despite how strung out he is. When Ingrid attempts to stop him from driving home, he does not listen. Ingrid gets into the passenger's seat and they proceed to fight as Dylan drives. He is not paying attention and runs into a telephone pole. Everything fades. We are lost in a recollection, the final flashback, of Ingrid's when she is eight years old. Until this point, we are unsure as to when her father left exactly, although it has been alluded to. A very clear image of her father and Ingrid dancing in a ballet recital onstage is shown. Quickly, we hear her father telling Ingrid that she must always dance, no matter what. And then he is gone forever. All we hear is an eight year old Ingrid crying "Daddy? Daddy?" Ingrid awakes in the hospital and realizes that not only is Dylan dead, but her right leg has been amputated from the knee downwards. We leave Ingrid alone, in the hospital, sobbing heavily.

One year later, Ingrid once again is dancing. She has opened a ballet school for troubled youngsters. Ingrid uses a prosthesis and is still very famous in the world of ballet.

Playing by the Rules
Name: Patricia C
Date: 2005-03-21 03:59:19
Link to this Comment: 13732

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005 StudentPapers On Serendip

Our protagonist is a young girl, no older than fourteen or fifteen, not very pretty and not very ugly. Her name is Kate. We first meet her standing silently in front of her family's open refrigerator, staring indecisively at its contents. Finally, she screws up her face in determination and quickly swipes one of the cheap cans of beer resting on the bottom shelf. She glances nervously about, making sure she isn't being watched, before spiriting the thing upstairs to her room. Her room is notable for that of a teenaged girl in that it is exceptionally plain - decoration is sparse and neutral in color. She locks the door, pops open the can, and cautiously sniffs at the opening before taking a swig. She makes a face and visibly prevents herself from shuddering. She continues to gulp it down, looking more disgusted with each swallow. At last, she finishes, looking distinctly queasy, but nonetheless proud. After a few seconds of meditative quiet, she lets escape a loud, extremely self-satisfied belch.

During subsequent scenes with family and at school, it becomes plain that Kate is very much aware of the territory that comes with being a teenaged girl – gossip, makeup, and slumber parties – and doesn't want any part in it. If anything, she's more attracted to the stereotype of teenaged boys – aggression, rudeness, and risk-taking – and actively works to fit herself to that profile. She isn't drinking beer because she's honestly curious about the taste; she's drinking it because it's a "guy" thing to do.

Sports are another "guy" thing to do. Soccer is the most aggressive, "masculine" sport that her school offers to girls. It is with this in mind that Kate joins the soccer team. While she is deliberately attempting to cultivate a specifically non-feminine image, she is also hoping to meet like-minded girls. Her attitude has not won her many female friends. Nor, to be honest, many male friends.

The soccer team fails to live up to her hopes, however. Her teammates are girls much like the other girls she knows. They go on dates, they gossip in the locker-room, they go shopping after practice. Kate remains aloof.

On the field, she is deliberately aggressive. She's pushy and a ball-hog. It makes her a good offensive player, but it also makes her a problem. She undermines the team's integrity by attempting to be a rock star athlete, and several times comes close to landing in serious trouble for undue aggression and unsportsmanlike behavior. This further alienates most of her teammates, but also attracts admiration from a few. One of these is Alice, who compliments her on her skill, but informs her that she should let someone else score once in a while.

Though Kate is still standoffish, she gradually falls into a friendship with Alice, mostly thanks to the latter's persistence and no-nonsense attitude. Aside from her patience in dealing with Kate, Alice is as normal as the rest of the girls on the team – she's level-headed, an avid runner as well as soccer player, hopes to get into Cornell, and entertains a healthy number of fantasies about the redheaded guy in her Bio class. Gradually, a loose group of friends forms around her and Kate, bringing the latter to participate in girly, teenager-y activities that she would never have touched on her own.

Being a part of this sort of thing and enjoying it is new to Kate – it's confusing, and threatening to her basic sense of identity. To compensate, she plays even more aggressively, imperiling her new-found friendships in the process.

Female identity is presently in a state of flux. The question of what is female and what is allowed to be female is uncertain, and there is a certain amount of inherent conflict between traditional and emerging ideas of femininity and masculinity, as well as considerable confusion as to what these terms really mean.

Kate's stance on the matter of being a teenaged girl is meant to reflect this. Her determination to conform to the standards set for teenaged boys rather than those for teenaged girls could be read as a radical change in her definition of femininity from that of her predecessors, but it could just as easily be interpreted as a refutation of femininity itself. The very fact that Kate sees the world in terms of binary male/female values is telling; her view does not readily admit compromise or blending of the two, and when confronted with the possibility, her response is to desperately attempt to realign herself completely with her chosen side. Her teammates (with Alice as chief representative), on the other hand, are comfortable both with playing what can be a demanding, aggressive sport, and with acting in stereotypically female fashion. The central question of the film is whether Kate completely rejects a feminine identity, or merely disdains its trappings. And if the latter, what is left to fundamentally mark her as feminine?

The plot eventually builds to a head at the championship game. The team starts off with a long losing streak, but Kate, by dint of her flashy playing style, manages to almost singlehandedly turn the game around. The team, despite their differences in the past, is now completely behind her and they seem ready to sail smoothly into a victory when things take a downturn. Kate gets into a brawl with one of the opposing team's players and is reprimanded and benched for the rest of the game. It is Alice who afterwards completes the task Kate began and keeps the team on track to a win while Kate watches from off the field.

Connecting Themes in Women, Sport, and Film
Name: Katie Eich
Date: 2005-03-21 09:04:49
Link to this Comment: 13736

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005 StudentPapers On Serendip

All of the films we watched this semester in Women, Sport, and Film dealt with serious and important issues: race, class, cultural distinctions, the struggle for women to play sports, and how far women should go to improve their bodies. However, three films stood out as having some similarly constructed themes: Rocks with Wings, A Hero for Daisy, and Dare to Compete. These are all documentaries, and yet are all very different in their own ways. The theme that connects the three is that of motivation and drive to succeed.

Rocks with Wings is a documentary about the struggle of a high school basketball team on a New Mexico Navajo reservation to win the district championship with the help of a coach who would not let the girls accept defeat. The girls were used to losing games and accepted it as something they could not change. They had little motivation to succeed. A new coach, Jerry Richardson, entered the scene and pushed the girls harder than they had been pushed before. Jerry, an African American man, grew up in the South during forced integration. As a result, he had a strong will to succeed and do the best he could at whatever he put his mind to, whether it be academics or athletics. When he came to New Mexico to work with the Lady Chieftains, the girls had a hard time working with his personality. However, they were able to work through their differences and come together as a team, learning that they can win and being motivated enough to work hard and win the district championships. The reason the director chose to take on this project is fairly obvious: a losing team learns to have the motivation to win. The use of Navajo culture interspersed with the story of the team was an unusual new addition. The director, in mingling the team's story of victory with the culture of the Navajo people, gave us a glimpse of the Navajo way of life and how difficult it was for the girls to change. Many of the Navajo's interviewed said that the Navajo people were used to accepting defeat, and they were peaceful and did not like conflict. When these views are applied to basketball it is easy to see how the girls did not have the drive to win. As this is a documentary, the outcome was already decided. However, the director showed the final game in vivid detail, increasing the tension and making the victory more dramatic. This film was also interesting in that it did not compare the women's team to the men's team, accepting women playing sports unquestionably.

A Hero for Daisy is another documentary that looks at a team's will to succeed, but in a slightly different fashion. The Yale women's rowing team was sadly lacking in locker room facilities despite Title IX's enactment into legislation, forcing schools to equally fund women's and men's sports teams. Led by Chris Ernst, the women decided to force the Yale administration to listen to them. With reporters in the room, the women went into the athletic coordinator's office and stripped, showing off "Title IX" on their backs. Outraged, many Yale alums contacted the administration, many donating money to improve the women's locker room. This story focuses on these women's inability to accept defeat despite the administration ignoring their needs. They had the motivation to fight for what they wanted, and with this motivation were able to succeed. The story line focuses on Chris's life as a two time Olympian with an emphasis on her time at Yale and this event. The director used first hand accounts to make this event seem more real, and to show the audience how influential Chris was in the team's decision to protest their inequality.

Dare to Compete is the story of women's sports in America. In the nineteenth century Victorian era women are just beginning to take part in sports. However, it is looked down on because it is seen as harmful, having the ability to make a woman's uterus fall out (although no woman's uterus that has fallen out as a result of playing sports has ever been recorded). At first, women were seen as meek and diminutive, who should stay in the home and not venture out. Baby carriages were seen as a horrifying new invention because they allowed women with children greater freedom of movement. Sports were similarly seen as a threat because they gave women freedom as well. As time passed several influential women came to the forefront of women's sports proving that women can legitimately play sports (and well). The director uses real women's stories, often calling on first hand accounts, to emphasize the difficulty with which these women had to struggle to succeed. S/he uses documentary to tell the story of women in sports. There will never be an outcome to this story as women's sports will never end. This documentary ties in with the other films in that it showcases the motivation and drive to succeed the women have in their fight for equality in the realm of women's sports.

These three documentaries are all connected in that they deal with the issue of motivation and the importance of knowing how to fight to get what you want. In Rocks with Wings, the girls realize they have the ability of playing well and acquire the drive to win. In A Hero for Daisy the rowing team is fed up of their inequality and fight for their right to equal locker room facilities. In Dare to Compete women struggle for the right to play sports. Oftentimes, the mentality that one can achieve the seemingly impossible if one works hard enough is all that it takes to succeed.

Dare to Yodel!
Name: Talia Squi
Date: 2005-03-21 11:20:10
Link to this Comment: 13746

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005 StudentPapers On Serendip

A young girl growing up in a conservative Bavarian town, starts going to folk dancing classes along with all the other children of her age when she's about six. There the girls get put into their pretty Dirndls and pigtails and learn to spin about like a top, while the boys pull on their Lederhosen and learn to yodel and slap dance. Greta always thought that the yodeling and jumping about looked like much more fun than endlessly spinning. It wasn't that she was bad at twirling around a dance floor with some young buck in Lederhosen guiding her away from dangers like walls and other people, it was simply that she found it tedious. Then there were the parades. They always started with the adults in two straight lines, men on one side of the street women on the other, everyone of course in their traditional regalia. Then came the young adults, same gender separation and ordered by height. Lastly came the children, once again arranged by gender and height. As they were only walking down the street, it really didn't make much of a difference if you were a boy or a girl. To the casual observer it would seem to be nothing more than to lines of young children dressed up walking down the street, but Greta knew what separated her from the boys. She couldn't give out a little yodel when impulse moved her. Marching along she would hear the occasional yell coming up from the opposite line and burn with the yearning to follow suit, but young ladies don't yell out like that, it isn't right, or traditional.

Thus it went on every week spinning around, every few weekend walking in her line with the other girls. She would stay late after her folk classes and watch on enviously as the boys in Lederhosen leaped about slapping their knees, feet, hands and thighs. They would work our their intricate patterns with great energy and much stomping and noise. How Greta longed to stomp and leap and make noise. She watched the older boys and they competed for jobs and the local inns doing exhibition slap dancing. There were very few exhibition dancing jobs for anything other than slap dancing. A few lucky girls got to twirl at hotels, but the boys were just so much flashier and more exciting. She thought with a pang how much fun it would be to work at one of those smokey inns leaping about and making a racket for money. But girls are supposed to be quiet and pretty and not wear Lederhosen.

In secret Greta would practice her slap dancing in a pair of her brother's old Lederhosen that she had taken from the attic. She leaped and yelled and clapped and stomped like there was no tomorrow, but she had no one with which to practice those intricate patterns. Once she had asked the boys and her teacher to let her join in, but she was always kindly sent back to the girls' side of the room. One day, when she was thirteen, Greta was chosen to lead the line of children, or rather to lead the female side of the line of children. She was old enough that her braids were now wrapped around her head in a complex crown and she had come to accept that she would never be an exhibition slap dancer. She started walking and heard the first ambitious yelp from a young boys towards the back of the line parallel to hers. She felt a sudden surge of jealousy. Why shouldn't she yodel as well. She was a Bavarian just like the rest of them and should be allowed to express the just as verbally as the rest. In the most crowded part of the parade route, in front of the old church, Greta let out a proud yell for the first time. The boy leading the line across from her shot her a surprised look, but kept walking. She could hear confused whispering in the line behind her and then heard a tentative yell come up from one of the children in her line. At that all the girls broke out in their best yodel as they marched proudly down the street.

I chose this topic, because as a young girl growing up in a conservative town in Bavaria, I always thought it unfair that they boys got all the fun traditions and the girls seemed to sit around and watch a lot. The young boys always seem so proud as they let out their squeaky little yodels as they march down the street during some saturday afternoon parade. It made them seem so much more alive then the picture perfect little girls walking down the street opposite them. Many of my friends attended folk classes every week and I remember us as little girls trying to slap dance like the exhibitionist dancers we saw at the local inns. It was interesting that these exhibitions were not really that touristy where I was, it was something for the locals and being chosen to do this was a great honor. It was something a lot of the boys aspired to, but the girls had no real equivalent. Everyone awed the seven year old girls trying to imitate their big brothers, but this imitation ended before they got much older.

I also noticed that as they get older the men got more involved in maintaining the traditions and the women got less interested. I cannot help but think that this is because after you are out of the cute pigtail phase there's really very little to do. All parades started with cannon firing, marching band, and the lines of people. They ended in bear tents with many competitions of manliness like rock lifting and much exhibition dancing. This was the most traditional community I ever lived in, but it seemed so exclusive that I'm frequently stunned that it has managed to maintain itself for this long. There are many girls like Greta, that are good at the spinning and Dirndl wearing, but also bored by it. I thought the temptation to let out a little yodel while walking down the street must be overwhelming.

It is also important to me that Great believed at first that she was the only one who wanted to do something so "masculine" as jump around in leather pants and yodel. She believes to an extend that she will be ostracized for trying to be too manly should she really actively pursue her dreams. Everyone else is equally afraid of expressing their desires, so she doesn't really push to do what she wants. It isn't until she's leading the children that realizes, not only is she allowing herself be boxed in by arbitrary traditions, but that she doesn't need the approval of the seven year olds behind her to be happy. Of course her happy realization as the other start to join her is that like most children, those behind her, even though they are girls, want to make noise and yell and scream and jump about and stomp. By exposing herself she is allows the others to express their desires and maybe in some way change it. (YOUR REFERENCE NUMBER).




The Wall of Hollywood: Women held back by fictiona
Name: Sarah Spie
Date: 2005-03-21 13:12:37
Link to this Comment: 13756


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

In watching the six films for this course, a common thread carried through all of them- struggle as an identifier for women of all races, classes and sexualities. The struggle to recognized as an athlete, not as a woman who does sports. Most of the films, particularly the products of Hollywood dealt women a more sexualized part, while the documentary films were further from sexuality and dealt more with the actual issues at hand beyond the gender of the athletes.

By society's standards, even today, women are still slightly out of place on the field of competition. The films that portray fictional stories take away from the competition and athletics by putting in less relavent issues like sexuality or sibling rivalry. The generalizations that can be drawn from these films all too easily reflect the stereotypes that surround female athletes.

The film Personal Best focused so heavily on the sexual behaviors of the women that the running and athletic competition were secondary. The plot was very sexually oriented, although the film is purported to be about sports. The athletics of track and field are merely the setting for Chris's relationships. The accomplishments of Chris as an aspiring track star are secondary to who she's in bed with.

Similarly, in A League of Their Own, the competition between sisters Kit and Dottie is the primary focus of the film. The film spends more time elaborating on the sibling rivalry than on the historical aspects of women in baseball during the War era. The movie does have a historical context but it doesn't deal with it beyond brief interludes. The women in A League of Their Own are also made into sexual objects through their uniforms of short skirts and their relations with men on the road. The scene in the bar in which the women of the Rockford Peaches are dancing and drinking with men, they are simply out to get a man and be women again. The woman are dressed up and made up. The film creates a two settings for the women of the Rockford Peaches, on and off the field. The Peaches learn etiquette and posture along with fielding and hitting techniques . They need to be more lady like to play baseball, or so the film sets it up.

The documentary style films were much more focused on the women as athletes and the problems that faced them. In Rocks with Wings, the girls of the Shiprock High School basketball team face problems of race and class with their coach and their town. The Shiprock girls are all Navaho and their coach is a black man. The difference in between the two cultures created all kinds of problems and dissension for the team, but the story is not just about the issues, but how they were resolved.

Similarly, the issues in the documentary films had a clearer solution, such as in Hero for Daisy, the crew team needed showers and would do whatever necessary to get them. The documentaries presented the course with real issues and problems that face women in sports even today. Title IX hasn't done all the work for women, rather they have had to do much of it themselves to be recognized as the capable athletes that they are. Hollywood appears to be much more concerned with seeing athletes as women rather than women as athletes. The beautifying and sexualizing of women adds to what is wrong with society's view of women in sports. Women know what they are capable of on and off the field, and society and Hollywood should recognize that.

The roles that women are playing as protagonists in the films today are not helping to reform societal beliefs about women in sports, instead only encouraging the life of stereotypes and confining definitions of what female athletes should be and be like. Hollywood is a huge influence in how people think. If Hollywood were to challenge the accepted norms and make movies about female athletes that portray them more true to the truth then society and stereotypes would be more open to change, but it requires a change in the largest influence before this can happen or even start to happen. The number of girls and women who participate in sports has done little beyond making participation acceptable. Women alone cannot change what is thought about them, they need help from the very people who hold them back in order for significant change to come about.

Workin' for The Man: Male Coaches in Women's Sport
Name: Gilda Rodr
Date: 2005-03-21 13:36:23
Link to this Comment: 13759

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005 StudentPapers On Serendip

Over the course of the quarter, we discussed how women athletes, as a relative recent phenomenon and one that lacks the exposure of male sport, have few role models. This has changed over the years, of course, as female participation in sports has grown. The little of girls of today have people like Mia Hamm and Piper Perabo to look up to, while girls growing up in the sixties did not have that kind of highly visible women athletes.

However, much of the coaching in the early stages of women's sports history was done by men, because they were the ones that had experience playing sports. In the movies we watched, I was particularly struck by the fact that virtually all of the coaches we saw were male. The power dynamics and relationships that stem from gender disparities in both the athletic world and in general affect how a male coach relates to and treats his athletes, and viceversa.

In A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks' character, Jimmy Dugan, ends up coaching a women's baseball team not only because men were away at World War II, but because he is a drunk. His status as legend, derived from his days as a ball player, is enough to warrant him a job in baseball, but his alcoholism delegates him to a position that he finds humiliating.

Dugan's disdain for women athletes is obvious from the start. He males several references to women not being real ball players, and he barely cares about coaching them; the "girls" do a lot of the coaching themselves. His attitude towards the Peaches is the one that many people had towards women in sports in the early and mid-twentieth century: women might play a sport, but they are still not real athletes.

This movie also illustrates the difficulty that male coaches might have relating to women. We see Dugan spitting and being generally unhygienic and cursing at both the girls and the umpires. Some of the women are terrified of him because they just don't feel like they can't talk to Dugan. Although this serves as an example of a bad relationship between male coaches and female athletes, it is also based on gender stereotypes, such as the Peaches not being able to handle getting yelled at and cursed to without crying (like in the famous moment where Dugan screams "There is no crying in baseball!")

However, the women prove him wrong through their amazing baseball skills. By the end of the movie, he believes in them and wants them to play their best. The prayer that he leads before their final World Series games, although awkwardly phrased in a way that is consistent with his character, shows the respect he has for his team as athletes.

In Personal Best, we are shown a different type of coach/athlete relationship. Since the movie is set in the eighties, a lot of the ideas about women in sport had changed and females were recognized at legitimate athletes. The relationship between the protagonist, Chris Cahill, and her male coach is nevertheless complicated. At first, he refuses to let her on the team; he finally relents at Tory's urging, but still refuses to coach her.

Chris works extremely hard not only for herself, but to prove him that she is worthy of his attention. When he sees what she is capable of, he gives in. However, in a later scene we see him trying to seduce her, suggesting that maybe his accepting to coach her after her trying so hard for a long time is just indicative of the coach's sexual desire for Chris.

Although homosexuality is a prominent issue in discussing women in sport, and in this movie, it is precisely the heterosexual relationship (or potential for a relationship) that exists between Chris and her coach. In the kind of society we live in, it is not unlikely that men in positions of power feel like they have control over the bodies of those women under their authority. Although this possibility is not explicitly stated in the movie, it is implied that the coach feels he has a right to sleep with Chris, after all he is done for her.

On the other hand, the complete lack of a sexual relationship between the coach and his female athletes in Rocks with Wings shows us how the sexualization of women in sports can affect even how women are coached. Since the girls are high school students, there is no expectation of them to be overtly sexual, like there is for grownup female athletes. Also, the documentary takes place in the late eighties, which means that the prejudice seen in A League of Their Own is absent. However, that does not make the team's relationship with their male coach any less complicated.

Jerry Richardson's coaching style was difficult for the Lady Chiefs to process, because he always focused on the bad and never praised them. On the other hand, his assistant coach was gentle with the girls and did not yell at them. The conflict between the coaching styles caused problems not just for the coaches themselves, but for the whole team. In time, Richardson realized that he had to make some changes to the way he approached the girls in order for them to be the best team they could be. Through this, we can see how male coaches, who have played male sports, might coach their women's/girls' team in the same way that they would a male team. While I do not think that any sort of "special treatment" for female teams is needed, Richardson's example illustrates how being mindful of gender differences can help a male coach better reach his team.

These movies show a progression of how the relationship between male coaches and female athletes has changed over the years, as prejudice is eliminated, but other elements that affect power and gender dynamics come into play, such as the sexualization of female athletes. Analyzing the role of men in women's sports might shed some light on the dynamics of women's teams and the development of female athletes.

Gender Identity in Women, Sports and Film
Name: Sarah Halt
Date: 2005-03-21 14:07:53
Link to this Comment: 13761

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005 StudentPapers On Serendip

2. Select three of the films we watched and trace the themes that connected each of the films. Discuss what the director and writers might have had in mind when choosing the topic, story line and outcomes.

I'd like to look at three movies: 'A League of Their Own,' 'Pumping Iron II,' and 'Personal Best.' I'm going to narrow my subject for this paper, and only look at one important theme in these movies: gender identity. I'd like to considered how this theme relates to the social norms and human behavior presented in these movies. Each movie approaches gender identity differently; in one, it's ever-present, yet never named for what it is; in another, it's the defining factor behind what makes a woman a woman; and in the third it's approached in a subtle and almost underhanded way, never called by name or recognized. Since movies allegedly reflect societal views, and since sports are often considered microcosms of the human struggle, it's interesting to see what these two things, when combined into one, will say about female gender identity and sexuality.

Gender identity is an underlying presence in 'A League of Their Own,' and it helps to define the woman athletes and their roles in this movie. I think it's sufficient to look at gender identity as it's presented through our two protagonists, the sisters Dottie and Kit. Dottie and Kit present two opposing pictures of womanhood, and each characters is sexed, but in a different way. Dottie is (if I may be so bold in presenting this idea) the "ideal" woman: she's tall, beautiful, married, compassionate, a fair player, and a good athlete. And while Dottie may be taking on an unusual role for the forties, it should be pointed out that she plays baseball in a "feminine" manner, and so this absolves her for playing such a strange role. She's supportive of her own team, she puts her mind to something and follows through, she's never a bad sport, and she does everything gracefully. (I think it's important to point out that the only time she acts in a manner that could be construed as vindictive – in the end of the game she tells the pitcher how to strike out Kit – this is the time she fails and the ball is knocked from her hands). I think it's possible to say that the gender identity of Dottie comes across as a positive, healthy, "perfect" thing. She loves her husband, plays her sport, makes the right choices – and she does all of these things while being the "perfect" woman.

Kit is presented in opposition to Dottie, but the movie's very careful to keep her womanly gender identity in a similar positive arena. I was impressed that Kit was painted as aggressive and this aggressiveness didn't bring her character to ruin. The aggressive, unusual woman wasn't knocked down to reinstate social norms. The movie excused her unusual behavior by presenting her as occasionally bratty, punishing her for this, and then helping her to grow into her own. At the same time, the movie was careful to define her gender identity as a "typical" woman; I think especially of the scene in the bar in which Kit is dolled up and dancing with different men. She may be an unusual woman, but the movie is careful to show just how much of a woman she is. This may imply that the movie is scared to expand on the definition of a woman.

'Pumping Iron II' deals with gender identity in a different way, and ties this theme closely to body building. Body building is a voyeuristic sport and society often insists that part of a woman's gender identity is to be a sexual being, so these two themes (voyeurism and sexual identity) are closely tied in this movie. The viewer can't say that these body builders aren't sexual beings, but the movie explored exactly how a woman should be a sexual being if she wants to succeed at body building. In this film, Rachel personified the "perfect" woman model that Dottie played in 'A League of Their Own;' she was "feminine" in the way society wants, she was graceful, but, interestingly enough, she wasn't the protagonist. Rachel flaunted her sexuality, but that's not what makes her a negative person in the movie; it's her attitude toward the other competitors and her own body that made her the antagonist.

Here we come across something really neat that the directors of 'Pumping Iron II' did: Bev, who is not the "ideal" woman by societal standards, is definitely portrayed as a sexual being. She is strong, she's aggressive, and when she loses, the film allows her trainers to speak for their views and question how society (or, in this case, the body building community) view a woman's sexuality. Carla is chosen to represent the ideal body building woman: she is attractive, strong, graceful, and sophisticated. But even as the movie lauds her and is careful to show that she's a good person and should be respected for her talents, the movie's always careful to show that Bev was robbed by her loss. She may be a different type of woman, the movie says, but she's just as admirable, even if the body building community won't admit this. In this way, 'Pumping Iron II' expands the definition of gender identity and sexuality.

Finally, 'Personal Best' looks at gender identity in a very different way from the other two movies. This movie is probably most notable for its lesbian relationship, yet the word "homosexuality" is never used. While it's possible to say that the movie was making an admirable point, trying to move beyond labels and explore how human sexuality can be without definitions and fluid, I think it's much more likely that the creators of the movie were intimidated by defining their characters as lesbians. The main reason I'd defend this standpoint is that the movie pulled the old "punishing the queer" trick: the character of the "real" lesbian, Tory, was ignored as Chris pursued her male love interest, and Tory almost didn't finish the race in the end. If not for her friend's help (her friend who found strength in her boyfriend waiting at the sides), Tory would have failed to win the final race.

This movie is unique in the way that it presents athletes as creatures with sexuality. Running is sexualized in this movie. In one particular scene, women perform the high jump one after another, and the audience watched about thirty crotch shots in a row. At first this scene seems semi-obscene, and it made the audience uncomfortable. But I found that after this shot was repeated so many times it stopped being unnerving, and I accepted the scene as simply another view of the human body. In this way, the movie melded the sexual and the athletic, showing that an athlete can be both.

Because it's so difficult to fully explore gender identity, I think it's easy to see why each movie approached it in such different ways. I don't think any of these three movies were able to absolutely perfectly encompass all that gender identity is, although I do think that 'Pumping Iron II' was the most successful. In this movie alone, the women were all allowed to be sexual creatures and praised for their different characteristics, even if the body building community failed to recognize this. This movie alone best showed how fluid and vast the definitions of gender identity can be.

Paper Topic 2: Themes in Women, Sport and Film
Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-03-21 14:39:09
Link to this Comment: 13765


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Themes in Women, Sport and Film
Race, class, gender, femininity and social norms played important themes in Women, Sport and Film. These underlying themes are interplayed with each other in each film we watched. I believe that the norms of femininity and social norms played an important role in the films, A League of Their Own, Hero for Daisy, and the Intro movie Dare to Compete.
A League of their Own had all of these underlying themes present. First off, in the movie, women were only allowed to play baseball as a means of entertainment, because the men were off at war. This shows that women were used as a social means of entertainment. Their sport was seen more of a social sport than competitive as it was shown with men. Femininity also played an important role. When the women were in training, commercials were shot to ensure to society that the women were still "feminine" and that baseball, a "man's sport," did not turn them from young pretty women to "rough, women." Also, to even further ensure their femininity, the women each had to wear short skirts as their uniforms and enroll in manner's classes.
The themes are also showed in the movie through the story line. For example, when one woman begins to cry, Tom Hanks says his famous line, "There is no crying in baseball!" I feel that audiences interpret this as women having more sensitivity than man, which I feel is not necessarily true. I feel that the writer in this film does not really emphasize the importance of the role of women in sports. I feel that the movie emphasizes more on a family level and the relationship between the two sisters. I feel that the writer's initial attention was not to solely focus on the importance of women in sports. I also feel, though the writer had some hidden nuances about the role of race in sports. For example, after the African American women threw the ball to one of the women players, it showed that women's baseball was still limited to race. The African American women were not given equal opportunity to play because of her race.
The intro movie that we watched in class showed the conformities that women had to face in society when playing sports. Gender, race, and class were very important factors in the movie. First off, women were not allowed to compete in sports at all. Sports were associated with "male figures" or a manly action, which women were prohibited from doing. If a woman partook in a sport during that time, her sexuality would be questioned. Also, the role of women has changed over years. Before, women were not allowed to work outside the home, let alone play in sports. Women were seen as the caretakers and the nurturers of the household. Playing sports was seen as a threat to reproducing for women and was strongly discouraged. There were many gender disparities in sports during that time. I feel that the writers of this documentary wanted to make the audience aware of the history of women's sports. I feel that they wanted to tell them that women's involvement in sports evolved longer than one would think. The writers also use these gender disparities to inform the audience of the struggle for women recognition in sports. I also feel that this documentary showed the correlation between women and sport in the realm of history, gender, social class, and femininity. These themes interplay with each other throughout the whole documentary. The movie also showed that inequality still exists in sports. Women not allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon until recent years, and recently, were allowed to compete in long distance running in the Olympics. Also, women's sport is not given equal attention as males. The audience of a female game is much larger than males, and male players are given more opportunity whether advertisements, money offers or publicity than females. Even if women are given advertisements, they are usually portrayed sexually.
The last film that we watched Dare to Compete shows the theme of gender equality and Title IX. Before, women were not allowed to receive sports scholarships in college. It shows their struggle for equal opportunity in the realm of sports. I believe that the writers of this film wanted all women to take a stance and learn to stand up for equal opportunities. This film can tie to all the other films, because all the women are struggling to find their places in a sport that is still considered to some as male dominated. It is March Madness right now, the NCAA Men's Championship Basketball, and I realize that there is not such a big emphasis for women's basketball. People go out of their way to make brackets and do bets, but I find that there are not many bet on women's sports.
I believe that the involvement of women in sports is very important. First off, they serve as role models for young girls. Secondly, women should be given equal opportunity to participate in anything, including sports, like their male counterpart. Thirdly, women are just as strong, if not stronger than men, and are capable of performing in sports. Although societies' view of the involvement in women in sport has changed, there is still some discriminatory factors. Women are not given much money and attention as men in the sport.
All of these factors race, gender, class, and femininity factor a great part in the three movies that we watched in class. A combination of all these factors attributed to the overall theme in Women, Sport, and Film.

High School Romance
Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2005-03-21 14:44:50
Link to this Comment: 13766


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

The year 2010 seems so far away, but it really isn't. So, the story line of my movie will be contemporary and will focus on sexual orientation. The two main characters will be closeted lesbians on a high school basketball team.

It is the beginning of the season at the end of November and Amy is a junior and Kristin is a senior. The two girls had gotten close over the summer, but in the way that people from two very different clicks can – They talked online, but hardly ever in person except for an occasional "hi" in the hallways. Online, they talked about everything from basketball to the meaning of life and they really did enjoy each other's company. One enjoyed it a little too much.

During the summer, fall, and into the season, Amy developed romantic feelings for Kristin. She didn't completely understand those feelings until one night when they were online talking together. Kristin brought up the subject of homosexuality and bisexuality. Kristin said that one of her friends had recently come out to her and said she was bisexual. Kristin asked Amy what she thought about the whole thing.

Amy was really excited by this conversation and discloses to Kristin that she feels differently for women than most women do. Kristin seemed confused, but also intrigued. Towards the end of the conversation, Kristin asked Amy if she wanted to "hang out" after practice the next day. Amy was thrilled. She called up a friend immediately to tell her. When on the phone, she received a beep – it was Kristin calling to tell her she couldn't hang out.

The next morning at practice Amy was very confused and sad. Kristin wouldn't even speak to her. Over the course of the next week, Kristin gives a letter to Amy (one that she demands to have back so there will be no evidence) telling her that it was all a joke – Kristin had been laughing the whole time. Amy is devastated.

The point of view will shift to Kristin's at this point and it will go back to the online conversation. Kristin will be crying but also smiling. Kristin really does care for Amy and has since this summer. She just can't come out, though. She isn't as strong as Kristin.

The end of the season comes and they win the state championship. The team is elated and they go through the usual end of the year events – cookouts, parties, and an awards ceremony. Throughout all of the events, Amy can't look at Kristin, but Kristin keeps sneaking glimpses of Amy. The point of view will keep switching back and forth and throughout the movie there will be narrating by both Amy and Kristin on what they are thinking.

The entire movie will be building up to their love affair, but the audience will be let down after the online conversation. But, after the conversation, there will be something in the air of the film that will make the audience want this relationship to happen no matter how much Kristin hurt Amy and herself.

The last scene will be at a class reunion with Kristin and her husband speaking with Amy and her wife. Amy is thriving with a great career and a great home life. Kristin's life is in ruins – She has a marriage she hates and a husband she cannot connect to.

This story represents what peer pressure and fear can do to people. In professional, amateur, and school sports there are lesbians who cannot come out. They cannot be with one another if they care because of their fears. So, even though Kristin didn't want to hurt Amy there was nothing else she could do to save face she thought.

The outcome of the movie isn't obvious, I don't think. That is what makes it interesting. This is no typical love story and it's not about people being gay one minute and being with a man the next. This is about a lasting love that a person cannot admit or satisfy due to social pressures. These two girls *are* lesbians and they did genuinely care for one another, but only one could admit it and she ended up better in the long run for it.

This story takes place during a basketball season, because basketball is a winter sport and I think that will add drama to the film. There will be sadness in the air and sadness in the lives of these two girls.

This film will seek to inspire girls to be themselves no matter what the costs. The people that aren't true to themselves are the ones that end up worse off in the long run.

Female Athletes Challenging Societal Norms
Name: Izzy Rhoad
Date: 2005-03-21 15:14:38
Link to this Comment: 13775


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

1. Trace how the themes of race, class, gender and sexual orientation are used in the films and if women athletes as the protagonists can help negotiate change in the role that women play in society when it challenges the norm.

Female Athletes Challenging Societal Norms

Most of the films we watched in class did not directly address issues of gender and sexual orientation or issues of race and class. They were subtly hinted at in most cases, or if they were addressed it was in a bizzare and often somewhat indirect way. I guess that makes sense because we were not taking a class on women, race, class, sexual orientation, gender and film, but women sports and film, where sports and women would be central in the class and issues women in sports may have to deal with would be periphery.

The last film we watched, Rocks With Wings, addressed issues of class and race in the context of competitive high school sports, but what was said about those issues may have been better left unsaid. I think the race and class issues in Shiprock and the surrounding towns were fairly obvious in the film and could have been easily picked up on by the viewer. It may have been more useful to go into it a little deeper instead of doing a surface analysis of race relations for the whole movie.

Whereas, in A League of the Own, class and race were not addressed nearly as much as they should have been in order to give an accurate historical description of the women's baseball leagues of the mid-20th century. The 30-second snipets in the film that attempted to address the large and pertinent issues of class and race and how they related to participation were simply not enough.

Personal Best seemed to be a movie about women's sexuality in sports, but it concluded without ever using the words "lesbian" or "homosexuality." The film never verbally addressed the nature of the relationship between the two women in the film either. It seemed as if it was permissible to talk about sex and show sex, but not to address the larger picture, by giving a name and a nature to the relationship between the women. Yet, Personal Best was both a landmark and mainstream film, portraying women in a sexual relationship but in the context of sports. I guess the idea was that since athletes are such physical beings, that the relationship between athletes may also be physical and that is acceptable.

In Hero for Daisy, the central characters were the Yale women's crew team in the 1970s. This was a film that I believe should have addressed issues of class. These women fought for their rights and benefitted from Title IX, but what was the experience of women at less prestigious, less financially affluent institutions? They may still be without showers and locker rooms.

Pumping Iron II addresses issues of disparity between the world of women's and men's competitive body building. In men's body building, the man with the best and biggest muscles and display wins, while in women's body building in the 1980s, and possibly still today, the woman with the best muscularity and display who still retains femininity is the winner. The differing standards between the judging of men and women in the same sport are symbolic of the differing sexual standards in our society as a whole.

While I believe that there was much to be desired in the films that we watched, they all focused on women who were challenging norms and standards in our society through the world of sports. I think that sports is the perfect venue in which to challenge gender norms and the roles of women in society. Sporting events are public and often highly publicized and they are also accepted venues of women's participation. So women participating in sports can take women's issues to the next level by introducing them in the sports arena. Issues such as class, race, sexuality, equal pay, gender etc., have all been addressed in the context of sports, and have continued to challenge roles of women within the world of sports, but also within the larger society since the rest of the world pays attention to what goes on in sports.

I believe that female athletes have the ability to challenge the norms that women hold in society more than any other group. I believe this because of female athletes have already been accepted into our mainstream culture. Perhaps they are still areas in which to grow in the world of women in sports, but they have made leaps and bounds in a short amount of time, especially in comparison with females in other professions/groups. Female athletes have been a group more readily accepted than female CEOs, criminals and politicians, to name a few such groups. Female athletes have become a staple in our society, while there are still other groups where women are constantly fighting for inclusion, and are not the norm, but the exception in many of those groups.

Don't Mess with Me: How Female Athletes Challenge
Name: Kelsey Smi
Date: 2005-03-21 15:59:11
Link to this Comment: 13783


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

The major theme in all of the movies is challenging cultural the cultural norms, particularly in reference to gender, class, and sexual orientation. These themes, first observable in the movie "Dare to Compete", can also be seen–in various combinations– in "A League of Their Own", "Pumping Iron II", and "Rock with Wings"

One of the main themes in the movie was gender and how it is portrayed. Men had issues with this change in gender norms because they wanted women to continue to dress like stereotypical women. For this reason, women were forced to wear skirts and to look like ladies. This theme existed in "Dare to Compete" and again in "A League of Their Own." In "A League of Their Own", men forced women to wear skirts while playing baseball. In addition, women were given lessons on beauty and grace so that the men who watched the games could be reassured that the players were just as ladylike while playing baseball as they were while they were at home doing housework.

The depiction of gender is a major theme in "Pumping Iron II" where female body-building has two objectives: the first is to be a lady; the second, to be strong. This is obviated by the fact that it is an issue for Bev to be as strong as she is. It is also an issue for Rachel's suit to have two layer because the judges perceive the outcome to be that her breasts are accentuated. The two main objectives of the competition are also apparent because more time is spent observing the women flexing their muscles than is spent watching them lift weights.

In "Rock with Wings", by contrast, the exclusive focus is on women and what they can achieve in terms of athletics, rather than in terms of their appearance. The Lady Chiefs, in nearly winning the championship one year and winning it the next, proved that they can accomplish their goals when they want to do so. In the process, they bond their fragmented town together behind them. Therefore, this movie is not so much about changing gender roles as it is about altering their self-confidence.

An additional theme is competition versus camaraderie. This is observable in "A League of Their Own" where some amount of competition occurs within teams. However, this is minimized by two other types of competition. The first type is that between the different teams. The second—and arguably most significant—type is the competition that occurs between men (both the coaches and the general population) and the female players. This last type of competition forces the players to join together in camaraderie, at least on some level.

This theme reasserts itself in "Pumping Iron II." There, the competition between women is less intense because the women have little control over the power that is being commanded by the male judges. As a consequence, this movie is another example of where the male-female competition is the one that is dominant in terms of the movie.

In "Rocks with Wings", there are several types of competition that are distinctly different from those that exist in the other two movies. The first type is the competition between the Lady Chiefs with American culture. By that, I mean their initial inability to comprehend the extent to which they can work toward a goal and ultimately achieve it. I view this as the most significant source of competition in the movie. A second type that is fairly dominant is the relationship between the players and the coach because the players require less criticism and more nurturing as they learn about what they can achieve with basketball. The third type of competition is that between teams. However, this is most likely the least significant type as it is portrayed by the movie.

A third major theme of commonality among the movies is that of sexuality. In "A League of Their Own", it is clearly a fairly important theme. This is because the women who are feminine (and, it can be interpreted, heterosexual) are the ones who are viewed most highly. To this end, they are the ones that everyone else should strive to emulate.

This same view is also present in "Pumping Iron II" where being too strong (and, consequently, too masculine) is an issue that interferes with a woman's chance to win. By contrast, those women who effectively characterize themselves as sexual objects are viewed highly by the judges. Those who cannot do the same suffer by default.

By contrast, "Rock with Wings" is highly unsexualized. This is because appearance is largely irrelevant for either the men or the women. Instead, actions are viewed as more significant. For this reason, the major barrier that the women face is that with themselves and their perceptions of what they can achieve towards bringing the entire town of Shiprock together after they succeed where they never have before. This, rather than their sexuality, is what makes an impression on their coach and the non-basketball players in the town.

Stepping Out of Bounds: A Tale of Irish Dance
Name: Jenna Higg
Date: 2005-03-21 16:01:09
Link to this Comment: 13784


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Jenna Higgins
Amy Campell
Women, Sports, and Film

Stepping Outside the Bounds: A Tale of Irish Dance

When I had been selected to make a movie dealing with sports, women, and the hardships that go along with the two, I decided to do a movie on something not really recognized as a sport even though it has just as much training and physical demands – dance, more specifically, the world of Irish Step Dancing.
It is the year 2010, the stage is set. Our protagonist Fionna McHugh (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a poor Navajo girl living on a reservation in New Mexico with her two mothers: one mother, Kiwi (portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg), is African American and the other mother, Adrianna (played by Julianne Moore), is an Irish women who has come to America with little more than a penny. Fionna grows up hearing the tales of the Irish Dancers from her mother's home country. Fionna has never seen Irish Dancers before on the reservation until one day, when she was 14, her high school was selected to hold a feis . Fionna and her mothers ran up and stare, enthralled with the Irish Dancers. The next day, Fionna went into Albuquerque to the local Irish Dance School, run by Maureen Ford (played by Miranda Richardson). Fionna has an interview Maureen Ford, who seems very impressed with her enthusiasm. She asks to meet the parents of Fionna before she can officially let her in the school. Fionna, having run into no problems till now with her parents, agrees. The next day Fionna introduces her mothers to Maureen. Maureen is horrified. She begins to tell Fionna that there is suddenly no room for her in the class – something has come up, all the while sneering at Kiwi. Adrianna is appalled. She and Kiwi begin to viciously attack Maureen. It is only after Adrianna and Kiwi explain their love for each other and their daughter that Maureen finally, grudgingly allows Fionna into the class.
Fionna begins to attend classes for hours on end, every day after school and on the weekends. Fionna soon discovers she has a knack for dance! Her skill soars above all the other long-devoted students in the classes. The other girls and boys in the classes begin to tease Fionna and make fun of her ruthlessly. They call her a lesbian, tell her that her mothers are 'dykes' and she will never become a champion dancer. Fionna, upset with all the remarks about her and her family, begins to develop an eating disorder – an over eating disorder. She begins to falter in going to her dance classes and is rapidly putting on weight. To make things worse for Fionna, she has begun to realize that she has had a crush on another one of the girls in her class – Juliette Baraby (portrayed by Kate Winslet). Fionna already has had enough hateful remarks before anyone knowing about her sexuality, she cannot bear to reveal her secret to anyone except her mothers.
Maureen, who has now developed a devotion and admiration for Fionna, comes to Fionna's house to try and get Fionna to come back to dance. After much coaxing from Maureen, Kiwi, and Adrianna, Fionna agrees to go to her first feis in about two months. The next two months we see flashes and various shots of Fionna working constantly in the gym – lifting weights, running the tread mill, doing countless crunches, and dancing non-stop. Things start to look up for Fionna. Even Juliette and she begin to date before the feis. Fionna's only worry now was placing in the feis because mostly, no one except Maureen, her mothers, and Juliette thought she could. The day of the feis came. Fionna was up against girls from not only Albuquerque, but all of New Mexico, various other states and even some girls from Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom!! To almost everybody's disbelief the poor little homosexual Navajo girl placed first place out of 150 girls.
After her initial success Fionna continued to soar, heedless to the nasty remarks said behind her back. She moved from feis to feis throughout the country, always killing the other competitors and taking home the trophy. Her life seems pretty good, pretty uncomplicated, that is, until Ryan Conner (played by Ewan McGregor) enters the picture. He is a judge that Fionna encounters at the Pennsylvania Hershey feis. Ryan takes an eager interest in Fionna and seeks her out after her competition. Fionna is utterly enamored with Ryan. They continue to become better acquainted over the next month or so through email and phone calls until one day, Fionna's world fell apart. It was right before Fionna was to head off for the National Irish Dance Competition in Chicago. Juliette stormed up to her and asked her what was up with her and Ryan. Caught in the cross fire, Fionna doesn't know what to do. She ends up falling on the ground and crying; Juliette walks away. Fionna was in a daze for hours. She hadn't even known that she liked men before Ryan! Heck, she didn't know if she actually did like him! He gave her that funny feeling inside... oh she was so confused! The day of Nationals arrives. As Fionna is competing she notices Juliet standing sneering in the corner- Fionna never saw the much heavier girl slam into her and knock her off the stage.
Hours later, Fionna with the help of Ryan limped over to the scores. She couldn't believe it. She had placed second. She was going to the World Championships in Ireland!! Only one problem – her ankle was swollen to the size fo a cocnut!! Worlds were only two weeks away. This time, even Maureen didn't think that Fionna had enough time to let her ankle heal and place in the Worlds. Fionna had been through too much to let that happen to her now. Fionna trained like nothing else for the two weeks until it was time for the Worlds. Fionna walked on stage and saw her mothers, Maureen, Ryan Conner, and unbelievably Juliette, all smiling and cheering for her. Fionna danced her best. The scores were up. The mothers and Juliette race ahead of Fionna, Ryan and Maureen. Fionna is helped over to the scores by Ryan and Maureen (she has damaged her ankle more during her competition). Her eyes almost pop out of her head. She had won. She had won her competition for Worlds. She was the new 18 and under Irish Step Dancing World Champion. Fionna breaks down into tears and as the end of the movie approaches we see Fionna and her entourage help Fionna to the stage to claim her trophy. As Fionna smiles out into the wild crowd she looks down and sees her mothers crying, Maureen and Ryan cheering like mad, and Juliette who mouths to her 'he's actually pretty cute' and smiles. Fionna was never happier.
When I was looking at the prompt I didn't just want to choose one topic so I decided on many – race, class, sexuality, and eating disorders. I feel that these topics should be covered in a more connecting basis, not just one by one as is often done in these sports movies.

Movie Proposal: Shooting for Ivy
Name: Catherine
Date: 2005-03-21 16:30:06
Link to this Comment: 13794


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Title (working): Shooting for Ivy

Characters: The protagonists are Our Heroine (she and the others would have names, of course, but I am bad at names), a Bryn Mawr graduate living in Suffolk Hills, Connecticut. She works for a bank as a financial advisor. Then there is the President, who is the son of the founders of the country club, a graduate of Yale, and the President of the club, though that does not become clear until later. There is also the Sister, a butch taxidermist who works at Border's on the side and is related to one of the hunters. She is very definitely working-class. Supporting cast are the Old Boys' Network, the graduates of the Ivy League, and the Hunters, working to middle class members of the community and the club. Neither group calls themselves these things, but it is what they call each other.

Storyline summary: Our heroine fondly remembers her college days of archery when she finds an arrow from then in a trunk. She does some research and finds a country club, which is characterized by "co-ed archery". She tries to join and encounters opposition from the leading members, because she's female. They are the Old Boys, all graduates of the Ivy League, and all rich, with the old money attitude. She gets in though, through the encouragement of a nice member whom she starts seeing, and is befriended by the Hunters, the lower members whom she helps along (displaying some upper-class mentality while she's at it). They are all members of this upper-class community, but are more in a middle to lower class mindset. They are here mostly to learn archery so they can hunt in the nearby State Forests, which only allow bow and arrow hunting. Emboldened by her example, our heroine is joined by the sister of one of the hunters, who is instantly ridiculed by many of the men as a lesbian, and an ugly one at that. Our heroine stands up for the woman and they become fast friends. When the North Eastern Tournament comes up, our heroine expects to go, since she regularly shoots better than all the hunters, and many of the Old Boys. They inform her that she's not going, though, since the President picks who goes, and he's one of us. The President turns out to be the guy who stood up for her, whom she's been seeing. Stung, she demands a test so that only the best can go. She pulls her background, her schooling, and a hint of legal threat, which is laughed at. He is not pleased that she stood up to him in front of his peers, but enough of the younger Old Boys agree that he has to as well. Then things start to get nasty. The Old Boys ambush Hunters whenever possible, and slash tires. Our heroine and her female friend get jumped and beat up, though they do their own share of beating too. However, both women beat out many of the Old Boys to go, though the Old Boys really are good. This provides opportunity for a discussion on gender roles and breaking down old boys' networks between the two ladies. Heroine wants to show them that she can beat them, but she does not want to fall into the trap of putting down men as much as they have put down women in the past. The sister understands, but tells her that she has to win. "It's not fair, since if you win they'll call you a hard-assed, femi-nazi dyke. But if you lose, they'll say it's because you're a woman. So better to take the crap they spew than to play into their idea that women aren't women unless they lose to men." Our heroine agrees. Later, the President meets with our heroine, and, since he likes his women assertive, asks her out again. She refuses, since not only does she have a tournament to go to, but she can see he's still very burdened by the baggage of old boys. If he can get rid of that, maybe she'll do lunch with him again. Laughing at his expression, she leaves. The ending is documentary-style, that the sister placed 8th and our heroine placed second, beating the closest old boy by two places. Who was first? A woman from her old team at college.

Rationale: The idea is to confront both class and gender struggles in the same movie. Archery is also a sport that hasn't been "done", like softball and soccer, so it has the advantage of novelty. The conflict between the Old Boys and our heroine is reminiscent of the documentary Hero for Daisy, where the men's rowing team was unwilling to give any concession to the women. In the ending, a reversal of many things has occurred. Not only has our heroine succeeded where the men thought she would not, and should not be competing, but the one person who beat our heroine was a fellow classmate, and thus the Old Boys network, and their domination of the competition, is overturned by the female version. Also, our heroine did not need a man's help to get where she is: her greatest support came from her female friend. I wanted, however, not to give them a romantic relationship. The issue of sexuality comes up with the men's insults of the sister, but it is never really resolved. I wanted that to be open, since a "butch" woman does not have to be lesbian, and neither does a strong, assertive Bryn Mawr graduate. Two women can be close friends and support each other against the patriarchy without being sexually involved, and I wanted to show that in the film. However, the sister's sexuality was to remain unclear, since I did not want either to fall into the other category of having to prove one's "straightness" in sports, lest the woman be assumed lesbian. Her sexuality is not at issue here, it is her gender and her class. Basically, I wanted to fight some of the extreme views of feminism, while at the same time showing how class can also enter into the women, sport, and film arena.

This War is Over--Women and Rugby
Name: Elhanna Po
Date: 2005-03-21 16:58:27
Link to this Comment: 13798


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

3. It is the year 2010, you have been commissioned to write a screen play about women's athletics using race, class, gender or sexual orientation as underlying themes. Who are your protagonists, what is the story line, why have you chosen the style/topic? What is the outcome?

If one learns absolutely nothing after two years in an all women's college, it is that some of the cruelest insults and harshest judgements you will ever receive as a woman are those that come from fellow members of your gender. Of all the themes that we explored this semester, this was the one I felt was sorely lacking. When women fail to bond between themselves it makes it nearly impossible to present a united front to the outside world.

If I were to write a screenplay about an issue in women's athletics I would write one that allowed women to come to a greater understanding of each other, their thoughts, motivations, and backgrounds.

My story would take place at Honoram College, a small liberal arts college in Upstate New York. Honoram is a school filled with mostly wealthy, liberal students. Honorians, as the students like to be called, pride themselves on being an open, forward-thinking, and considerate population. In fact, the only flaw in Honoram's perfect politically correct image is their women's rugby team.

The movie would open at the end of a rugby game, paying particular attention to the mud, sweat, and blood of intense play. After the game finished the film would shift focus to the after game Rugby Social. Social's are parties that take place after games, where the team gets together, either by themselves or with the team that they'd just played against, they sing songs, dance, and drink insane amounts of alcohol. As the party is raging inside of the dorm room, there would be a shot of other students walking past and expressing their disgust at the Rugby Team's activities.

After establishing the conflict between the Rugby Team and the rest of the student body, the focus would shift to the film's protagonist, Elizabeth Frobe. Elizabeth, a member of Honoram's rich and beautiful set, is a sophomore planning on spending her junior year abroad in Paris. When Elizabeth's letter of acceptance comes from her study abroad program there's a note attached to it from the dean's office, Elizabeth is two credits short of fulfilling her PE requirements and won't be allowed to go abroad if she cannot manage to complete the requirement before the end of the semester.

Elizabeth quickly discovers that all of the regular PE classes are filled for the semester so she tries to join on of the college's sports teams, but none of the teams will take her since it's past the start of the semester to Elizabeth's disgust the only group still accepting players is the Rugby team. Still determined to go abroad, Elizabeth swallows her pride and tries to join the Rugby team. At first the girl's don't want her on the team because the know that she's only using them to get to go to Paris. Eventually the team captain, Jennifer, convinces the team to let Elizabeth join because she thinks that Elizabeth will decide that Rugby's too much for her and quit the team.

Even after she joins the Rugby team, Elizabeth shows the same disdain for the players that she'd held before. She goes to practices and games, but refuses to attend socials and snubs the other players when they meet on campus. This begins to change when Jennifer and Elizabeth are assigned to work together for a Psychology project. The project requires the two of them to spend several hours together outside of the class room. As time goes on Jennifer and Elizabeth each begin to realize that the other person isn't nearly as bad as they first thought. Slowly the girls begin to be become friends off the Rugby field, but not on. Tension begins to build as Jennifer wonders why Elizabeth still refuses to bond with the rest of the team. When Jennifer confronts her about her behavior Elizabeth confesses that she even though she thinks that Jennifer's an okay person, she still has a lot of her old hang ups about the rest of the team.

Jennifer is furious that Elizabeth is still so close minded about the rest of the team, but Elizabeth refuses to admit that she's wrong, after their argument both girls go back to their old adversarial relationship. One day, weeks later, Elizabeth is with a group of friends when one of her rugby teammates walks past them, Elizabeth ignores the girl but her friends start tearing her apart, not even thinking about it Elizabeth tells her friends to shut up and her friends are so startled that they stop gossiping. Later in her room, Elizabeth realizes that her ideas about her teammates have changed without her even noticing it. The next day at practice, Elizabeth calls all her teammates together and apologizes for being so judgmental of them. At first the girls don't believe that she's changed and Elizabeth decides that she needs to take more proactive measures to convince them. With the school activities fair coming up, Elizabeth decides to organize the Rugby booth, when the fair arrives the team is amazed by the incredible job that she's done. The final conflict of the film takes place when a group of Elizabeth's friends come over to the booth and start to make fun of her for "going over to the dark side", Elizabeth tells them that she hasn't gone anywhere but if they want to keep being small minded and hateful they're more than welcome to leave.

The end of the film would be the same as its opening, only this time Elizabeth is smack in the middle of the game, the movie closes on her as she attends her very first rugby social.

My motives in this "screenplay" were not to turn Elizabeth into a fast playing, hard drinking, woman loving rugger, but instead to show that it is possible to learn to care for and respect other people despite the more obvious differences that may separate them.

Proposed Screenplay for Women sport and Film
Name: Lauren Zim
Date: 2005-03-21 17:00:38
Link to this Comment: 13800


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

I hope through my movie to explore sports function within the social hierarchies that exist in high school. I aim to tell a typical coming of age story through the lens of high school athletics, while examining the themes of race, and the traditional concept of feminine beauty.
The setting for my movie will be a modern American high school, with special attention to a ninth grade physical education class. I am largely modeling Alemany high school on my own high school. Therefore, Alemany is a public school, and represents a gamut of different social classes. In regards to politics and religion, however, the student body is more homogeneous, consisting primarily of politically conservative Protestants. Most important to the film, sports are an integral part of Alemany high, as was the case in my high school. The film will begin with footage of the school gym, proudly bedecked with numerous banners celebrated the schools victories over the past several decades. Athletes at this school are glorified, the heroes of Alemany high. Those without athletic talent are second-class citizens.
The film will give special attention to the girl's varsity field hockey team, the Lady Wolverines. The Lady Wolverines are the most popular girls in school. Each comes from a wealthy, W.A.S.P home. Each woman succeeds in being athletic, while at the same time fulfilling the most orthodox conceptions of feminine beauty: they all have a slender build, blonde hair, a gorgeous tan, dazzling straight white teeth, and the trendiest clothes. Each Lady Wolverine is, first and foremost, a Lady; she would be seen at a game without her makeup.
Our heroine is named Suzie Rosenburg, and she is a young Jewish woman who has just moved to the school district. Like most fourteen-year-old girls, Suzie has low self-esteem. She is worried about fitting in at her new school. There are no other Jewish students at Alemany high school, and has trouble relating to her classmates.
Physical education is the most dreaded hour of Suzie's day. Already unpopular, she is always picked last for every team. Her lack of athletic talent is exhibited each class period, and is a source of constant humiliation. After class, the girls in the locker room further torment Suzie, often embarrassing her to the verge of tears.
Suzie is familiar with an old stereotype that Jews are naturally unathletic. She had never taken such clichés seriously before; after all, what did religion have to do with physical ability? Now, however, Suzie begins to wonder if her heritage is to blame for her poor performance in the gym each day. Again, being fourteen and low on self-esteem, Suzie begins to resent her heritage, which has seemed to cause her so much misery since coming to Alemany high school.
Suzie gradually grows to envy and admire the Lady Wolverines. Her jealousy is natural; they are the most popular girls in school; they have surely never faced the humiliation of being picked last during gym class. Suzie marvels at how their varsity jackets rest on their gorgeous figures, how their perfectly applied make up illuminates their tan faces, how they hold every boy in rapt attention. Suzie fantasizes about someday joining their ranks. She imagines that becoming a Lady Wolverine will surely make her one of the most attractive girls in the school, and worthy of the attention of her male classmates. Most importantly, it will enable her to achieve the sense of belonging that has been missing from her life since she started high school.
With this in mind, Suzie resolves to make the varsity field hockey team, despite her lack of natural ability, and general aversion towards athleticism. She wants to prove that Jewish girls can succeed at sports. Suzie begins going to a local gym after school. She works hard, and eventually the baby-fat that has always troubled her dissolves away. Her body is lean and muscular. Suzie invests in field hockey equipment, and begins to train one her own at home, developing her coordination. When field-hockey tryouts are held that spring, Suzie is ready. She is a far cry from the pudgy girl picked last for every team each gym class.
Suzie makes the varsity field hockey team. Her talent amazes the coach and current Lady Wolverines. Suzie is overjoyed, and imagines that she will at last fit in at Alemany high school. Tenth grade is undoubtedly an improvement from ninth. Suzie is no longer picked last during gym class. Yet, she does not really fit in among the Lady Wolverines, as she had hoped. Gradually, she begins to lose respect for them; she sees through their beautifully painted exterior. The Lady Wolverines are not just athletic and beautiful, they are also catty, and petty. In addition, the Lady Wolverines do not really embrace Suzie, but continue to view her as a marginal figure. After a great deal of self-seeking, Suzie decides to quit the varsity field hockey team towards the end of the season.
A year older and wiser, Suzie understands that she doesn't need to be a Lady Wolverine to feel good about herself. Her self-esteem has grown tremendously since the film's beginning; she has proven to herself that she does have the capacity to become strong and physically fit, despite her cultural heritage. She also realizes that she can make her own decisions, and need not let her athleticism be the soul source of happiness.
I proposed this potential screenplay because much of our discussion in Women Sport and Film was focused on the discrimination that female athletes faced. I wanted my film to deal with a setting in which female athletes were not discriminated against, but glorified. I also hope this film would illuminate that in many cases, women are only permitted to be athletic when they conform to traditional standards of feminine beauty. The heroine, Suzie Rosenburg, is meant to explore the ways in which race and cultural background relate to athleticism. She is an example of a woman who is empowered through athleticism, but comes to realize that this is only one facet of her complex personality.

Paper #3
Name: Calisse Po
Date: 2005-03-21 17:13:59
Link to this Comment: 13805


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

In the year 2010, which is not so far off into the future, I will direct a movie about a suburban girls soccer team and city girls track team. The movie will flip back and forth between the two teams, beginning with the girls as elementary students and following them on up through high school.
The suburban soccer team is comprised of girls who all grew up together. They went to the exact same elementary school, played in the same town soccer league, participated in the same Girl Scout Troop, and had formed a bond over their many years of knowing each other, which helped to greatly improve their teamwork on the field and their friendships off the field. Having the background between these girls proved to be wonderful for the coaches of the team, because they did not have to worry about forming unity among the girls, and since they had been playing soccer together for so long, they all knew how to blend together on the field, giving the coaches the easy job of improving upon the skills that they already had.
For the girls on this team, they had no worries about college, they all knew that they would be attending university, it was just a matter of which one they wanted to go to. They all also knew that once they left for college that they would leave soccer behind in their town. Soccer was not something that would get them anywhere, and since they had all been groomed to play together, they saw no need to continue playing as they had no need for scholarships, and soccer wouldn't be a lifestyle for them, they just figured that they would go on and have a fun college experience.
When following the childhood of the city girls, there's a much different story. Only two of the girls grew up together, some moved from other countries later on in their lives, and some just simply grew up in another part of the city. Regardless, none of them had the same experiences. A few had run track while in middle school, although for most it was an entirely new experience. When they get to high school and decide to join the track team, they must deal with not only learning how to compete in track, but also how to form team harmony. At times there are some fights amongst the girls, and some rough meets, but by the time they reach their junior year, they are winning all the city championships and some are competing at the state championships.
For many of the girls on the track team, track is their golden key, without it they have no chance of going to college, so they push themselves as hard as they can to achieve their very best. When it comes time to go to college, the very best on the team are able to go, and those who are not as good are left at home, wondering what their life could have been like.

The focus of the movie will be on the senior years of the two teams. The soccer team which had performed extremely well for years begins to slip in the rankings as they lose games and the girls lose focus as they are looking towards their future, which is not involving soccer. The track team works harder than they ever have in hopes that the sport will provide a way for them to improve their future. Another aspect that I intend to focus on is the advantage that the suburban team has by knowing each other for so much longer. Because they grew up around each other they had the distinct advantage of not having to work out the kinks that a team that's assembled in high school must in a shorter amount of time in order to become successful.

My movie will end with the two teams at their 25th high school reunions. The city girls who went on to compete collegially all have the lives they wanted. Some of the women who were not able to get scholarships did not give up on their love of the sport and continued running, some all the way to the Olympics. Sadly, some had become so defeated that they gave up on the sport and led lives that were not in line with the dreams they once had. At the reunion of the soccer team, they had all mostly become stay at home mothers, some who were coaching their daughters soccer teams, but none of them had continued playing in soccer once they got to college. Needless to say, none of them had competed on national level either. Some of the women looked back on their time playing soccer with regret that they hadn't continued, and others were fine not continuing, but all were glad that they had had the experience that they did.

28th February Press Conference: Star Author Reveal
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-03-21 20:45:34
Link to this Comment: 13820


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

[Press conference – about 20 reporters scribbling furiously on their notepads; clicks and flashes from the cameras; the scriptwriter (yes, me) sits on the podium upfront, flanked by two actresses, one actor, and several PR people.]

Reporter 1:

So please tell us more about this new screenplay that you're working on. Is it a work in progress, or have you finished it? What is it about?


That's actually 2 questions, but I'll answer them anyway. Yes, this is a work in progress – however, it's almost finished, because I have the storyline, the plot, the protagonists, everything. It'll be done in maybe a couple of weeks' time, hence this press conference, since we know that you all have been waiting breathlessly for news of my next work, after the phenomenal success of my previous novel.

This time round, I wanted to create a work on the role of gender in sports. In the past five years, there have been stunning developments in the field of sports: women have really come into their own. Women now have 98% more endorsement power than men; last year's top 5 richest athletes were women, and so on. We all know the stats – so much ink has been spilled on it. And it was really a result of Beijing 2008 [murmurs of agreement from the crowd]. And I thought: if Beijing '08 could have such an effect, what more Paris 2012?

So my story is set in Paris. In 2012, women have become immensely strong in sports. All the newspaper reports focus on women's achievements, etc. Men's sports has never been at such an all-time low. They were lucky even to be included in the Olympics at all! And it is about a young female track athlete with immense potential, but who can't seem to perform at her best level. She trains hard, harder than the rest of the team, but still she feels something blocking her. Maybe it's mental, maybe it's not. She starts to lose her confidence.

Reporter 2:

That's amazing!


I know. Note that this young woman has been brought up in the new sports climate, where women are supreme, and men are considered weaker. Such an irony compared to just a few years back! So she has always, like the rest of her team, viewed the men's team with superior disdain. Not necessarily prejudice, but just the way an adult might view a teenager. And one day, as she's standing on the banks of the Seine river gazing wistfully into the distance (in deep contemplation of her troubles in running), a young man comes up to her. And it turns out that he's from the French men's team. They start talking, and she keeps gazing around nervously to make sure that no one she knows can see them, because she's embarrassed to be talking to someone from the weaker race. But she's a nice girl, and so she doesn't tell him to go away.

And as they talk, she finds it easier and easier to confide in him, and so she tells him about her troubles. And he tells her that he's the best runner from France and perhaps he could help her. She's doubtful (it's just like a teenager telling an adult that he knows more than she does) but because she's nice, as we've established, she shrugs and agrees.

Reporter 3:

Ah, the plot thickens!


It's actually a very simple plot, but heavy on themes. I want this to be an intellectual movie. So they start meeting for practice three times a week, at a secluded park (Park Montsouris, maybe or Bois de Boulogne, I haven't decided) where no other Olympian can see them. And he really helps her. And she wins the gold in the end. And there is a twist in the end.

Reporter 4:

How touching! What is the twist?


Hello, nothing is free. If you want to know, watch the movie when it comes out. Now ask me why I chose this storyline.

Reporter 5:

Why did you choose this storyline?


Because I think it's intriguing how both genders can never seem to co-exist equally. Back in the old days, men were considered stronger, better athletes, and women were sidelined. Now, women are considered superior, and men are relegated to minor roles. Why can't there be a balance? I wanted this story to show that there are things that both men and women can teach each other...that it's not possible for each race to exclude the other so pointedly. I want to show the world that we can all exist in equal harmony.

Reporter 6:



That's right. I have with me today the actress who'll be playing the main character. J --- D ---- she's a real athlete, just not a very successful one, so she crossed over to movies. And starring opposite her, V---- C----, a daytime TV actor from France. Both of them are going to be HUGE stars after this movie, so you might as well ask them a few questions now, because you're not going to be able to contact them when they become hot.

Reporter 7:

Hi JD! I just want to ask you, do you feel that this role suits you?

JD: Oh my goodness yes! I love this role! It's my first role, but I know it's my best role ever! I do so many cool things, like visit Paris! Oh wow! And the plot is so great too! And the twist is so sad too! I cried when I read the script! I can't believe that she leaves him after winning –

All the reporters:



JD! You're fired! Now I have to think of another ending! Conference over!


Wait – I never got to say anything!

The End


'This Girl Can Play'
Name: Krystal Ma
Date: 2005-03-21 23:53:59
Link to this Comment: 13843


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

3. It is the year 2010, you have been commissioned to write a screen play about women's athletics using race, class, gender or sexual orientation as underlying themes. Who are your protagonists, what is the story line, why have you chosen the style/topic? What is the outcome?

Main plot line

After years of playing informally with friends and family, 15 year old Zoë Foster decides she wants to play football with her high school. The 'problem' is that the football team at her school is for boys only and students, faculty, and the members of the community cannot imagine their beloved state champion team being intruded upon by a girl. Zoë is from a single parent home. She lives with her mother and older sister, Bianca. They are from a lower middle class family with wages earned by her secretary mother and sales clerk sister. For years, Zoë has embraced playing sports with the neighborhood boys as a way of taking her mind off her family's financial woes. These boys, after initially teasing Zoë and telling her girls don't play sports, generally come to accept Zoë's presence. When they learn of her plans to try out for the high school squad, however, many of the boys who have gone on to be on the team themselves, express indignation at the idea of Zoë joining the team.

Zoë's desire to try out for her high school football team creates excitement in the high school and community. There's an equal split between those who are on Zoë's side and those who are dismayed at the idea of a girl playing on an all boys football team. Initially, the coaches debate whether Zoë should be given the opportunity to even try out for the team but after agreeing to humor Zoë and themselves, the coaches agree to let her try out. Zoë tries out for wide receiver, a position in which Zoë is commonly known to excel. Although some of those at the tryouts know of Zoë's skill, others are astounded to see that she actually plays the position well. Despite this great showing Zoë is denied a spot on the football team. The head coach of the team contends that she won't be able to compete against other football players and that there is no time for any of the disorder that Zoë's presence on the football team could cause; that if the school wants to hold its title as state football champion there is no time for such shenanigans.
Zoë feels disheartened after learning that she has not made the team. Her mother, originally supportive yet tepid during the whole fiasco, becomes livid and insists that Zoë protest against the decision. With her mother's support Zoë does just that and manages to round up enough supporters that the football team reverses its decision and allows Zoë onto the team. Although officially on the team, Zoë is relegated to being a bench warmer. The coach contends that he doesn't need another wide receiver. Zoë is ready to protest again but feels that she will be perceived as a whiner and not have as much support as before.

Surprisingly, over time one of the assistant coaches recognizes how unfairly Zoë is being treated. He suggests to the head coach that she be allowed to come in sometime late during the next game and play for a few seconds. In spite of reservations, the coach eventually relents and agrees to let Zoë play. Zoë is surprised as everyone else when during the next game she is sent in late in the fourth quarter. Zoë manages to shake off her surprise and perform surprisingly well. She makes two key catches that put her team closer to scoring another that only sweetens their victory over the opposing team. After this impressive showing, Zoë is given more opportunities to play during games in a season that would see the team retain the state champion title. Zoë, however, is never allowed to start in any of the games though. As the movie ends showing gaining more recognition as a legitimate football player, a few ending words come up that state that during her senior year Zoë is allowed a starting position on the team. She becomes the first girl in her city to ever start on a high school football team.

Side plots

Jordan: One of Zoe's closest friends who is also on the football team. Jordan is one of the few people on the team to support Zoe from the very beginning of her attempts to join the football team. Jordan's popularity and charisma lead others to follow his example and support Zoe's endeavors. Jordan is also a closeted homosexual. He sees hope for an openly gay football player being on the team as the team becomes more accepting (for example, letting Zoe on the team). He, however, never comes out to anyone on the team but Zoe and Frank. He expresses his hope that some other player will one day come out as gay and still be successful on the team.

Frank: A friend of Zoe's and Jordan's who is the star quarterback on the team. Although raised in a football crazed family, Frank questions the importance and fun of football. He expresses interest in dropping football in order to play baseball only to be met with resistance from the coaches and athletic department of the school. Frank is threatened with the possibility of receiving lowered grades in his classes if he drops football for baseball. Once his family is alerted to his intentions, they too take part in abusing Frank. Thinking it all too much, Frank decides to continue playing football in high school but to pursue other sports in college.

Bianca: Zoe's sister who happens to be a state ranked tennis player. She became involved with the game after hanging out with more affluent friends at their country clubs. Bianca tries to convince her sister to try out for a more genteel sport like tennis. She thinks Zoe only wants to be the center of attention but eventually comes to see her sister's great love for the game. In the end she becomes her sister's biggest advocate.

I have chosen this topic to explore because I have always been interested in the absence of girls from football and baseball. After briefly considering baseball, I decided to focus on football because of its increasing role as "America's favorite pastime". I decided to look at high school football because I thought there would be a greater chance for women at this level versus the professional level. Although the focus of the movie is Zoe's attempts to join her high school's football team, there are side plots (listed above) which help in addressing issues of gender, sexuality, and class in the movie. In addressing gender roles, there is the contrast between the sisters and sports which are different in regards to women's presence. There is so much uproar at the idea of a girl joining the football team because of the role that the game plays in boys learning to be men and exerting their masculinity. A girl's presence threatens that. There are also issues with class. The reason that Zoe begins playing sports in the first place is because she wants to take her mind off financial problems. Sports act as a way for both her and her sister to take their minds off these problems. They take different routes though. Bianca chooses to play tennis with her wealthier friends in the hopes of taking on their 'upper' class values and showing that she has worth. Sexuality is the final theme addressed. Zoe deals with the questioning of her sexuality because of her interest in football. Although when asked she replies that she is straight, Zoe never goes out of her way to prove her heterosexuality. This is in contrast to some of her male teammates who have rotations of girlfriends which are 'due' to them (because of their status as football players) and also as a subconscious way to prove their heterosexuality. While the questions about Zoe's sexuality die down it is hinted at in the movie that the possible homosexuality of a male athlete would never die down. This is part of the reason why Jordan stays in the closet. Along with all these issues, there are general ethics issues, such as the deviance that Frank encounters. Although there are more issues that could be covered, I hope that these main ones could highlight some of the problems in sport and the strides that are being (or could be) made.

Themes in Women's Sport Films
Name: Carol J. M
Date: 2005-03-22 00:03:47
Link to this Comment: 13846

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005 StudentPapers On Serendip

Throughout time, societies have had difficulties confronting and accepting the notion of women who play sports. While society today is changing, albeit slowly at times, female athletes are becoming more and more accepted and as this occurs, so does their representation in film. At times, film reflects society, at others it pushes its boundaries and as time passes, themes of race, class, gender and sexual orientation change as well.

Race, class, gender and sexual orientation are used in different ways in different films. All are, to some extent, still an issue. Looking at the film "Rocks with Wings," the main issues were class and race. In "Pumping Iron II," the regular appearance of male significant others in the film emphasized the heterosexuality of the women involved. This film also incorporated gender by mentioning that the women were partly judged based on femininity: this competition was not purely based on body building. The emphasis on the femininity of female athletes is also visible in "A League of their Own" where the players wear short skirts and are given charm classes. Sexuality plays a role in "Personal Best" where two of the female characters are in a relationship, though their exact sexuality is never defined.

All films dealing with women facing challenges, particularly women in sports, have to tread a very fine line. It's difficult for a film to deal with all four issues in a balanced way. If a film has a strong focus on lesbians, then some people will be put off and choose not to watch the film because that's not accepted, some people will be put off because straight women play sports too and yet more people will be upset because they're focusing on sexuality, not that the women are athletes or women, etc. The same applies to any of the other three themes.

"A League of their Own" is an actual Hollywood film that concentrates almost purely on women in sports. There are brief moments highlighting other features, but it primarily revolves around the difficulties women faced in the sports and the distinctions between women's sports and men's sports. Two things that particularly stand out are the outfits and the charm classes. In some ways this does emphasize sexuality in the sport -- it was not enough for the women to simply play and play well, they had to also remain feminine, pretty and refined. The teams needed to reinforce the idea that females would not be 'ruined' -- that is, their identity as women would not be destroyed -- by playing sports. They also had to look the part: the women selected were partially selected on the basis of looks. This film focuses a lot on these women's efforts to balance being a woman and being an athlete in a world where being both was not considered possible.

By the time "Personal Best" comes around -- in the sense of the setting, not necessarily the point of production -- being a female athlete is less of a problem. As a female athlete, however, sexuality is now an issue. The two protagonists are in a relationship which develops and then falls apart as one of the women becomes involved with a man instead. This film sends conflicting messages -- female athletes are lesbians but perhaps not truly lesbians and while the relationship is apparent, it's also not really a main focus while at the same time everyone seems to be okay with it. In some ways it seems as if the film makers were afraid of offending everyone and so played to both sides. Here the women are not made to wear dresses or take charm class. By this point, being a female athlete is acceptable, but the film does suggest that if you are female and an athlete, your sexuality must be called into question, which is to some extent the image that the team owner in "A League of their Own" was working to prevent. Thus one can see that the image of females athletes has not changed a great deal in the interval between which the two movies are set.

Getting women athletes in film to help change societal norms is a tricky business. Film makers are likely to push the boundaries a little bit, but not much when making films: films are more likely to reflect societal norms than change them. Portrayals of female athletes in film may help bring certain quasi-acknowledged issues to the forefront, and thus bring about societal change by forcing people to confront those issues, even if it's only within their own minds. The problem with portraying women athletes in film is that it's very difficult to do so without adhering to various stereotypes. To show several different women who break several different stereotypes within one film might require a movie three hours in length, just to explore all the different dynamics within that and then one must confront the reality that there are women who do in part fit the stereotypes and need to be acknowledged as well. That may be the type of film needed to challenge and change societal norms. Ultimately the best way for female athletes to help negotiate change in females roles in society is to make people think about what the proscribed "rules" are and then confront people with the idea that those rules and roles do not fully define reality. This could help people see women and their potential in a different light.

As time passes, women's role in sports has changed and this change is reflected and sometimes pushed by female athletes portrayed in film. As time changes, both the roles of females in sports and the portrayal of those roles has changed. Film could become a driving force in change those roles both in sports and in the rest of society, but change might be difficult and the film would have to confront many stereotypes in order to force people to think about the changes that need to occur for men and women to stand on equal footing in sport and in society at large.

Name: Katharine
Date: 2005-03-22 12:25:00
Link to this Comment: 13866


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Kate Shepard
Final Essay: Women, Sport and Film
March 22, 2005
¡°Femininity, Athleticism and Gender Equality¡±

Of the films that were discussed in the course of this class, ¡°Dare to Compete¡±; ¡°A Hero for Daisy¡± and ¡°A League of Their Own¡± shared strikingly similar themes. The issues of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation was discussed cohesively and intelligently by these three films. One of the most interesting aspects of the juxtaposition of these films was the fact that each of them tackled different issues. ¡°Dare to Compete¡± discussed race and sexual orientation and gender equality; ¡°A Hero for Daisy¡± dealt with issues of gender and equality; while ¡°A League of their Own¡± took on issues of family, gender roles, and gender equality. The common theme of these films is the discussion of gender. However, it is clear that a pertinent discussion of gender is reliant on these peripheral issues. Although gender is the most evident unifying theme of these three films, it is a term with many shades of meaning. Among other meanings, this term encompasses the link between femininity and power and gender equality.

One of the central themes of this course was an appreciation for the struggle that women faced in gaining equality in athletics and other forums. The first film ¡°Dare to Compete¡± highlighted these issues extremely well. From the early history of women in sports, it was clear that women¡¯s participation in sports faced many opponents. This film also related the struggle for gender equality in sports in a larger historical context. At one point, the film recalled Sojourner Truth¡¯s moving ¡°Ain¡¯t I A Woman¡± speech. In one part of the speech, Truth exclaims:

¡°Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain¡¯t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?¡±1

This outrage that women could work as well as men, but still not have equal rights permeated to the movement for greater participation in athletics. At this point, women were still struggling to gain participation rights into sports.

Later, this desire for equality in sports was portrayed by the film ¡°A League of their Own.¡± However, although the women were finally getting their own league, the terms were not at all equal. It was clear that the women were only a temporary substitute for the men¡¯s league, and more of a spectacle than an actual team to many observers. At this point, women were still struggling to gain acceptance in sports.

In the last film chronologically, ¡°Dare to Compete¡± the Yale women¡¯s crew team struggled for equal rights as their male counterparts. And after all the initial struggles to participate, and to gain acceptance, women were still struggling to achieve equal facilities. Initially, this seemed like a less important issue of gender equality. But in this case, it is necessary to consider the time frame in which this disparity took place. Since the early history of ¡°Dare to Compete¡± women had made tremendous strides in the quest towards social equality. That women¡¯s sports lagged behind was an appalling and crippling social anachronism.

In all three of these films, the link between femininity and athleticism, and femininity and power has been discussed or implied. In the ¡°Dare to Compete¡± the narrator noted that certain athletes were infamous for their masculine attitude and appearance. One of the most striking examples was the televised match between Chris Evart and Martina Navratilova. Evart was petite and feminine, with a defensive, passive style of play. Navratilova was muscular and aggressive, which made Evart the media darling. The contrast was unmistakable, and implied that femininity equaled passive athleticism, while aggressive behavior was strictly a masculine domain.

Next, ¡°A League of Their Own¡± also wrestled with the issue of femininity and power. Dottie was the feminine ideal, attractive and athletic but with a strong sense of propriety and family. In other words, her husband could admire her athleticism but not be challenged by it. Her younger sister Kit was the opposite, a tomboy who lacked the grace of Dottie. Kit also lacked the natural athleticism of Dottie. It seemed as if the film contrasted these two characters: Dottie was of the older generation of female athletes, the women who were gracious, naturally gifted, and never broke a sweat, while Kit was of the new generation.

Finally, in ¡°A Hero for Daisy¡± we learn the story of the Yale women¡¯s crew team. The protagonist is more of a ¡°Kit¡± type, who faces the challenges of being a world-caliber female athlete in a physically demanding sport. While she is not feminine in appearance, she is most notably masculine in terms of her use of confrontation. Recalling the Evart-Navratilova match, it was clear that femininity meant passivity, while masculinity was equated with aggressivity. The most notable masculine aspect of the protagonist is her aggressive way of solving problems.

Upon further reflection of these films, it seems that in many of these narratives, female characters had to chose between femininity or athleticism. This forced choice is clearly detrimental. Breaking this barrier would be the next step in women¡¯s movement for athletic equality.


Spoon Full of Sugar
Name: Amy Stern
Date: 2005-03-24 15:31:10
Link to this Comment: 13984

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005 StudentPapers On Serendip

In class this semester, we have studied many different types of films based on female athletes. One which we have avoided, however, has been that of the high school athlete. The female high school athlete has pressure from all sides. The stereotypical student athlete receives pressure from all sides; their coach wants them to be an athlete first, while their teachers want them to ignore athletic pursuits in favor of strict academia. Other students want them to be attending parties instead of training, or judge them for how much they fit the gendered status quo. It is imperative that a film about high school athletes would not gloss over this, but rather embrace it, allowing a three-dimensional figurehead to emerge, who is both a construct of society and a construct which can break through same.

When we watched A League of Their Own, we discussed whether or not the story was improved by the fact that the story at the forefront was not that of female athletes, but rather that of sisters. Honestly, I think that's the story that needs to be told, for multiple reasons. One is the "spoon full of sugar" methodology; to convince a wide-spread audience to absorb something with a lesson, there needs to be something keeping them there. In light of this projected film being about students in a high school, something along the lines of a main romance would be imperative to keeping the plot moving.

Furthermore, this must be looked at simply as a film. At the end of the day, no matter how interesting and/or pressing a social issue is, people are more likely to react to a story of an individual over the story of a cause. This is why even when we watched documentaries in class, they seemed to have a focus on the individuals behind the sport, who made the sport. The bodybuilders we cared most about, for example, were the ones we knew most about, who had lives which made us empathize and genuinely care where this would lead them in the future.

All of which is to say that, in my ideal film about women and athletics, their athleticism would not be the only thing at the forefront. This is not because athleticism isn't important, but because I think it's important to show examples of women who are athletes, and athletes who are women, without assuming that one has any more power over the person's individuality than the other does. We like the characters in A League of Their Own not because they are athletes, or because they are women, but because they are human beings which have blended these two facets of their personality. To write a film about high school student athletes would be in large part about the form of identity; that is, how they are capable of being student, athlete, woman, girlfriend, best friend, etc., all in a single physical form.

Too often, films about teenage female athletes fall into certain categories, due to their demographics. You have films like Blue Crush, where Anne Marie's athleticism is secondary to how good Kate Bosworth looks. You have films like Bring It On, where, it must be noted, that no matter how strong, talented, and powerful the cheerleaders are, and no matter how much they discuss how they are clearly the powerhouse of the school, and no matter how much they get applause while the football team falls flat, their official capacity still lies in showing up and encouraging their incredibly inept all-male football team to throw balls through posts. And you have films like Ice Princess, which actually discusses female athleticism, with impassioned speeches about how it feels to be strong and powerful and athletic, wherein the sport used to demonstrate it is one which is so traditionally not just feminized, but overtly female. That is to say, the strength, skill, and training are all important, but so is the pretty flouncy dress that Casey gets to wear. Ice Princess is, in fact, an interesting example, as Casey's mother is an ardent feminist who argues against Casey skating on the basis that the sport is entirely based on pretty outfits and image; the implicit understanding by the end is that strength and beauty must combine. The question then arises over whether, by fusing strength and beauty, the viewer/textual reader is granted the freedom to see both as good, or is forced to believe that the fusion must make a woman good at both, and to be more focused on one or the other is embody a lack of something important.

My focus, then, turns to how one can approach the most ideals without forcing upon the audience a single ideology as the "correct" one. Films like A League of Their Own accomplish this by not favoring any one POV over another; Dottie and Kit are both considered reasonably "equal" in their prioritizing of self as Wife vs. Athlete. Yet other issues are raised and then pushed under the rug; racial inequality or homophobia are touched upon but not fully addressed.

Perhaps the best way is to simply focus on a single Issue, both in terms of marketing and in terms of the audience. Again, the spoon full of sugar principle is in effect; a film about female student athletes should focus equally on a form of inequality in their preferred sport, their desire and drive as genuine athletes, and a plot which has nothing to do with athleticism but is rather a universal theme which would appeal to all audiences, regardless of their status as athlete.

In my ideal story, the focus would be, predictably, on the captain of a team. A softball, basketball, or volleyball team would be ideal, as these are known for fostering both strong athletes and strong team spirit. There would be three storylines: one of training and practicing for a big competition/game/demonstration of skill sets as athletes within their given sport; one of competition for respect within a school which traditionally favors male teams, and one which would integrate the two into a chiefly social setting. The most clichéd and popular possibility would be to create an attraction between the team captain and the captain of the rival male team, which would culminate in him understanding that her sport is just as important as his is.

Yet perhaps that would be too overplayed. And I don't think it's fair for those who are currently going through these battles every day to see complex issues settled in a ninety-minute movie. Regulations don't change overnight; a team of women athletes could be able to, for example, score a major win within their competitive sport, while not getting the proper amount of respect from their school even though it's deserved. The emotional climax, then, could draw from both of these; perhaps the female athlete, fed up, could be asked out by the male captain of the team, but decline, choosing a rejection of current societal standards over the dreamy boy in a jersey. Maybe she could end up finding another boy- one who is a solitary athlete, or not an athlete at all. Maybe she could end up in a romantic relationship with a girl on her team. Or maybe, in perhaps the most striking gesture, she could simply choose to end the film by going out for pizza with a group of friends, allowing the hypersexualization of both women and athletes to take a back seat to the humanity of a girl who just won her fight.

The Language of Gender: Female, femininity, and fe
Name: Katy Chen
Date: 2005-03-28 21:19:48
Link to this Comment: 14115


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

The Language of Gender: Female, femininity, and feminism.

Female: A member of the sex that produces ova or bears young.

Feminine: Characterized by or possessing qualities generally attributed to a woman.

Feminism: Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

When we compare the three definitions of terms that sound
the same and are generally associated with one another, it is interesting to note the drastic differences in the actual meanings of the words. However, all three expressions can be interpreted as pervasive themes of the movies we viewed in this class. In particular, it seems that "Personal Best", "A League of Their Own", and "Pumping Iron II" embody the ideas of being female, feminine, and feminist, and all of the problems of interpretation that are embodied in the way we use and think about this particular type of language.
The first feature film we watched for this course was "Personal Best", a movie tracing the relationship between two friends who become lovers, and their struggle to balance their personal relationship with their athletic aspirations. I think makers of this movie were trying to take a leap in terms of broaching a topic that was taboo for the time. However, in their attempt to characterize femininity and being feminine as more than just the conventional image of a gentle, soft-spoken girl in a pretty dress, they instead ended up giving the movie a sexually charged feeling. For example, showing images of women being strong, athletic, and beautiful on the track field seems to redefine some of our preconceptions of what is feminine. However, much of the movie is sprinkled with scenes of naked females in a sauna or over the top shots of female crotches while these athletes were completing the high jump.
Although the plot seemed to facilitate thoughts on femininity and what we consider to be appropriately feminine for women to be, the writers and directors left much to be desired in terms of genuine provocation of the issue. The dialogue in this movie was lacking depth- it didn't fully explore what we kept anticipating the movie to question. The makers of this movie were well-intended, but when it came to dialogue and conveying unconventional images of femininity, I think it came off a shallow and sexual. The themes of this movie bridges friendship, femininity, competition, and sports, which build the premise for a thought-provoking film. Unfortunately, this movie did not quite accomplish what it set out to accomplish.
Next, we watched "A League of Their Own", a popular movie based upon the formation of an all female baseball team during World War II. The plot of this story centers upon the relationship among two sisters who at first play for the same time, until the less beautiful, less popular sister is traded to an opposing team. I think that the theme of femininity AND feminism play out very well in this movie because it is able to address both issues with subtlety as well as impact.
The makers of this movie were able to show from scenes that gave personality and depth to each of the characters that femininity comes in many different forms. They were able to show that beauty queens, farm girls, and sex pots are all uniquely feminine. This movie was also particularly good at showing social pressures to be feminine during that time with scenes of the girls acting feminine on the field, taking etiquette classes, and being judged on their beauty. Conveniently, the least attractive girl also happened to be the least conventionally feminine.
This movie is also a commentary on feminism because it explores women's desires to play the same sports as men and the difficulties that come with achieving this type of athletic equality. Although a women's baseball league did not persist after the war, the fact that one existed at all was a great stride for the women's movement for equality. I think it is safe to say that all of the women in this movie are feminists in their own right- they were able to break cultural expectations and stereotypes to play the same game as men.
Finally, we watched a movie called "Pumping Iron II" about female bodybuilders. I think that this movie was the most direct in addressing issues of femininity and what is considered feminine. The focus of this movie was on an international women's body building competition and the standards set for women in the competition. It poses the question of at which point in judging this kind of competition can a line be drawn at athleticism and continued through with femininity. In other words, should a woman who is more conventionally "feminine" win this type of competition over a woman who is effectively more muscular than she is? Is this a competition of physical strength or of physical strength combined with femininity?
Bev, one of the strongest competitors in this competition, probably lost it to her competitors because she was deemed too "masculine", that her muscles were too large, she was not feminine, and no longer looked like a woman. However, she is a female by definition so how can she not be feminine? It is clear that there is some type of disagreement between physical standards of being feminine or female and cultural standards. In the end, however, Bev loses the competition because of her lack of what society considers to be feminine. It is obvious at this point that the competition is not just about physical fitness? But should it be? Should a competition that is limited to females adhere to the traditional conceptions of what females SHOULD look like or should it go by the same standards of male competitions of the same kind?
The questions raised by this movie were interesting and thought-provoking. In fact, I think that watching this movie made our class question our own beliefs on femininity, feminism, and how societal and cultural influences have shaped our frameworks.
These three movies explored are vastly different, but strung together by a common thread. They also question and explore how we conceptualize femininity and feminism, and how these terms are realized in different athletic arenas for women. In my opinion, a lot of the issues that arise with femininity and feminism are wrapped up in the language of how we truly want to define these terms. I think that everyone has a different definition of these terms, based on cultural and societal norms, and from our own personal experiences. This is why the topics presented in these three movies are so difficult to talk about and to pick apart- they are inextricably entangled with our own working models of what it is to be female. However, I think it is important to keep questioning it, to keep the forum for discussion open in order to understand and accept many different models of femininity, especially with the background of the sports arena

Name: web master
Date: 2005-04-29 12:30:56
Link to this Comment: 14975


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip










Name: web master
Date: 2005-04-29 12:35:19
Link to this Comment: 14976


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip










Themes in Sports Films
Name: Laura Silv
Date: 2005-05-04 22:26:56
Link to this Comment: 15044


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

One of the challenges of women in sports is combating the standards and traditional ideas of femininity, of what women should be. All of the films we watched in the 'Women, Sports and Film' class addressed these challenges in some way or another by showing that there is more to women and more to femininity than the traditional notions. Three of the films which showed opposite sides of the spectrum were 'Hero For Daisy', 'Pumping Iron II', and 'A League of Their Own'. These three films in particular address not only the pressure put on women to be "traditional", but also the pressures put on them to perform at standards equal or even greater to those of male athletes.

'Hero For Daisy' is a documentary about the women's crew team at Yale and the challenges they faced in being taken seriously as athletes and as women. In particular, the women of the Yale crew team argue that under Title IX, they are entitled to facilities equal to those of the men. This includes everything from weights and machines for working out to showers on the river for after the morning practices. The story of the struggle of the crew team is told through the eyes of Chris Ernst, who, along with her teammates, organized a demonstration aimed at getting the athletics department to provide showering facilities for the women's team. Before the demonstration was held, the women had been told by the athletics department that there was no money in the budget to build showers for them, that there was nothing to be done but to bear the burden of having no showers for use after their morning practices. This was on top of battling the hierarchy already in place at a prominent school like Yale, which, at the time, had only just started accepting women. The women's crew team wasn't taken seriously by anyone at Yale, and they had to make their fellow students, fellow athletes and the administrators take them seriously. Their demonstration, and their foresight in bringing along a newspaper reporter and a photographer, made the local news, and the story was then picked up by other newspapers around the country as an example of Title IX going unadhered to even in the most prestigious of universities. The initiative of the women's crew team not only got them their own facilities, but also set a precedent for other universities throughout the nation that the equal treatment of women's athletics under Title IX was not being taken lightly. Not only were they able to get their facilities, but they were also able to prove it a great investment – the documentary follows several of the women on the team to their Olympic try-outs and, ultimately, victory for the United States women's crew team. They were able to prove themselves as women who were able to impact their situations and combat the prejudices against their team, and also as athletes, who were able to be just as good as, or better, than the men's crew team. At some point in the film, Chris Ernst's mother talks about why her daughter chose to go to Yale: she wanted to go there to show the men of Yale that she could be just as good as they were, to beat them at their own game. This is a theme which is continued throughout the film; the women expect facilities equal to the men's, since they are performing on a level on par with the men.

'Pumping Iron II' was another film which challenged the idea of femininity in a way that none of the other movies really did. 'Pumping Iron' is a documentary about a women's body-building contest. The film follows several of the top contestants in their struggle to get in shape for the contest and deal with the competition from the other women. In particular, the challenge with this contest comes with the entrance of an Australian named Bev, whose body is likened within the film more to a male body-builder's physique than a female's – she has wide shoulders and highly developed muscles in her arms and thighs. The other competitors have well-defined hips, waists and breasts, as well as small legs and arms. The huge controversy in this film stems from what the standards for the contest should be; if the women should be judged according to their looking like women (i.e., with shapely bodies), or if they should be judged by the same standards which male body-building were judged by. Bev is a quintessential example of the latter standard; big and well-defined muscles everywhere on her body, and one who could lift enough in weights to impress any man in eyesight. Another competitor named Rachel, however, was skinny and had muscles only in places that girls were expected to have muscles. She had small arms and legs, six-pack abs, and that's about it. At the end of the film, the winner of the competition is a woman, Carla, whose body type is somewhere between the two – not as petite as Rachel, nor as buffed as Bev. The competition in this case is tricky because most of the women are of Rachel's body type, and think the contest should be judged according to how women are "supposed to look". Bev's challenge to the competition was to show that a woman could be as muscular as a man and still be sensual and feminine. On stage, she is confident and in control of the image she is portraying and the reasons why she is portraying it. Rachel plays to the traditional ideas of what a woman's body should look like, and what women should be like; she caters to the males in the audience and on the judge's panel because she feels it's what she needs to do to win. In the end, it is not a complete victory for either side of the debate, though those of Rachel's way of thinking arguably have a sweeter defeat, since Rachel finishes third place in the contest as compared to Bev's eighth place.

'A League Of Their Own' differs from the other two movies I've mentioned because it is a narrative film instead of a documentary, but its theme is similar to the other two; it is about female athletes being expected to perform like men, but still expected to act and appear like ladies. This film about the women's baseball league during World War II, but the women are held to standards both on and off the field that their male counterparts were never held to; they are recruited based on their looks rather than their talent, are forced to play in skirts rather than pants to protect their legs, and are required to attend lessons in "lady-like behavior". At the same time, they are also expected to maintain their positions and responsibilities as wives and mothers as well as the bread-winners. One of the women on the team has to bring her disruptive son with them on the bus to games because her husband refuses to take care of him, saying it's her job as the mother to take care of the kids. Another feels obligated to leave the team and return home after her husband gets back from the war oversees. The women in the league are required to perform in every aspect of their lives. Some make a conscientious decision to live up to these performances, while others play unhappily along. Continually, they are expected to perform like men, but act like women.

The directors and writers of these three films, despite their different methods (documentary versus narrative films), have something in common – they all wanted to make a point about female athletes being held to the standards of their male counterparts and still being required to be feminine in order to be accepted. They have to be athletes but often have to go an extra mile to prove themselves and be taken seriously. All of these films are about women trying to be taken seriously for what they choose to be rather than for what outside forces want them to be. It can be seen in the Yale women's crew team struggle for equal facilities; it can be seen in Bev's refusal to get a smaller body like some of her fellow competitors; and it can be seen in the pressures put on the women of the baseball league in 'A League of Their Own.' All of the women in these films are forced to make a conscious decision to either play into the pressures, or defy them.

Femininity in A League of Their Own, Pumping Iron
Name: Magi Kiril
Date: 2005-05-09 09:15:53
Link to this Comment: 15088


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Margarita Kirilova
Women, Sports and Film
March 20, 2005

Femininity in A League of Their Own, Pumping Iron II, and A hero for Daisy

The theme that interested me the most out of the movies we have seen was the issues of femininity. The movies that discussed these themes were, A League of Their Own, A Hero For Daisy, and Pumping Iron II.

The issue of femininity has always been controversial. Part of the reason for this comes from the definition of the term itself. Different people perceive femininity in different ways. For some it seems to represent a polar opposite of masculinity and everything masculinity entails. This idea derives from the notion that the sexes exist in opposition of each other and are meant to compliment each other. Therefore, any features that a woman might have, which are masculine in nature, or reminiscent of masculinity, are considered not feminine. On the other hand, femininity refers to the female. Therefore femininity should refer to a woman's spectrum of qualities and her perception of herself as a woman. Femininity should incorporate all those qualities that a woman considers to be part of her identity, regardless of what those are. These two different approaches to the term have created a lot of controversy and have been the cause of many restrictions being put on women and female athletes in particular.

A League of Their Own presents the classical view of women challenging feminine stereotypes and how society imposes those stereotypes on female athletes in order to make them more acceptable. The movie shows that women athletes are particularly targeted because they are considered to do things that have been exclusively male for centuries. Therefore, these women, are particularly pressured to conform to principles of femininity in order not to seem unwomanly. I this movie it also becomes clear that society cares more about appearances and presentation, than true identity. This can be seen in the fact that the athletes were made to wear skirts and make-up, which are counterproductive to playing baseball, but were serving the purpose of making women more acceptable as athletes. Moreover, the fact that the women's league only existed while the men were at war shows the idea that women's emancipation and participation in all societal roles is only deemed acceptable when there are no men to take those roles. Therefore, in this case, it was the issue of men not permitting women to enter traditionally male fields.

The movie A Hero for Daisy explores the issue of femininity in terms of women's ability to push the envelope and act in a way that is not deemed appropriate. The protest of the female rowers was considered so scandalous not only because it was a criticism to the administration, but also due to the manner in which it was executed. It was considered un-feminine to expose their bodies and protest. The issue becomes especially sensitive when we consider the fact that these were not only women, but women athletes, who are especially targeted and observed for their ability to be "feminine". Therefore, the problem here is of women and conformity, and propriety. It is considered that women, especially those who attended prestigious universities, are not supposed to act in a way that makes them appear scandalous and improper. Moreover, they are not supposed to protest. However, these women showed that inequality between male and female athletes cannot persist and that female athletes are bound to have their equal place in sports because they are ready to fight for it.

The movie Pumping Iron II was meant to explore the outer limits of femininity by focusing on female body builders, who practice one of the most masculine sports. This movie focused on the appearance of female bodies and how that affects the perception of women. It is a very interesting issue because it does not focus on overall presentation or behavior, the way "A League of Their Own" did, but it looks specifically at women's bodies. This movie shows that regardless of anything else, if women do not have bodies that appear feminine and that resemble the accepted stereotypes, then they are not considered feminine enough. This issue really brings out the idea of definition of femininity. Since having well built muscle to your body's full potential is something completely natural and unrelated to behavior or any other presentation, any female body that is well built should be considered just as feminine as the next. However, this movie shows that this is not the case. Even in a sport where muscle is admired, women who are "too" muscular and considered un-feminine. Moreover, this movie brings out the issue of females judging and imposing restrictions on other females. Even though it is generally considered that it is men who impose stereotypes on women, this movie shows that a lot of the times, women themselves are the most active agents in imposing restrictions on other women.

The issue of femininity has always been controversial when it comes to female athletes who challenge the limits womanhood. The movies discussed above show how female athletes challenge the ideas of femininity in terms of both appearances and behavior. Therefore, these movies are a powerful argument in the fight for defining femininity and its boundaries.

The Bleaker the Outlook, the Brighter the Outcome:
Name: Andrea Cut
Date: 2005-12-06 22:54:35
Link to this Comment: 17330


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

ANC '06
Women, Sports, and Film
December, 2005

What are the 'essential' characteristics of a CF? of a SF? How are these
played out in the films we watched?

The three chick flicks we viewed in this class, Bridget Jones' Diary, Pretty Woman, and Something's Gotta' Give, all contain the essential characteristics of a good chick flick. At the same time the sports films we watched, A League of Their Own, Love and Basketball, and Bend it Like Beckham, adhered to a different set of rules that earned them the "sports film" classification. A close look at these films draws attention to the presence of these characteristics and the effect they have on the movie's classification.

The essential elements of a good chick flick first and foremost include romance, followed by drama, conflict between a man and a woman, tears, men fighting over a women, women fighting over a man, a damsel in distress, and of course a "happily ever after" culmination to all this madness. Every chick flick involves a Prince Charming-like character, even if he is himself far from charming – at least at first. Chick flicks have conditioned us to recognize that a prince can come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. Whether he be rich or poor, tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, blue-eyed, light-hearted, young, or old does not matter when it comes to "Mr. Right." A good chick flick will leave the viewer convinced that life is a fairy tale, all she need do is discover (or be discovered by) her Prince Charming. The movies we viewed in class all contained some combination of these constituents.

Pretty Woman, is considered by many to be the quintessential chick flick. It is the classic "from rags to riches story" a sort of late 80's Cinderella in which a woman is overnight elevated from poverty to royalty. Vivien is clearly a damsel in distress though at first look Edward seems an unlikely Charming – he can't even drive a stick shift! The necessary drama required for a successful chick flick evolves as Vivien – a prostitute – attempts to transition into Edward's Rodeo Drive social circle. Conflict ensues when Edward's lawyer treats her poorly. Tears are shed and Vivien and Edward part ways. This is especially characteristic of a chick flick; the bleaker the outlook the brighter the outcome to be sure. At the movie's end Edward – in a Rapunzel –like fashion climbs Vivien's fire escape and "rescues" her from a life on the streets. She, in turn, "rescues him right back."

Bridget Jones' Diary also serves as a prime example of a chick flick. Like Vivien Bridget needs rescuing – an invaluable element of a chick flick – but not quite in the same way. Bridget needs to be rescued from the mundanity of everyday life. This film also exhibits all the necessary aspects of a chick flick. Throughout the film Bridget develops relationships with several men each of which takes a dramatic plunge that results in Bridget's tears. In perhaps its most thrilling scene, this film even involves men physically battling over a woman. As is the case with Pretty Woman it's the end of Bridget Jones' Diary that truly earns it the chick flick classification. In the end the woman must always win, and in Bridget Jones' Diary she does indeed. In a scene that sent women across the country flocking to the theater, amidst a snowstorm, at midnight, on the streets of London, an underwear-clad Bridget finally embraces her Mark. The combination of romance and a fairytale ending in Bridget Jones' Diary have perhaps earned it a place on the "Greatest Chick Flicks of All Time" list.

The essentials of a sports film involve, a central athlete with incredible skill and dedication, the struggle to balance sport with the rest of life, elements of teamwork, competition, victory, defeat, pain, and elation. These characteristics are exhibited in each of the sports films viewed in this class.

In Bend it Like Beckham Jess demonstrates the superior athletic abilities combined with the dedication and motivation characteristic of the protagonists in sports films. She battles to balance her family's culture – in which women do not play soccer – with her affinity for sport and eventually comes out on top. While victory on the playing field is not necessarily a component of all sports films, victory off the field nearly always is. In the end Jess wins her man, an athletic scholarship, and the support of her parents. The movie succeeds in conveying the message that with hard-work, commitment, and determination anyone can realize her dreams.

The film Love and Basketball also exhibits the essential features of a sports film. Like Jess, Monica is born with natural athletic talent. It's her devotion to the sport and commitment as an athlete, however, that earn her an athletic scholarship and help her to realize her dream: a career as a professional basketball player. Monica also faces the battle of balancing athletics and the rest of her life, a battle that almost costs her the most important relationships in her life. In the end though, like Jess, Monica comes out on top.

Though chick flicks and sports films are different in many respects one common thread seems to run through both: the happy ending. As to whether women's sports films are actually chick flicks in disguise, well that's a topic for another paper. Suffice it to say, that prostitute, or British -reporter, Indian soccer star, or African American basketballer each woman's story ended in the arms of her man.

Chick Flicks and Sports Films: Social Expectations
Name: Dana Bakal
Date: 2005-12-07 12:48:15
Link to this Comment: 17333


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Both Bridget Jones' Diary and Love and Basketball support societal expectations for women's behavior. Although Bridget Jones is the clearer case, Love and Basketball also supports the idea that women are more complete with a man, that they should act in a feminine manner and be pretty in order to have a good life.

In Bridget Jones, Bridget is portrayed as a neurotic, obsessive woman, who absolutely needs a man in her life in order to feel good about herself. First she has an affair with her boss, who is only using her for sex and who subsequently cheats on her. Meanwhile, she keeps running into Mark Darcy, a friend of the family who she thinks is a total dork and not at all desireable. Over the course of the film, she comes to love Mark, and finally he leaves his young, thin fiancée for Bridget, and the film ends in a kiss. In some ways, the character of Bridget mocks society's ideals about womanhood- her comfort eating and body conciousness are over exaggerated for humour purposes, and her everlasting search for a man is also portrayed as humerous.

In the beginning of the film, all of these negative and gendered characteristics are on full display in Bridget, who sleeps with her boss, tries to mold her body using huge underpant, obsesses over her weight, and generally fails at her work and social life. The film proposes to tell us as viewers that a woman like this is great the way she is, and can be valued for herself, but it ends up telling us the opposite.

When Bridget finally gets into a relationship with Mark Darcy, who supposedly likes her the way she is, she is finally happy. In this way, the film supports the idea that a woman needs a relationship with a man in order to complete her and validate her personality.

Bridget's mother goes through a similar path in the film. She has also strayed from her ideal man, Bridget's father, and taken up with an inappropriate partner in the form of the TV salesman. This man does not love her for who she is, but wants to make her into a fabulous television personality. Mrs. Jones' return to the side of her long-suffering husband, while it does support the idea that a woman should be loved for being who she is, also supports the idea that the only way she can do this is by being verified by a man.

The women in Bridget Jones' Diary are broken, neurotic, and imperfect, but they finally find happiness in the arms of a man who can accept and love their flaws. These women are unable to see themselves as good, and need a male to confirm it for them. This supports societal expectations that women should be weak and dependant, needing a man to live happily ever after with.

Love and Basketball is a sports film, and as such portrays women differently than Bridget Jones' Diary did. However, in the end it still supports the idea that in order to be really happy with who she is, a woman needs to have a man verify her goodness. Monica, the main character, loves basketball and has since she was a child. She is also in love with Quincy, who she met in the neigberhood when she was eleven. Over the course of the film, they both pursue professional basketball, and both succeed in getting into the big leagues. In college, however, they break up, and Monica's subsequent career feels empty without the love of Quincy. When they meet up again, Quincy leaves his ditzy fiancée for Monica, and becomes a supportive father, watching her as she plays basketball.

On the surface, this seems different than Bridget Jones. Monica is a strong woman, and she does succeed in her chosen career. However, when one looks closer it is clear that similar messages are sent by this film. Love and Basketball also supports the idea that a woman cannot be complete and happy without a man to love, regardless of her personal qualities.

Monica is a strong woman, and a great basketball player. She gets into the big leagues, and ends up playing in Europe, but in order to get there she does need to change herself somewhat to fit more feminine patterns of behavior. She is disciplined in high school and college basketball for being too loud and angry at setbacks, for speaking up to the ref the way men do. The film comments on this, asking why men can behave that way and be in the NBA but Monica gets pulled out of high school games because of it, but in the end Monica changes her behavior in order to fit in and be more feminine, to stay in the sport.

Monica's mother wants her to be girly, to do her hair, to go to dances, but Monica has no interest in this. Despite her seeming unfemininity, Minica does end up fulfilling her mother's expectations. Although she ends up strong and successful in her sport, she cannot do this without the love and support of Quincy. When Monica is playing ball in Europe, she is feeling disaffected and alone, missing Quincy. She is on the verge of quitting the sport when they reunite at their homes where they first met.

In Love and Basketball, like in Bridget Jones, the woman needs a man to be self actualized and happy.

chick flicks vs. women's sports films: two genres
Name: jackie fle
Date: 2005-12-08 15:08:53
Link to this Comment: 17354


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Jackie Fleming
Women, Sport and Film

Chick Flicks vs. Women's Sports Films: Two Genres Compared

During the physical education class "Women, Sport and Film", we watched three movies that fall into the category of "chick flick" and three movies in the women's sports film genre. From an ongoing class discussion of the differences between these genres, we developed a set of characteristics defining each. Characteristics that are almost always present in chick flicks would include a focus on personal relationships, primarily romantic but also with friends and family, a strong emotional tone expressed through explorations of the main character's feelings, and most importantly, a romantic conflict resolved by a happy ending. They appeal to a primarily female audience. Characteristics defining to the women's sports film genre would involve a difficult obstacle necessary for the main character and perhaps additionally for the whole team to overcome, a conflict between the main character's love of the sport and a competing interest like friends, family, career choices, etc, and the process of proving oneself as an athlete to unsupportive family, friends, or society. A women's sports film can appeal to a male and female audience.

The films we watched embody these characteristics in different ways. "Bridget Jones' Diary" is clearly driven by the romantic plotline involving Bridget, Mark and Daniel. Bridget as a character is depicted primarily through her search for love and the bumps along the way. Her family and friends play supporting, though marginalized roles, and though other issues are present, they are mainly left unexplored. This movie is more on the shallow end of the chick flick spectrum, since the main character is pretty much a wreck without love and is not a good role model of a functioning, independent woman.

"Pretty Woman" on the other hand features a strong, independent, multi-dimensional leading female. Though Julia Roberts' Vivianne is in a profession that allows her to meet all kind of men, she protects herself from getting attached with her "no kissing on the mouth" rule. Additionally, she is in a profession often associated with a pimp. Not only does Vivianne refuse this relationship, she handles her business competently and professionally. The chick flick aspect comes into play with the romantic conflict played out through her feelings for her client. The issue of class is highly prevalent, presenting an obstacle to the romance between Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Though Pretty Woman leaves viewers with a happy ending, our class questioned whether this was satisfying. Since Julia Roberts talked about her desire to further her education and get a different job, we cant be sure any of this would be realized if Richard Gere simply interrupts these ambitions, putting her on the path to comfortable domestic life.

The final chick flick we watched was "Something's Gotta Give" which takes the chick flick formula and applies it to a pair of characters unconventional for the genre because of their age. This highlights another defining characteristic of chick flicks: the understood requirement that the main characters be youthful and attractive, almost always attractive beyond any realistic realities for men and women. Other than age, this movie conforms to the other chick flick characteristics, although once again our class disputed the ending and whether it was in fact the one we wanted to see. Some members of the class wanted Diane Keaton to end up with Keanu Reeves, the younger, debonair doctor. He does seem like the more appealing choice over the old, grumpy Jack Nicholson. However, throughout the movie, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson have a connection and an understanding that Diane doesn't have with Keanu Reeves. Thus, I find it to be a satisfying ending to a satisfying chick flick.

"A League of Their Own" can appeal to everyone, portraying a set of interesting characters who share a passion for baseball but all have their own issues and side stories. The obstacle to overcome for the team are getting respect as athletes and filling the stadium in order to keep the league going. There is a subplot between the two main characters who are sisters on the same team. Dottie, the older sister, is the baseball star, which is a source of inner conflict for her younger sister, Kit, who never feels good enough. This conflict is played out through a riveting final baseball play in which the sisters are playing against each other and this final play determines which team wins. It is a competition of who wants to win more, and allows for the possibility that Dottie has her sister's interests at heart when she allows her to win.

"Bend it Like Beckham" also explores many issues. The main character, Jess, is from an Indian family living in Britain and struggles to please her family and satisfy her own passion for soccer. The issue of culture, friendship, family and love are all central to the story. Jess and her best friend on the team fight over their coach, although, interestingly, this romance with the coach is not given as much attention as the friendship between the two women. This is a choice that clearly separates this movie apart from other chick flicks. It also meets the requirements that a women's sports film involve a process of the main character proving herself to unsupportive friends or family. This is certainly necessary for Jess to get the understanding and support she needs from her family.

The last women's sports film we watched is "Love and Basketball", a movie about a girl and boy who grow up next to each other and share a love for basketball. As they grow there is a strong bond between them, but their romance is tested by Monica's success in the sport coming at a time when Quincy's success is dwindling. The relationship finally ends when Quincy finds out his dad has been cheating on his mom and this leads him to drive Monica out of his life. Thus, other issues are explored in the movie, the characters must face obstacles to finding their way back to each other in addition to obstacles they must overcome in the sport. The must prove their worth to each other at different points in the movie.

One thing I found interesting in this class was the debate that came up after watching "Pretty Woman" and "Something's Gotta Give" over whether the ending was really satisfying. I wonder whether the debates in our class regarding the "happy" endings of these chick flicks is because the class is composed of a self-selected group of women choosing the go to a school without men, and whether the average chick flick-goer would challenge the movie the way we did. After examining the differences between chick flicks and women's sports films, I found that I vastly prefer the women's sports film for offering more of the complete package, portraying the female main characters as multi-dimensional and having more issues in their life than just romantic ones, for having a passion for sport that love doesn't automatically take priority over. For these reasons I believe this category of movie is much healthier for females and also for males to get a better understanding of the strength, determination and talent of women, over the concept offered by the chick flick of the vulnerable female desperate for love.

Women, Sport, and Film Question #2
Name: Talia Libe
Date: 2005-12-09 15:32:35
Link to this Comment: 17365


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Women, Sport, and Film
Talia Liben
December 9, 2005

Question #2: Compare and contrast one Chick Flick and one Women's Sport Film and how they are shaped by social mores and societies expectations (or not) of women.

In this paper, I will discuss the ways that Legally Blonde, a chick flick, and A League of Their Own, a women's sport film, are influenced by social mores and societal expectations of women. I will also show how they are shaped, not necessarily by societal expectations, but rather by feminist ideals that are more prevalent in films these days.

Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde is a film that shows that women can be successful and still be feminine. Being feminine, or a "girly-girl," does not mean that a woman cannot accomplish things of importance, stand up for her beliefs, or be a feminist. Feminism does not get in the way of love. A film that highlights these themes and shows them in such a way that is appealing for young women and girls in an important one to have, because it belies many critiques of feminism. It illustrates an ideal that is beneficial for women in society, but it does it in a way that makes these ideals desirable for "feminine" females.

One of the most important qualities of a chick flick is that it ends with the female protagonist finding true love. Unlike most chick flicks, this film is equally (if not more-so) about Elle Woods becoming an accomplished woman, as much as it is about her finding love. Some lessons that Legally Blonde teaches females are: it is difficult for women to succeed and get taken seriously when they are attractive, but that does not mean that it isn't possible, and they should still aim at accomplishing their goals; do not give up, because working harder makes it more satisfying in the end; the men that are not worthwhile are the ones who are threatened by strong, intelligent, and sexy women; the worthwhile men are attracted to those very qualities.

It is true that Elle Woods got into law school by submitting a video tape of her scantily clad. And it is also true that she went to law school to be with her boyfriend. However, this film is a story about how she matures. She was at first a woman who only cared about fashion, friends, and her boyfriend. She becomes a woman who loves herself and is aware of all of her potential.

A League of Their Own
A League of Their Own is a film that tells the world that women can play sports and still be feminine. We see this very clearly with some of the characters, such as Dottie and Mae, who are both extraordinary athletes and very attractive and feminine women. In a similar point, though different, the film shows that women can succeed in sports. Also, women can be married and still accomplish their dreams. Marriage does not mean giving up on yourself or choosing someone else above you.

The film shows a nice compromise between feminism and love. Just because you are a feminist does not mean you can't get married, and visa versa. The character of Doris shows that women should not just settle for just anyone who will take them, because there are men who appreciate athletic girls. We can see this by looking at her relationship with her boyfriend, who she is with despite the fact the he treats her poorly, because she thinks that she cannot do better, since she is athletic and men do not understand that. But then, she gains a fan club of several men, and she soon realizes that she does not have to settle. There are men who find athletic women sexy.

The only caveat about A League of Their Own and the themes of feminism and success that it espouses, is that the women who play baseball, although they are great at it, must still look feminine while doing it. They have to look attractive, wear short skirts, and take grooming and etiquette classes. This, however, was the reality of the situation, and not the discretion of the writer and director.

In Legally Blonde, she starts off as a girl who just wants to be with her boyfriend, who gets into law school because she's gorgeous, who doesn't care about much else other than style hairdos and her sorority. But she grows and realizes she's intelligent, and can be both smart and girly. She realizes that she does not need a man, especially one who does not appreciate her for who she is. And she succeeds in both law school and finds a man who loves her because she's intelligent and girly. She matures throughout the film.

In A League of Their Own, certain characters mature to realize their full worth or potential – Shirley learns to read, Marla, who everyone thought was so ugly and unfeminine, finds love and gets married, and Doris realizes that she doesn't have to settle for what she thinks she can get, and that plenty of men find athletic women attractive (she even gets a little fan club). But more so, the film shows it's viewers that femininity and sports are not contradictions, and that athleticism is attractive, and that women can be married and still choose the course of their own lives. It also shows that it is perfectly acceptable to choose a life as a house wife and mother, as Dottie does.

Name: M. Leonard
Date: 2005-12-10 14:07:27
Link to this Comment: 17368


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Films about women are endlessly suspect simply because they are a popular, easily definable subset. It can be easy to see societal pressures in them, whether or not such messages actually exist, and this is particularly, almost famously, true of the 2001 "chick flick" Bridget Jones' Diary. But some movies seem more easily to escape such scrutiny, and in some ways sports films centered around women can most easily be ignored for such overanalyzing purposes, because they are relatively atypical. Whether Bridget Jones is more affected by society's expectations of women than a sports film like Bend It Like Beckham is a question worth investigating.

The titular Jones is a poster child for romantic neuroses. Oscillating endlessly between eyebrow-plucking desperation and alcohol-guzzling renunciation, it's all too easy for the viewer to understand why she can't just find a nice man. But whether she is simply a character, anxious and flighty, or a societal daguerreotype meant to remind the viewer that women are unsteady louts too boy-crazy to be competent at work is perhaps unclear.

Consider, however, Bridget's relative progress. The film's sole truly dynamic character (with the possible exception of her wandering "mum"), Bridget is surrounded by men who make few if any changes in their lifestyles despite upheaval: her father, who sits at home watching his wife on the telly and goes to parties where she'll be, if not with her; Daniel Cleaver, who literally runs from Bridget and any other real commitment he's faced with; and even Mark, who only appears to change because Bridget misinterprets him at every step, but is the same nice, guarded man at the end of the film as at the beginning.

Bridget's progress, while perhaps limited when compared to, say, Scarlett O'Hara, is nonetheless superior to that of any other character in the film. She finds her voice after Cleaver's betrayal and uproots her life, leaving a menial job she clearly breezes through for a position that requires much more of her. The final straw may have been a romantic falling-out but it was clear from day one that Bridget was bored, detested her coworkers and superiors, and simply didn't care about the books her company published. If this film is passing along a secret message about women, it would seem to be that even the neurotic ones go after what they want: Cleaver, a better job, Darcy. Even her mother goes after Julian and the modeling spot, while the men can't seem to put in much effort to do anything; all Darcy does to get the girl at the end is show up.

Bend It Like Beckham seems an even less likely place to find the misogynistic conspiracy so many seem to suggest of chick flicks, as this is more a sports film than a romance and more a family movie than that. Jess is less neurotic but also flawed: she's guilty but still quite willing to lie to her parents, ditch various responsibilities, and ignore social mores. This last is the most interesting: Jess' family has quite strong opinions about a woman's role. If the film was indeed enforcing old, troubling mores, it seems obvious that these ideas would maintain the top role and win the day. Instead, Jess ends up with every culture-destroying goal she could dream of: studying abroad, playing soccer (in shorts!), not only dating openly but seeing an Irishman, and so on. Her parents' feelings about women's roles are dashed at every turn, though they seem to control her somewhat towards the beginning of the film.

There are nuances, however; Jess' resistance to a relationship with Joe is a notable turn towards respecting her parents' wishes. She also attends the wedding (although her sullen countenance is hardly what they were aiming for, and I almost thought she shouldn't be let to attend the match because she was being quite the brat in that way, much as I like her) over her own final match, learns the dinner preparation, and so on.

She's not a complete iconoclast, but nonetheless she's far more independent than Daddy's girl Bridget, which perhaps suggests the role sport played in her life. If Bridget, with no apparent hobbies beyond drinking and reading horrible self-help books, is all too tied to her family's wish (she ends up, after all, with the exact man her mother wanted, and back at the Turkey Curry Buffet at the beginning of the sequel, putting herself through all the same hoops for her annoying family), Jess, with an extended family and a cultural heritage that tells her to respect them, no questions asked, is the strange one. Perhaps she merely fights back harder against her family's decisions because they're more binding, but perhaps a family-free obsession and individual success within that hobby were the real motivators behind her independence. Since the movie clearly paints Jess' decisions as the best possible choices, it can hardly be suggesting that this independence is too much; indeed, it would seem that rather than supporting 50s-like mores and roles for women, it shoots them down quite forcefully.

While some in the class seem convinced that all media is simply a new format for oppressing women by whatever means necessary, I can't help but feel the opposite. With strong, likable female characters whose foibles and neuroses are just like our own—if hyperbolized for humor's sake—these movies seem to stomp all over the mores they're said to represent. If anything they suggest that society has a new expectation for women: be ambitious, be spirited, and for heaven's sake be funny.

What are the 'essential' characteristics of a CF?
Name: Eleanor Ca
Date: 2005-12-10 14:22:12
Link to this Comment: 17369


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

In this class, we spent a lot of time discussing what characteristics are present in a chick flick, what characteristics are necessary in a women's sports film, and what characteristics are shared by chick flicks and women's sports films. We agreed that a chick flick will focus on a woman as a main character and that the tension will relate to her relationships. There usually is a romantic relationship or a desire for a romantic relationship that plays a major role in the development of the plot of the chick flick. In a women's sports film, the issue of competition in a sport becomes important. However, we have seen that in most of the sports films we have watched, relationships have played a major role alongside the athletics. Relationships are essential to both kinds of movies. Sports are essential to women's sports films. Sports films have a complication in the relationships on which they focus- competition in the sport, or perhaps the conflict between the sport and the woman athlete's personal life. We see these themes in all of the movies we have watched this semester. The relationships in "A League of their Own", "Bend it Like Beckham", and "Love and Basketball" are complicated by sports, but the focus remains on the women and their relationships. Where, in "Pretty Woman", the relationship between Julia Roberts' character and Richard Gere's character was complicated by the fact that Julia Roberts' character was a prostitute, in "Bend it Like Beckham", the relationship between Jess and her family, like the relationship between Jules and her family, was complicated by the fact that she was a football player. But the relationship between Jess and Jules was strained by the fact that they both liked the same guy, their coach.. The themes remain very much the same in chick flicks and women's sports films.

In "Pretty Woman", we see the fairy tale love story, which Vivien has imagined in the past, actually happen to her. Vivien has had bad luck in love and has not found what we generally consider success in a career. We meet one friend, a woman who cares about her a lot but who is not responsible, she uses their rent money to buy drugs. When Vivien is offered quite a lot of money to stay at a luxury hotel with Richard Gere's character and to purchase expensive clothes and eat in fancy restaurants keeping him company, it looks like a major windfall, to say the least.

Richard Gere's character clearly finds Vivien attractive from fairly early on. Perhaps she is a breath of fresh air in comparison with the ambitious, high power people he usually interacts with. He and Vivien have a fairly easy time of falling in love, considering their differences in station and experience, as a result of the fact that it's a movie. However, Vivien has a problem when Richard Gere's character's lawyer suggests that he might utilize her services in the future, letting her feel that Richard Gere sees her as nothing more than a prostitute. Richard Gere's character is able to offer to set her up in a house and provide what she needs as far as food and clothing, and he does, but she is not looking to have this sort of situation, as she sees it as a more comfortable version of what she is already doing. By going the fairy tale route, Richard Gere's character wins Vivien over, and we imagine that they ride off into the sunset together. We're not sure that this is the success for which Vivien has been waiting, either, but she has found a romantic relationship with somebody who is not a bum, and to whom she is attracted and whose company she enjoys. She does not need to work as a prostitute anymore, and we can imagine that she finds something enjoyable and useful to occupy her time in the future.

In "Bend it Like Beckham", we see two young women who are very successful as soccer players and in school. Jess's parents do not want her to play soccer because it's not appropriate for her at this stage in her life, when she should be thinking about college and domestic activities. Jules' mother has difficulty with the soccer because she also sees it as unladylike, and worries that her daughter is a lesbian. Their relationships with their family members are strained because of this difficulty with the sport that they love, but in the end they successfully are recruited to a soccer team in the United States and go away to college in the U.S., where they will play soccer and have an opportunity for greater athletic success. The audience finds much to laugh at in the presentation of the tension in the two girls' families that stem from their soccer playing.

The relationship between Jules and Jess, however, is another important part of the movie, and where the girls work well together on the soccer field and contribute to each other's success in this area, there is tension when they both become attracted to their coach and Jess becomes involved with him despite knowing that Jules likes him as well. This is something that could easily happen in a chick flick that doesn't relate to sports. They make up and Jules accepts the relationship between Jess and the coach, however, because they need to work together in the championship game, and their shared love of the game and success in the game brings them together. In a chick flick we might have seen them not talking in the end of the movie, or reconciling only after the coach dumped Jess, and Jules found a boy who was better suited to her.

The themes explored in chick flicks and women's sports films are very much the same. Women's sports films are able to address these themes in different ways because they use sports as a major theme. In the end, however, both kinds of film have to appeal to women, and do similar things to achieve this end.

Bend Like Bunny
Name: Sarah Kim
Date: 2005-12-12 17:05:46
Link to this Comment: 17377


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

The year is 2015, the month – June, the place – New York City. The camera focuses in on a 19 year old girl, getting dressed for her night. Bunny is an Indian girl, working as a prostitute in New York City, with dreams of becoming a professional soccer-player. She moved here from London with big dreams but small pockets. She has had to turn to prostitution to pay the bills on her tiny apartment. Bunny pulls on her knee-high stiletto boots and adds the finishing touches to her makeup. Just as she picks up her purse, adding a few extra condoms, she hears her phone ring.

She answers the phone, "Hello?"

Her mom on the other end of the line calls out, "BUNIKA?! Is that you?!" yelling into the phone, as she always does on international calls.

Bunny sighs, "Yes mum, it's me. You don't have to yell, I can hear you just fine."

"Bunika, how is New York City? Your father worries about you, how is your job at the music store? Have you found a decent man yet? When are you coming home? Have you stopped playing that stupid football game?" her mother shouts questions at her.

"Mum, everything is fine, my job is fine, no I haven't a boyfriend right now, I don't know when I'm coming back. Mum, I have to get going, I'm late for er...meeting a friend," Bunny sighs, purposely ignoring the last question. "Yes, Mum, I'll give you a ring later. Yes, tell Da I love him. I love you too, okay, bye."

Bunny hates lying to her parents, but what's a working girl to do? She grabs her purse, gives a final look in the mirror and heads out to work the streets for another night in New York City. She saunters out onto the street at night, swaying her hips in her tight red miniskirt and black halter crop top. She walks out to her regular street corner and strikes a pose with her hip jutting out. Bunny calls out to cars as they pass, waving at them and smiling seductively.

A car pulls over, and Bunny struts over, leaning down into the car's window and negotiating a price for her body. She gets in the car with the man, and goes off to his place to turn her first trick of the night. It's dangerous being a prostitute on the streets of New York without a pimp, but she's had enough of giving all her money to drug dealers who claim to be able protect her. She's a self-sufficient girl and can take care of herself.

Bunny is back an hour later and a condom lighter on her street corner, calling to cars again. She waves to yet another car that keeps driving when she hears some yelling coming from a familiar back alley. Bunny pauses in her advertising, and cocks her head to hear the sounds. She hears the familiar 'thump' sound of a soccer ball hitting the trash cans used for goals, and she can't help herself. She knows she needs to make another $200 tonight to pay rent, but she's drawn the sounds of people playing soccer.

Bunny walks down the street a bit and peeks down the familiar alley. She sees a familiar crowd of people there, her sometime friends, these men who play pickup games of soccer in this alley. She hesitantly moves into the alley, unable to resist the temptation of playing soccer. The men look at her, knowing she can play, but still reluctant because she's female. They are short a man tonight, so they give in and ask her to play. Bunny grins and nods, putting down her purse and getting ready to play.

As Bunny prepares to join the game, a professional women's soccer scout groans in the backseat of his limo. His limo driver is new and has gotten lost in the random streets of New York. The limo moves slowly as the driver reads the signs on the streets. The scout, Joe Richard, rubs his temples with his hands. He sighs, and looks out the window to his left. Running towards the goal in her stiletto boots is a tough feat, but Bunny is a tough cookie, and she kicks the ball into the goal around the goalie, scoring for her team. The men on her team cheer for her, celebrating. Joe Richard gapes out his window at the prostitute who just scored an incredible goal. He yells to his driver to stop and back up.

Joe Richard exits his limo, not waiting for the chauffeur to come around and open his door for him, walking towards Bunny purposefully. She is still caught up in the excitement of scoring (in her stiletto boots, no less) and doesn't notice Joe until he is almost upon her. At first, she's uncertain why he has approached her, and assumes it must be for the reason that most men approach her. So she looks up at him seductively, and says "Hi baby, want some company tonight?"

Joe ignores her offer, and says "How did you learn how to score that goal?"

Startled by his approach, Bunny blurts out, "Umm...I don't know, I just love playing, and I learned through experience, I guess."

Joe looks at her intensely and says "I'm a professional women's soccer scout, and I think you have potential. You made that goal in high heels!"

Bunny raises an eyebrow and says, "You've gotta be kidding me. I'm not that stupid; that line might work on other girls, but you're not getting a freebie from me," as she turns away from Joe back to the soccer game at hand.

Joe grabs her arm as she turns away, and says, "I'm serious. I'd really like to see you at tryouts. They're this Monday at 3pm. Here's my card, give me a call if you're interested. You're really good. You have a chance at turning pro if you put in the work." He hands her his business card and walks back to his limo.

Bunny gapes at his retreating back, then gapes at his business card. She calls out, "Wait..." to his back, and Joe pauses at his limo. "Are you just pulling my leg, or is this for real?" she asks.

Joe smiles and says, "This is for real. Come with me now if you want a real chance at playing professional soccer." He steps into his limo and leaves the door open behind him.

Bunny pauses and glances at the men around her who are wearing expressions varying from complete disbelief to complete shock. One of them grabs her arm and says, "Bunny...that's JOE RICHARD...he's the top professional women's soccer scout in the country!!!"

Hearing those words, Bunny starts walking towards the limo and climbs in next to Joe. "So what do I have to do?" she asks as the limo pulls away.

Ten months later, Bunny is no longer walking the streets of New York City as a prostitute, but as a soccer player on her way up the ranks. She and Joe Richard have fallen in love, and he's helping her in her career. Unfortunately, just when Bunny thinks everything is going fine, the phone rings.

"BUNIKA!!! What is this I saw in the newspaper about you playing football?!?! This is unacceptable, you must come home immediately!!! We allowed you to go to America to find a nice Indian husband and settle down. You cannot be running around in shorts and playing a man's game!!!" her mother screams at her over the phone.

Uh-oh, thinks Bunny, as she waits for her mother's tirade to end. Bunny's problems have started again. She must now convince her parents that she can play soccer in America as a legitimate career and still find a husband.

Finally, at the end of the movie, her parents come around and accept her soccer-playing lifestyle, and Joe Richard has rescued her from a lifetime of prostitution. Bunny and Joe live happily ever after.

The End.

Women's Sports Films and Chick Flicks: Is there re
Name: Jennifer G
Date: 2005-12-12 23:19:35
Link to this Comment: 17381


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

In class we screened a combination of "women's sports movies" and "chick flicks", with the objective of comparing how the two interrelate. Using the simplest definition of a "chick flick" as a movie that appeals more to women than it does to men there is not a set difference between chick flicks and women's sports movies. Two of the main characteristics of a chick flick include the focus on relationships, romantic or otherwise, and a story that is told that relates to issues that women can relate to.

When appealing to women the main focus is often relationships. Commonly a romantic relationship is set as one of the main focal points of the movie, where the climax comes with the lead female and male getting together; however, this is far from the only type of relationship that chick flicks can center around. Other important relationships that chick flicks deal with are deep friendships, in groups or even between two people, and familial relationships either between siblings or a parent and child. Most movies will deal with multiple relationships, but there is often one that drives the main plot.

Most of the movies watched in class were centered on romantic relationships. The "chick flicks" all centered on romantic relationships; however the women's sports films deviated more from this type. Love and Basketball was the only one of the sports films that was completely centered on a romantic relationship. A League of their Own had romantic subplots, but was generally focused on the familial relationship between Kit and Dotti. The other film from class, Bend It Like Beckham did not have a romantic relationship as the main focus, but the movie was driven by the Jess's need to balance all of her relationships, so there was no main focus.

Even though it was often the women's sports movies in class that deviated from the idea of a main romantic plot it is not a trait that defines women's sports movies as separate from chick flicks. The category of films that were watched that were labeled as "chick flicks" actually belonged to the romantic comedy genre. Although many people in class defined Pretty Woman as the "ultimate chick flick", as a personal preference the movie that I would probably give that title to would be The First Wive's Club, which is not a romantic comedy but still clearly a chick flick. This movie had romantic subplots, but focused mainly on the strong friendship between the three main characters.

All of the relationships are a part of these movies because they represent issues that women can relate to. Sport films that involve women play to things that affect women in terms of sports that would not be the same issues that would affect men. Oftentimes, women in sports or who have ever played a sport understand the emotion and hardship portrayed in these movies. Even if women don't understand these exact situations they are often ways to express hardships that are faced by women.

All of the women's sports movies in class dealt with the disparity between the ability for male and female athletes to pursue a career in sports or at least the in their support. The women all needed to work extra hard to ensure support, either in terms of opportunities where many of the women needed to leave their home in search of an opportunity to play, leagues being shut down or even just poor attendance. Women, even those not directly involved with professional athleticism can understand these consequences.

Many women face similar problems in other traditionally male dominated fields. It is a story that can be told best through sports as it provides the action and understanding necessary to properly convey the story. Trying to tell the story of a women pioneering a field such as science does not have the same qualities that would allow it to be made into a genre of stories as the pursuit of women in sports since it would require knowledge that is not as widely known and have the draw back that research can be dead boring and tedious. Sports allow for this concept to be portrayed in a way that everyone woman could understand it.

The movies characterized as "chick flicks" also portrayed issues that were near to what a woman could relate to. The issue of having a voice was often a large component, similarly to the sports films. These movies did not necessarily portray the differences between gender roles, but other aspects of life. In Pretty Woman Julia Robert's character was overlooked due to her class standing and grew into someone who people respected in some sort of fashion. In Something's Gotta Give it wasn't so much that Dianne Keaton's character was overlooked, but that Jack Nicholson's character learned to listen to the women characters, with an inverse situation. Women tend to enjoy respect in society and will enjoy movies that portray them as such in a world where there is still a struggle for gender equality.

All movies allow for the suspension of disbelief that speaks to their demographic. As women are a key demographic they have their own genre of movies, the chick flick. It is this through this genre that allows subsets to be formed that let women enter a world that speaks more to what is important to them, this includes romantic comedies which allow the viewer empathize with the desire for human affection and interaction, or a movie that focuses more on portraying issues that influence and affect women on a day to day basis such as sports films. All of these movies have a strong female protagonist that allows for women to relate to more than men, securing these movies as chick flicks.

The Essential Characteristics of Chick Flicks and
Name: Sarah M
Date: 2005-12-14 05:52:32
Link to this Comment: 17391


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Women, Sports and Film
Amy Campbell

What are the "essential" characteristics of a Chick Flick? of a Sports Film?
How are these played out in the films we watched?*

Throughout the past few weeks, we have been exposed to a number of mainstream-media films which employ stereotypes, characteristics and themes related to either the quintessential 'Chick Flick' or sports film. In many of these movies, such as Bend it Like Beckham, the director artfully incorporates characteristics of both of these film genres.

In examining what makes a 'Chick Flick', there are certainly some almost invariable qualities. In many of these movies, such as in Bridget Jones' Diary, or in Pretty Woman, there is a female protagonist embroiled in some sort of conflict or another. In Bridget Jones's Diary, a nearing-middle-age slightly 'overweight' (as the movie portrays by her eating habits and self-perception) is feeling trapped in her lonely quest to find a suitor; in her eyes, a veritable 'prince charming.' This conflict is then mitigated by the presence of a promising, handsome, charming man who's purpose (at least in the intents of the movie), as it turns out, is to valiantly rescue our female protagonist from her impending doom of "spinsterhood". However, as it turns out, our Prince Charming is characteristically flawed (as he usually is in one way or another in these movies) and our female protagonist (Bridget, in this case) must somehow sublimate all of her emotional/physical hurdles and somehow undergo a personal revolution in order to reverse the roles of dominance in the movie. This theme is found in Pretty Woman, in that Vivian has found herself in the beginnings of being overcome by the hardship of sex work and 'street life'. Richard Gere, our prince charming, come screeching to a halt in front of our female protagonist and we are led to the hope that perhaps this successful, wealthy business is somehow the answer to all of Vivian's prayers. And yet, in the end, Vivian (like Bridget) finds herself in a situation in which her pride and sense of self-worth is compromised and challenged, and she has to make the choice between "settling" for less than she wants and walking; and like out heroine in Bridget Jones's Diary, she chooses to retain her self-pride. Aside from this interaction between the capitalizing on gender stereotyping and at best trite attempt at 'female empowerment', these quintessential chick flicks employ one of the most powerful tools available to woo their mainstream audience of mostly-females: a happy ending. These themes of personal redemption and empowerment hold true to the chick flick with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson Somethings Gotta Give.

In Sports Films, such as Bend it like Beckham A League of Their Own, and in Love and Basketball, there are themes of conflict, yet it seems as though rather than the focus being on interpersonal conflicts between the protagonist and another character (although there is, undeniably, very strong subplot employing this theme in each of the movies) the conflict seems to lie on some personal or (as in the attainment of a singular personal goal) larger-scale issues, such as the winning of the final series, and keeping the women's league open in A League of Their own, or the rise of the female protagonists in Bend it Like Beckham to a professional league in the states. In these sports films, issues of gender roles, gender dominance and masculinity vs. femininity arises. In A League of Their Own for example, the women were mandated to wear skimpy skirts and impractical uniform in order to appeal to a general audience who appreciate not the talent of these women but rather look to objectify these women as sex objects and spectacle. It could be argued that in our society, today, we continue to do these very things. Women athletes are currently still judged on the basis of their femininity and are subject to scrutiny in ways that male athletes are not.

Therefore, the phenomenon of the 'intermingling' of both Sports Film and Chick Flick themes in the same movie is something interesting – when the subject of these movies is female, and the main premise of the move is a sports-centered themes, there is almost always an undercurrent of love and sexual relationship. In League of Their Own the conflict between Dottie's involvement in the team and her relationship with her husband and desire to fulfill her 'duties' as a wife is a salient example of this; in Bend it Like Beckham, there is a love triangle conflict between the two female protagonists and their mutual love interest, their coach. Thus, one must look at these Chick Flicks masquerading as Sports Films and be critical of the messages the media is sending about women in the sports and athletics arena; what is the movie portraying as the true value of these women? As love objects, or as athletes?

It's a Carefully-Formulated Structure
Name: Ana C
Date: 2005-12-14 05:53:21
Link to this Comment: 17392


Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
On Serendip

Ana Calvert-Kilbane
Women in Sports and Film
Amy Campbell
December 13, 2005

It's a Carefully-Formulated Structure—Explore it, and it Will Not Hold

While chick flicks and women's sports films are distinguished by the quirks of their protagonists, the voices of their characters, and the twists in their plotlines, they all share the common demand for our feisty heroines to challenge themselves in new ways. These challenges can be emotional, like Bridget Jones' ability to forgive Colin Firth's character for his pride, even as she apologizes for her own prejudice against him and his mother's reindeer sweater. The tests can also have underlying physical qualities, like Bridget's goal to reach the ever-elusive "perfect weight," or Kit's yearning to score the winning run in a major game. Whatever shape or form these trials might take, it always falls on the protagonist to resolve them.

Almost without fail, our heroines employ the help of their friends or love interests in the quest, for a time allowing themselves—albeit grudgingly—to be guided towards what the outside parties surrounding them deem best. A clear example of this occurs in Bend it Like Beckham, when Jasminda follows her parents' and sister's will, attending her sister's wedding instead of playing in the soccer championship. However, it would not be a women's empowerment film (or Hollywood at all) if it ended in this self-sacrificing way; Jasminda's father cedes permission for her to play in the game, and it is with this small opening that she blazes her way into victory, proving herself first as a daughter, then as a soccer player, soon after as a friend, and later on, as a girlfriend. It seems that she must fulfill all of these roles for the movie to end on a hopeful, upbeat note. indi women in saris line-dancing to "Hot, hot, hot." While these movies present important questions around gender roles, racial prejudices, ethnic tensions, and class conflicts, it is always on a rather superficial level. While these mainstream films poke at the collective consciousness about these dyanamics, they rarely push into real development, maintaining a tongue-in-cheek tone throughout the film.

We not only see this in the way the film begins, with Jasminda digitally inserted into Beckham's soccer game, but also in the unlikely conclusion, with Hindi women in saris line-dancing to "Hot, hot, hot." In another case, we witness homophobia in Jules's mother, as she worries that her daughter might be a lesbian. She is relieved to find that she is mistaken, but when she regains her composure, she mumbles "Not that there is anything wrong with being a lesbian..." This off-hand comment skewers the hypocrisy of moderate liberalism, as it sets different standards for society than it does for personal "policies." However, without continuing the development of this message, the comment is lost to a montage of music and dancing, fading into the smattering of sociopolitical statements that are rarely explored.

Chick flicks and women's sports films are quite similar, each ascribing to a closely-defined formula that walks a clear-cut line to the conclusions we expect to see as an audience. It is only when this line becomes three-dimensional that we begin to explore important themes of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

Oftentimes in class this semester, it was frustrating to be traveling in circles around the same, somewhat limited topics. However, this was not for a lack of inquisitive minds, and certainly not for a lack of a strong teacher; rather, we discovered that we can only go so far with the themes that are brushed upon in the world of the chick flick or even the women's sports film. Chick flicks and women's sports films are the Pandora's Box of the movie business, providing fodder for discussion that can only be continued and explored more fully outside of the movie's context.

| Serendip Forums | About Serendip | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 11:57:28 CDT