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Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

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Women, Sport, Film (Shelton) 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.

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Week 1 Question
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-01-31 12:13:10
Link to this Comment: 4333

Week 1
Welcome to our e-forum. As we explore the image of women in sport as framed by film, we hope you will enjoy participating in this on-line forum with students from Smith and Wesleyan.

Please start your response with a note introducing yourself to your forum group.
Respond to either one of the following two questions. Feel free to return to your forum and see what others have written and continue the 'conversation".

1. What makes Title IX a social justice issue and why? How does it impact women today – not just athletes, but the culture of access and equity for women's participation in any area that has a history of male dominance.

2. What is the cultural ideal of women in sport? How does it differ from men?

cultural ideal of women in sport
Name: lily gatau
Date: 2003-02-01 14:31:58
Link to this Comment: 4343

The ideal of women in sport today is very similar to the ideal of women in business, science or home . Whether it is gym or office, lab or kitchen, women are expected to be impossibly thin good wives who had reached high proficiency in certain sphere. Female athletes, however, especially those of them who are very often depicted in the mass media, play the role of the models, who give the birth to the new standards in the women body image. Strong, beautiful, model-like female athletes are the ones that get the most popularity and who fit the best to the current cultural ideal of female athlete. Thus, the ideal female athlete in the modern society is a composition of two equally important (for the hegemonic culture) elements: body beauty and athletic skills, - while the image of the male athlete stays secondary to his proficiency in his sport.

Title IX
Name: E. F
Date: 2003-02-02 23:38:41
Link to this Comment: 4362

Title IX was created to combat discrimination based on gender in admissions, housing, educational opportunities, career services, financial aid, health insurance, and athletic programs. (See Title IX Fact Sheet.) It is a social justice issue especially because it is a step toward allowing women the same opportunities as men in the areas that have the greatest impact on their future success. Title IX has changed the perception of what women are capable of doing. It has had a dramatic impact on the number of women seeking and earning bachelors and advanced degrees, degrees in areas traditionally dominated by men such as engineering, math, science, and technology, and participation in high school and collegiate athletics. When women today show an interest in learning something, they can no longer be legally barred from pursuing that interest as they were in the days before Title IX when quotas, segregation resulting in inferior opportunities, and outright denial were common in higher education. Although progress has been made toward women having comparable prospects as men, Title IX enforcement has been eroded in recent years and was never as universal as it should have been.

Name: Lauren Wei
Date: 2003-02-05 11:39:53
Link to this Comment: 4414

My name is Lauren Weiner and I am a junior environmental studies major, and sports studies minor at Mount Holyoke College. I am on the field hockey and softball teams and I intend to continue my involvement in athletics post-college by becoming a collegiate field hockey coach.
In regards to the first question, Title IX states that no person be discriminated against based on gender in any educational program that receives federal funding. Title IX is a social justice issue because it has had profound impact on the access to resources and opportunities for women. It has allowed women to more easily enter areas of study that were once male dominated, given them equal access to career guidance, and financial aid.
As I'm sure we all know welll, since Title IX was passed in 1972, female participation in sports has increased dramatically. Due to this increase and also as women's sports became more legitimate after the passage of the law, the coaching world of women's athletics also became a legitimate career option for men. Once segregated women's athletic departments soon combined with men's athletic departments and administrative leadership almost always went to the men. While Title IX has been a wonderful law which grants equal opportunity to women, especially in the capacity of athletics, it has also served to limit the coaching and administrative career opportunities for women.
Today, Title IX stands up against much scrutiny by many who wish to see the law changed. I do not know the world pre-Title IX and I do not wish to see law become more lenient as my participation in sports has been so critical to my development as an empowered woman. Title IX has become the scapegoat for other issues and unfortunately it looks as though things might change (for the worse).

question 2
Name: Jenna Rosa
Date: 2003-02-05 15:35:26
Link to this Comment: 4419

Although women in sports today are given much more credit than previously for their talents and abilities, they are still expected to a certain extent to be ladies both in their behavior during their sport and in their personal lives. This is in terms of their popularity with their audience and the degree of their acceptance by their audience. Women should not be violently aggressive in either of these aspects, nor should they ever be involved in illegal activity or have important family crises. On the other hand, men in sports often become more popular when they fight with an opponant, or get arrested, or are going through ugly divorces. We are much more eager to forgive men for these things than women. We are also much more impressed I think when we see football players on TV helping children with organizations like the United Way, much more than we would be with women doing the same thing and more.I think this is because of the notion that men in sports will be men in sports, and for them to be the least bit decent to humanity is truly touching, whereas women should have this instinct to help naturally, and so such an action is far less impressive. The way people feel about women in sports seems regressive, although I think that because it has only been recently that women have felt unashamed about displaying their strength and power which rivals that of men, so as the audience, we are still trying to deal with this, and often what makes the most sense to us is that they must still embody "woman" to balance out their strength, and this makes people want to see quieter and more well behaved women than should realistically be expected.

Cultural Ideal...
Name: Elisabeth
Date: 2003-02-05 16:10:27
Link to this Comment: 4420

Name's Elisabeth, Studio Art Major at Smith I go..
Like most everyone who has discussed the cultural ideal of the female athlete, I agree that it includes a major requirement of multitasking to the nth degree. The home, the body, the office, the kids, the athletic achievement..etc., the list goes on. And a woman who steps out of bounds (ha pun intended) and let's some slack on these various compartments of her life then she is seen as sloppy, not having proper 'respect' for herself. Whereas the male athletes who maybe regard their various responsibilities (and this isn't saying all of them at all) with less discipline are given a grace period, a margin of error, because that is what society chooses to expect from them, allowing them an out. (And this may be more applicable to prof sports..)
On another note, after seeing the video 'Dare to Compete' it was a major eye-opener to learn about the other major women in the history of sport, because they are not glorified, or even remembered barely. I knew about Trudy and the ENglish channel, but tuesday was the first time I heard many of their names. And that is pretty sad that those women, who markedly achieved so much were so easily disregarded...

Name: valerie so
Date: 2003-02-05 19:26:47
Link to this Comment: 4426

title nine is a social justice issue because women should have equal opportunity reguardless. my sister is a division one atherlet at the university of north carolina and it is the best thing that has ever happened to her. women, particularly girls need to feel that they can accomplish something and be strong.

week 1
Date: 2003-02-05 22:15:14
Link to this Comment: 4439

My name is Jasmine Eleftherakis, and I am a senior at Smith. I am co-captain of our varsity crew team.

This week's readings and film discussed the cultural ideal of women in sport. When women were finally allowed to participate, it was only in "gender-appropriate" sports such as golf, swimming, tennis, and ice skating. Rules were modified in games such as basketball, so that women wouldn't over-exert themselves. Although they were allowed to participate in sports, women were not expected, encouraged, or allowed to compete in the way that men were.

Though we no longer have "play-days," female athletes are often still discouraged from truly competing. This became very real to me throughout jr. high and high school, when I studied martial arts. There was a guy in the class who was close to me in age and experience, so we often trained together. In the begining our training was very similar, but as we advanced, our instructor increasingly focused on his power and my grace, encouraging me to think of it as a ballet, look lady-like, and smile. It infuriated me that my instructor, who was a woman, would treat me differently because I was a girl. She just insisted that that was what the judges were looking for, and if I wanted to win medals, I had to play by their rules.

Name: Sydney
Date: 2003-02-05 22:32:14
Link to this Comment: 4440

My name is Sydney and I am a sophomore here at Smith. I am a Classical Studies major and Art History minor. I simply cannot imagine my life without sports- and I thank the men and women who have put blood, sweat and tears into the fight for Title IX. Title IX has allowed women to level the playing field; both on the court and off. Professor Betty Spears highlights in Prologue: The Myth, that looking back historically, society has only accepted a few talented women athletes, instead of women athletes as a whole. Whether society still only accepts a few women athletes, Title IX gives resources and help to women athletes in general.

Women in sports are expected to have a combination of femininity and athleticism. I think a difference between the cultural ideals of men and women is in the idea of competition. It seems that girls early in their sports careers are taught more in the ways of "anti-competition," where girls should play with rather than against other girls. They should accept a more passive role, where the outcome of the game is not the main focus. This can be seen in the movie "Dare to Compete," when 'Play Day' was described. There were no winners, but rather women would join other members of other schools on the same team, so that competition was not encouraged. The main goal was to play for fun. Men in sports, however, are quite the opposite, where sometimes the other team is seen not as the other team, but as the "enemy". Being aggressive and taking risks in sports are encouraged and winning (if not slaughtering) the other team is a main goal. These ideas may have changed over time, but often these same ideas are taught and emphasized in today's society.

cultural ideal of women
Name: M.A.
Date: 2003-02-05 23:00:03
Link to this Comment: 4442

My name is M.A. I am a junior American Studies major at Smith. I have played most sports, namely field hockey, and instruct sports at a weight loss camp in West Stockbridge over the summers. that said...

One major aspect of sports is their entertainment value. I think that there has been a big push to gain an audience in athletics for women athletes and a part of that is that when you do have spectators acknowledging your work, the sport achieves a certain level of legitimacy. In order to achieve this there are cultural expectations placed on women as well as on men. I think major differences in views of what is acceptable for men or women in sport comes down to socialization and gender roles. Just from historical views that have not come close to vanishing, women are expected to be more nurturing, beautiful, thin, made up, gentle, etc. Therefore, when they try to make it in an athletic area, it is hard for society to shed those veiws. Where a man might gain fame for being dominating and rough, or even having a notoriously bad attitude (tyson, rodman)... a women who exemplefied those same antics would be shunned. The etiquette around women's sports goes past pure athleticism. A woman must also possess culturally acceptable mannerisms even at the cost of being less aggressive or hindering her athletic ability.
To contrast the cultural ideal of women in sport, men also have to conform to social views of masculinity, and are forced, to some extent to be masculine, to be tough, to dominate, kill kill kill.... This hurts them in men not being allowed to show pain and leads to unnecessary injury because they are expected to 'suck it up.' Women, however, are expected to show pain, to be weaker, and they are treated more carefully. I think that this probably does not allow women to be pushed as hard which makes their success level lower.
For example... a high school football coach is expected to beat up his players. If a few of them fainted from exhaustion or got sick it would "all be part of the game," yet if a coach of a women's team pushed her players to that same level I could see them being punished very severely because of the ideal that women are not capable of withstanding that type of exhertion. This whole 'women are delicate even when they are athletes' thing is a huge double standard in athletics.

Intro and first two questions
Name: Adam
Date: 2003-02-05 23:47:01
Link to this Comment: 4444

My name is Adam. I am a junior psychology major and wrestler at Wesleyan University.

I am responding to both questions. I apologize for the generalizations I make in my answers.

American society prides itself on a fair opportunity for all its citizens. This is embodied by the clichéd term, "The American Dream." One, however, does not have to examine U.S. history very deeply to discover that this "Dream" is a fabrication while the truth reveals a record marred by oppression, discrimination, and intolerance. The American government has slowly attempted to pass a number of laws that enforce the Civil Liberties that all humans are endowed. Those who support and oppose Title IX both believe it is a social justice issue. It would be difficult to deny that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is one of the most important and successful civil rights laws in U.S. history (1). Title IX bars sex discrimination in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding. The law gives women access to classes, facilities and opportunities that had historically been male-only (2). Prior to Title IX, if a woman pursued a law or medical school program, she could be passed over for simply because she was a woman. From the class rooms to the playing fields Title IX has been a vital tool in advancing equal opportunities for women and girls (3).
It is the college athletics where Title IX is now being publicly challenged. Because of the segregated nature of men and women's sports, the athletic arena provides a setting to question the fairness of the law. Those who oppose Title IX argue that the law has led to the elimination of hundreds of men's sports. Because of a limited athletic budget some schools have been forced to cut men's sports programs (4). The intent of the law is to create opportunities for women, not strip them from men. Many of those who disagree with the law do support the principle of Title IX; it is how the law has been interpreted they claim is unfair.
Title IX is a social justice issue. Its creation reflects an effort to promote gender equality. Nobody, however, wants opportunities taken away from them. Men, who have a greater number of high school athletes competing for proportionally less college athletic slots, should not be discriminated against. "The public has forgotten that Title IX isn't just for girls," said Christine Stolba, a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum in Arlington, Va. "Mothers of sons want equal opportunity, too. They want to know why their sons can't wrestle while athletic directors are scouring college cafeterias, looking for girls to do archery" (5).
The applications of the principles of Title IX need to be enforced when the athletes are younger. The change should not be at the college level, where social and cultural inequalities have already weeded out many of the potential female scholar-athletes. Comprehensive change should come when girls and boys are encouraged to learn to throw a baseball versus play with dolls. Title IX should not work from the top-down, the real change will come from the bottom-up.
Women continue to suffer from discrimination and social injustice. Until women have the same opportunities as men to enjoy the psychological, physiological and sociological benefits that sports participation can provide, legislation should exist and be enforced (6). The interpretation of these laws, however, should reflect their intent—to grant opportunities, not to take them away.

Notions of femininity influence views about how girls should be. This can create conflict for girls who participate in sports that require 'unfeminine behavior' and produce 'unfeminine body shapes'.
Even today, elite sportswomen who display a 'masculine' body will not be celebrated for their observable devotion to their sport. Moreover, characteristics such as drive, determination, competitiveness, aggression and strength while viewed as important to the success of men are dismissed as unfeminine in women (7). Even though this stigma exists, women and the ideal body image have come a long way. Not too long ago it was believes that women would make themselves sterile by hard training and heavy competition (8). Women were viewed as being physically and psychologically unsuited to rigorous sporting activity, even though demanding domestic, farming and child rearing work was undertaken by poorer women on a daily basis. For women, participation in sport placed femininity in jeopardy and the sacred role of motherhood at risk (9).
The cultural ideal of men in sport is the exact opposite. The more violent the sport is, the manlier the athletes are. The amount of pain a player can inflict and withstand is valued as a measure of 'manliness.' It is this process which makes violent sports a vehicle for masculine identification (10). While these views are slowing changing, sports like football remain the pinnacle of American society.
To confirm their masculinity, men are expected to be interested in sports. Fathers encourage their sons to be athletes while they encourage their daughters to play with dolls. The simple fact is men are expected to play sports and women are not. This is best illustrated by the "humiliating insult" of telling a boy that he, "plays like a girl." While views are gradually changing about women's roles in athletics, the expectation that men play sports continues to persist.
The perceptions of athletic bodies are changing. To look attractive, both men and women want firm, well sculpted bodies (11). Healthy is "in" and both sexes are expected to be in shape. Yet, while more women are working out, and therefore becoming more muscular, men are increasingly turning to body-building in an attempt be even bigger and thus to prove their masculinity.
The cultural ideal for women has changed dramatically in the past decade. Still, the cultural values attached to masculine sports have not been openly challenged enough and the existing forms of subordination, domination and violence continue to be viewed as natural (12).

(1) Ralph Nader,, February 4th, 2003.
(3) Ibid.
(4) Ibid.
(5) Frank Fitzpatrick, Http://, February 4th, 2003.
(6) Ralph Nader,, February 4th, 2003.
(7), February 4th, 2003.
(8) Ibid.
(9), February 4th, 2003.
(10), February 5th, 2003.
(11) Peter West, 4a256a7b0034d7af!OpenDocument, February 5th, 2003.
(12), February 5th , 2003.

cultural ideal of women in sport
Name: Amy Melans
Date: 2003-02-06 00:43:16
Link to this Comment: 4445

Hello, my name is Amy Melanson and I am a senior at Smith College. I am a psychology major and biology minor and I plan on going to medical school to pursue a career in pediatric medicine. I have not been as involved in sports at Smith as I would have liked; however, I was on the crew team my first-year.

In response to the question of what is the cultural ideal of women in sport, I look at it quite similarly to what is the cultural ideal of women in general. Women are expected to obtain a specific body image that is unattainable by the majority of women. There is a continuous demand for women to be thin. Twentieth-century capitalism, which includes the diet, beauty, and the health industries, directly predisposes women to develop body image obsessions and encourages them to be thin. Women are expected to be feminine, child-bearing, fragile, confident and independent (but not too much of either), and to a certain extent attain a specific body image type to which men find "sexually desirable" or "attractive." In addition to physical appearance issues, women are still fighting for equal representation in many professions. Any or all of these ideals can be carried over into athletics. Women are still expected to maintain their femininity on the playing field or in an athletic arena. It is the women athletes that represent the mother, the wife, and the sex figure that get the media converage and endorsements for keeping up with an ideal that has long since aged. It is puzzling because on the one hand I would like to say that women in sport are not regarded as another means to objectify and exploit women for the pleasure and benefits of men. On the other hand, it is quite evident though that a vast majority of women athletes and their spectators have shown that women in sport are true athletes that are more than capable of pursuing a professional career in sport. In popular culture, women are definitely recognized for their athletic ability, however rarely are female athletes portrayed in their actual sport setting.

The ideal for men is a little more straight forward. Football, baseball, and basketball are part of America's past time. The male icons in these sports are looked upon as tough, strong, and confident individuals. There is rarely question of one's masculinity or motive for participation. Women on the other hand have to continuously prove themselves as a worthy opponent. Furthermore, women still have to fight the challenging arguments that many women's sports are not of enough importance. This inconsistency of ideals reinforces the motivations to withhold any amendments to Title IX.

cultural ideals
Name: Laura Poll
Date: 2003-02-06 01:28:17
Link to this Comment: 4446

My name is Laura Pollet. I am a senior at Mount Holyoke College. I am majoring in Psychology and minoring in Sport Studies.

The cultural ideal for women who participate in sport is focused more so on appearance and less on their talent and athletic performance. It is/was believed that women are capable and should be able to compete at levels similar to male athletes. However, in order to gain full recognition, they must remain conscious about their appearance.
The video "Dare to Compete" states, "sex sells". Unfortunately, many times women must use their body to gain acknowledgment from fans. For example, we saw that the women who participated in the women's baseball league were forced to wear skirts while they slid, caught, etc. in order to appeal to people during that time. Also, if we think of a more recent example, men tend to watch Anna Kournikova based solely on her appearance. Her game is nowhere near the level that Serena Williams' game is at, however, she attracts more attention because of her looks and girlish figure.
It is unfortunate that cultural ideals for males are just the opposite to those placed on women. We tend to find that when it comes to male athletes, anything goes. When fans watch male athletes, they tend to focus more heavily on performance and less on actual appearance.
At what point will these cultural ideals change? When will fans accept women as athletes and stop looking at their body and judging them based on their outward appearance?

Name: Alice Goff
Date: 2003-02-06 16:43:16
Link to this Comment: 4457

I'm Alice. I am a junior History major here at the Mawr.

To all the explainations and comments offered on Title IX, would add that Title IX is a issue of social justice, not only in the law that it states, opening doors for women in academics and sports, but also one of awareness. Title IX is a social justice issue because it exists-- it brings into the open the question of whether women are treated equally, and makes people aware that their actions against women in academic and athletic fields are punishable by law. Discussions like this one are part of our awareness, and it is important that it remain in the public consciousness that Title IX exists, lest we take for granted our freedoms and forget a time less liberated.

I would also like to add to the voices that see women in sport today very much based on physical appearance, rather than on skill. In my mind this is a trend in popular and mass athletics (pretty much anything televised) that turns games of skill and teamwork into devices of marketing and vehicles for shoe commercials and wheaties ads. In the case of women, sports has become a venue for people to focus on the looks of the athletes. This is a sad state of affairs-- for this reason can we really call women playing sports on a national level an act of liberation? Or are we merely subjugating ourselves to the consumerist market that has infiltrated so many of America's "pastimes"?

Tiltle 9 as a social justice issue
Name: Sarah
Date: 2003-02-06 19:16:40
Link to this Comment: 4466

Title 9 is a social justice issue because the way women are viewed in sports effects how they are viewed in everyday life and vice versa. Women are often expected to be less agressive and less physically capable in sports. The view of women's athletic abilitiy and roiles has a dirrection connection with the socilal view that women are aand should be less agressive and more submisive than men in the personal and professional lives. By participating in certain sports women challege these stereo types. Title 9, gives women the suppoir they need to challenge gender stereo types, and therefore is a socil justice issue.

Name: angelica r
Date: 2003-02-06 19:24:13
Link to this Comment: 4467


My name is Angelica. I am a senior at bryn mawr and majoring in political science major at haverford.

Despite advances that have been made as a result of policy advancements (such as title IX and affirmative action ) cultural norms as to what is the appropriate place for women are still present not only in athletic field but throughout our society. There are certain characteristics such as aggressivess and competiveness that while being admired in men are seen as threatening in women. thus early on many young girls learn that in order to be accepted they must conform and behave in a "femine" fashion.

Week 2 Questions
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-02-07 11:28:39
Link to this Comment: 4474

Week 2 Questions. Please respond to at least one of the questions. Particiapnts may also continue to comment on the questions from week 1. To read the comments of the Week 1 questions, please refer to the archived link.

1. What is the meaning of the images used in the popular media that portray women? Portray women athletes? Give some examples of positive images and some negative images. Look at the WNBA website for an interesting look at the intersection of media and women's professional sport.

2. What role does gender play as enhancing the athletic image of women in sport? What influence, what difference, did the image of Velvet as being gender neutral – and in fact trying to pass as a male jockey. What does this say about women in sport, women in male domains, and the cultural ideal of women? Is this applicable toady?

3. How does the cultural ideal of sport relate to the cultural ideal of women in society?

For those students who watched National Velvet, add the question:
Are you, or did you ride horses in your youth? Describe the passion of riding horses. How would you describe the link between gender as portrayed in the movie?

sport v woman
Name: M.A.
Date: 2003-02-10 23:51:24
Link to this Comment: 4525

though i think that this line is getting blurred more and more, it seems that the cultural ideal of sport and the cultrual ideal of women are opposites which is why is has been so hard for women to gain headway in the field. just looking the the 'cult of true womanhood,' cult of domesticity, etc... and then the idea of sport as this aggressive arena when winners are made through strength and power,there is not much overlap. I think that in answering this question each sport needs to be looked at for itself. sports are historically a male space. correspondingly most of the worlds power belongs to men. i don't know how willing they are to give up that power, and in that way, the dichotomy between men and women, male athletes and female athletes, male pastimes and female pastimes, needs to be maintained.
take pro-wrestling... its images of women are much different than swimming or track. and while some people see wrestling as entertainment, it is looked at as a place where few women are afforded legitimacy. part of that, in my opinion, is traced back to how women are allowed to be seen, and expecially through media. maybe, as dare to compete says, it is finally okay for women to be exhausted, and thus they can partake in many mroe sports, but at the same time, i dont know that it is okay for women to be as ruthless as is expected of a pro wrestler. women who do succeed are often sexualized, as it is a framework for looking at females that is acceptable. thanks to movements such as feminism, the roles of men are growing increasingly more unstable which means that even if women do participate in a sport such as wrestling, the way they are depicted is often not as an true athlete but rather as an accessory to the men.
i suppose i am getting slightly off the point, which is that women's roles and ideas around sports in general aren't shown to overlap and even when they do, there is the clear emphasis that they are women's sports, not just sports.

Question 1
Name: Jennifer
Date: 2003-02-11 20:58:47
Link to this Comment: 4546

In today's society it is acceptable for a girl or women to play sports, as opposed to earlier in the twentieth century when women were forbade from participation. Female athletic ineligibility grew from the idea that athletics was not "proper behavior" and that the altered body types needed to participate in sports would destroy her health and beauty. Although women are allowed to partake in athletic activity, female athletes still battle societies concern that her altered body will affect her beauty and "proper behavior". Why else would female athletes be photographed with their children, husband or as super models and not in their jerseys? Female athletes try and protect their femininity and sexuality from being scrutinized. The glamour photo spreads are an attempt to avoid negative media character attacks; however this also lets the public to drool over their sculptured bodies and not their achievements. Society has taken a step forward by allowing women to play sports. However, there is still a concern within society that female athletes will become "butch" therefore the media portrays female pro-athletes as sexual objects to maintain a "proper" female image.
On the WNBA web site homepage, there are two photos with players in their basket-ball uniforms. In each picture Ticha Penicheiro is hugging rapper Nelly and Lisa Leslie has her arm around L.L. Cool Jay. The WNBA clearly is trying to maintain the image of heterosexual female athlete. I proceeding to surf the site I clicked on "click for new promo" and a page entitled "This is Who I Am" popped up picturing four players in evening wear with their hair and make-up done. Society clearly needs reassurance that these players are "proper ladies" if this is there new promo! It was also interesting that when a entered the NBA web site they have a shot of a basket-ball player in action! While maintaining a wholesome image, the WNBA gives younger female athletes hope and female athletic role models to follow. On the WNBA web site there is this section called the "Teen Advisory Board" one girl stated that she liked the playing styles of three male pro-basket-ball players but that Sheryl Swoopes was her favorite player. It is clear that the WNBA has made strides for female athletes of all ages, but the marketing of the association is still restricted by the societies concern for female athletes to maintain a "proper" image.

Name: Sara Watso
Date: 2003-02-12 14:14:01
Link to this Comment: 4554

I am getting the sense that us Smithies really share a lot of the same ideas as it surrounds this topic. We realize that women in sport today are technically allowed to participate and be considered athletes-- but we won't look at that and see success in the achievement of women in the sports world. Women have a long way to come before the playing field is truly level. It is this idea that women in sport are never allowed to just be "athletes," they are "female athletes." Which some how our society has allowed to become a group of its own.

Culturally, society views the ideal athlete as agressive, muscular, competitive, and in the most "American" view, as role models. The trouble here is that our modern American society refuses to let go of the ideals that it holds for women. There is this concept that we will say ok...women can be strong...but only as long as the weakest man is still superior to the strongest woman. We have come up with this new plan where women are allowed be strong successful athletes if and only if they hold on to these concepts of femininity wherein one should fufill that which the male culture find beautiful and still submissive to a male counterpart.

The issue now that is most prominently holding these athletes back would be the way that they are portrayed in the media. This is the new barrier. We have proven that women can compete but now we have to prove that they are in fact athletes. Not female athletes, but athletes in general. They musn't be forced to overcome hurdles questioning their lifestyle off of the court, or field. Players must be portrayed as athletes first, not as the socially constructed perfect female.

Name: valerie
Date: 2003-02-12 16:34:24
Link to this Comment: 4558

women athletes portrayed in todays society have just as about as much to do with their athletic abilities as a chef has of her ability to knit. all that matters in todays media is that sex sells, and as long as women arre in the spoghtlight, reguardless of why, they will be portrayed sexually. it is what gets attention. this does not make it right, however, and it is further undermining the acheivements (or in the care of ana kournikova..lack thereof)as atheletes. just look at shows like the practice or law and porder. most if not all the lawyers on those shows are somehow sexified, as if it gives them more credibility to the judge. if i wore outfits like laura flyn boyle's to court id probably be held in contempt for disrespect. what message are we sending to young girls? sexyness is the key to all sucess? you can be untalented and of medeocre intelligence but suceed if youre good looking?

always a woman first
Name: E. Fardig
Date: 2003-02-12 20:08:16
Link to this Comment: 4561

Society sends the message that no matter what a woman does with her life, she is first and foremost a woman and must act like one. When women broke into the workforce in numbers, they never thought about dropping the home duties. Instead, if a woman wanted to work outside the home, she had to add her new responsibilities to her home duties. Even today, flip through any magazine targeted at women and you will find many articles devoted to balancing personal and professional lives. Such articles are conspicuously absent from men's magazines. Women in the public's eye, regardless of their other accomplishments, are criticized or praised based on their looks, clothing, style, and poise. Take Hillary Clinton who attracts more media attention for her hair style changes than for her contributions in the Senate. Ditto goes for Laura Bush and her wardrobe.
In sport, many women are sexualized because it is the easiest way the media has to let the public know that these are women first and athletes second. Why do we have words such as women athlete or woman leader still? When do we get to be just athletes and leaders without the stigma that comes from the woman prefix? It is still a man's world, even though we have many more opportunities. The glass ceiling remains. A sexualized woman, especially a woman of power such as an athlete or a CEO, becomes an object and is rendered much less threatening to men. Yes, we can achieve great things, but society continues to say that unless we have a tidy home to return to and can get dinner on the table for husbands and children, we have somehow failed at being women.
I never rode horses, so I cannot comment on the National Velvet questions.

Cultural Ideals
Name: Amy
Date: 2003-02-12 23:41:10
Link to this Comment: 4563

For most American women, capitalism reduced what was real to what was apparent, which in some sense implies that what women are and represent lies in the hands of their appearance. This statement can be applied to all occupations of which women play a significant role; however, it is more apparent in sport where women are almost always portrayed in highly sexualized ways in which the focus is on their body and has little to do with their athletic competence. In the visual world of the twentieth century, the outside counts as well as the inside. Women use their appearance, whether it is their body, their clothing, or their individual style, to express pride, confidence, identities, and both strengths and weaknesses. In a generation centrally focused on identity issues and public image, our bodies and how we present them can express who we are.

The television, American fashion industry, and women?s magazines focus on the ?ideal image? of the American woman. A woman?s sense of worth in American culture is still largely determined by her appearance, her ability to keep the species going, and her attractiveness to men. As long as a woman views her body as an object, she is controllable and profitable.

Although television and the media perpetuate an unattainable ideal body image, images of young women in the media have become more inclusive of alternative body types, particularly those with the attributes of a well-conditioned athlete. As a result of the Women?s Movement of the 1960s and the instatement of Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 allowing more egalitarian gender representation in sports, female athletes have gained more athletic competence and media coverage, and in turn, have perpetuated traditional idealizations of physical appearance. The images that pop-up in the media are of those women who one would describe as feminine, beautiful, and/or of model-like quality. The same biases that exist for women who are dealing with issues regarding sexuality in other occupations exist for women in sport. They almost seem worse because it is evident that society accepts women participating in sport, yet the mental image of an ideal female athlete according to societal standards represents a very small percentage in reality.

Like all social conventions and regulations, physical appearance is related to power. In a way, we can regard women?s bodies as cultural relics, recurrently shaped by culture and history. In a sense, the ?natural body? is lost when subjected to such intense pressures. It merely represents reflections of the play of power within society at that time. Today, viewing images of practically naked well-respected female athletes perpetuates this argument. It seems as if one way for professional female athletes to maintain power is to accept the media?s offer to participate in what sells and what sells for women is ?an attractive body? and not necessarily an extraordinary athlete.

Name: Jenna Rosa
Date: 2003-02-13 11:11:08
Link to this Comment: 4569

Although women in sports today are given much more credit than previously for their talents and abilities, they are still expected in our culture to be ladies both in their behavior during their sport and in their personal lives. This is in terms of their popularity with their audience and the degree of their acceptance by their audience. Women should not be violently aggressive in either of these aspects, nor should they ever be involved in illegal activity or have important family crises. On the other hand, men in sports often become more popular when they fight with an opponant, or get arrested, or are going through ugly divorces. We are much more eager to forgive men for these things than women. The way people feel about women in sports seems regressive, although I think that because it has only been recently that women have felt unashamed about displaying their strength and power which rivals that of men, so as the audience, we are still trying to deal with this, and often what makes the most sense to us as products of our culture is that they must still embody "woman" to balance out their strength, and this makes people want to see quieter and more well behaved women than should realistically be expected. I think it will be some time before our culture, no matter how unbiased we may think we are, will accept women who are powerful and not require them to also have the capacity to be demure and ladylike.

Name: Alice Goff
Date: 2003-02-13 19:16:40
Link to this Comment: 4592

I see problems in the idea of women being 'portrayed' in sports. The 'portrayal' of women in sports is a notion weighted with the idea of the 'advertisement' of women in sports, which is an issue that is frought with many negative implications, as we have seen in last week's documentary. I wonder if women in sport NEED to be portrayed by the mass media-- is it a necessary feature of being an athlete to present oneself in public in areas outside the sports arena (aka on cereal boxes, or nike commercials)? Why is it not enough for athletes merely to be athletes, to play sports, to compete, to excel? I would like to suggest that "portrayal" of athletes, in this case women, should not be something inherant to their success in the sports field, in an ideal world.

WEEK 3 Questions
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-02-16 16:11:08
Link to this Comment: 4625

The class at Smith, Bryn Mawr and Wesleyan have viewed a few different films--all films have themes that connect to the larger questions of women and sport. Please respond to the questions based upon the films you have watched. Feel free to comment on the themes that link all of our classes together in the broader conversation about women, sport, Title IX, gender etc. Enjoy the conversation!!

1. What is the cultural ideal displayed by the main characters in each film? What norms/ideals of the time, do the characters challenge and expand?

2. What is the relationship between the main characters in the films and their message about women and sport? Has it had an impact on what is happening in women's sport today? How does it effect womne who are not engaged in sport?

3. How does the media - print - video/movie - web - portary women and sport? Is it helpful?

Name: Lauren Wei
Date: 2003-02-16 21:54:51
Link to this Comment: 4629

The media can either serve to transform or reinforce traditional stereotypes of women in society. In the realm of the athletic world, sport has both served to perpetuate gender stereotypes and to combat them. On occasion, the media depicts women competing in their respective sports, strong bodied, determined, physically engaged, active, passionate. These women, depicted with ball in arm, muscles tense, eyes fixed on the goal, are positive images of women athletes. These depictions, though few and far between, serve to breakdown the traditional stereotypes regarding women in sport that date back hundreds of years and unfortunately still continue today.
More often than not, the media's portrayal of women athletes perpetuate the vision that women should be noticed because they are feminine, dainty, sexy. The camera angle centers on the breasts or perfectly thin midsections of beautiful, sexy women athletes who, rather than clothed in sporting attire, fashion soccer balls or flags over her breasts. The media focuses attention on the personal lives of women athletes, interviewing her children, taking photos of her husband, thereby perpetuating heterosexist ideals.
Men have always run the news media and had the most decision making power, thus women fail to receive the same amount of coverage as their male counterparts. When coverage of women's sporting events does occur, women are more often than men referred to by first name from male news commentators who thereby exert power over the female athlete by speaking of them in a familiar context. The more powerful women emerge on the sporting field, the more resistant men become to equity.

Name: Laura
Date: 2003-02-16 23:43:50
Link to this Comment: 4631

Unfortunately, we tend to have anxiety about physically strong, aggressive, competitive women. Therefore, the media tends to distort images of women in order to make those uncomfortable feel more at ease. In the process, as stated in the video "Playing Unfair: The Media Image of a Female Athlete," women are sexualized and in turn lose the sense of empowerment they have gained through playing sports.

It is interesting to see how differently women and men athletes are portrayed on both the WNBA and NBA website. I am not sure whether or not this is based on in-season vs. out of season coverage, but the images shown are drastically different. On the front page of the WNBA website, there is a section dedicated to a promo recently done of some players on the WNBA tour. It was called, "This is who I am." There is a collection of 17 photos where athletic women are portrayed as "girlie girls". They are shown all dressed up in gowns, dresses, wearing make up and many having had their hair done. I read the title of this promo to mean, I am a heterosexual women instead of a proud basketabll player. While I believe it is important to show these women as they may normally dress outside of the gym, I don't believe that it is appropriate to advertise on their website. On a public forum dedicated to the sport of basketball these women should be shown in their athletic gear, just as the men are. However, in order to adhere to popular culture and conform to stereotypes that have perpetuated for so long, the media feels the need to show these women as women instead of the strong athlete that we admire in them.

On the NBA website we get to see men dressed in their uniforms, taking shots and running on the court. This page represents the men on the tour as strong athletes. They are viewed first as competitive athletes. I don't believe that they would ever post 17 shots of male basketball players posing and all dressed up. Then again, men automatically receive attention. Unfortunately it is believed that the only way for a women to gain a males attention is by sexualizing her. The media has a nasty way of trying to help promote womens sports teams.

Love and Basketball
Name: Jillian Be
Date: 2003-02-17 14:32:35
Link to this Comment: 4639

I keep thinking about the part of Love and Basketball when they have the argument about Monica's unavailability in the relationship being a result of her interest in basketball. Q is upset with her because she would rather stick to her curfew than stay out with him. Monica says "I would never ask you to choose between basketball and me." And Q says, "You wouldn't have to." I was thinking about that and how it is probably true. He would probably not worry as much about breaking curfew if she needed him. But then I wondered why I felt that way. Then I realized that throughout the movie, her basketball experience is displayed as much more intense than his. They use a juxtaposition of scenes of her in the gym for endless hours of grueling, humiliating practice and him at parties and giving interviews and autographs. He would have been more able to break curfew because there would not have been such a harsh consequence. He was a pet. Basically, the movie depicts women athletes and having to give more than the men athletes for half the recognition.

Love and Basketball
Name: E. Fardig
Date: 2003-02-17 18:25:24
Link to this Comment: 4643

I think that the portrayal of Monica as a basketball player is a progressive one. She is shown as strong, skilled, and excels at her sport. Although she has to work very hard for recognition once she reaches college, I think the movie celebrates her drive to achieve. It is her focus and determination that allow her to go on to play professionally in Europe. In contrast, Q seems to rely upon his fame, and eventually his poor decisions come back to haunt him. By showing the final scene where Monica is playing in the WNBA and Q is on the sidelines cheering, the movie is telling its audience that it is okay for women to succeed in sport and for their significant others to be in the supporting role. Unlike National Velvet, where Velvet was told to put away her equestrian dreams and become a lady after the competition, Love and Basketball shows that a woman can be both a mother/wife and a competitor.

Name: valerie s
Date: 2003-02-17 23:28:39
Link to this Comment: 4647

the movie love and basketball portrayed the lead character as being a strong independent woman, who still was able to "get her man" even though she could probably beat him at his own game. she was genuine and devoted to her sport, and yet she still found the perfect balance. but one has to question, that if this wasnt a movie, would she still have gotten everything? would her love of sport really controlled her life? would she have been able to have a family? i somehow think that in the real world, it would not have fit together so perfectly.

Name: lily gatau
Date: 2003-02-19 10:44:10
Link to this Comment: 4671

What I found interesting in both National Valvet and Love and Basketball is that in both movies women athletes were depicted as the ones who had somewhat less talent than the men that they met, and that both of them had to work much harder to reach their goals then the main male characters did. Unlike men, however, both Valvet and Monica managed and reached higher success than the men. Though there were many moments in these movies showing hardships that woman can meet in sport, I think there was a very optimistic view on the abilities of women in sport.

Name: lily gatau
Date: 2003-02-19 13:55:26
Link to this Comment: 4673

When we discuss how media portrays women, it is important not to forget, that media portrays what attracts more attentions of its readers, listeners and viewers. We talk about media shaping our views, but we forget that popularity of media depends upon us, and if we as readers and viewers would not like certain images that are shown on the TV shows and printed in the newspapers, media would not risk its popularity to have them on its main pages. Media reflects upon the most popular, the most spread elements in the life of society. Therefore, before judging the newspaper for having a big photo of the athlete in her kitchen, we might want to look in the kitchen of other female athletes. I am sure that there are many female athletes who have to work hard both in the gym and kitchen. Why do we look ironically then at these images in film and newspaper, which unfortunately still represent the truth of the social life in this and other countries?

Images of Norms For Women Athletes
Name: Sara Watso
Date: 2003-02-19 17:47:23
Link to this Comment: 4676

In response to the first question, I think it is interesting to take a look at Monica in Love and Basketball. Even though she shows great talent as an athlete at a young age, she is still pressured to be feminine. But further, this brings up the notion that a woman can not be athletic and feminine at the same time. That you have to be one or the other, or that these ideas are paradoxes of each other by nature. I think that Monica's character worked to expand the societal expectation that girls do not grow up to be athletes.

Secondly, Monica's message about women in sport, was at least that women can particiapate, and they can do it well. Within this film there is a focus on how Monica relates with her neighbor---she is a friend/girlfriend to him first, and an athlete second. For women not participating in sport-- there is a general concept that women are constantly forced to balance things which do not fall into their gender norm. Society as of now will basically accept that behavior which is outside of one's gender norm--as long as it is balanced with behavior that lies within it.

I think Love and Basketball does a good job of insuring that the difference in experience for male and female athletes is not a desirable one for young women. However, there are still gender norms that are perpetuated throughout the film. The media in general, though, is much more detrimental to the image of the female athlete--assuming they get the coverage. The way that women are discussed in regards to the sporting event often has nothing to do with the sport they play, but their personal lives instead. The issue is that the focus that is put on the female athlete is not athletic in nature, but rather personal--where the male athlete's biography is based on his athleticism.

Name: Jennifer
Date: 2003-02-19 19:05:28
Link to this Comment: 4679

The main character, Monica in Love of Basketball is depicted as a strong individual that despite her mother's and society's expectations for young women manages to continually make steps toward reaching her goal. Monica's willpower and drive help her focus on basket-ball goals and ignore the disapproval of her peers. Where as Q plays basket-ball to achieve popularity and approval of his father. Once Q loses faith in his father, by finding out about the affair, he begins to play poorly in the games. Society does allow the female athletes to play but does not appreciate them as much as male athletes. This is evident by the difference in numbers at each game. The amount of spectators at the boys' game is at least four times the amount at the girls. Also the boys play in an illuminated arena with cheerleaders, announcers, and a band. The girls play in a gym with quarter filled stands no lights, no music.
The other day I was flipping through channels and male basket-ball game was on it was hard for me to tell, not being a huge basket-ball fan, whether it was pro or collegiate. I also came across female collegiate basket-ball game there was no band, and the stands were scarcely filled. Female athletes have to motivated and willing to deal with negative judgment, whereas male athletes just have to prepare for a greeting.

Name: Monika Le
Date: 2003-02-19 19:45:55
Link to this Comment: 4680

I found it very interesting in 'Love and Basketball' that although Monica was an amazing athlete who loved basketball and worked very hard to succeed in her sport, she still could not be an athlete who could succeed at 'everyday' female behavior. An example of this is how, at a young age, Monica could care less about dressing up or fixing her hair. She even dressed like a boy. Later on, we see her in high school as a teenager who still maintains very typical tomboy qualities -- she still wears a simple tshirt and jeans, her hair is messy, she has a temper, and she lacks a date to the spring dance until her older sister sets her up with someone. At the dance, she lacks social skills. Even as an adult, Monica has trouble walking in shoes with heels while wearing a skirt to work at her bank job.
I still have not seen a movie where the woman athlete can also be accepted as a woman. Why does she always have to be a tomboy in order to enjoy sports?

Response to Media Comment
Name: E. Fardig
Date: 2003-02-19 20:09:28
Link to this Comment: 4681

Lily Gataullina said "I am sure that there are many female athletes who have to work hard both in the gym and kitchen. Why do we look ironically then at these images in film and newspaper, which unfortunately still represent the truth of the social life in this and other countries?" I brought in the paper to show to the class because it exemplified one of the two images of female athletes that appear the most often in the media: family life shot or the sexy model image. The picture was on the front page of the Sports section, not a Style or Arts section that might be justified in exploring an athlete's personal, non-sports life. Instead of talking about her athletic talent and showing the readers what she looks like when playing golf, the image shows her as a domestic woman. I take offense at the media's persistence in showing women off the field, focusing on their womanly attributes and not their power and skill. The pictures we see are not even usually the "truth" as you have put it, only a stilted version that marginalizes women athletes. Male athletes have hobbies and families, but their pictures in the sports section are of them on the field or in the court, not in their kitchens or with their arms around their wives and children in a picture of marital bliss.

Love and Basketball
Name: Alice Goff
Date: 2003-02-20 18:28:05
Link to this Comment: 4718

Love and Basketball portrayed a very interesting cultural ideal of a woman athlete. Monica was dedicated to her sport, but she was not a "natural", a born basketball player, as much as Velvet was in National Velvet. The film showed the amount that she had to work in order to get to the WNBA, much more so than Velvet's almost miraculous jump from novice child to pro-jockey. This has the result of humanizing Monica, who is a portrayed as an athlete, but also as a person. This is an important facet of this cultural ideal, because there is a cultural tendency I think, and as others have mentioned, to think that women can EITHER be athletes OR mothers, wives, and women. This film exposed the idea that women can be in sports, but also in love, in trouble, in life, etc. The one problem I did have with the film is that at the end Monica is still unfulfilled by her own success-- she needs the love of Q to make her complete. Basketball is nothing to her without a man. And in the scene where she balls him to win his heart, she is being made to utilize her skills as an athlete to "get the man"-- not exactly an empowering image. But then again, maybe I am just an un-romantic.

Cultural Issues in the movie
Name: Sarah
Date: 2003-02-20 18:41:37
Link to this Comment: 4723

One of the major points of the movie was that women atheletes do not get as much recognition for their abilities as men do. Also, that there is a double standard. That women are seen first as women and secodly as athletes. Thereore they feel pressure not to be atheletes to the fullest. This view of women first, and most importantly, as feminine and second as athelentes is the stereotype that the main character was constantly at batle with. Te main character had a difficult time dealing with the conflicting expectations for female atheletes.

Cultural Issues in the movie
Name: Sarah
Date: 2003-02-20 18:54:47
Link to this Comment: 4727

I agree with Monica. Women atheletes are almost always depected as tomboys with few feminine atributes. I know many female atheletes who are very feminine and graceful, yet competitive and agressive when playing sports. Why are the feminine yet competitive women not depicted more often in movies?
At the same time, it is important to note that this is a phenomenon that is somewhat unique to movies and not all media. As ws discussed in our first class atheletes physical ability is often played down, and their femenine atributes ephasized by the media.

Name: Jenna Rosa
Date: 2003-02-20 18:55:04
Link to this Comment: 4728

There were many things in In Love and Basketball that I was happy to see. I liked that she always tried to be noticed for her abilities rather than for more superficial qualities as many others of the girls in the movie were. As a result she had a much harder time finding acceptance among her peers, her family and even her boyfriend who should have been the most understanding of her problems. Her boyfriend, who I like to think of as her foil, had the the same talent and desire to play basketball, yet this was much more accepted by those around him. He got all the attention so easily while she had to fight hard for it and more than not, ran into much tougher obstacles. I liked that she never thought of changing for him either, she even let him break up with her because she knew she could not compromise herself and the sport she loved. The choices she made were usually very good to see and inspiring. However, there were times when she was very pressured to be the way girls are "suppossed to be." At her high school, she wasnt noticed by anyone until she put on tons of makeup and a tight dress. It wasnt her talent that made everyone notice her, it was her appearance. This is just realism however. Our society praises girls for their charms and good looks and only when these things are present can people start to see past them and praise girls for their abilties as well. A girl can be a good basketball player, but if she is pretty too, then she can be a star.

Name: Jenna Rosa
Date: 2003-02-20 19:07:03
Link to this Comment: 4731

I agree with what people have said about female sports not being nearly as popular as male sports. I have to admit myself, I am much more apt to watch a male basketball game or watch football and I never go looking for a womens game. Maybe its because I was raised by my father and just think of men when I think of a game on tv. Or maybe its because I would truly have to go looking for a womens game. I have never actually flipped through channels and found a womens sport without knowing it would be on. On the other hand, one cannot help but run into game after game of mens sports, because they have a longer history and therefore, a more rooted following and more chance of getting prime time spots on tv. In order to become a womens basketball fan for instance, you would have to research a bit, learn the teams and the players and then be sure to watch them and follow them. Mens sports are unavoidable, everyone knows their names and teams, and most people even know a few basic things about some of the players, and this is all if you arent even that insterested in sports. I myself can't name a single women's basketball team in the WNBA, and though I am not proud of this, I think I would actively have to take an interest for myself in learning the names of the teams and their standings and star players because the news wont be providing that unless something sensational and completely not sports-related happens, like someone rips off their shirt again or gets into a fight with the other team. Women in sports are only recognized if their actions continue to feed into the prejudices of our society. Wed much rather see a basketball player taking care of her husband and five kids than winning a close game.

Week 4 Questions
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-02-22 09:32:58
Link to this Comment: 4747

Please answer one of the three questions:

1. Is it advancement for women in sport, that the main character is the first woman on the cover of SURFING magazine? Why or why not?

2. (Same as week #1) What is the cultural ideal of women in sport? And how does it differ from men?

3. How does this film stereotype the main and supporting characters in this film?

week 3, question 3
Name: M.A.
Date: 2003-02-23 13:54:05
Link to this Comment: 4761

I agree with the statement that media is a reflection of it's audiuence, what it most popular. But I also think that media creates the interests of it's viewers. People will always absorb media be it books, web, TV, etc., and those who have control over the media have the ability to influence cultural values. I think the way that media best represents women in sport is by their absence. We forget that they exist a lot of the time because the field that media-creators draw from is so limited. Not that women in sport is severely limited, but that their coverage is. SO it becomes novel when a woman is a media figure and they become a token athlete. I think that often the media focuses on them as a person rather than their career as an athlete. SOmetimes you can see a woman and know she is a media figure but have no idea that it is because she is a nationally ranked athlete because that just isn't the part of her life that gets focused on.
in love and basketball, i think it is really great that monica is so driven and that it shows her working hard and succeeding, even to the point that the ending clip is of her playing in the WNBA and Q watching. But even with that, it shows him watching with a kid on his lap, implying that the kid is hers and that family came first even if she is an athlete. And this movie isn't the kind of film a person would know about unless they were an avid watcher of sports films.
In general, you really dont see women represented as athletes, even if that is what they are, unless you are really looking for it, and still there is a very limited scope in terms of what is available.

Name: lauren wei
Date: 2003-02-23 17:20:32
Link to this Comment: 4765

The media serves to preserve, transmit, and transform the cultural ideals of a society. It is has been well documented that women's athletics receive significantly less coverage than men's athletics. You do not need the literature to prove what you already know. You see this fact ever time you turn on the TV looking to watch a women's game, or switch to the news or flip through the sports section of the paper to get the latest scores. If you believed the media, you would think women did not play sports to the degree that they currently do. This lack of attention and sever under representation undermines the true degree to which women are competing and creates a false sense of reality. This under representation also creates a vicious cycle because the growth of women's sports is severely limited due to lack of funds which come from sponsors who are interested in sports teams and figures who are featured prominently on TV. When women are not seen competing, women do not get the sponsorships they deserve to continue to build women's athletics.

When women are portrayed, the representation that does occur is both positive and negative for women's athletics. When women are seen on TV, it is positive because it means that people get the chance to see women competing, thereby potentially breaking down ideologies that have been created by years and years of under representation. Additionally, women competing on TV allows for young girls to focus attention on athletic role models. On the flip side, often the media's portrayal of women athletes is questionable. Especially in movies, women athletes are depicted sexually, with cameras focusing on the midsections and chests of the characters (as seen in Blue Crush and Love and Basketball). Women athletes are often hyper-portrayed as straight, sexy, men obsessed, thereby perpetuating the homophobic and heterocentric ideas in sport. It is certainly a positive to see women's athletic competitions portrayed on ESPN and other sporting stations (though these occurrences need to drastically increase). It is important for the print media and movie/TV portrayal of women athletes to understand the great harm they cause for the future of women's sports by focusing on the body and the sexual identity, instead of the tremendous degree of strength, power, passion, practice, and dedication of women.

Name: Laura
Date: 2003-02-23 21:46:04
Link to this Comment: 4774

The role that Monica plays in Love and Basketball is extremely important for all women to see, whether athletic or not. Her character portrays a strong woman going after her dream. In her journey she stumbles upon several gender stereotypes. However, Monica does not allow these stereotypes to deter her from her dream of playing professional basketball. It is unfortunate but oftentimes gender sterotypes can be too overbearing and cause a woman to give up on her dreams. Women will often succumb to these stereotypes as they may feel the fight to succeed is too great a challenge. However, Monica plows through these setbacks with determination and even more of a desire to accomplish her goals. She has a true love of basketball and doesn't let anything get in her way.

Unfortunately, it is rare to see this type of woman portrayed in a movie, let alone conclude on such a high note. It is important to continue to show women just as Monica was, stong, confident, determined and vocal. She succeeds because she holds these qualities. Young women need to see successful role models. They need to see the struggles that are involved in accomplishing any goal, but also witness their ability to overcome these setbacks. Monica's message is clear, women can make a difference and achieve any goal.

Portrayal of Women in Sport
Name: Amy Melans
Date: 2003-02-23 22:38:06
Link to this Comment: 4777

Our ideas of personal beauty are political ideas. Beauty is typically regarded as an intrinsic quality, as something objectively verifiable, and as removed from the political ideology. However, standards of beauty vary across different cultures and times. Beauty is political because it is invented by society, and society is by definition political. Those who have beauty gain some degree of privilege by it, and those without beauty suffer some kind of disadvantages. Thus beauty, like wealth, becomes a method of ranking people, dividing them along lines of power. In women under patriarchy, beauty has been reflexive of character and of worth. What is beautiful is the evidence of class privilege. American ideals of female beauty in some ways determine how far a woman can advance in her career, education, and life pursuits. Typically, the standard of beauty for women in the United States, involves a tall, slender, busty woman with long, blonde hair. What is standard within society for all women is also standard for women in sport. The media, television, movies, etc. all continue to provide images of highly sexualized female athletes. In Blue Crush, the focus seemed to be more on hot bodies rather than surfing. The bathing suits were very revealing and even the way in which the scenes were shot showed that the focus was more on the body, particularly the mid section, and not necessarily on the elements of surfing. As emphasized in the Brace-Govan article, ?women, who are constantly objects to be gazed on, cannot escape the effect of the dominant culture, especially that culture?s image of femininity? (405). Keeping this in mind it was quite evident that in Love and Basketball femininity played a key role. Monica was always being challenged by her mother to be a lady while at the same time being challenged by her coach to get tough. Her mother could not accept the fact that Monica was a ball player. Three lines struck me as exemplifying this argument, ?she needs to stop running around like a little boy?; ?because I?d rather wear an apron than a jersey?; ?because I am a female I get told to calm down and act like a lady?you get a pat on your ass.? Not only is it challenging to become competitive within one?s game, but also it is more challenging to be accepted as a woman within that game. We are living in a different consciousness even though some things have stayed the same. With that in mind, I think that it is helpful to recognize all of the problematic issues that films, television and the media present for young, impressionable female athletes.

lily gataullina
Date: 2003-02-25 12:50:59
Link to this Comment: 4830

i found it interesting how many stereotypes did the movie use. The small details, like that when all house keeping staff in the hotel (except the three main characters) were asian people, who are usually stereotyped as poorly educated immigrants, coming to the US to take the worse paid jobs. The digusting hotel room was occupied by the homosexual couple. This corresponds to still widely accepted belief in that homosexualism is "dirty." Beisdes, the behavior of this homosexual couple was very much like it is thought about by the hegemonic culture. The other stereotype (i believe) shown in teh movie is the contrast between intellectual and athletic abilities both of men and women in sports. Talent in surfing was contrasted to the inability to finsih high school. In addition, the football players were not represented as the most intellegent men either.

Blue Crush
Name: E. Fardig
Date: 2003-02-26 02:44:16
Link to this Comment: 4842

Despite the overarching theme of competitive women in a traditionally male-dominated sport, the movie fell back on tried-and-true gimmicks (such as the fairytale romance and excessively skimpy bathing suits) and refused to branch out from stereotypes. Anne Marie has her supportive friends, but their characters are so underdeveloped that they are hardly noticeable as separate entities. When she needs help to continue surfing, Anne Marie relies not on the trio, but on a hunky football player who has barely just met her, for support. The filmmakers didn't do any better with the Matt's teammates. They are shown as stupid, unbelievably messy, rich, and self-absorbed. Their girlfriends are about as shallow as they come, the traditional picture of the "trophy wife" only in the relationship because of money. Although the movie should be given credit for its subject matter, the story and the characters left much to be desired.

Blue Crush
Name: Kathleen
Date: 2003-02-26 18:50:49
Link to this Comment: 4849

In this instance, the advancement provides for the recognition of women in sports in general, but specifically, surfing, which is typically dominated by men. More importantly, for any woman to get a cover helps to serve as inspiration to other female athletes to aspire in surfing, as well as other sports. Although it provides an opportunity for advancement for women in sport, women athletes images are seen first from a sexist point of view. Instead of women athletes seen as independent, intelligent and strong women athletes, they are seen as sexual beings. Regardless of the myriad of women athletes, women athletes are viewed only positive as centerfolds or negative as Lesbians. Anne Marie was always wearing a bikini, instead of a surfing wet suit, which typically men wear when surfing. Moreover, Hollywood remains archaic in their inability to creatively write scripts that portray women as good athletes instead of sex symbols only to sell tickets and products. Hollywood always falls back on their old philosphy, which is that "sex sells." Additionally, in the ladies room scene it was "set up" as a "hen house" of women gossipping about Anne Marie's lifestyle and fashion thereby, further attacking women's self-worth.

Name: valerie
Date: 2003-02-26 20:18:42
Link to this Comment: 4850

i feel that the women are prtrayed in this movie is a sexual manner, just as womwne athelets are all portrayed. i feel that these womwen were protrayed as strong, but still made to be "marketed" to particular audience. would the lead character been half as interesting if she wasnt pretty? probably not. does she absolutely NEED to surf in a bikini? i would think that that would actually hinder her preformance, but what do i know right?

Name: Lauren Wei
Date: 2003-02-27 14:06:20
Link to this Comment: 4864

1. Is it advancement for women in sport, that the main character is the first woman on the cover of SURFING magazine? Why or why not?

I have come to realize that there are many practices and occurrences in the institution of sport that both further and advance the struggles of groups of people. Sport, as an institution, both perpetuates and combats racism. Similarly, sport both perpetuates and combats sexism. The main character of Blue Crush being the first woman surfer on the cover of Surfing magazine is a prime example of this point.

It is an advancement for women in sport that there has been a woman on the cover of Surfing Magazine as the barrier has finally been broken. After finally breaking that ever so thick barrier, women surfers might have a slightly easier shot at making the cover--though, honestly, how many women have been on the cover of Sport Illustrated since Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the first female athlete to be featured on the cover of SI aside from the swimsuit addition (Women's Sport Foundation). Once that first woman makes it to a cover, it is no longer a male only feat.

On the perhaps more powerful flip side, the fact that the first women on the cover was not, in fact, an athlete, but instead, a beautiful actress in a surfing movie, can be seen as a blow to the world of women's surfing. Why not picture Keala Kennelly or another real time surfer who has proven the world of surfing does indeed involve women? Was Keala's hair to short, her ride not graceful enough for a woman? When the first woman on the cover of Surfing magazine is actually a surfer, this will be an advancement for women. This surfer will probably be a white woman, and yet another barrier must be broken. With each step forward that women in athletics take, a new hurdle develops.

Name: Jillian Be
Date: 2003-02-27 16:57:34
Link to this Comment: 4871

It doesn't seem like very much of an advancement for women in sports for her to be the first woman on the cover of the magazine. She was good and she had a good ride. However, she did not win the tournament. She did one good thing one time. The other women surfers who have been surfing for years and doing better than she did had never been recognized. How can it be considered a good thing when the most probable reason she was on the cover is because she is cute?

question 1
Name: M.A.
Date: 2003-02-27 20:09:02
Link to this Comment: 4878

I think that it is advancement for women in sport that the main character is the first woman on the cover of SURFING magazine, however, this advancement doesn't come without the creation of its own issues. There are a number of reasons that people might say it is not advancement: she is a sex symbol, she is not a real surfer but an actress, she isn't shown riding the wave but rather posing in a bikini... to name a few. ultimately, she is still a woman getting some sort of recognition.

i think women in sport is an example of how you sometimes have to work within an faulty system before you can deconstruct it. is it better for women to be sex symbols or not seen at all? does this represent at all issues for women who aren't white and beautiful? probably not. the main character got a lucky break and in the meantime managed to catch the eye of a football star for her "feisty" attitude. would this scenario have played itself out with an unattractive woman or a woman of color? possibly in the future, but not currently. there are many barriers that are made clear by the cover of the magazine. it perpetuates stereotypes, it gets men off the hook because they showed a woman so now they can feel like they are being equitable and good, the film itself has a number of racial and women related portrayals that are less than flattering. but in the long run, if enough women get on enough magazines it will make a difference, regardless of why they are on the magazine. like it was said in the film today about race and sport... you have to hang in even when getting clobbered to eventually get somewhere. so it's a start, and a good start, regardless of how many issues anyone could take up with the magazien cover.

Blue Crush
Name: Sara Watso
Date: 2003-03-01 16:04:33
Link to this Comment: 4886

1. It is hard to say whether or not the depiction of the main character on the cover of Surfing Magazine was really an advancement or not. I have a difficult time arguing one way or another. I recognize that it is not an advancement becuase of issues already raised--in the picture she isn't actually surfing, she manages to pose, she isn't wearing the typical surufing attire...etc. However there is also this theory that any movement for women is a positive movement. At the same time my gut instinct would tell me that there were so many things fundamentally wrong with the image that was going to be used for the magazine, that it wasn't making great strides for women in sport. Plus it was obvious that in the film there were other women that had been surfing and doing extremely well. Well enough to earn sponsorships--so why weren't they on the cover. If she made it on to the cover because of her ability, great, but if it was because she was the first one to come along that provided a "good image" for the magazine; then no, this is not an advancement.
2. Where women in sport stand right now, there is still ideals that are going to be expected from society. Even though a woman now has "permission" to compete, there is still the idea that she must do it with "grace" and all those other "feminine notions" that society likes to cling to. In comparison, men are allowed to be fierce competitors--they are allowed to be athletes only--where for women, sport is still mean to be only extracurricular.
3. Within Blue Crush it would be easy to point out the stereotypes found within each of the characters, but in particular the main character presented with a lot of her own. The main character was a "blonde babe" with what looked to be absolutely no muscles strong enough to surf; and she was of course an athlete second to playing a mother figure for her sister and being an inspiration to some guy.

what is the cultural ideal of women in sports? Wee
Name: Jillian Be
Date: 2003-03-02 19:15:47
Link to this Comment: 4894

The answer to this question begins when you consider the cultural ideal of women in general. By more progressive society, women are expected to be able to easily deal with all aspects of traditionally male and female lives. They are supposed to be able to cook homemade meatloafs like our grandmothers, raise children with the enriching attention of our mothers, and be as successful in the business world as our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers. They are also supposed to be on top of the domestic and working worlds while being thin and always having their hair in place. When women make the transition into the male world of sports, they are suddenly unable to keep their metaphorical hair in place. Women can't fully execute the demands of a family and a life in pro sports. No one can. But it is seen as a misplacement of values when a woman does not want a family. A woman is allowed to trade in her job for her family without much protest. A woman is not allowed to trade in her family for her job. Therefore, many female athletes are young and single. However, there are several old male athletes with wives and children. When female athletes marry, they retire. The cultural ideal of women in sports is to do it and get it done with before your real life starts.

1. What is the meaning of the images used in the p
Name: Jillian Be
Date: 2003-03-02 19:24:49
Link to this Comment: 4895

It is true that lots of female athletes are photographed for magazines in a non-athletic manner to expose their "hidden" femininity. It is also true that lots of female athletes choose to pose nude for Sports Illustrated or other magazines. I think that the former is more detrimental to the image of female athletes than the latter. I think that the naked pictures of Brandi Chastain were very tastefully done. More of her body can be seen on the soccer field than in some of those pictures. She is not posing seductively. She is laughing. She is obviously not ashamed of her body or the pictures she is taking. Here at Bryn Mawr people seem to think that nakedness is ok. People streak all the time and nobody says, "They are degrading their own bodies." Is that because there are no men here to see them? Sure, men look at naked pictures of athletes and enjoy seeing lots of skin. However, the style of the pictures of many of these athletes is a lot more modest than the pictures that men are looking at in Playboy or Penthouse. And, if men are going to look, I'd rather they look at someone who could probably kill them on the basketball court, tennis court, baseball field, or soccer field than at some simple sex kitten.

Name: Laura
Date: 2003-03-03 00:30:54
Link to this Comment: 4905

1. Is it advancement for women in sport, that the main character is the first woman on the cover of SURFING magazine? Why or why not?

I believe that having a woman on the cover of Surfing magazine is just a small advancement for women involved in sport. While it is an important achievement for a woman to be shown on the cover, the way in which this woman was portrayed was not based on her talented athletic ability. Instead, Ann Marie was shown in her skimpy bikini and portrayed as a sex symbol. The media's focus remains solely on ways to gain and attract a strong fan base. Unfortunately, this is at the cost of women athletes and those women who aspire to become athletes.
Women are continued to be shown as nothing more than an object for men to stare at. Therefore, it is a small step in the right direction. However, giant leaps need to be made. We must begin to break down these gender stereotypes that have haunted our society and begin to show these athletic women just as they are. Pretty or not, muscular or not, fat or thin, display them for their talent. Let women receive recognition just as their male counterparts have earned.

Blue Crush
Name: Jenna Rosa
Date: 2003-03-03 22:24:03
Link to this Comment: 4924

I was very dissapointed to see at the end of the movie that the main character was the first woman to make the cover of Surfing magazine. The only value I could possibly see in this choice in the movie was for a nice Hollywood ending, and in my opinion, it undermined the values of hard work, talent and success. It seems like the only reason she made the cover was because she was pretty and young, maybe even because she was dating a football player; the reason could have only been superficial and having nothing to do with her actual sportsmanship or ability in the sport of surfing. If it was such a major accomplishment to make the cover as it was hyped up to be in the movie, the woman who helped the main character when she was panicking during the final competition should have made it, she appeared to have to the most success as far as we knew. It's frustrating that the main character didn't practice at all before the competition, the only part we ever saw her work out was during the opening credits of the movie. For the rest of the movie, she was surfing easier waves, or freaking out in a harder surf, or teaching a good looking guy how to surf during the time she should have been working for what she claimed she wanted. This movie seemed to say that people CAN thrive on good looks and a cheesy hard-luck background, that hard work for what you want isn't necessary because with these other qualities they can still be possible, and that you can f*** around in as many respects as possible and still have a happy ending. I was completely uninspired, I think that for this class, it is interesting to look at this movie as a product of the stigmas about sexuality and strength with respect to women in sports in our society. However, as a movie about women overcoming these stigmas, it is completely irrelevant and somewhat regressive.

Thank You
Name: Alice Goff
Date: 2003-03-19 17:00:52
Link to this Comment: 5105

In an effort to "sum up" this class, I wanted to say how important I think a class like this is, especially at a place like Bryn Mawr College. Where the majority of our students are here for academic reasons, and athletic participation has the tendency to be periphery to a lot of us, it is important to realize these issues carry significance importance in how we define ourselves as women-- certainly not a marginal aspect of our education. The films that we have watched in this class have brought a lot to my understanding of women in athletics and how they are viewed by the outside world, and also made me understand that even for non-athletes, these are issues pertinent to our understandings of ourselves. Thank you to the facilitators of the course for making this course an option.

Week 4 response
Name: Alice Goff
Date: 2003-03-19 17:04:14
Link to this Comment: 5106

In response to week 4:
I think it certainly taints the film that the main character is the first woman on the front of SURFING magazine, because it adds an element of the unatainable to her character. Think of all the women who surf who will never be on the cover of SURFING magazine-- are they just as legitimate? I think so. Also, being on the cover of a magazine is something endowed with an appearance oriented message-- it is a photograph, a physical representation, which has little to nothing to do with the character's actual success as an athlete.

Women coverage in sport
Name: Shelly
Date: 2004-02-23 21:15:22
Link to this Comment: 8406

I have been going through the net for a class assignment and I have noticed there is hardly any info on the femine involvement in sports. I was reading the figures for media coverage and the evidence proves that radio, television and newspapers have the following percentages.

Women's Mixed Mens
RADIO 1.4% 3.5% 95.1%

TELEVISION 2% 41.8% 56.2%

NEWSPAPERS 10.7% 10.2% 79.1%

It Shows that wpmen have been neglected. If you have any information for me regarding anything to do with The media portrayal of women in sports please send me a email on

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