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Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

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Women, Sport, Film (Campbell) 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 12:15:10
Link to this Comment: 4336

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: Rianna
Date: 2003-02-01 13:20:25
Link to this Comment: 4342

Hi all. My name is Rianna ('04)and I am a Classical Studies major here at BMC. I have to admit to being almost completely sports-ignorant. I also have to admit to not being 'up' on most modern culture trends. At home my family only got public tv (one channel)and we did not get any magazines except for National Geographic and Ceramics Monthly. So, as a happy result, I missed out on just about all the standards that are applied to women and girls in the media. As far as a cultural ideal of women in sport is concerned, I am really only interested in my own ideal. My thought is that if a person, man or woman, wants to participate in any sport then they should, and the devil take whoever tries to say it isn't proper. But, after viewing the documentary and listing to those more informed than I, it seems clear that women are still expected to be sexy, beautiful and otherwise perfect no matter what they are doing and that men can more or less get away with anything. This is ridiculous. I thought the point of playing sports and covering sports in the media was about athletic talent.
On a Classical note, the women of Ancient Sparta were encouraged to exercise, to run races and otherwise compete. The Spartans were not stupid--a healthy and active woman is more likely to survive childbirth. Not that sports should be a means to that particular end, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

Women in Sport: Cultural Ideal
Name: Annie
Date: 2003-02-02 14:12:45
Link to this Comment: 4348

Hi, My name is Annie, and I am a first year at Smith. I have been playing organized sports since first grade, but am also an avid outdoorswoman and enjoy biking, hiking, backcounrty skiing, and everything else in between! I am on the crew team here at Smith. I guess I have always been pretty oblivious to issues of gender in sports. I have never personally been discriminated against in athletics because of being female. It is interesting to read about how women's athletics has evolved over the years. In the late 1800's, Women started participating in athletics to lead a healthy life, and to enhance beauty, and posture. As the years progressed, not much changed. Into the 1940's, the female athlete was expected to be feminine, beautiful, strong, and self-confident. These athletes could not over excert themsleves for fear of damage to their "delicate reproductive systems". Luckily, Title IX came along! Although it had a rough start, I feel that Title IX has changed, and will continue to change women's athletics. Even today, emphasis is placed on experience rather then outcome in women's athletic competetion. Men's sports are seen as a "rite of passage". Our culture places a big emphasis on winning or setting a record in men's sports. However, I feel that women's sports have nowhere to go but up. I feel that we have a long ways to go in terms of equal respect for women and men in sport, and that this change needs to start with accurate media portryal of women athletes.

Question #2
Name: Anneliese
Date: 2003-02-02 22:03:23
Link to this Comment: 4360

Hi, my name is Anneliese Zimmerman and I am a Junior and a Math Major at Bryn Mawr College. I wanted to discuss the question referring to our culture's image of women in sports and how that compares with men's image. I think that women are expected to stay physical in order to keep the "ideal" body figure our society dictates. And, these physical acitivities should not step beyond the boundaries of "lady-like" behavior. How many times in our society is a football player or male basketball player glorified? Now, compare that to a female rugby player or female ice hockey player. Can you name a well-known female rugby player or ice hockey player? Although our society has improved, it still has trouble fully accepting the idea of a STRONG female.

Cultural Sport Ideals
Name: Jackie
Date: 2003-02-03 20:41:36
Link to this Comment: 4373

I'm Jackie, and I'm a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College. I enjoyed the documentary we viewed in class this past week, because it brought to the forefront in my mind several questions that have been dormant for some time. In case there's any confusion, I'm answering the second question, about the difference between cultural ideals of women and men in sport, but I'm adding my own twist - how this duality also appears in all aspects of life and culture.
Men in sports, aggressive, dominant, competitive, have always been lauded for their achievements. In Pericles' Funeral Oration, the orator speaks of men dying for their city, for Athens, and how this notoriety in the name of their city is the greatest end for which any of the deceased could hope. But Pericles continues to say that women are not afforded this same opportunity. In fact, he maintains that women should achieve their excellence by avoiding any acclaim or mention whatsoever.
The spirit of Pericles' speech is mirrored in the world of sports, which also mirrors the same issues in all aspects of society. Women in sports were often insulted and discouraged from displaying the same sportslike traits so often appreciated in their male contemporaries. As sports is more often publicized and televised than arenas like the business world and the political stage, it is interesting to note that the same barriers hurled at the women competing athletically were also jumped by women in business, in politics, and in civil rights in general.
So, the problems faced by the women throught the sports documentary created some interesting linkages in my mind. That's all. :)

Name: Millie
Date: 2003-02-03 23:08:50
Link to this Comment: 4378

My name is Millie and I am a senior Biology major at Smith College. I, like most of you in this forum, feel that the depiction of the female athlete is one that is markedly different than that of the male athlete. Female athletes are commonly seen as objects--beautiful objects who can perform a specific task well. Conversely, male athletes are lauded for their accomplishments. Male athletes are judged not by how they look, but how they perform. It is rarely important if a male athlete is attractive. In other words, the appearance of a male athlete does not seem to dictate his overall popularity. It is sad that this cannot be said for the female athlete. Unfortunately we live in a day and age when the most the most popular female athletes are those who have the longest legs or the shortest tennis skirt. I look forward to the day that female athletes are praised for their skill and not for their fashion sense.

Cultural Ideals of Athletes
Name: Jennifer
Date: 2003-02-04 20:39:31
Link to this Comment: 4400

Hi Everyone. My name is Jenn and I am a sophomore Neuroscience major at Smith College. I am a member of the Varsity Ski Team and have been playing sports since I was in second grade. I also agree with the previous postings that male athletics are more celebrated than female athletics. However, I think the amount of celebration has to do with American interest in that particular sport. In high school the co-ed track team had won both the Independent School League and the New England Prep-School Division to which we belonged. More than a fourth of the student body was on that team and our achievements were celebrated for the duration of the announcement. However, had either female or male hockey team won a single title the school would have been in chaos for days and each hockey player applauded. The area I grew up in was and still is very big into hockey. The student body was made of people who either loved hockey as a spectator sport or because they had played it.
Different athletes male or female are treated differently based on the sport they excel in and their physical appearance. People question the sexuality of a muscular female soccer player and the graceful male figure skater, than applaud the actions of an attractive female figure skater or a muscular male soccer player. Throughout history and still today image and gender labels restrict the celebration of many disserving athletes both male and female.

I agree
Name: Missie Tid
Date: 2003-02-05 10:38:09
Link to this Comment: 4411

I am Missie, an junior English and Education major at Bryn Mawr College. I am inclined to agree with all the previous posts. Yes, men get more recognition than females in sport. Yes, I dont' know any famous women rugby players...but for that matter, I dont' know any famous male rugby players either. So, it is more of a cultural thing I suppose. If women watched and played more rugby or ice hockey, the players would have more fans. I myself was brought up with gymnastics and soccer (and a two week trial of ballet, blech!) I am glad to see women playing sports that they love and encourage them. I think if we spent more time encouraging and less time being negative, that women would get more recognition. (Mass media would have to cover the sports if half the population demanded's called capitalism). I myself always played on an all boys travel soccer team with my brothers. I liked to play with boys because the girls were too

question 2
Date: 2003-02-05 10:38:16
Link to this Comment: 4412

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Martin, and I'm a junior English major. I think it is ideal if women are allowed to play what they want, and to have the opportuniy to become professional athletes if they choose to pursue that. Unfortunately, it isn't possible for women to pursue ANY sport they want without there being some major obstacles to get past: finding a team they can actually play on, funding, etc. There is an idea that certain sports are appropriate for women, whereas other sports like football and ice hockey aren't. While playing sports, in general, for fun and fitness is accepted, even encouraged in women and girls, it is still expected that we remain feminine. This is especially difficult for women who want to become professional because their every move is scrutinized.

question 2
Name: Monika Le
Date: 2003-02-05 13:32:38
Link to this Comment: 4416

Hi, my name is Monika. I am a senior majoring in math at Bryn Mawr. Along with the others in this forum, I agree that our society dictates that women athletes should maintain their feminine appeal on and off the court, field, slopes (etc). We are told to humor women athletes who participate in the more male dominated sports - such as rugby, for instance - because they are trying to act like men. Women are not able to participate in agressive contact sports without having their sexuality questioned. The social pressures and general perceptions of male and female athletes are making it difficult for women to prove themselves as worthy competitors.

equal opportunity
Name: valerie so
Date: 2003-02-05 16:13:19
Link to this Comment: 4421

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.

question #2
Name: Angela Mur
Date: 2003-02-05 19:09:40
Link to this Comment: 4424

Hey, my name's Angela and I'm a computer science major at Smith. I'm a huge sports fan both as a participant and spectator. I've been playing any and all sports since kindegarden, and watch any and all sports either at the event or on tv - even been known to watch a few games of curling :-)

It seems to me that the cultural ideal of women in sport is too be perfect. They must be fit, beautiful, and their sweat must smell like roses - quite a feat especially for sports involving pads. Men can be pretty or not, muscular or not, nice or not. For the most part, women have much more strict appearence qualifications to be in the public eye in any light (sports, movies, tv). Society seems to want the women to be everything while not expecting even close to that in the men, one of the most dominant double-standards out there.

Responce Jennifer (4400): Towards the end of your comments you referred to how the appearence of male/female athletes leads to questions on their sexuality. I think that there is a difference between questioning and assuming. The way people, both men and women, appear and behave has been changing in the past few decades. It's not as uncommon now to see a "feminine" guy or a "masculine" girl, though it's still odd for some people, and if they want to ask about sexuality, so long as it's sincere, I don't see a problem with that. If they assume, either way, that's when the problems arise.

Cultural Ideals/Norms of Female Athletes
Name: Sara Watso
Date: 2003-02-05 19:59:51
Link to this Comment: 4428

My name is Sara Watson, I am a first year at Smith College, and I have been an athlete ever since I could walk. I think even though I have not playing sports in "on camera" type environment, that the societal pressures on me have been prevalent, but less severe than they are for many of the women attempting to play professionally.

When I was younger my ability to compete was a "cool" thing amongst my peers. It was looked upon with much admiration. However, when I reached Jr. High...everyone was gaining a sense of how our "society" works. Because I could play...and because I didn't do it with make-up on I instantly received the label of being a lesbian...and trust me, at my Jr. High, this was not a good thing! Further more, when I went on to High School, things got a little better, I was respected because I could play...but I suppose I also started wearing make-up to school. So now, which is it? I'd like to think that maybe people grew up a little bit, but who knows?

I find this "dolled up" image of female athletes rather bothersome...Don't get me wrong, make up is great, but do these athletic role models have to cake it on order to show young girls that, "hey, they can play too?" It's not like make-up offers anyhting condusive to your playing ability. If smears and gets in your eyes...and causes all kinds of problems. Gender norms of our American society are still forcning women to have the right "look" even if they are competing in a physical contest. I really tend to disagree with the way that female athletes in the media are being portrayed lately. That's assuming of course that they receive the coverage...

cultural ideal of women in sport
Name: Samantha
Date: 2003-02-05 20:16:28
Link to this Comment: 4430

Hi. My name is Samantha and I am a senior history major at Bryn Mawr. The idea that physical appearance and the adherence to cultural norms and expectations demonstrates or reflects one's character and personality is a problem that reaches beyond the realm of sports. In sports, however, what is valued most- speed, strength, stamina, etc – is often perceived as negative given the physical characteristics and behavior of the athlete. The media's coverage of Navatrolova and Evert is an example. For women athletic talent is negotiated through their physical appearance and behavior. Athletic skill is admired only if it is compliments the feminine ideal. Female athletes are female first and athletic second, female being the cultural norm of feminine. With male athletes, however, there is no disconnect or prioritization between gender and its cultural ideal and their athletics: athlete and man are interchangeable concepts (unless of course men are competing in a "feminine" sport, such as figure skating). Often, for women to gain recognition for their skill they must fit into the cultural ideal. The influence of the media has much to do with this, whether it is sports coverage or commercial endorsements. Look at Ana Kournikvova. Her tennis rank is low, yet she has one of the most lucrative endorsement deals of all the players and no lack of media coverage. In this case skill is not even a consideration.
Also, I am glad the film, Dare To Compete, acknowledged the different experiences of white women and black women in sports and how the cultural ideal of women, though it hindered all women, did have a somewhat different affect on women of color. When we discuss feminine ideal it is important to realize that this cultural image often excluded women of color.

Name: Amy S.
Date: 2003-02-05 22:38:25
Link to this Comment: 4441

Hi. I'm Amy. I'm a frosh at BMC, hoping to be a creative writing major and possibly a femgen minor. I don't know that much about athletics, but I'm a writing geek and a media studies geek, so... yeah. Hi.

Just to jump on what everyone else said, I see the girls and boys being forced to concede to the cultural stereotypes just because it's "easier" than actively changing it. I mean, Title IX was supposed to work towards equality, but it receives nothing but scorn from a lot of people who want their children to be able to play on all-boys' football teams, etc.

Being a student at a women's college, I obviously see the benefit of women getting the same opportunities men do: the right to be in equal levels of academics, athletics, etc.

And yet in public high schools, we see how much inequality exists: girls who stay quiet in class so that boys will like them more; boys called sissies for not being as athletic or muscular as the boys.

Everything is a double standard. Always has been.

Name: Melissa Te
Date: 2003-02-06 11:07:44
Link to this Comment: 4449

Hi! My name's Melissa, and I'm a sophomore at Bryn Mawr. I've never taken an interest in sports, so the information in this documentary was very new to me. I think that the cultural ideal of women in sports is very similar to the cultural ideal of women in every aspect of society. Women are expected to have nice, primped hair, to wear makeup, to look perfect at all times. The same applies to their appearance in sports. For instance, I remember seeing a shampoo commercial that used a professional swimmer as their spokesperson. The idea of the commercial was that in spite of the chlorine and other chemicals in the water, she uses this shampoo to make her hair look healthy and shiney again after she swims. With men, however, their portrayal is much different. To be "manly," you have to work hard and sweat. They are not expected to clean themselves up for the public.

Question 2
Name: Katherine
Date: 2003-02-06 15:55:33
Link to this Comment: 4456

Hi, I'm Katherine and a sophomore at Bryn Mawr. In a culture where femininity and atheleticism are frequently presented as contrasting ideals, the importance that women have played in the history of sports has so often been relegated to the last pages of the sports section, or in daytime rather then primetime tv coverage. We have found fault in the biology of women for not running as fast or jumping as high as men--rather then celebrating the natural capacity of a woman's body. It is possible to be a woman and be an athelete, to be feminine and be strong--posessing the quality of one does not determine the absence of the other, and I think society as a whole is beginning to recognize that.

Title IX
Name: Claire Mah
Date: 2003-02-06 17:26:21
Link to this Comment: 4461

Hi there, everyone. My name is Claire Mahler, I'm a frosh at Bryn Mawr (probably a Cities major, but we'll see what actually happens...). I have never been a HUGE sports person myself, usually drifting towards the fine arts, theater, music, etc. and food, but I'll see what I can do here.

Granted, I do firmly believe that women (as they are, not with some unattainable idealistic model in mind) need the freedom to be considered equals in society; but seeing as how the people posting comments here are all women from women's colleges, I get the feeling that everyone is going to hold (or at least express) the "yay-women! rah rah rah, all the power to us!" kind of sentiment.

Bearing that in mind, I'll play the devil's advocate. In terms of Title IX, is it truly just to forefit men's programs in order to equalize the male-to-female sports ratio? True, it's fabulous that women are getting sporting opportunities not afforded for years and years, but the should talented college-age male athletes of today 'pay' for this injustice? For the most part, I doubt that they had much of any influence on the inequities, so why hold them accountable? Hold them responsible to know and understand the past? Yes. To forefit their chances for athletics? I'm not so sure. I know that there have been instances in which major athletic funding has been cut for males simply because the corresponding women's programs were not taking flight as anticipated. Who can say what is completely fair

Yay women--yay men, too. This is just a note to all of you ladies to be wary of the über-feminist vibe that can cloud judgement and turn intended equal rights struggles into regimes headed for female superiority.


Week 2 Questions
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-02-07 11:29:22
Link to this Comment: 4475

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?

cultural ideals
Name: Rianna
Date: 2003-02-08 14:48:05
Link to this Comment: 4480

It seems to me that the cultural ideals of women in society and women in sport are being blended. Women now hold positions of power and influence in the business world, hold governmental offices, or are scientists. There is no room for weakness in these positions. These women need to be strong and capable and (unfortunetly) it also helps if they are good looking. Women in sports also need to be strong and capable. Brains and health are valued. I would say with all the emphasis we place today on health food, exercise, and confidence, women who play sports are at an advantage as far as that goes.

In the documentary we viewed before we watched "National Velvet", the issue of female athletes being portrayed as sex objects came up. I believe the idea was that it was 'unempowering' for female athletes to be shown in a sexualized manner. My thought is this: No one forced those athletes to pose naked. If female athletes do not want their image to be reduced to that of a sex object, then they as a whole should refuse to pose for photographs that would do so. And honestly, if I see a sports magazine with a half-naked male on the front, my first thought has absolutly nothing to do with his ability to play an organized sport.

newspaper article
Name: Claire Mah
Date: 2003-02-09 10:38:25
Link to this Comment: 4485

just thought this might interest the participants here...
this is a newspaper article about title IX and its impact on college sports, and its need for gentle redirection.


week 2
Name: lily gatau
Date: 2003-02-09 12:37:09
Link to this Comment: 4488

One can often hear "sport makes you healthy and beautiful." Sport has never been denied in such important function as making people healthy, but what really makes it popular today is the idealistic relationship between sport and beauty that has been created in the modern society. The society has established the standards of the ideal female beaty, and sport provides enough examples to keep this standards still very popular. Unlike Hollywood and model-business, however, sport manages to bring examples of power and beauty in the same body. I think, this is why, the growing amount of female-athletes are so popular in the advertising business today. both their beauty and their power correspond to the wish of the modern society to have active, strong, yet sexually attractive women, both at home and at the leading positions.

national velvet (ques 2)
Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2003-02-09 14:18:51
Link to this Comment: 4489

Velvet's character is lucky to have a mother who supports women in sports, as she was an athlete herself. Although her father does say to his daughters that they have only their faces for their fortunes, Velvet's interest in riding horses does not seem to be a problem within her family and her town. There is an idea that women should be protected from danger, as we see the first time that Velvet and Mi are confronted with the horse in the road, and the owner chides Mi for not pulling Velvet out of the way. It is not until she gets to the professional level, however, that her gender is an obstacle to her riding horses. Although people notice that Velvet is young and small, they don't suspect that she is a girl. Her size and age are not a problem when people believe that she is male. It is only her gender that makes her delicate and vulnerable. She is disqualified, but still seen as a national hero.

Question Week 2
Name: Anneliese
Date: 2003-02-09 22:32:32
Link to this Comment: 4501

I wanted to comment on the idea of Velvet being gender neutral and how that relates to women in sports and other male-dominated arenas today. I think that women in sports are expected to be feminine, as well as being an athlete. But, in the business world, I think women are expected to be gender-neutral like Velvet in the movie. Women in business are sometimes looked down upon when they have to leave work for family issues (i.e. kids are sick at home) or if they go on maternity leave. As a result, business women (who have families) are supposed to go above and beyond any businessman, because they have "traditional" roles that women are expected to fill (i.e. cooking, cleaning, taking care of the home, etc.) as well as the buisness work. But if they show even the slightest sign of fatigue or irriation at the amount of work and responsibilities facing them, they are immediately chastised by the business community as being whiney and overly sensitive and as a result, they are not taken seriously in the business world.

**To answer the last question: I have never ridden a horse.

week 1 responses (a bit late, i apologize)
Name: zandy
Date: 2003-02-10 19:33:50
Link to this Comment: 4516

hi, my name is zandy and i'm a senior at wesleyan. i'm a varsity rower, and have been rowing for about 8 years now. i'm also an avid climber, backpacker, etc. i apologize for the tardiness of my response to the week 1 questions, but i've been out of town for about 5 days. i hope that my responses are still relevant. thanks!

question 1: (title IX)

Title IX is a social justice issue as it is a law that concerns not privilege, but the right of women to have the same access to education as men. Title IX takes as its basis the fact that women in America are not treated as full citizens, but are relegated to a kind of partial citizenship. For years the government has sought to control everything from a woman's right to vote, to her right to protect and make decisions about her own body. After years of having their bodies demeaned and demonized, women are finally taking control of their bodies and their education, and are re-learning how to situate themselves as members of society with equal rights to education and competition.
The impact of Title IX on women today cannot be overstated. Even for women who are not athletes, all women have benefited from Title IX. For women who do not consider themselves athletes, or have no interest in sports, they still turn on the television to glimpse UCONN women's basketball or to see Serena Williams smashing a ball across the court. If cultural perceptions are at least partially due to repetition, then seeing the images of women participating in sports should lead to a kind of internalizing of the idea that as women our bodies are useful and powerful.

question 2: (cultural ideals of women)

The cultural ideal of women in sports seems to be the woman who can combine beauty with talent. Thus, as a competitor she might be fierce, but her attractiveness makes her less threatening to the male ego. Media correspondents can call these women "graceful", and "attractive" while also mentioning that they have a superb serve or "great athleticism". However, the fact that one never hears a male athlete described according to their physical characteristics, (except for "tall" in basketball, and then it is used as a factor which only enhances their maleness), further shows how the cultural ideal of athletic women still seeks to feminize and control women.
Also, there is a cultural ideal of women as graceful losers, as competitive, but not too competitive. I have often heard male commentators call female athletes "intense" in what seemed a negative tone of voice, and I have also heard commentators shaking their heads when women have been angry or upset at the end of competition and not able to smile for the cameras. Rarely, if ever, have I heard commentators or writers speak this way about men. In fact, the cultural ideal of men in sport supports and applauds intensity, even condoning aggressive behavior among male athletes. When men do this they are seen as asserting their maleness, as acting "like a man", whereas when women get angry, frustrated, or are not able to put on a smile after they've been beaten they are seen as being too involved, as being too intense.
I hope that these cultural ideals are changing. I still see too many women apologizing. I still see too many women who are timid in the weight room. However, I have also seen Serena and Venus Williams become famous for being incredible tennis players, as well as competitors who are often terrifying in their fierceness. Since I have been at college I have encountered fewer men who have questioned my athletic ability or potential, and when most of them speak of my muscles, they do so with admiration in their voice.

powerful women in sport
Name: millie
Date: 2003-02-10 19:49:37
Link to this Comment: 4519

Does sport truly bridge the two, perhaps conflicting, notions of female beauty and strength? The answer to such a question, I feel, is an empahtic no. How can sport merge these images when the female athlete hides her power behind her feminity? The female athlete that I see attempts to downplay her stature as a physically capable woman in favor of emphasizing her position as a beautiful woman. If this were not true, why did the Williams sisters pose for Vogue? Why did Brandi Chastain endorse sportsbras? Why did female athletes pose for Playboy? Why have so many female bodybuilders undergone breast augmentation, when the size of their breast should, in reality, have no bearing on their performance? I feel that since it is possible to raise these questons, it must be that women's athletics, lke so many other institutions, remains corrupted by the distorted female image promoted by popular culture.

Name: Sara
Date: 2003-02-11 01:40:51
Link to this Comment: 4533

Hi.My name is Sara Shomstein and I 'm a senior Economics major at Smith College.

Although female sports are gaining more popularity with more female athletes are gracing the covers of magazines and appearing on television spots, we need to look at the images that these women are projecting. We see female athletes half-naked on the covers of magazines and in advertisements, yet athletes of equal talent like Pete Sampras are pictured with a tennis racquet.
In response to another post, yes these women were not "forced" to pose in these manners, but then we might ask ourselves if they would ever appear on magazine covers if they didnt agree to pose and present themselves in these overly sexualized and super-feminine ways.
In addition, isnt it even more awful that these athletes, women who have accomplished so much and worked so hard, still feel as though all they have to offer on the cover of a magazine is their body and their face?They should be presenting their talents and accomplishments.

a question...
Name: Elisabeth
Date: 2003-02-11 13:47:17
Link to this Comment: 4544

This is Elisabeth Lindsey, a senior studio art major at Smith College.
I guess my post is more a question about the arguements against Title makes sense to me that if a situation where men previously received 100% of the funding for sports becomes fifty-fifty with women, that there would be some cut back in their sports because (a) sometimes that just happens, funding is cut and (b) if they are receiving less than 100% it is going to change the availability of funds....So the equity is regained, by a lessening of sport funding for I guess I jsut don't understand how they have a leg to stand on about these 'gross inequalities' that the men are experiencing in their anyone want to help clarify, it would be much appreciated!! Thanks.

women's sports and media
Name: Annie
Date: 2003-02-12 16:16:28
Link to this Comment: 4556

Hi, this is Annie, I'm a first year Education major at Smith College. I lived what I consider to be a pretty sheltered childhood in terms of being aware of the media. My family does not have a TV, and the only magazene we subscribe to is National Geographic. Therefore, I did not grow up aware, even subconciously, of the portryal of female athletes in the media like most girls did. After watching the video in class about media portyal of female athletes, I was disgusted. Female athletes are not given the respect that they deserve as athletes. The media emphasizes sexuality and femininity rather then athletic ability. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is Anna Kournikova. She has the most corporate sponsorship of all women athletes, and has only won one singles tennis match. The famous picture of the soccer player ( I am blanking on her name...) that took her shirt off after scoreing a goal is another example of negative media hype. The photograph was boosted by the media as sexual, and was not seen as a picture that captured her feelings of victory.
Another point that I found interesting in the film was the piece on homophobia in women's sports. In the WNBA for example, we know that there are lesbian players, but no players have come out. When a magazene does an article on a female athlete, they never fail to mention the athletes family, how she juggles caring for children with training, or her boyfriend or husband. Why can't the female athletes just be portryed as athletes, and not get their personal lives pryed into??

Name: Melissa Te
Date: 2003-02-12 18:37:05
Link to this Comment: 4559

A few decades ago, society's image of a beautiful woman was one with a little bit of meat on her bones and curves. If she had an hour glass figure, she was beautiful. But now I feel that a beautiful woman in today's society is portrayed as having an athletic figure. One with toned muscles and very little body fat. Sport is now used as a way to make women more beautiful. From kickboxing, to yoga, to pilates, women now have a variety of sport disciplines used to make them more toned and "beautiful."

Name: Missie
Date: 2003-02-12 20:04:19
Link to this Comment: 4560

So, I have been reading the posts and everyone seems to be in agreement. Picking up on Annie from Smith's comments on the way the media seems to focus so intently on irrelevant occurences such as the unveiling of Brandy Chastain's sports bra. It seems that the media is repeating what they tried a few decades ago when one woman fell down from exhaustian after an olympic race. Instead of drawing away the attention from our athletic abilities with fictitious inabilities, they are creating false images of women athletes. As Melissa Teicher said in the post before mine also, the bodies we see are increasingly more athletic. This is another way that the media might be trying to ween the attention away from women's athleticism by pointing to sex. of course, this is basically repeating what everyone has said in a way. At least we're all on the same page.

Portrayal of Women in Media
Name: Jackie Pil
Date: 2003-02-13 01:42:47
Link to this Comment: 4564

Women athletes are constantly portrayed as sex objects in the media. IN order to be popular, they don't have to prove any particular athletic prowess, rather they have to look beautiful and pose nude. A perfect (and trite) example of this is Anna Kournikova, who to this day has not won a tennis match, but is the most sponsored female tennis player. All because of her perfect body, features, and long blond hair.

The simple meaning of this is that women are still objectified. It's not that their talents are not appreciated, it's just that it's more appealing in our culture for a woman to be an example of beauty. It's kind of like a mating ritual. An athletic woman threatens the men in the male-dominated world of athletics, but a beautiful woman is more likely to mate and be taken off the market and out of the competition. Her beauty, her sexuality, makes her less of a threat in the long-run, because it shows a hint of what she will most likely leave sports (for a while) to do - have children.

It's just easier for everyone this way, apparently. Even I love to look at advertisements of these women and wish that my body resembled theirs.

Name: Amy
Date: 2003-02-13 12:33:39
Link to this Comment: 4570

I think that athletics are almost unquestionably gendered. Going back to Title IX for a moment- many of the "problems" men feel resulted from it (i.e. reduction of male sports teams) would be made much less stressful if co-ed teams were an option. From the time girls and boys are separated to "softball" and "little league", they've already begun to understand that there are "girls' sports" and "boys' sports". From there, the only question is nhow to make it fit the cultural ideals of boys and girls: women being soft and thin; men being muscular and strong.

In National Velvet, I don't think that Velvet WAS gender-neutral. She was a girl, very specifically; "girls love horses" is a traditionally gendered interest, and only when there was no other option did she become the jockey. In fact, Mi could have been the jockey, but was persuaded by what I suppose were "feminine wiles" or whatnot.

Note that even as a "masculine" figure, she wore makeup and looked cute and fit the feminine ideal, excepting her hair.

Natinonal Velvet
Name: Emily Hans
Date: 2003-02-13 14:06:07
Link to this Comment: 4573

2. I think the movie National Velvet takes a somewhat modern and enlightened view of women in sports. In the film Velvet is forced to cut her hair and pretend to be a boy in order to ride in the Grand National and when she is discovered after taking a tumble at the end, the crowd is not dismissive, upset, angry, or abusive. Instead the nation as a whole considers her a hero. I think National Velvet also reinforces the idea of the acceptability of women in sports by having Velvet's mother, a sports star in her own right, appear as a sympathetic, wise, and endearing character. Indeed, if anything, the men in the film, Mi and Mr. Brown, are shown as rather stodgy and old fashioned. While the film also ridicules the typical ideal of women, embodied in Velvet's oldest sister Edwina.
I don't think that the film necessarily places Velvet in a gender-neutral role in order to shy away from the fact that she is a girl competing in a "man's sport". I believe that in many ways the film often clearly underlines that fact that Velvet is indeed a girl. I think the film accomplishes a great deal in making the concept of women participating in traditionally male sports acceptable.

image of women
Name: Samantha
Date: 2003-02-13 14:10:52
Link to this Comment: 4574

There are differences in the role of female gender in current sport and the perception of female in National Velvet. In current sport, the cultural perception of female is enhanced to the detriment of athletic talent. As the documentary showed, media coverage of women athletes (often controlled by men) often does not focus on the their skill, but rather on their bodies as sexy and desirable. By taking women athletes out of the athletic space and placing them onto a beach or into a skimpy outfit, for example, both of which have no relevance to them as athletes, denies them (and by extension all women athletes and all women) the credit due them and negates their power. These images conform to cultural/media ideals, and more often than not male ideas of women. I do not, however, want to imply that women athletes are victims to this. The documentary raised the interesting point that women do have responsibility in how they choose to be portrayed. Velvet, conversely, had to wipe out or deny any evidence of her gender. Both of these are extremes. A balance is difficult to achieve. Also, I found it interesting that each sister in National Velvet portrayed a three different "types": the boy crazy beauty; the serious brain; and the dreamer, who is the athlete.

Week 2
Name: Katherine
Date: 2003-02-13 14:21:18
Link to this Comment: 4575

If women choose to pose for magazines in a sexual way in order to celebrate or embrace their body, that is their choice. And I certainly think the same applies to men as well--our culture idealizes beauty. Women in sport are now increasingly portrayed as being strong, healthy models of fitness, which I think is a good thing. Femininity is not defined or denied by the amount of muscles one has.

Name: Monika
Date: 2003-02-13 18:38:51
Link to this Comment: 4589

The cultural ideal of sport is no longer considered a culture for men. Similar to the cultural ideal of women in society, the cultural ideal of sport is also becoming all-encompassing as it strives to achieve a wider audience and range of participants. In our culture today, games and sports are available to the general public. With the passage of Title IX, both boys and girls can participate in sports and achieve success in athletics if they work towards that specific goal.

This is similar to the cultural ideal of women in society. Today, women are given more opportunities than ever before to become active in male dominated fields. While I do not think that our cultural ideals of sports and women in society are perfect, I do agree that they have come a long way.

A hero for daisy
Name: Liza Eckel
Date: 2003-02-15 13:01:34
Link to this Comment: 4610

In class this week, we watched the movie "A Hero For Daisy", it was based on the Yale crew team and more specifically, Chris Ernst. After watching this movie, I would like to address the ideas of cultural ideals for women in sport and the cultural ideal for women in society. In this movie, Chris Ernst has developed very large muscles, without any drug enhancement. At World championships and the Olympics her gender is repeatedly questioned by officials. She continues to pass the gender test with flying colors. The whole gender testing idea is a violation of human right. Not until very recently has this testing been banned from the olympics. Chris Ernst was muscular and extremely cut. I believe that many women couldn't reach this strength no matter how hard they try. She is simply an awesome human form and she's not the norm. There are men just like her that exceed the "normal" muscle build of the average male. For some reason these men don't get questioned because part of their cultural norm is to be strong. Women in sport are slowly becoming accepted as strong and muscular. Yet, women in society are barely adapting to this idea that strength is good. Women these days will lift weights, but only to sculpt not build. They don't want to be "too big" and this is only perpetuating the stereotype of the small, weak woman.

WEEK 3 Questions
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-02-16 16:07:44
Link to this Comment: 4622

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?

week one response
Name: Ingrid
Date: 2003-02-16 18:21:27
Link to this Comment: 4627

My posting info came a little late; here is week one response, with subsequent weeks to follow.

Introductions: Hi, I'm Ingrid Hansen, a junior English major at Bryn Mawr. In elementary school I had a 2 year stint with soccer, but it wasn't really my thing. I've grown up with outdoorsy sports--hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, etc. I've felt isolated from the organized sports world, and have largely rejected it. Sitting in this class, however, has forced me to reconsider how I think about organized sports in a positive light.

week one response: Title IX is necessary in the same way that affirmative action policies are necessary. Enforcing legislation that requires visible measures of equality surely puts us in better stead for changing historical notions of women in sport. Looking at the statistics, we can assert that progress has been made and will continue--the video mentioned that women's participation in sport has reached a critical mass, and going back to pre-Title IX enrollment would be impossible. We are coming into a world (or country, at least) where women command respect. Legislation is an important part of this process--it is not such a far trip down memory lane to recall when sexual harassment allegations were laughable. The truism stands firm--we've come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. There are numerous organizations dedicated to equality (room for more), and there is legal backing for equality (room for more), but cultural perceptions do play a role in how we as a culture really value women.

week 2 response
Name: Ingrid
Date: 2003-02-17 04:00:50
Link to this Comment: 4634

week 2 response: Women in the media face a scrutiny based on their image (not only their looks, but their demeanor and speech--their presentation) no matter in what area of the media they appear. Advertising sets/reflects cultural ideals, and sexualized female bodies are commonplace. Transposing this image into representations of women in sport, to the effect of lucrative endorsements, trains us to consume female bodies in the same unimaginative hypersexed context, whoever the person should be.

As a response to National Velvet, I wanted to bring up a point I've heard (which, unfortunately, I cannot cite). The argument is that preadolescent girls are especially drawn to horses because horses represent attractive male qualities for girls who do not yet take interest in boys (and this is based on heterosexist principles). Horses are large, muscular, and provide an outlet for much attention/ affection. When Velvet "practices" her riding in bed, several of us found humor in what appeared to be implicitly sexual behavior, but wrote it off because of the time period. This argument would suggest that there is foundation in our perception. It would also suggest that Velvet is thoroughly feminine. While I can find fault and exception to this argument, I thought it posed an interesting perspective on National Velvet.

Name: Missie
Date: 2003-02-18 10:15:22
Link to this Comment: 4653

The main character in Love and Basketball challenges the inequality of men and women in sport. The film was pretty obvious in its goal, but it rang with truth. Monica is a passionate athlete, like Velvet in National Velvet. When she gets upset, she shows it, just like a man would...but her temper is held against her because she is a woman. The movie deals with the sacrifices she has to make because of her love of basketball, sacrifices she shoudln't have to make, such as the loss of her boyfriend, the loss of her home, the loss of a strong relationship with her mother who can't understand her love. The movie deals with a lot of the issues that we have been discussing in class and centralizes some very important aspects of being a woman athlete.

week 3 questions
Name: Anneliese
Date: 2003-02-18 14:28:30
Link to this Comment: 4655

I think the relationship between the velvet and monica and their mothers is very interesting. Both mothers seem to have had big dreams/accomplishments in their lives that they set aside to become housewives and mothers. They are both strong women and their daughters are also strong because of this. Although in "National Velvet", I feel like Velvet's mother was more encouraging and supportive of Velvet's dreams and ambitions than Monica's mother. I think Monica's mother was not as openly supportive because part of her was jealous of Monica and her ability to break barriers and become the woman her mother always wished she could be. I think that every generation of women, to some degree, want their daughters to accomplish more than they did and to continue to break down gender barriers and crash through glass ceilings, as displayed in both of these films.

Name: Rianna
Date: 2003-02-18 16:23:46
Link to this Comment: 4661

I think Anneliese stated well the situation between Velvet and her mother and Monica and her mother. I felt more for Monica's mother--she seemed trapped in her time and marriage. Monica was the more interesting character to me. However, I don't think her sacrifices were all that different from those that other woman make in their career choices. I have to say that the ending of the film was a bit bizarre. Was there really a need for her to give up basketball just to marry and breed? Couldn't a balance have been found?

Week 3 question--2
Name: Anneliese
Date: 2003-02-19 18:39:54
Link to this Comment: 4678

I think that Monica was able to balance both family and her dream in the movie "Love and Basketball". I mean she was able to marry the man she loved, have a family and still play for the WNBA. She didn't have to give up her dream, in order to have a family as well.

Name: Claire Mah
Date: 2003-02-19 23:48:43
Link to this Comment: 4692

In class, we brought up the question of whether Velvet was "male" "female" or "gender neutral." Personally, I felt that she was still feminine despite having strong dreams, but that's perhaps slightly beside the point. Along with that statement follows another, that is, perhaps because of her age, her passion for sport and wish to succeed she was a more readily accepted athlete. Though in the film she was still disqualified, the audience was won over by the fiery, yet adorable young girl. Would an older female solicit the same reaction? Probably not. Monica was not portrayed as such a glamorous character in many ways: her strong temper flared up on many occasions, she was shown just as sweaty as any other athlete, and she was not cheered on as strongly by her role model(s).
Both films push for a more equalized sporting arena, yet I felt that National Velvet managed to keep the female protagonist within the cultural bounds (her mother's statement that this one instance must last her whole life and that it was time to move on). Monica on the other hand managed to have a family and still persue her love of sport at an older age, a less-often explored path of life.

Name: Claire Mah
Date: 2003-02-20 00:02:30
Link to this Comment: 4693

In reading other postings (I hope I've been posting in the right section!) many comments brought various issues to light, issues which gravely need to be discussed before true equality can be reached. If we don't fully understand the problem [of differences], how can it be fixed? One comment that particularly struck me was that of Monika Le. She made the point that in film, nearly all female athletes are portrayed as tomboys. I had never conciously realized this (probably assuming that it was a good thing that 'the masses' were instucted that being a tomboy is not intrinsicly a bad thing). I think that there are still certain cultural bounds constructed in such a way that if one edge stretches, the other side constricts to compensate; the mentality that if a woman is an accomplished athlete, she must necessarily be less of a woman.
We've come so far yet have so far to go.

Name: Amy
Date: 2003-02-20 09:56:42
Link to this Comment: 4698

I think it's telling that, at least for me, Love and Basketball was a much more realistic film. National Velvet showed Velvet fighting to reach her potential, but the gender bias was significantly less obvious, and significantly less relevant to life today, than that of Monica. The IMDB said that the writer herself was a college basketball player, which must have had a profound effect.

Working Women
Name: Emily Hans
Date: 2003-02-20 14:14:47
Link to this Comment: 4703

I think the movie Love and Basketball poses an interesting question that transcends the concept of women and sports to the idea of working-women in a man's world. In examining the female characters in the movie we are shown different ideals of what women are supposed to value. Monica's mother is a stay-at-home mom who gave up a career in catering to take care of her family. Monica believes this is a weakness and looks down on her mother for "not standing up for herself". However, Monica's mother disapproves of her daughter's dress and attitude, believing that she isn't acting like a lady. Later in the movie Monica herself has to make the choice between a relationship with Quincy and her basketball career. Unlike her mother she makes the choice to follow her dreams. In the end, though, Monica realizes that playing basketball isn't as fulfilling without Quincy in her life.
I think Monica's relationship with her mother and Quincy reveals a dilemma that many working mothers face today. Today women are freer to pursue a career and most continue to work while their children are growing up. However, they often face the dilemma of balancing their career with their family, a problem that few men encounter. In the past few corporations have done anything to ease the burden of working mothers that keep them from competing with their male colleagues on an equal footing. Society is changing however. More and more often companies are offering to help with childcare, some even providing themselves on site. As society becomes more conscious of the problems faced by working mothers fewer will face the kind of dilemma Monica's mother faced.

Media Portrayal of Women
Name: Christina
Date: 2003-02-20 15:55:55
Link to this Comment: 4705

In terms of portraying women in sport in the media, we definitely have come a long way in getting some media coverage, but women are never portrayed as athletes in their sports medium, but continually "feminized" into a heterosexual feminine cultural ideal of society.

Media Portrayal of Women
Name: johanna
Date: 2003-02-20 16:02:47
Link to this Comment: 4706

I think that Christina is right, women have come far in that they can actively participate in sports but are still not showen while playing their respective sport. It is a shame that society wishes to see women as mothers or in other traditional female roles. It would be very refreshing to see a woman while playing her sport. I do think that women's tennis does get a lot of good coverage but I am disappointed in the coverage that anna K. gets because she is not a top player.

Media Portrayal of Women
Name: Christina
Date: 2003-02-20 16:08:32
Link to this Comment: 4708

I agree with Johanna's point that women's tennis is portrayed positively with the exception of Anna K. and I would propose to add another positive portrayal of women in sport and the media. Being a former figure-skater who trained for 15 years, the sport is represented well in the media. However, there is definitely an ultra-feminine non-sport stigma attached to figure-skating while most do not know how much hard work and dedication it takes to execute it.

Media Portrayal of Women
Name: johanna
Date: 2003-02-20 16:12:49
Link to this Comment: 4709

I thought that "National Velvet" was a revolutionary movie, although very unrealistic it gave girls the idea that they too could play sports. It was my mother's second movie, and it inspired her to take up tennis, a sport she still actively plays. I did think that "Love and Basketball" was a good film and showed the tension between men and women athletes and the conflict that much of the public feels in accepting women as athletes. It is important to have women athletes as role models.

Mothers and Sports
Name: Jackie
Date: 2003-02-20 16:19:08
Link to this Comment: 4711

The mother and daughter relationship in Love and Basketball interests me, because the film wants to portray a mother who does not understand the sports and competitive nature of her second daughter. Then, at the end of the film, the mother begins to appreciate her daughter's drive to succeed, and tells her to apply it to her need for love. But, what I failed to recognize until much later is that the mother herself had elements of spirit and drive in her personality all along, in her decision to raise two daughters instead of pursuing a career, and her acknowledgment that her daughter should compete for love.

week 3
Name: Katherine
Date: 2003-02-20 18:01:15
Link to this Comment: 4715

I thought it was interesting to see the difference between the characters in Love and Basketball, as far as how much they were supported by their families, the outside world, etc. While Monica had to leave the country in order to pursue her dream, Quincy was able to play in the NBA to huge crowds. Monica only had small gyms and smaller crowds. Quincy's family is also seen as being more supportive of their son's passion for basketball. I think the movie showed the contrast in the support that is given to men and women's basketball that still exists today--how many people actually watch the WNBA as compared to the NBA?

having it all
Name: mahnoor
Date: 2003-02-20 18:33:22
Link to this Comment: 4720

Love and Basketball portrayed a woman's struggle to be accomplished in what she wanted (basketball)- and still be the girlfriend of an accomplished boyfriend in the same sport. Though it added to the melodramatic quality of the movie, I was disappointed that she came back to the U.S. only for her boyfriend. Her family she didn't miss so much and there is no mention of her friends in this movie. Though both of them cannot play basketball because they have lost the inspiration behind it, the movie ponders for half an hour on how she has lost her interest and only briefly touches on how it is the same for him as well. That seemed to make it more necessary for women to follow their love as opposed to their dreams, and created a competition between the two in the first place. In the end, she gets to love and play basketball. The fact that she doesn't have to choose sets it apart from national velvet, where Liz Taylor has to compartmentalize her life according to her age and expected role at that point in her life.

Name: mahnoor
Date: 2003-02-20 18:45:16
Link to this Comment: 4725

National Velvet was interesting in its representation of feminity, women's roles and the liberty allowed to a woman pursuing sports. I was impressed that velvet's mother allowed her to pursue a seemingly impossible goal. However, the fact that one big achievement is all there is to women and sports showed that women were defined by their responsibilities and not their dreams. Love and Basketball portrays a put-together, loves-to-cook-for-the-family mother who till the very end maintains that she gave up her dreams to be a mother and is proud to have done that. Even though there is some resolution between the different ideals of feminine behavior between the mother and the daughter, velvet complies whereas the lead in love and basketball finds a balance and compromises.

Name: Melissa Te
Date: 2003-02-20 18:59:42
Link to this Comment: 4729

Today, media portrays women as professional athletes that are competing in a variety of sports, much like men. Women are shown in commercials running, swimming, drinking gatorade, and wearing nike. I feel that women athletes have taken a huge step in media in that they are respected just as men athletes, and they are seen as professionals, role models, and heroes. Women athletes are on posters, on billboards, and on cereal boxes. This kind of positive media is very helpful in that it encourages more of the world to follow women's sports. For instance, the whole world watched when the women won the Olympic cup in soccer. Without this positive media, the world would not have cared.

Drive and Media
Name: Rianna
Date: 2003-02-20 19:03:10
Link to this Comment: 4730

I agree with Jackie's point concerning the similaries between Monica and her mother. Concerning media portrayal and women, a friend informed me (since I don't watch commercial TV because of its vapid content)of a Gatorade commercial with Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm wherein they were competing with each other at many different sports and had a pretty even turn out. If I understand correctly, the sexes were portrayed as equal without any extra sexualizing going on.

Week 4 Questions
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-02-22 09:35:19
Link to this Comment: 4750

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?

video thoughts.....
Name: Annie
Date: 2003-02-22 12:14:56
Link to this Comment: 4756

Love and Basketball really got my wheels turning. First of all, the struggles that Monica and other female ball players faced in the movie are only about ten years old. Only ten to fifteen years ago, girls basketball was much different than it is today. In class we talked briefly about how what is considered "normal" in sport is often the boys game. For example, in Love and Basketball, Monica gets taken out of the game because she is playing too agressivly, however, in boys ball, it is appropriate to play rough.
Toward the end of the movie Monica was questioning whether or not she still truly loved basketball. I think there comes a time in every good athletes life when you need to make the decision about how far you really want to go in your sport. For Monica, she started playing ball on her driveway when she was young, and ended up in the WNBA. I was happy to see her playing one-on-one with Quincy at the end, because it showed that she still loved ball for the "love of the game".
As for the media portrayal of Monica as an athlete in the movie, I think the producer did a pretty good job. Some things I thought that they could have done better was her playing in her sports bra, however I thought that she was portrayed as strong, and not necessarly sexy. Her attitude on the court was definitly not that of your typical female girl player!

Love and Basketball
Date: 2003-02-23 15:34:58
Link to this Comment: 4762

While "Love and Basketball" is a highly engaging film, I find it very hard to accept this film as a social commentary, especially regarding the evolution of women's sport. Yes, the film did address the dichotomy that exists between male and female sport. For example, while we see Monica and her USC teammates play on a court that resembles a high school gymnasium, we see their male counterparts played in a well-equipped arena. I applaud this use of imagery. However, the idealistic ending of the film stands against what the film sought to establish for two hours: that male and female sport are two separate entities. The portrayal of Monica as star WNBA point guard, wife, and new mother is a far too unrealistic ending for a film that skillfully sheds light on the wall that divides men's and women's athletics. I understand that filmgoers crave "happily ever after" endings, but I feel that the filmmakers could have given the spectator a happy ending without compromising the overall integrity of the film.

This is an entirely different point, and I am curious as to how others in this forum feel on the following topic. I found the portrayal of Q's father in "Love and Basketball" film troubling. Why is it that he, an African-American athlete, must be portrayed as a liar and adulterer? Is this for the sake of the storyline, or is it symptomatic of how American society views African-American male athletes? I think that the latter is true. I feel that are so inundated with images of African-American athletes as aggressors, criminals, adulterers etc. that we can see them as nothing else. How often do we read a headline that extols the virtues of a well-mannered African-American athlete? I can scarcely recall reading such an article. The image of a self-controlled and socially-aware African-American male athlete stands in contrast to the characteristics that we innately associate with the African-American male athlete, so much so that any of us (i.e., the writers et al. of "Love and Basketball) are unable to project such an image. What do you think?

Date: 2003-02-23 20:53:37
Link to this Comment: 4770

In response to the above comment, I was equally disturbed by the portrayl of African American Men in this film. Both the characters of Quincy and his father are seen being unfaithful to their partners as if this is some behavior displayed by all African American Men.
On a positive note, although the ending of the film was in many ways "too good to be true" and idealistic, I was pleased with the fact that ultimately, it was Monica who succeeded professionally in Basketball and not Quincy who was cheering on the sidelines for her.

Week 4 questions
Name: Anneliese
Date: 2003-02-23 21:05:19
Link to this Comment: 4772

I think that having the main character on the cover of SURF magazine really wasn't the best idea if this film was trying to be about women impowerment, but it did follow the ideals of our society today. I mean the fact that she was a VERY attractive women is probably one of the main reasons she was put on the cover. There were several more talented surfers who won a lot more competitions than the main character who were probably considered in our society not as attractive that deserved to be on the cover before she did. Also, the caption "so and so (i forget her name) knows how to lay down the pipe" is a bit sexual in its conotation which goes right along with her attractiveness. Also, who wears a string bikini while they surf?

Date: 2003-02-25 16:53:39
Link to this Comment: 4834

In response to question #1, I think that it is and it isn't. One the main desires of the lead character of the movie was for a woman to appear on the front of a surfing magazine. It is great then that a woman appeared on the front cover, performing her sport no less! However, I think the folks in my group and I all had issues with the fact that the woman that they did eventually put on the cover happened to be a looker. Sure she was skilled, but certainly not as much as the real deals, the actress does not even surf. The movie is entertaining enough, but in terms of trying to advance the image of women in sports, I think it fails. My personal belief is that this movie was made by men who saw dollar signs in getting cute girls in bathing suits trying to act serious abotu sports. It kind of ties into the idea that women athletes are being sexualized in order to keep them under control....if that makes any sense...

Name: missie
Date: 2003-02-25 16:54:32
Link to this Comment: 4835

umm...that last comment was posted by missie who was incapable of correctly making a

Date: 2003-02-26 02:39:56
Link to this Comment: 4841

I watched Blue Crush for the first time in our class but I have friends who saw the film in the theaters and there reaction to the film seemed to be the same as mine:this was a typical hollywood film that cute blonde women in string bikini's to make money in the box office.
Ann Marie story of being a struggling surfer didn't seem realistic, especially after she is given instant sponsorship and a cover of a magazine in the end.The film mostly focuses on a relationship with a man who "inspires" her so that she is able to overcome her fears and succeed.It's insulting to think that she needs some guy's "support" to perform well as if she doesn't have the strength within herself.It was similar to Monica's story in Love and Basketball.
Overall, I didn't feel that the film had much substance to it and seems like another cheesy flick.

Name: Melissa Te
Date: 2003-02-26 12:37:05
Link to this Comment: 4845

At first the film portrayed the main character as getting up at the crack of dawn and working her butt off for this big competition in seven days. However, that is the only portrayal of her working hard and training. The rest of the images are of her in hotel rooms, at parties, living the life with her rich temporary boyfriend. It's great that the outcome was that she got a great mark on the wave she surfed and got on the cover of a magazine. But the events leading to the final competition seemed unrealistic and too much like a fantasy. You want to cast a gorgeous girl as the main athlete to attract viewers? Fine. But at least show a few more scenes of her training and working for this competition.

Blue Crush
Name: Annie
Date: 2003-02-26 15:47:04
Link to this Comment: 4847

I agree that Blue Crush is your typical Hollywood movie. The beautiful blond girl, and the football player, I mean, how much more typical can you get! Although I am not discrediting surfing as a sport, I don't think that it was portrayed as a sport in the movie. Ann Marie competed in a big event, and we only saw her training once, at the beginging of the film. It was unrealistic that she was given sponsorship right away. I feel that there is alot of emphasis on her body,but not in an athletic way. Although Ann Marie wanted to be the first women on the cover of Surfing magazene, I doubt that many people would see it that way. I think that many people would see the cover and think about how "beautiful" or "sexy" she is, and not think of that fact that she is the first female on the cover.
As for the steroetypes of the charecters in the film.... Ann Marie and her friends are portrayed as wild and uneducated. The other female native islanders at the hotel party are definetly sex symbols. I wonder if the dancing is an accurate depiction of traditional Hawaiin dancing, or Hollywoods own idea.

Name: Rianna
Date: 2003-02-26 22:18:30
Link to this Comment: 4853

I think it would have been an advancement for women in sport if it had been the winner of the competition on the cover of the magazine, not the main character. I think a movie about the winner (I can't remember her name) would have been much more interesting. She seemed dedicated to the sport, to trying once and then trying again, to train hard, and to pass it on to others (all within the context of this unrealistic film, of course. She may not have been a stunner, but she had what counts--talent. As it was, the cover of the magazine in the film was like the Sports Illustrated picture we saw in class (the golfer in her undies), a sexy woman first, and only then an athlete.

Name: Sara
Date: 2003-02-27 00:33:48
Link to this Comment: 4855

As was discussed in class, there is a barrier that is still in place for women in sports.We accept men as athletes first, yet atheletes that are "female" athletes are female first. This is one of the main reasons why "Blue Crush" needed Ann Marie to be sexy and beautiful and wearing a bikini. Her athleticism came second to her sex appeal in the film and its sad that our media perpetuates this problem in sport for women.

Name: millie
Date: 2003-02-27 00:53:26
Link to this Comment: 4856

I agree with the previous posts that suggest that Love and Basketball and Blue Crush project a distorted image of female success. In my opinion, an asterisk should be placed next the definition of female athletic success depicted in these films, for both Love and Basketball and Blue Crush imply that a female athlete cannot be successful on her own. According to these films, a female athlete will only thrive once she has achieved romantic success. More simply, Love and Basketball and Blue Crush suggest that a female athlete will attain success only when she has the support of a romantic male partner. Monica is unable to take pleasure in playing basketball until she rekindles her romance with Q. Similarly, Ann Marie is able to surf the pipe until her boyfriend lends his support. Additionally, I would argue that the primary focus at the end of both Love and Basketball and Blue Crush is not on the athletic success achieved by the female protagonist, but the union of a heterosexual couple. This is obvious just studying the imagery of the films. As such, I feel that these films only serve to promote the antiquated notion that a woman is nothing without a good man at her side, and do not promote a positive image of a successful female athlete.

love and basketball
Name: Ingrid
Date: 2003-02-27 06:19:00
Link to this Comment: 4859

"Love and Basketball" did a fantastic job of presenting inequity of resources and attention to men's/ women's sports. The construction of the families was a good device to illustrate cultural ideals. Q's family placed mother and father into materialistic beauty and macho breadwinner roles: women are kept out of the realm of sports, functioning as sexual objects (so indicated by Washington's character's infidelity). Monica challenges Q's ideas of feminine and sport, and although he admires her, he cannot come to a true acceptance of blending the two until the conclusion of the film. Monica's family acts out on a small scale what Monica encounters in her life as a ball player. She has a supportive father, but a mother who cannot relate to Monica's passion and dismisses the notion that basketball can be a serious pursuit for a woman. The film ends on an ultimately uplifting note, with Monica's participation in the WNBA. However, one gets the sense that had Q not been "humbled" by his injury, we wouldn't see such support from him.

In the latest issue of Mother Jones, there is a blurb about "Built to Win: The female athlete as cultural icon" by Leslie Heywood and Shari Dworkin. It consists of interviews with girls and boys, readings of ad campaigns, discussions of movies, and personal stories to illustrate what we do with strong female athletes in our culture. Sounds particularly applicable to this course, if anyone is interested in checking it out.

blue crush
Name: Ingrid
Date: 2003-02-27 06:19:57
Link to this Comment: 4860

"Blue Crush" runs rampant with stereotyped figures, not only with gender but with race as well. The main character and her friends played out like the Barbie diversity model: the white character is the center of attention, but she also has cool "ethnic" friends supporting her; Barbie comes with many accessories, including a friend of every color and a kid sister. The visiting football team serves up another platter of race stereotypes--the trim (skinny, even?) good-looking white guy quarterback is thrown into relief against the "big loud jolly black man." The quarterback is serious, respectful, and neat whereas his friends are ready to play the fool, and the film makes quite a point of showing how dirty/ disrespectful they can be. The girlfriends of the football players are shallow catty bitches (if I may--that is how the film directs us to think), serving no purpose other than to denigrate the main character and her friends, and present the stereotypical whore figure.

Just to bring up some relevant material... I don't know if anyone has ridden the R5 recently, but I saw an advert for ESPN that presented 5 smiling cheerleaders. The caption said: "Without sports, they'd just be dancers." Ladies, we have quite a way to go.

Name: mahnoor
Date: 2003-02-27 14:52:47
Link to this Comment: 4867

Blue crush presents a group of young girls whose lives revolve around surfing. Even though the main character makes it to the cover of a surfing magazine, it comes as such a struggle to her. She meets the football player, loses track of her "priorities" and in the end asks him what he would do in her situation. Though it all adds up to her eventually building character through adversity, its as if the biggest challenge she has to face is deciding whether she can be someone's girlfriend and a committed athlete at the same time. And though this question rises for her, it doesn't necessarily bother her boyfriend. The movie does return to the main character's personal struggle to succeed in the end. However, it isn't her friend's consistent concern that brings her back to her senses. Its the realization that her boyfriend is soon leaving town. Had no one commented on her similarity to the Denny's waitress, it is debatable whether she would've realized her mistake in time.

Blue Crush
Name: Jackie
Date: 2003-02-27 15:19:09
Link to this Comment: 4869

I see no advancement for women in sport when the main character of Blue Crush is the first woman on the cover of SURFING magazine. She is only the sweetheart of the surfing world, not a surfer who has actually accomplished anything with skill. Maybe this is because I know her background. She almost never practiced, partied all the time with her football player boyfriend, yet somehow performed fantastically at the competition? And her performance doesn't even compare to the ones of the professional surfers, who actually worked hard to get to that competition. The woman who won the competition did not appear on the cover of SURFING magazine. No, that cover, the first female cover in the history of the magazine, had to go to a beautiful girl, America's surfing Anna Kournikova. Thank god we had the opportunity to watch a movie for this class that upholds all the double standards we're trying to overcome.

Week 4
Name: Katherine
Date: 2003-02-27 16:14:23
Link to this Comment: 4870

Question 1
I don't think that it is an advancement for women in sport that the character is the first woman on the cover of the magazine--just because she is a woman doesn't take away from the character of the individual that we know (someone who rarely practiced, etc.). If this was on a more individual scale, then maybe it wouldn't matter who she was, but because she is the first woman, it takes on a whole different amount of importance, especially since she is in some way, representing women. Not to say that what she achieved isn't worth something, it definately is, and while it's exciting that a woman is on the cover, one wishes that it was a different woman.

Name: Amy
Date: 2003-02-27 16:59:45
Link to this Comment: 4872

For this movie to have been an advancement for women athletes, we would have to have had a woman worth respecting. Instead we got Anne Marie, who was more interested in her gratuitous heterosexual relationship than in her sport.

It's completely understandable that the producers didn't aim to make the great American movie. They wanted a movie that provided girls in little to no clothing. They cast the "star" of Young Americans in the lead. No one presumed that they'd tell a story particularly worth sharing. But if anything, this went AGAINST women in sports. Just watching the movie made me feel like I'd regressed ten or twenty years in the women's movement.

Blue Crush had all the elements of a good mindless movie: very pretty people; homosocial, if not homoerotic, interactions; a trophy boyfriend; a contest the main character will somehow succeed at no matter what. If it had managed to pull these elements together, perhaps it wouldn't have been such an offensive movie.

If only.

The Cover Photo
Name: Jennifer
Date: 2003-02-27 22:50:40
Link to this Comment: 4879

I first saw Blue Crush in the theaters reluctantly, because my boyfriend wanted to see it. I had seen the trails on television and thought it was another stupid movie for males to drool over women's bodies and I was never going to go. When we left the movie theatre, I absolutely loved it and he hated it. I still think it is a good movie.

I do think it is advancement to women athletes that Anne Marie appeared on the cover of SURFING. She is the first women on the cover and her cover shot depicts her celebrating her excellent ride. Anne Marie is not pictured with men or family, just herself competing. Most shots of women athletes are taken with men or dressed up as super models in beauty magazines. Seeing a cover shot of female athlete in action is advancement. However, I do think the winner of the competition, having earned a title is more athletically deserving of a cover photo. On the other hand, Anne Marie is now the newest member of the Billabong tour. It does show that she exceeded expectations and accomplished her goal of surfing Pipeline, becoming sponsored by Billabong and managing to overcome a traumatic sports injury.

Blue Crush
Name: Amy
Date: 2003-03-01 19:33:25
Link to this Comment: 4887

I originally saw Blue Crush in the movie theater with my mother. We were in the mood for a good ?chic flick? and that is exactly what we got. We got to watch some nice scenery, a cute love story, and some cool surfing shots. The notion of athleticism in the movie was undermined by the romantic relationship that developed between the male and female main characters. Furthermore, the way in which Anne Marie was depicted reinforced the stereotypes that are presented within mainstream media and society in general. The film industry produced yet another movie with the ?image? that sells: a beautiful blonde woman that meets Mr. Right, Mr. Support, and Mr. Has All the Answers and falls in love with the implication that everything will be ok because there is a man there to pick up the slack when things are tough. The stereotypical heterosexual relationship that is acceptable is seen yet again.

Furthermore, I was disappointed at how surfing as a sport was presented in general. When the principal of Penny?s school confronted Anne Marie, the principal made reference to how Anne Marie used to be smart and had all this potential and why was she wasting her time on surfing. It is very interesting how the director played out this particular scene. Men in general are never told that they are wasting their time pursuing a career in sport where women, on the other hand, are highly discouraged and thought of as incompetent for doing so. In Love and Basketball. Quincy was highly discouraged by his father from leaving college to get drafted into the NBA. However, the emphasis was on the argument that "can't" is not in a man's vocabulary and not so much that Quincy was incompetent.

In addition, we never saw Anne Marie really training, as one would expect an athlete of her status and athletic competency to do so. We saw Anne Marie as a maid, as a nurturing sister in the making, and somewhat as a slacker. We also saw a character that possessed a lot of fear. It is almost as if society is uncomfortable with allowing women to be fierce, strong, self-sufficient, and to truly be told that ?they got game.? Even though Anne Marie did finish strong in the competition and got her picture on the cover of SURFING magazine, the movie ended with her in the arms of a man.

Not only did the movie do a great job at stereotyping the women in the movie, but the men were portrayed in a skewed fashion as well. The two black football players were presented as disrespectful, womanizing, goofballs. I think that this not only reinforces American racial stereotypes, but also it exemplifies Bell Hook?s talk where once again black men are depicted as constantly in motion, wound up, and in a sense ?out of control.? When I responded to last week?s question, I ended my response with ?we are living in a different consciousness even though some things have stayed the same.? After seeing this movie, I am not so sure about that statement.

blue crush
Name: Claire Mah
Date: 2003-03-03 19:24:03
Link to this Comment: 4914

How does this movie stereotype?
How does it not??

I suppose I'm not the average 'chick flick' viewer; I generally try to steer away from them because I get easily frustrated with flat/shallow characters who show no real emotion or motivation for what they do. Although Blue Crush showed many breathtaking shots of the setting, I would have to say that this film is definately on my list of movies that I don't need to see again any time soon. Sure, on the surface it seems like the lead is single-handedly overcoming her fears, excelling at a strenuous sport, taking care of her sister, and forming a lovely romantic relationship simultaneously...look a little deeper. Not only are the women pigeon-holed to being the sexually desirable figures relatively incapable of doing much of anything, but even the [usually spared] male characters aren't shown in a particularly flattering light. Either they're bullies or unthinking characters driven by heterosexual desires.

I understand that filmmakers create such trite and meaningless movies in order to placate the general public, but is the situation of our country's intellect so grave? Can we really not handle anything of substance? I am both horrified and ashamed if that is indeed the case.

Name: mahnoor
Date: 2003-03-17 12:42:57
Link to this Comment: 5024

Week 1 question:
What is the cultural ideal of women in sport? How does it differ from men?

Though advancements such as Title IX and the excellence of female athletics in many sports has increased the possibilities available to the present and future generations of women in sports, cultural stigmas are still attached to a woman pursuing an athletic career.

With changing times and ideals, it wouldn't be incorrect to assume that most parents are encouraging of their daughters to enjoy the benefits of having athetic ability and talent. However, there is still a hesistance to commit a woman completely to her sport. For a man, he can be represented as only a basketball player or just a soccer ball kicker. But for a woman, she must also be accompanied by justifications of her sexual orientation, fertility and good ol' commitment to a decent, family lifestyle. Women are finally being awarded their due right to opportunity, however, the domain of sports is still claimed to be inherently for men.

Name: mahnoor
Date: 2003-03-17 14:15:42
Link to this Comment: 5025

Week 2 question:

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.

The media plays a very active role in construing facts for their audiences. Images, with the right coloring, angle and editing, are capable of telling a story more powerful than words themselves sometimes. The media is also dictated by the dominant part of the society that showcases its biased opinion as the ultimate fact. Women athletes have to compete for airtime for their games, for advertisements and for publicity with their male counterparts. Though men are portrayed as athletes first, and everything else later, representations of female athletes are on the opposite end of the scale. In popular media, an occasional insert shot of a great jump or shoot will be overshadowed by overtly feminized representation of female athletes. That is not to state that female athletes have no business being feminine. However, pictures dileanting their sillhoutes, lighting them up as objects in little clothing as opposed to athletics with beautiful, flexible bodies are a bit too obvious and redundant.

There are of course the magazines that portray female athletes as athletes. These magazines portray the athletes not as women with women whose sportamaship is an isolated aspect of their existence. There are pictures of women sweating, brusing, bleeding, excelling, overachieving and making history. However, they are also superimposed by the images of her cooking, sewing, gardening or taking care of her children. Such impressions wouldn't be entirely horrendous if they didn't completely ignore the fact that these women are amazing athletes that serve as role models for generations to be. For example, there are various pictures of female athletes "in motion" on the court on the WNBA website. However, in their portrais, only one pictures sports an athlete wearing a loose tee of their team. The remaining 16 portray breezy, fancy and dressed up athletes with no mention of their basketball ability or interest. Only 3 pictures show the athletes holding or sitting on the ball (never shooting it). I wonder why none of these superstars wanted to show off their jerseys?

were there any week 5 questions?
Name: Rianna
Date: 2003-03-17 21:06:23
Link to this Comment: 5037

I was wondering, since I couldn't find any, if there were any week 5 (A League of Their Own) questions to which one could respond. I felt that the film did a reasonable job of portraying the events of women in baseball at that time period. Since, however, I have not researched that era (American history is not my interest) I would not be able to say where the movie was historically inaccurate. The concept of women's baseball, and the formation of a women's league, was an advancement of women in sport. It is a great shame that the leagues were closed down when the men came home. It could have been a massive step forward for equality in sport if the women's league had been able to coexist with the men's.

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