Women, Sport, and Film Course

Cosponsored by Athletics and Physical Education at Bryn Mawr College and the Exercise and Sports Studies Department at Smith College, with support from the Center for Science In Society at Bryn Mawr College and the Serendip website.

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Name:  Amy Campbell
Username:  acampbel@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Week 4 Questions
Date:  2003-02-22 09:35:56
Message Id:  4751
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?

Name:  Richard Lee
Username:  rjlee@wesleyan.edu
Subject:  blue crush
Date:  2003-02-24 20:19:40
Message Id:  4793
I knew Blue Crush wouldn't win any Oscars, but I was optimistic that it would be a fun, feel-good movie. For the most part it was, but all the great surfing scenes couldn't overcome the mediocre acting and story. Like Attack of the Clones, the romance killed this movie. Instead of the support of Anne Marie's best friends, it's the encouragement of her one-week old boy toy, Matt, that gives her the strength to go on. Did anyone else have a problem with the fact that he basically paid Anne Marie for sex?
Corey mentioned that one positive is Anne Marie's competitive spirit. This is true, and we see her strength and toughness when she is training at the beginning of the movie and when she continued after hitting the rock (what happened to the blood?). But in general, I think the movie reinforces the idea that women aren't very competitive. Her old rival, Eden, is now helping her and says she gave up because she knew she wasn't as good a surfer as Anne Marie. Kala, the top women's surfer also helps Anne Marie when she is struggling. As nice as it was to see this display of sportsmanship, it was very unbelievable since they were supposed to be in competition with each other. Contrast that with Love and Basketball, where Monica is in a fierce battle for the starting point guard position.
The men in the movie aren't portrayed any better as the football players are little more then stereotypes. There was Leslie, the audacious black linebacker, who was a replica of Warren Sapp, and Matt, the pretty-boy white quarterback. The players' wives and girlfriends were even worse. Materialistic and snobby, they were only with the football players for their fame and money. The film's only redeeming quality was the surfing scenes, although how did Anne Marie's bikini top never fall off?
Name:  Madeleine Karpel.
Username:  mkarpel@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Blue Crush
Date:  2003-02-25 13:02:23
Message Id:  4831
In light of Blue Crush, I have to say that I do feel it was fairly stereotyped regarding perceptions of women, women athletes, and male athletes. The football players were shown as oversized louts, with shallow and plasticky trophy girlfriends. (Now, they also seemed to have sense of humor, and were capable of self-deprecation, which was surprising). And Matt, the ostensible Prince Charming of the movie, had a good point; Anne Marie's character at the beginning wouldn't have wanted a Prince Charming anyway.
I was also struck by the stereotyping as far as the female characters were concerned. Even beyond the pretty obvious surfer-girl-must-be-slender-blond-attractive-and-scantily-clad, it seemed bizarre to me that her two friends had virtually no characters except as they related to her. With the exception of Eden's past competitiveness (which has been sublimated into support for AM), the two girls are effectively relegated into the stereotypical roles of wives-without-personality: they seem to live their entire lives around Anne Marie's life; they quit their jobs for her, then keep them because she needs them to pay the rent, Eden spends all her time trying to make Anne Marie train, and neither is shown as having any other friends or attachments outside of Anne Marie and her sister. So while Anne Marie was at least ostensibly a developed character, her two friends were nothing more than attractive and supportive sidekicks, not even given noticeable last names.
Name:  Liz Marcus
Username:  Anonymous
Date:  2003-02-26 22:25:11
Message Id:  4854
Blue Crush would be great...if you took out the romance plot. I was very pleased to see that here was a movie that was about a girl raising her sister, working, and pursuing a passion of hers. When the romance theme entered, it took away from the idea of women's empowerment. Perhaps, she was just as empowered with the romance, but the way the relationship was portrayed, it appeared as though he was her drive and motivation. It is unrealistic to say that she was self-motivated and then the next day, needed a football player to make her feel she could succeed. Therefore, it was a good movie in ways, but did nothing to forward the idea of women being true competitors in the sport. The sceen with the other female surfer was the most empowering, even though it was a bit unrealistic. I can not go as far as saying it damaged women even more in the way they are thought about in terms of athletics, but it certainly did not help their image.
Name:  natalie
Username:  nmerrill@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  surfing!
Date:  2003-02-27 11:14:12
Message Id:  4863
I'd like to respond to the first question - whether or not it is an advancement for women athletes to have a woman surfer on the surfing magazine. I personally think that any sort of athletic coverage of women is positive. There are, of course, degrees of that positivity but as long as we can keep ourselves out there on the cover of whatever magazine, exposing our hidden athletic abilities, women will continue to have opportunities. However, it would be nice if that coverage wouldn't be so biased, ie presenting women in such sexually oriented photographs or in domestic settings in ways in which male athletes would NEVER be portrayed. But as long as we're making small steps, I think we should rejoyce and encourage.
Name:  Sunmin Lee
Username:  smlee@bmc.edu
Subject:  Cultural idea of women in sports
Date:  2003-02-27 17:30:23
Message Id:  4873
In most societies, a woman's identity is believed to be embeded in her sexuality, and America is not an exception. She is primarily seen as sexual partner, child bearer, and nurturer. Thus, one of the most common associations between women and sports links women's primary sexual identity and role with sports. Sexuality affects sports in an important way; cultral beliefs in women's inherent sexuality may motivate the separation of or restriction imposed upon women's sports/physical activities. If a female athelete ignore the restriction and pursue her activities, she is simply categorized as "sexless" kind. For example, if a female athelete is very aggessive or buff, she is categorized as "sexless" type because she does not meet the social convention of how women should be. This does not apply to male athelets, but they do have some social expectation they should live upto.
Name:  Elizabeth Martin
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  stereotypes
Date:  2003-03-18 21:54:41
Message Id:  5073
Blue Crush stereotyped its characters by not fully developing them. Other than being aspiring surfers, who struggle to make ends meet working as maids, the women in the film do not seem to have any deeper desires. They look good in bikinis, and they want improvements for women in sports, but we know little about their internal development. The football player was inserted as a romantic interest to emphasize that the main character was heterosexual-that her sexuality was not affected by her athleticism. So the football player is there only to be male and heterosexual. Other than that, he has no character.
Name:  Natalie
Username:  nmerrill@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  old post
Date:  2003-03-19 16:47:44
Message Id:  5100
I wanted to respond to a question from an archived week (I missed one before but I'm not sure if this is it or not.....hopefully so...):

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?

I thought the film National Velvet was interesting, mostly because it was so old. I would have like to know how the movie was recieved and if anyone found the girl's actions slightly off or odd in reference to the times. Mostly I would think that because Velvet cut off her hair she might have recieved some chiding and dissapointment from her family and townspeople. However that certainly wasn't depicted - which is good. It was also interesting that she participated in the race and when she didn't win no one stood up for her. It was expected that she would recieve that sort of a response. I guess that wasn't surprising, just dissapointing. It is interesting to consider the things which are considered taboo for women to do. In this case - riding a horse wasn't taboo, but riding a horse in a specific context was. I think that often it is not only certain actions which people disagree with or which grates against social norms, but it is the context in which they are participated in.