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Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
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Paper Topic 2: Themes in Women, Sport and Film

Ambika Chikarmane

Themes in Women, Sport and Film

Race, class, gender, femininity and social norms played important themes in Women, Sport and Film. These underlying themes are interplayed with each other in each film we watched. I believe that the norms of femininity and social norms played an important role in the films, A League of Their Own, Hero for Daisy, and the Intro movie Dare to Compete.

A League of their Own had all of these underlying themes present. First off, in the movie, women were only allowed to play baseball as a means of entertainment, because the men were off at war. This shows that women were used as a social means of entertainment. Their sport was seen more of a social sport than competitive as it was shown with men. Femininity also played an important role. When the women were in training, commercials were shot to ensure to society that the women were still "feminine" and that baseball, a "man's sport," did not turn them from young pretty women to "rough, women." Also, to even further ensure their femininity, the women each had to wear short skirts as their uniforms and enroll in manner's classes.

The themes are also showed in the movie through the story line. For example, when one woman begins to cry, Tom Hanks says his famous line, "There is no crying in baseball!" I feel that audiences interpret this as women having more sensitivity than man, which I feel is not necessarily true. I feel that the writer in this film does not really emphasize the importance of the role of women in sports. I feel that the movie emphasizes more on a family level and the relationship between the two sisters. I feel that the writer's initial attention was not to solely focus on the importance of women in sports. I also feel, though the writer had some hidden nuances about the role of race in sports. For example, after the African American women threw the ball to one of the women players, it showed that women's baseball was still limited to race. The African American women were not given equal opportunity to play because of her race.

The intro movie that we watched in class showed the conformities that women had to face in society when playing sports. Gender, race, and class were very important factors in the movie. First off, women were not allowed to compete in sports at all. Sports were associated with "male figures" or a manly action, which women were prohibited from doing. If a woman partook in a sport during that time, her sexuality would be questioned. Also, the role of women has changed over years. Before, women were not allowed to work outside the home, let alone play in sports. Women were seen as the caretakers and the nurturers of the household. Playing sports was seen as a threat to reproducing for women and was strongly discouraged. There were many gender disparities in sports during that time. I feel that the writers of this documentary wanted to make the audience aware of the history of women's sports. I feel that they wanted to tell them that women's involvement in sports evolved longer than one would think. The writers also use these gender disparities to inform the audience of the struggle for women recognition in sports. I also feel that this documentary showed the correlation between women and sport in the realm of history, gender, social class, and femininity. These themes interplay with each other throughout the whole documentary. The movie also showed that inequality still exists in sports. Women not allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon until recent years, and recently, were allowed to compete in long distance running in the Olympics. Also, women's sport is not given equal attention as males. The audience of a female game is much larger than males, and male players are given more opportunity whether advertisements, money offers or publicity than females. Even if women are given advertisements, they are usually portrayed sexually.
The last film that we watched Dare to Compete shows the theme of gender equality and Title IX. Before, women were not allowed to receive sports scholarships in college. It shows their struggle for equal opportunity in the realm of sports. I believe that the writers of this film wanted all women to take a stance and learn to stand up for equal opportunities. This film can tie to all the other films, because all the women are struggling to find their places in a sport that is still considered to some as male dominated. It is March Madness right now, the NCAA Men's Championship Basketball, and I realize that there is not such a big emphasis for women's basketball. People go out of their way to make brackets and do bets, but I find that there are not many bet on women's sports.

I believe that the involvement of women in sports is very important. First off, they serve as role models for young girls. Secondly, women should be given equal opportunity to participate in anything, including sports, like their male counterpart. Thirdly, women are just as strong, if not stronger than men, and are capable of performing in sports. Although societies' view of the involvement in women in sport has changed, there is still some discriminatory factors. Women are not given much money and attention as men in the sport.

All of these factors race, gender, class, and femininity factor a great part in the three movies that we watched in class. A combination of all these factors attributed to the overall theme in Women, Sport, and Film.

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