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:  forum question
Date:  2002-02-07 09:29:56
Message Id:  844
Women and Sport Film Course
February 6, 2002

History of Women's Sports Forum Question

1. write a brief bio so others in your forum may know something about you. Interests, major where you are from etc.

2. In the book, Women, Sport and Culture by Susan Birrel and Cheryl Cole they write:

"At the broadest level, the debate over Title IX and public policy has completely avoided questioning the sex-role polarization that sports creates and the long-held belief that sports is a masculine domain. Though social scientists and public policy makers are content to leave to philosophers and radical theorists any questions regarding the ultimate nature of the human experience, they do so at the cost of leaving a vacuum to be filled by the dominant cultural and institutional definitions that have been shaped by men's values, men's understandings of the world, and men's experiences. Women's alienation from sport, their indifference to it, and their reluctance to enter it stem in large measure from the fact that, as it has existed historically, what sport celebrated, what sport offered, what sport demanded, what sport rewarded do not reflect much of women's experience of the world"

Please comment.

Name:  Amy Campbell
Username:  acampbel@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  greetings
Date:  2002-02-07 09:40:46
Message Id:  848
Welcome to the on-line discussion for Women and Sport and Film. I'm eager to read your thoughts on the excerpt about athletics especially in context with the film Dare to Compete. I think how we define ourselves within an athletic culture and what boundaries that definition may or may not place on us is an important conversation. Having 'played through' the restrictions placed on women who wanted to participate in sport it was especially interesting to watch the film. Amy
Name:  amse hammershaimb
Username:  amseh@yahoo.com
Subject:  women and men in sports
Date:  2002-02-07 10:44:57
Message Id:  851
bio: bryn mawr senior, HArt major -- many of you may remember me as "the falconry girl"

comment: in our group discussion last night, the issue of women competing solely against women in a modified arena was raised. i'm not sure that women can say that they have made much progress in the masculine world of sports until sports become more uniformly coed. if women create a seprate world of their own in sports, we cannot really say that we have proven ourselves or entered the male world of sports. i realize that women's sports are modified from men's, making coed sports difficult, but i think that a compromise in rules to accomodate both sexes that sports can be a mixing of the sexes would be ideal. i think that elite athletes should compete against one another despite gender, not within gender.

Name:  Emilie Kottenmeier
Username:  ekottenm@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Emilie
Date:  2002-02-08 00:20:11
Message Id:  863
Bio: I will eventually declare a math major, and i'm from hawaii. :)
Women in the past have clearly had difficulty proving their athletic abilities to their male competitors. Woman in her modern tradidional role, belongs in the home with the children. However the women we viewed on Wednesday prove that no woman should be restricted to this role. Woman has every bit of competitive spirit as man. And CAN if she thus wills sucessfully challenge him.
Name:  Laura Bang!
Username:  Anonymous
Date:  2002-02-09 13:05:41
Message Id:  879
Bio: I am a freshman, will probably major in English and minor in math, have no idea what I would like to do with my life, am from Southern California, and love reading and writing. I ran track and cross country in high school, and would be doing cross country here but I injured my back.

Comment: I agree with Amse's remark that sports should be more co-ed. I personally have no interest in playing football, for instance, but I know there are some girls who are interested - at my high school we had a girl try out for the football team and she made it, and all the girls were really proud of her because football is such a thoroughly "male" sport. But it doesn't have to be. She was an excellent football player. No sport should be defined as a "male" or "female" sport - we should be able to play whatever we enjoy playing with other people who enjoy playing the same thing, regardless of gender.
An interesting thing that I thought of after our discussion last Wednesday was the gender separations at my school. As I said, I was on cross country and track, and I don't know why I never really realized this before but those were the only co-ed sports, at my school and in the league. Every other cross country and track team in the area had separate boys and girls teams, each of which had their own coach. My teams, however, were co-ed. The only time we were separated based on gender was in the meets and in our yearbook photos. We practiced together and when we would break into smaller groups to do the workouts in, the groups were based on our times, not our gender.
Also, in the class discussion, someone brought up the point that there aren't very many (if any) woman coaches of men's teams. But again, on my track team, we had several different coaches for different events, and for most of my four years there, we had women coaching the hurdles and distance teams, with boys and girls together. The boys had no problem with the women coaches because they knew what they were talking about and they were great coaches. I was a distance runner and the two women who coached that event category were marathon runners, so they knew how to help us with our form and injuries and stuff.
I just thought that was interesting. Does anyone else know if they had any co-ed teams at their high school?

Name:  Jennifer S. Sawyer
Username:  jssawyer@brynmawr.edu
Date:  2002-02-10 00:02:53
Message Id:  888
Bio: I'm a junior Classical Languages major at Bryn Mawr. I went to a small boarding school in Rhode Island, but was a day student there. In high school, I was on the cross-country, swimming, and tennis teams, but don't participate in any sports at BMC.

Comments: I'd have to disagree with some of the comments made on this board. I'm all for equality between the two sexes, but I don't believe having sports be completely coed is necessarily the best thing. Women and men are built differently, and therefore each would have different advantages, depending on the sport.

At least, that's my opinion when it comes to actual competition. As I said, I was on both swimming and cross country, both of which were coed during practice. We had the same coaches (all male), and practiced at the same time. Seemed like the normal thing to me, only in tennis were we separated by gender, because the teams were rather large. Everyone at my school had to play a sport a term, or I probably would never have done any of my sports.

One final comment, regarding the quote: I never heard of Title IX before I came to college. In my high school everyone was treated equally, since everyone played. Same equipment, same uniforms, no one sport, for either male or female or coed teams, was placed above another. When I got here, it also didn't seem to affect me, because I wasnt' playing sports, and even if I was, at an all-women's college, one can't really find grounds to say that teams are unequal on the basis of sex. That being said, I can only look at Title IX from a slightly distant standpoint. The quote doesn't seem quite right to me, because I know plenty of women who are proud to play sports, and plenty of men who don't. When talking about "masculine domain" and "women's alienation from sport", I think we should bear in mind all the men and women who don't fit into these generalizations. I'd be interested to hear a man's point of view, one who might better fit in the "alienation from sport" category

Name:  Jess Justice
Username:  jljustic@mtholyoke.edu
Subject:  The evolving woman
Date:  2002-02-10 17:05:00
Message Id:  899
Bio: I'm a junior neuroscience major at Mount Holyoke College (taking a 5-college course at Smith College). I am from Doylestown, Pennsylvania which is only about an hour from BMC. I played basketball, field hockey, and track and field in high school. At MHC I start for the basketball team.

Response: Oy!!! Stop the insanity! What century are we currently in? Seriously, I am really surprised at some of the opinions considering we all attend women's colleges. Emelie brought up the idea that women belong in the home. I can't disagree more strongly with this opinion. I am not sure if this is your own opinion or not, but if it is, then I feel that it is a very outdated stereotype of our sex and invalid at this day in age. At the end of Dare To Compete, I was not only proud to be an athlete, but just proud to be a woman. The obstacles that our gender has overcome in the last 50 years is truly amazing especially in regards to debunking myths about our role in sport. We have adequately proven that we can not only participate in sport, but that we can excel in it.

Sport aside, we have also proven that we can be very productive in the business world. Women currently hold more administrative positions in Fortune 500 companies than ever before as well as in other professional fields, such as doctors, veterinarians, lawyers and police officers (all of which were formerly stereotypically male professions). I think that women are truly at a point in recognizing the power of their own gender. The groundwork laid out by the pioneers of sport, Title IX and the women's lib movement have made many of the opportunities we have today as women.

I feel that the goal of women in sport is not to compete alongside and against men. As Jennifer pointed out men and women are very anatomically different which may result in one sex being better suited for a certain sport than is the other sex. By allowing women to compete alongside men would be to reinforce the notion that women are physically inferior to men and that they are incapable of competing at a man's level. This is not true as we have seen in cases such as Billie Jean King and Gertrude Enderle. I feel that women should be able to compete in sport for the same reasons that men do. They certainly do not compete in sport to prove themselves to women. They compete in sport for the competition, for the fun, the satisfaction that sport brings, the thrill of winning, the money...whatever their reason may be, women should also be permitted to play for those very reasons. And I think that with the rise in several women's sports (ie. soccer, basketball, marathons), this will be possible. Since the 1996 Summer Olympics women's sports have been on the rise not only in participation, but also as far as a professional field. The television popularity of the WNBA and the X-Games shows that women are interested in watching other women compete and excel in the sports arena.

I think that these kinds of things are obvious indicators that women are responding to sport in a more positive manner and are less likely to shy away from it due to the previous stigma attached to specific sports and all sports in general. Overall I would say that women's sport has come a long way, but it is by no means finished evolving.

Name:  Amanda Hrubik
Username:  ahrubik@brynmawr.edu
Date:  2002-02-10 22:53:55
Message Id:  909
Bio: I'm a junior Russian major at Bryn Mawr, with a concentration in Literature. I'm from Arizona, and went to high school there, but spent time in Hawaii, Germany, and Texas during my father's military career. Although I have played sports as a component of PE classes, I did not play an athletic sport in high school, nor do I now.

Comments: In regards to the quote, as a woman who has in fact not really "entered" the world of sport, I find it absolutely ridiculous to say that it is because "what sport celebrated, what sport offered, what sport demanded, what sport rewarded do not reflect much of women's experience of the world." Rather, because it is not something I enjoy, because I feel I am simply not good at it. But that decision was made long before I had any experience of the world, and certainly before it ever occured to me that someone would have reason to differentiate between women and men for any reason. My continued existence outside the realm of sport is, largely, due to my continued experience that, regardless of single-sex or coed environments, I am simply not an "athletic" individual. I'm not comfortable with most sports, so I simply avoid them. Yet, this quote also seems to imply that in the status quo no woman will ever truly be comfortable in the world of sports, and all men are. In my experience this is patently untrue.
However, my experience with Title IX has mostly left me with a fairly bad opinion of the results of that law. Rather than create a truly equal arena, in my experience, Title IX has resulted in makeshift arrangements, continued unequal funding (often taking money away from academics in order to provide a "required" equality in sport which is never actually realized), and a grudging resentment from athletic administrators.
I agree with Jenn's comments about completely coed sports. Especially in required classes, for those individuals who are, like me, simply not talented, having integrated sports only makes the alienation greater, the desire to never participate again stronger.

Name:  Thida S Aye
Username:  taye@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Title IX
Date:  2002-02-11 00:22:43
Message Id:  912
The documentary was very educational. I have no idea about title IX until i saw it. Its informative to see how different women struggle to extablish their position and status in the field of sports and games.We take things for granted these days. I didnt relize that it was such a big deal back in those days to to be a woman participate in sports.Title IX is a very significant thing in the history of women and sports.It opens up new paths to women that were at one time unattainable.
Name:  Molly Finnegan
Username:  mfinnega@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  1st week response
Date:  2002-02-11 19:29:37
Message Id:  923
Bio: I'm a freshman art nerd from new hampshire.

Comment: It seems the authors of the passage are using a very narrow definition of the word SPORT. Needless to say, I have failed at every sport I ever attempted (the traumas are plentiful), and I may not have a very good sense of SPORT (PLEASE correct me if any of you are better informed). For me the word SPORT is an intersention of teamwork (and strangely enough, competition), dedication, and physical exertion. These don't seem to be out of the realm of female comprehension (ok, granted, young women were told they would become infertile if they practiced sports). Perhaps the problem has been an historically male incomprehension of women and sports.

As a confessed non-athlete, I can speak to the natural need to have a physical life. Being away from my family and my friends, I no longer have people to hug, no one to touch, no one to touch me. I felt out of my body. I found I had a real need to recenter myself in my body (not just my mind) by working out, by sweating a little, by feeling a little bit sore. I understand better the desire to be using your body, in sport, or otherwise. I can't imagine how much women must have suffered from innactivity.

Name:  Nicole Goulet
Username:  ngoulet@email.smith.edu
Subject:  Women and Men in Sports
Date:  2002-02-11 20:11:03
Message Id:  929
I am a first-year at Smith and I am currently on the ski team. I plan to major in Spanish and maybe have an ESS minor. I am from Connecticut.

I don't understand how this book can say that "what sport celebrated,what sport offered, what sport demanded, what sport rewarded do not reflect much of women's experience of the world". I don't know what world this author is living in, but I do know that this quote does not apply to women athletes of today. Today, women have experienced just as much as men have and they can take the demands that sports may bring upon them. Years ago when women were not permitted to participate in sports and the mainly remained in the house, I agree that they probably did not have as many life experiences as men did at the time. However, these women proved that they could handle the demands, rewards and all sports had to offer, in many cases better than men.

We are finally reaching a point in society where men and women's teams are being treated more equal. As Jennifer said, she had never heard of Title IX before she came to college because in HS her teams were treated equally. There is still a lot of ground to cover however. In my HS, our softball team always won titles and went to states. We never got any special treatment like new equipment or even new uniforms. However, when the boys basketball team made it to states(before they even won it), they got jackets, sweatshirts, magnets, bumper stickers, etc. Then, after they won the state championship, I don't even want to get into the treatment they received then. Us softball players were apalled because we had never actually relized the unfairness of our school.

I think that women have come a long way in many areas of life but there are still many hurdles to go. I feel that I am very lucky to be a woman in today's world and I could not feel any prouder.

Name:  Claire Reilly-Shapiro
Username:  creillys@email.smith.edu
Subject:  1st week response
Date:  2002-02-12 00:02:49
Message Id:  939
I am a sophomore at Smith College, am majoring in comparative literature, and am from San Diego, CA. I am a dancer and believe that, yes, ballet IS a sport (although there are many who disagree).

I also disagree that the values of sport identified in the book ("what sport celebrated, what sport offered, what sport demanded, what sport rewarded") are limited to men. Women love competition, teamwork, working toward a goal, feelings of accomplishment, and sweating just as much as men do, although women, throughout history, have not pursued these goals through sport as much as men have because they have not had the opportunities to do so. Women worked hard and worked together and competed in many other arenas (and they still do), but while men could accomplish all of these goals through athletics, women were relegated to the house or to their own social circles. I'm sure that many women would have loved to experience "what sport celebrated, offered, demanded, and rewarded" but the opportunities were simply not available to them. I am overjoyed, as we all are, that today women can experience all these things through sport and that the values of sport can finally "reflect women's experience of the world". Just because many women now excel in sport does not mean, however, that opportunities are available to all women to realize their potential in athletics. There is still work to be done before the values of sport reflect ALL womens' experiences of the world. I think that introducing sports to girls at a young age is extremely important, and I know this sounds obvious, but many girls do not have the access or opportunities to get involved in athletics. And women's sports are still not glorified as much as men's, as some of you have already said. Women have come a long way, that's to be sure, but to say that women are finally equal to men in sports is inaccurate.

Name:  leah bard
Username:  meantuna@aol.com
Subject:  first comment
Date:  2002-02-12 09:33:26
Message Id:  944
quick bio: Smith senior, gov major, no athletic activity in the past 4 years except a local co-ed beer soft ball league, chronic tomboy.

To begin, Dare to Compete nearly rediced me to tears because of obvious struggle women have had to endure in order to gain the opportunities and recognition they deserve as participants in sport.

To comment on the quote posted: To say that what sport offers, demands and rewards women has no ralation to the women's experience is a lot of hooey. Sport has been defined as the expenditure of excess energy. to say that the demand of sport, energy, is not within the realm of the female is experience is completely wrong. Hell, if women are supposed to be sitting around idle all day with no job and responsibility then they sure as hell have a ton of excess energy to burn off.

Name:  Alia Preston
Username:  apreston@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  helllllo forum :)
Date:  2002-02-12 11:42:41
Message Id:  946
Bio: Hi, I'm a Bryn Mawr junior History major. I'm also pre-med. I grew up in FL, but my family currently lives in Northern GA. My interests? I forgot that we had interests at Bryn Mawr...hehe...but no, seriously, I listen to music, watch movies, procrastination, read, write, chillin' with my friends(yes, I'm right on the edge).

Okay, now, the serious portion of this forum thing:

I think that true equality within sports, which Title IX takes a step toward, won't occur until sports become co-ed. However, I'm not sure that "true" equality is necessary. It's great to strive toward equality and a utopian ideal, but some sort of seperation may be necessary when talking about the possibility of increased injury or increased politicism.
I think it is important that there is a division between genders and that at this point in time, women compete against women and men against men. To have evolved from the subordinate status that women used to hold in society to where we are now is amazing and huge, but before we can take that next step (which may be co-ed sports, who knows) I think there has to be a lot more empowerment and more tiny steps taken in the fight for equality. That empowerment, I see happening now and sports is a huge catalyst for that through providing female sports role models (for both young men and women). It has become more and more obvious, I think, to the world, that men and women sports figures can stand together. I've been watching a lot of olympic coverage and really have been impressed witht he amount of equality--i haven't noticed that male sports get more coverage than female sports or that the men have been hyped more or that the women have been anything but venerated as amazing athletes.
I think that we still have steps to take before true equality is reached, but I only see it getting better.

Name:  delaina
Username:  dsepko@brynmawr.edu
Date:  2002-02-12 21:12:57
Message Id:  952
bryn mawr senior, religion major, i've lived in a million places but currently call london home

i was forced to be on a sports team every season while i attended a private high school. it was an all women's school and there was a huge emphasis on athletics and physical activity. their current day spirit teams began as in-house sports teams. by the time i got there almost 100 years after the school had been letting women run around, the emphasis on sports was overwhelming and painful to my under-used (completely by choice) body. suddenly, i was required to run at full speed for two hours a day, multiple days a week, and usually swinging around some sort of stick. the experience was not a pleasent one. i hated going to practice; i hated giving up my saturdays to have games; i hated being forced to buy equipment for a sport i wouldn't choose to play otherwise. i wonder if i'd like sports today if i hadn't been forced to play them three seasons a year for four years. while the school's pride and energy for sports is admirable (i can and will acknowledge the success that women have had in becoming equals in sports), it actually turned me off from all sports that left me huffing and puffing and lagging behind everyone. and well, that would be nerely all of them. empowered by Title IX, my school took a more millitant approach, and, as a result, made women's sports a burden rather than a celebration.

Name:  Kristina Davis
Username:  kdavis@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  women must compete
Date:  2002-02-13 15:44:07
Message Id:  964
bio: poli sci major, interests-17th Century French lit, magritte.

I have to agree in part with amse(the falconress) when she said that women wouldn't be entirely equal until they competed directly with men. In academic competitions, we would not allow men and women to be segregated based on sex, so why would be do so in sports? Well the obvious reason would be the physical differences between men and women, but if women are ever to be seen as athletes on par with men, we need to engage men. It might be as simple as a match between men and women a la billie jean king. An "all star" game with the boys against the girls. Until women athletes are seen as being equally competitive with men, then we will not get the fan turnout or interest wiht our sports. On an aside, if we accept the proposition that women are inferior to men physically, then we would be hurting the recent feminist movements to gain new areas for acceptance for women. It is unfortunately up to women themselves to prove their worth, and the way for us to get it is to show that we are as good or better then men.

Name:  Alisa Alexander
Username:  alisacalexander@hotmail.com
Date:  2002-02-13 16:28:57
Message Id:  965
bio: english major, from brooklyn, ny

comment: I feel that the skills of women can't be truely tested until we begin competing against men. Our progress in the area of sports cant be accurately measured until we start having more coed teams. The doesnt mean that i feel we havent made any progress at all. There definitely needs to be female teams in different types of sports ,but solely competing against the same sex where women are concerned doesnt fully show that changes are really being made in our society.