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 09:32:06
Message Id:  847
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:  Nicole Smith
Username:  n2smith@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Welcome
Date:  2002-02-07 10:36:32
Message Id:  850
Hello Forum 5!
This is Nicole Smith, one of the co-teachers of this class at Bryn Mawr College. I am very excited to ba a part of this project. A special hello and welcome to all of the Smith Students.

Here is my background. I graduated from Wesleyan University in 1997 (BA in English), and then enrolled in a Master's program at Wesleyan while serving as the assistant field hockey and lacrosse coach. I am now serving as the head field hockey and lacrosse coach at Bryn Mawr.

What I am wondering after viewing last nights movie, and reading the quote by Susan Birrell & Cheryl Cole is how would your perception of yourself change if you redefined whether or not you are an athlete (ie: if you consider yourself to be an athlete, how would you view yourself if you weren't? If you do not consider yourself an athlete, what if you did?). In addition, how do you think societies perception of you would change?
One of the reasons I am curious about this is because of my experience at Wesleyan. All of my friends who were athletes AND pre-med students, did not want their professors to know that they were athletes. The students were afraid that if they identified themselves as someone who took their athletic pursuits seriously, the professors would not value their academic achievements. Since a big part of being admitted into medical school relies on recommendations, many of my friends did not want to "risk" being viewed as an athlete.

I will post how my perception of myself would change later in the week.
I am looking forward to our discussion!

Name:  Lelani Sanchez
Username:  lsanchez@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  class 1
Date:  2002-02-07 16:39:14
Message Id:  856
***Lelani's Stats***
BMC class of 2004
From lil town in Wisconsin
Born in Guam (a lil island), USA
Major: Fine Art

Watching the film, I was reminded of one of my best friends from back home. She was on track, ran cross country and was the first girl wrestler at our high school. In high school, I painted scenery and was on the make-up crew for our school plays. Before that, I was a cheerleader in Catholic school. Needless to say, we were very different. And we were treated differently as well. That is to say, my best friend would be called a dyke and I would never be asked to lift anything heavy.

Nicole asked: If you do not consider yourself an athlete, what if you did? In addition, how do you think societies perception of you would change?

I think that having a healthy lifestyle is what I most need to concentrate on right now. But to me the term athlete indicates striving for something--physical fitness, to win a championship...To be honest, I never quite thought about it before. But I think that if I were an athlete I would have to deal with the same issues my friend had to deal with. However, I also think that I might get more respect from other females. Throughout my life, the people who most made me feel weak and frail were actually women.
For example, my best friend will, to this day, bust out laughing at the thought of me doing anything strenuous. Of course, men might have treated me in much the same manner, but it affects me more when *she* rips on me. As a woman, as a woman athlete, I would expect that she would be more encouraging.

Name:  Kelley Duran
Username:  kduran@email.smith.edu
Subject:  Forum question
Date:  2002-02-07 18:50:59
Message Id:  857
1. My name is Kelley Duran and I am a sophmore at Smith College. I am from Fayston, VT. I love to ski and I am also on the Smith College Ski Team. I also like to play soccer, lacrosse, softball, frisbee, and also biking.

2. I believe that Title IX has made sports for women more equal than it has for other women who were born before us. My mom always said to me that I was lucky, but I never really knew why. But when my mom was in High school and college, she was not able to be part of some the sports she would have liked to be in. But I still think that women do not get the same amount of support or funding for the sports they do. An example would be ski racing when ski racers race in races and become really good, the male ski racers would get more sponserships than women such as free skis, poles, helmets. I think Title IX has provided many opptunites for women in the US to play sports and to do what they love. Title IX does not mean that we should compare males vs females. Sports are about having fun, doing something the best we can.

Name:  Sarah Johnson
Username:  swjohnso@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  forum question
Date:  2002-02-08 10:42:27
Message Id:  864
1. My name is Sarah, and I am from Chicago. I am a sophomore Sociology major and while I played soccer in high school, I am not on any sports teams at Bryn Mawr.
2. I disagree and agree with the posted quote. Maybe public policy has avoided the quest of sex-role polarization in sports, but certainly women athletes have made great strides in attempts to fill that vacuum. For example, what about Billie Jean King and the Battle of the Sexes? I think things like Title IX and public policy are extremely important, but can only take something so far. I think social movements striving for equality require diligence and hard work not only from public policy, but from multiple directions simultaneously over time.
Name:  Katie Lefebvre
Username:  klefebvr@smith.edu
Subject:  forum questions
Date:  2002-02-08 22:31:32
Message Id:  876
1. Hi! My name is Katie Lefebvre and I am a senior biology major at Smith College. I am orginally from Smithfield, RI--not too far away from Northampton. I played field hockey and squash during both my first and sophomore years. I love sports--watching them, learning about them, and playing them. It has always been a dream of mine to one day coach my high school's field hockey team. I am excited about the material we will be covering in this class and look forward to meeting everyone through this forum!
2. I do believe that, to some extent, sports lead to sex-role polarization, but that it definitely differs according to the particular sport. I feel that in sports like tennis, track, and swimming, attitudes toward female participants are much like those toward males. Just look at the Williams sisters--they are respected by men and women alike. I don't think there is one father alive who wouldn't be absolutely thrilled that his daughter(s) were extremely athletic tennis stars. Flo Jo and Jackie Joyner Kersey are two other examples of this point. I am not sure how to phrase it eloquently, but what I'm trying to say is that these women all have achieved as much muscularity and play as aggressively as any of the men in their sport and I do not think that they have had to compromise their sexuality.
On the other hand, I do feel that a woman competing in, say, wrestling or football, is often viewed as "butch" or masculine, right off the batt. I agree that a young girl who dreams of one day playing one of these sports may very well be deterred from achieving her goal and, if she does get to play, may be alienated amongst her presumably mostly masculine peers.
Overall, I would have to say I agree to a certain extent that women have been and continue to be alienated from and thus indifferent towards or reluctant to play sports. Predominately in team sports, where aggressiveness is often necessary, women are commonly frowned upon for being too "unladylike." Oppositely, when participating in such individual sports as swimming or tennis, where the traditional male camaraderie is not threatened or imposed upon, both men and women tend to view female athleticism a little more objectively. As long as there is no body-to-body contact, there doesn't seem to be a problem.
I don't think that is acceptable for a young girl or woman to claim that sports are not available to her, because they are. If we sit back and remain passive, settling for participation in only those sports which have been deemed "socially acceptable", then all the work of the women who came before us if for nothing. Instead, we must continue to push for MORE, using Title IX as our driving force. We need to spend more time teaching young girls that it is most important to believe in what you truly want to do and to not be squeezed into narrowly defined categories that were created in large part by the ignorant. The more women enter college and professional team sports, the more it will have to be accepted
Name:  Emily Grigg-Saito
Username:  egriggsa@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Forum Questions Week One
Date:  2002-02-09 09:17:17
Message Id:  877
1. My name is Emily Grigg-Saito, I am a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College, and I am from Boston, Massachusetts. I am a Growth and Structure of Cities major.

2. I agree with the bulk of this quote, however, I am not sure what the author means about how a sport should reflect a women's experience in the world. Do sports reflect anyone's experience, or are they just a set-up separate from reality where we are allowed to compete, exercise, and have fun in ways we cannot in the real world? In reflecting a women's experience in the real world, it can be accurate to say that successful women in the sports are often treated much the same as successful women in the workplace, etc.
The "sex-role polarization" comment is really right on, though. It is amazing how early girls can often learn that sports are not really for them.

Name:  Susannah E. Smith
Username:  ssmith@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Forum discussion Week 1
Date:  2002-02-09 18:28:10
Message Id:  884
Hi, I'm 22, from Chapel Hill, NC, and a junior/senior (graduating in Dec) at Bryn Mawr. I major in Linguistics at Swarthmore. Words are where it's at, yeah.

I largely agree with this quote. Although I hope that sport and athleticism will not mean different things for men and women in the future, that is still the case now. Not because of not being addressed by philosophers and sociologists, however, but because of being ignored by the advertising industry! As Kelley pointed out, female athletes get far fewer corporate sponsorship offers or TV ad offers. Their prize money is often less than that for men competing in the same contests, because companies supplying the money feel that their ads will not be viewed by as many spectators and tv-watchers, so it's not as worth it.

This all leads to less publicity for women's sports and less awareness of sport as a women's activity. I can rattle off the names of a zillion male athletes, even if they play football or baseball - sports I don't even watch. But the list of female athletes I can name off the top of my head (before watching the movie on Wed) is limited to women tennis players, Jackie Joyner Kersey, Mia Hamm, Picabo Street, and whatever flavor of the month there is in gymnastics or figure skating. And I know I'm not alone. Less awareness of women in sport means less encouragement for little girls to get involved in sport in the first place (part of why I've never really been athletic, I believe), less awareness of local women's leagues in various sports, and a general lack of interest in sport on the part of women. Depressing, isn't it?

Name:  Brooke
Username:  bleonard@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  forum question week 1
Date:  2002-02-10 14:08:12
Message Id:  889
My name is Brooke, and I’m a Russian studies major at Bryn Mawr from Bowie, MD. I don’t play sports, but I work out regularly and love watching sports (hockey!!).

I don’t agree with all of the above quote – especially about women’s indifference to sport. Especially now, I think many (if not most) women have interest in sports, whether as a spectator or participant. Historically this may have been true, but try to find a little girl now who doesn’t think Mia Hamm and Lisa Leslie are cool.

Nevertheless, male domination of sports is still very evident – for example, NBA games are more highly attended than WNBA games (and the players’ salaries are significantly different).

Another example: My home page on the Internet is ESPN.com. I’m a big sports fan, so I’m always checking up on the news and scores. Recently, they have had an ad on the top of the page, which went something like this: “Remember how she let you watch football all season long? Don’t forget her on Valentine’s Day.” Now the ad says, “You love watching sports…Guarantee you can ALWAYS watch sports. Valentine’s Day is Feb. 14.” The link takes you to the ESPN Gift Center, where you (as in, you - the man checking out the sports scores) can buy jewelry (“She’ll love it!”), red roses (“Be the man!”), chocolate (“Surprise her!”), or a teddy bear (“She’ll love this guy!”). To me, these ads aimed towards men only suggest that they think women are not reading the sports news and that the stereotypical woman will threaten to take sports away from their significant other. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d much rather watch sports than do household cleaning, or whatever they’re suggesting women prefer. I’d also rather have my boyfriend buy me tickets to a hockey game for Valentine’s Day than a box of chocolates or some flowers.

Since I’m on the subject of ESPN, did any of you see the “World’s Sexiest Athletes” show they had on a while ago? It seemed to me like all of the males were actually great athletes (and some perhaps even a little lacking in the looks department, if you ask me) – Pavel Bure, Derek Jeter, Ray Allen, A-Rod, etc. And then you had the women. Some of the comments on the website include: “Tall, blond, loves to be in her underwear, “ “She posed nude to drum up some publicity for her sport,” “Her little modeling hobby has gotten her layouts in Esquire and FHM,” “Have you seen the Playboy spread?,” “Designs and models her own lingerie line,” and of course, about the winner Anna Kournikova - “She's got the look, the attitude and to all those who rip on her for never winning a Grand Slam title: who cares?”

The people who care are the people who want to see female athletes recognized for their talents on the field or the track or the court or the ice – not for how they look. I definitely believe that one of the biggest differences in sports today is that men are judged on their abilities and women are largely judged on appearances. Until this changes, it’s hard to think that the sexes have equality in the sports world.

Name:  Dasen Woitkowski
Username:  dwoitkow@email.smith.edu
Subject:  Forum Question #1
Date:  2002-02-10 14:15:54
Message Id:  890
Hi my name is Dasen Woitkowski and I am a sophomore at Smith College. I play basketball and softball and I am an Economics major. I am from Pittsfield, Massachusetts and sports has been a big part of my life.

I agree to a great extent on the quote about sex-role polarization and sports being thought of as masculine, but as we've moved into the millenium, I think so has the respect for women in sports. Women are taken more seriously about the sport(s) they play by both females and males. I agree with Katie that most of the time this "polarization" has to do with the particular sport. Many people okay the play by women in the mainstream women sports like basketball, tennis, golf, soccer, softball etc., but as soon as a female steps into the man's world of sport like football, women get looked down upon. I don't think it's fair for it to be okay for men to do everything and women only some things. Women have obviously shown an aggressiveness and great success in sports.
I feel that as we move on, women playing football (as now there is a women's league starting) or wrestling, they will be accepted as more women participate and play these "masculine" sports. Many people become more accepting of women playing these sports as they see more women participating and succeeding in playing.
As to the public policy with Title IV, men do have a much larger role in commercials or sponsorships, but again I feel that that will grow with the growth of understanding that women are just as good, if not superior to men, in the sports we play, and then hopefully the salary difference between men and women will shrink. Men and women should not be compared to each other in play because we do play different ways to some degree and are aggressive in different ways. The men should be compared to the men and women to the women. We will never hear that a male pro ball player plays like the top female player, but we will always hear the top female ball player compared to the top male ball player (at least not for now).
I think it's really important that we teach the youth of today to do what he/she feels good about doing. Don't let gender be a barrier to the sport one wants to play. Just go out and have fun doing what you LOVE to do.

Name:  Mary Kathryn Sagaria
Username:  msagaria@smith.edu
Subject:  1st response
Date:  2002-02-10 18:27:42
Message Id:  901
Hello, My name is M.K. Sagaria and I'm a sophmore at Smith. I play Field Hockey and Lacrosse and sports are a hugue part of my life. I'm an anthropology major and I'm from Columbus ohio, Yeah Midwest!!

In response to the quote above, I see a lot of truth behind the authors postion, yet I also question some of the points. I definetly see the idea of polarization a reality for women who participate in particular sports that are not seen as particularly femenin. But I'm also going to play the devils advocate and say that I thik polarization occurs with men to. As a field hockey player ther is a lot of debate on men playing on women's teams. First, the united states is one of the only countries where women are the primary players, and many countries play with men and women on the same tams. Many people say, wait men are starting to take over the few sports we have to ourselves. Another argument is that men are too rough to be playing with girls, and they will change the nature of the game. But if we are acknowleging polarization of women I think we should also look at the polarization of men, because you cannot have one without the other. I believe the root of the problem, and what women have been attempting to do since the conception of title IX is to break down the gender barriers and norms for not only women but also our male counterparts. I know that women still do not have equality in sports on many different levels, and our achievments have been remarkable. Yet, I think our gender sterotypes across the board must be alleviated before equlity in the truest sense of the word can be acheived.

Name:  Jenny Simon
Username:  jrsimon@mtholyoke.edu
Subject:  1st Week
Date:  2002-02-10 20:43:50
Message Id:  902
Hi everyone,

My name is Jenny Simon and I am a senior at Mount Holyoke College (taking a class at Smith), originally from Berkeley, CA. I’m a Sociology/Math double major with other academic interests in Psychology, Sport, and Music. Athletics has been a very important part of my life since I began high school. I rowed year-round in high school and then I been on the MHC varsity crew team since I came to college. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do when I graduate but I am hoping to have the opportunity to coach and/or work in other areas in athletics.

I really enjoyed the movie, Dare to Compete. Having spent four years competing at a women’s college, I have been lucky enough to have not had to deal with the hardships of fighting for funding or being treated less important because I was woman. While this has been a fabulous experience, I do sometimes forget how hard women before me worked to create this kind of environment for me. The movie, Dare to Compete, reminded me of those who have come before me and who have fought so hard to be recognized. I have had the opportunity to meet several of these pioneers in women’s athletics such as Katherine Switzer and Diana Nyiad and continue to be amazed by how these women tell their story and seem so humble even as they see the thousands of women who have gained countless athletic opportunity as a result of their hard work.

In response to Nicole’s question about self-perception of athletes, I too have heard people being hesitant to tell professors about being an athlete. I guess, I would argue that my being an athlete is a very important part of who I am and I am often proud to tell my professors that I’m an athlete. I often think about what athletics has done for my younger sisters and it is amazing to me to watch the change in self-confidence when they come home from practice. I think that we learn so many skills from our athletic experience that make us who we are on and off the court. I believe that the more women that become involved in sports, the sooner we will begin to break down the social barriers that exist in society today.

I am so excited to be on this forum with all of you and get to discuss some of these issues.

Name:  Tasneem Paghdiwala
Username:  tpaghdiw@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Tasneem P.
Date:  2002-02-11 22:57:05
Message Id:  934
I'm Tasneem, a sophomore at BMC from Bensalem, PA. I'm an English major.

Although I've always admired athletes and been really attracted to the "idea" of sport, I have never participated in what I would call a real team experience. I was actually on the track team in high school (discus) and ran cross country for while, and even did soccer (!) for a semester, but I never considered myself an athlete. I think it's because I didn't get into sports at an early age, which I believe is a factor that is more important than gender in determining whether or not a person will be an "athlete" in their lifetime. I think it's really great that girls now have the option to start whatever sport just as early and with the same resources as boys of the same age, and I think those girls AND boys who start early have an advantage over the rest of us athletically. I don't really believe that women are excluded from the sporting world in this age, in fact I believe that women athletes get more and more respect as the years go on.

Name:  Peilin Chen
Username:  p2chen@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Week 1
Date:  2002-02-11 23:34:30
Message Id:  936
Hi! I’m Peilin and I am from the San Francisco Bay Area. I am currently undeclared, but I am thinking about majoring in Cities or Art history.

I believe that in today’s world, women are given a fair opportunity to participate in sports. I was brought up in a community where sports were encouraged from the youngest age, and girls often concentrated in more than one at a time. In fact there was more pressure to play a sport. Every person was on at least one team. However, I also recognize the room for improvement.
What I also noticed about women and sport was that women generally stop playing sports for leisure after high school or maybe even before that. On the other hand, some men continue to gather buddies together on Saturday afternoons to play a game of basketball whereas women tend to do fitness individually or within small groups, in a non-competitive atmosphere. Some women do play tennis together, but there is not much interaction/contact or much of a team atmosphere in that situation.

Posting removed by request
Name:  Faye McGrath
Username:  fmcgrath@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  First Week
Date:  2002-02-12 18:58:02
Message Id:  950
1. My name is Faye McGrath and I am originally from Wilkes-Barre, PA. I am a soon-to-be-declared Philosophy major here at Bryn Mawr.

2. Why does public policy have to even acknowledge the "sex-role polarization"? I am not denying that it does exist - in fact, I believe it does - but why is it important that Title VI doesn't address that fact? The most important point is that Title VI does, in fact, exist at all. I don't believe that cultural attitudes will (or should) change because of some law. It is the job of the people in our society to change such cultural beliefs. Over the last several decades, we have made great strides as a society toward filling "the vacuum" created by the masculine domination of the sports arena.

Name:  Geeti Das
Username:  gdas@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Sports as Personal Expression
Date:  2002-02-12 19:45:19
Message Id:  951
My name is Geeti Das and I'm a Junior Philosophy major at Bryn Mawr College. I do not see myself as an athlete. I do not play any sports at college or elsewhere, and when I work out it's more for stress relief than for the sake of competition with other people or with myself.
Not having grown up in the United States, I do not know much about Title IX and how it has had an impact on high school students in the U.S., but I can speak from the standpoint of someone who lived in a system where girls in school had no such provision. In my high school, the girls played badminton or table tennis in gym class while the boys played football, basketball, etc. The girls were only given a chance when the boys weren't playing. What amazes me now that I look back at this is that none of the girls in my school--myself included--ever thought to protest this state of affairs. If anything, I think most of us preferred things the way they were. Sports that made you sweat or required a lot of running around were considered unfeminine. I know that, had I been an athlete, I would have been considered even more unfeminine than I already was for not plucking my eyebrows or wearing lipstick!
But I also know that had I been an athlete, I would not have seen myself differently, because the bottomline as far as I'm concerned is that, like creative activities, any kind of sport or physical activity is really a way of expressing yourself and really shouldn't have anything to do with what gender you are. I find my outlet at the piano, but someone else might find it in running...I see no major difference there.
As for whether the law should do anything about this gender stereotyping, I agree with Faye McGrath that what really needs to change first is cultural attitudes towards different sports.
Name:  kate hoy
Username:  katesuperstar@hotmail.com
Subject:  kate's response
Date:  2002-02-12 21:30:01
Message Id:  953
hi there ladies. my name is kate hoy and i'm a sophomore at bryn mawr college. i'm an art history major concentrating in film studies, and spend most of my spare time either in philly or working at our nieghborhood video store.
in response to the passage that nicole posted i guess i'm still a bit up in the air as to what i really think about sport as "a vacuum..filled by the dominant cultural and institutional definitions that have been shaped by men's values". i went to an all girls highschool and obviously i sttend an all women's college. throughout my life i have been an active participant in sports be it soccer, softball, gymnastics, riding, field hockey, lacrosse, or ultimate frisbee. however, i had never really felt isolated from a sport because of my gender/sex until i came to bryn mawr. it was here that i felt that i had to be "manly" and "brutish" to play a sport. of course...i know that this is my personal experience. tell me if yours was different.
have a good night, all.