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 for Week 3
Date:  2002-02-21 11:30:35
Message Id:  1103
Forum Question for Week 3

The director chose certain visual shots, scripted dialogue and personal interactions to convey a message about your character. (Rachel, Bev, Lori, Carla or the judges) What is the director attempting to "say" about your character?

BMC students: please take a moment to read the e-mail sent today that gives important information on the final paper and the format for next Wednesday?s class.

Name:  Amy Campbell
Username:  acampbel@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Forum question fro week 3 from Professor Shelton and the Smith discussion
Date:  2002-02-21 17:00:04
Message Id:  1111
Define --as your assigned character would define them, and you may
use examples--
Name:  Jess Justice
Username:  jljustic@mtholyoke.edu
Subject:  Definition of Carla
Date:  2002-02-24 21:00:43
Message Id:  1126
Our forum at Smith chose Carla to follow throughout the course of the film. It was really interesting to see how differently she was portrayed than the other women. It was obvious from the very beginning that Carla was portrayed as independent and strong in ways separate from her physique. The other women were shown to be very dependent on the men in their lives. The most poigniant example of this could be seen in Lori after a practicularly hard set, she would go to Randy and he would hug and kiss her as if to reassure her that her hard work was not going unnoticed. Images of this nature were never seen with regards to Carla. She seemed to be the spokeswoman for feminism. Even though she didn't have the most muscular body in the competition, she still thought that no discrimination should be given to those who were. She was the one who fought to define feminity in a non-traditional way.

I think that Carla would go as far as to say that the notions of sexuality and sensuality do not belong in the sport of body-building. To her, it seems as though body-buidling is about the body at its best. The winner of the competition should be the most muscular one, not necessarily the one who has the most sex appeal or the one with the most graceful dance routine. Her notion of feminity might be something that encompasses both physical strength and mental strength as well as a certain innate quality that all women have. It is due to this innate quality that femininity is hard to define; it is sometimes, undetectable, but still present and perhaps this is where the controversy lies.

Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  test
Date:  2002-02-25 09:32:11
Message Id:  1141
Name:  Liz Godshall
Username:  egodshal@email.smith.edu
Subject:  question 3
Date:  2002-02-25 18:53:54
Message Id:  1163
As Jess said, our group chose to view Carla throughout the video. She was portrayed in a very different manner than her competitors. She seemed so much stronger, independent, stable, and level-headed than for instance Lori, who broke down in her boyfriend's arms, or Rachel, who was always concerned with beautifying herself. Carla was focused on where she wanted to be and what she wanted to represent.

Carla, I don't think, would see a place for sexuality or sensuality in body-building. It is a sport, just like soccer basketball. The best in the sport should be those who have worked the hardest and perfected themselves the most. It should not be a competition to see who can make themselves the most beautiful or the sexiest, but a sport. As for femininity, Carla seemed to let every woman define that for herself. Bev, Carla, Lori, and Rachel all seemed to have different definitions of this, but Carla accepted them all for being who they were: women.

Name:  Laura Bang
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Rachel
Date:  2002-02-25 19:00:35
Message Id:  1165
My group's character was Rachel. She was definitely portrayed as the most feminine of the characters, at least in the traditional sense of the word feminine. I didn't like Rachel very much because she seemed rather whiny and quick-to-complain for someone who is a body-builder (i.e.: works out really hard and has a lot of discipline towards her body). She did not seem sincere at the end when she was talking about not winning and she said she was going to concentrate on more important things, like God - she said it so indifferently, it didn't seem like that was really what she was thinking of the outcome of the contest.

As for Rachel's definitions of sensuality, sexuality, and femininity, I think she would say that all three are important in women's body-building. She always seemed "dressed to impress", which doesn't strike me as being important in a sport. She seemed really concerned about her appearance - she looked in the mirror several times, and she was worried about her hairstyle. She mentioned in the movie that she strives to be like comic book heroines, such as WonderWoman, who are the embodiment of sensuality, sexuality, and femininity.

Name:  Claire R-S
Username:  creillys@email.smith.edu
Subject:  week 3
Date:  2002-02-25 20:16:05
Message Id:  1170
Liz and Jess have pointed out many of the things we discussed in class regarding Carla. I think it is also interesting to note that in the film work, the director did not show segmented shots of Carla's body while she was training or exercising. She was displayed with a little sensuality while she was swimming, but for the most part, the camera followed her entire body instead of sensualizing her leg, or stomach, or back, etc. This kind of camera work was used to display some of the other women in the tanning booths, in the shower, and in the hot tub. Carla was not usually shown as a body part on display, but as a complete woman. Yet, even though she was one of the strongest characters (in will and in body strength), her femininity was never in question.
Name:  amse hammershaimb
Username:  amseh@yahoo.com
Subject:  rachel@brynmawr
Date:  2002-02-25 20:38:21
Message Id:  1172
i'm not quite sure what the director was trying to say about rachel. on the one hand, he chose to portray her lowest moments so that the 'girly' contestant would not win the viewer's support. rachel appeared shallow and over-confident in her form. this confidence was undermined by the scenes in which rachel was shown drinking. her apathy on the morning of the competition also shows a depth that i don't feel the director delved into enough. did rachel throw the competition by being so difficult? or was she difficult simply because she thought her stardom from her previous year's success and stereotypical femininity would exempt her from following the competition's rules to a 't'?
the director in this film showed so many of rachel's weaknesses -- she is the only competitor seen having a breakdown of any sort. granted, she was drunk, but she was also shown as needing that crutch. rachel's support system, christian, was indifferent to her. all of the other chartacters we focused on had family and/or friends that actively supported them while rachel's supporter hardly said two words and slept through half of her scenes.
i think that the director is trying to show how much weakness there is in being stereotypically super feminine -- often equated with vanity and a lack of depth. rachel, as the contestant most concerned with hair and appearance exemplified that role. in her vanity, she believed taht she was the emobodiment of sensuality, sexuallity, and femininity and that her embodiment of these qualities gave her the obligation of being a role model to other women. - amse
Name:  Nicole Goulet
Username:  ngoulet@email.smith.edu
Subject:  Carla
Date:  2002-02-25 23:08:15
Message Id:  1181
Our group followed Carla through the movie and noticed how differently she was shown compared to the other women. She was always shown with other women rather than with a boyfriend or other males. She was one of the more feminine competitors and I think that is why she was shown with women. I think that she did not feel that she needed to define her sexuality as much as the other women. She wore very feminine clothes and she had a very beautiful face. Although she was not as built as the other women, we knew that she supported the others and the new ideas of body-building. She says that she would really love to have as much muscle mass as Bev but on a different frame. Also, in the meeting before the competition, she argues with the judges to make them define femininity. She really believes that body building is building muscle and the winner should be the woman with the most muscle.

I think that Carla would define femininity as being a woman. If you think that you are feminine, then you are. It does not depend on how you dress or how much muscle you have. I am not sure how she would define sexuality and sensuality. I think that she would be very broad and open about the definitions of these two. Maybe sensuality as the way that one moves and the way that they make themselves or others feel. I don't know if she would define sexuality because it should not have to be defined.

Name:  Stefani Bluestein
Username:  sblueste@email.smith.edu
Subject:  Carla
Date:  2002-02-25 23:50:42
Message Id:  1185
I agree with everything that has been said about Carla so far. I believe that Carla was the only body builder who was portrayed as a person, as well as an athlete. The cameras never really showed Carla working out, but rather with her family. When Carla was shown working out the camera wasn't focused in on certain body parts, but instead her whole body. I think that Carla was a mix between Bev and Rachel; therefore, making the perfect contestant. She was a good sport and always seemed to be playing by the rules. She was even found arguing with the judges about what exactly "feminity" meant.

I fully agree with Liz about Carla not seeing sexuality or sensuality in bodybuilding. She is in the competition for the actual sport, and it didn't seem like any thing else mattered. I don't think that she would think that it is necessary in her sport to determine what the definitions of either of these words were. I think Carla would define feminity as being a woman. That was one thing that everyone had in common, and in the sport of bodybuilding it shouldn't matter how girly one is.

Name:  Alia Preston
Username:  apreston@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Rachel: the bible-thumping feminine body builder
Date:  2002-02-26 00:37:45
Message Id:  1188
My forum group discussed Rachel as a character. First, I would like to start off by saying Rachel amused me to no end--she was the most bitchy, undisciplined, cry-baby athlete I've ever seen. I don't think I've ever encountered an athlete that would drink during a competition; especially in a competition that is so relies fitness and muscle tone. I think that the director presents her as a jumble of contradictions and an air of calculated mystery. She is the woman who's seen the glamorous side of body building--she's been on the cover of the magazines and has people "model" thier training programs after her. Within her image is this "feminine" quality that has partially put her on the covers of the magazines. Her feminity goes hand in hand with her being "difficult"; she views herself as a woman of a higher class, a woman that would think she could get around the rules and slant everything in her favor.

I think that she views herself as the defintion of sexuality, feminity, and sensuality--she expects all of those terms to be applied to women. However, I think that the fact that Rachel didn't win and the conversations that were had within the film about percetions of various forms, defintions and actual manifestations of the sexuality, feminity and sensuality are a huge indication of the changing social perception of women's role and image within society. The former images that society has had of women were really rather narrow in the definition of what a woman was, but those images have expanded.

Also--wow the 80s.

Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Carla
Date:  2002-02-26 10:16:05
Message Id:  1201
As the others in my group have already mentioned, we chose to discuss Carla. Although our class discussion re: sexuality vs. sensuality didn't actually lead to a set of absolute definitions, I thought of some meanings that I believe Carla would probably agree with. Sexuality refers to the physical set of conditions that actively plays into and off of societies conventional definitions of what is attractive for the two genders. Sexuality then is a complete construction.

On the other hand, sensuality is not constructed. Sensuality is the set of conditions that attracts. Sensuality affects the body as a whole. It plays off of what we feel is pleasing to our senses and that means all of them. SEnssuality is not wholly dependant on an image that we see but also perhaps smell or what we imagine something might feel or taste like. As a result, sensuality is not a stable concept, there is no absolute because what is sensuous to one person may be a turn off to the next.

NOw as for CArla, she would probably agree that neither one of these concepts has a place in judging bodybuilding contests. If the sport is about muscle development then so be it. Judge on muscles. If sexuality and sensuality are taken into consideration, than a body building contest has a much value as a beauty pageant.

Name:  Leah Bard
Username:  meantuna@aol.com
Subject:  name
Date:  2002-02-26 10:17:50
Message Id:  1202
i forgot to add my name to my last comment. oops. My is the two defs of sexuality and sensuality posted on tues morn.
Name:  Suzy
Username:  sskothei@smith.edu
Subject:  Question 3
Date:  2002-02-26 19:48:55
Message Id:  1227
As said previously in the forum, our group at Smith decided to watch Carla closely. I agree with what everyone in the Smith Forum has said already. Although i did not get to see the whole movie i could tell from the part that i say that Carla was portrayed as both a female and an athlete. Bev was portrayed as just an athlete and in fact an athlete that took the sport too far, where as Carla was seen as a athlete who was also concerned about looking and acting like a woman. She was not critized as much by the judges as Bev was because Carla was aiming more for hte ideal body of a woman where as i felt that Bev was aiming to be the best body builder as she could.
I feel that when it comes to sports that the best performance should win, no matter what the sport is, however the ball is round and those who are supposed to win do not always win. Body building is about how well the athlete can build their muscles but at the same time i feel that these athletes should be good role models for future generations and the judges do in my opinion need to take into consideration what society wants. In my personal opinion Bev did not have the ideal body for a woman, at least not one that i would want, and Carla had a better build in my mind. Bev was a little to extreme for my taste but as shown on the movie the audience loved her. To me beautiful and strong are very subjective words and much of the judging in my mind was subjective and different tastes will give different results.
Name:  Emilie Kottenmeier
Username:  ekottenm@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Emilie Kottenmeier
Date:  2002-02-27 02:10:44
Message Id:  1247
I didn't like Rachael much. She formed herself based what judges would appreciate. She competed to win, not to display a perfectly built body. The director clearly wanted a more viscious competitor to demonstrate a contrast between a "proper" and an "unproper" bodybuilder. She of course was feminine, in the sense that she looked like a woman. At first glance, one can't really tell the gender of Bev. She tried to manipulate, "woo" the judges into voting her to be the winner. She knew what would get her to the top, and did whatever she could to get there. The swimsuit issue, being that neither of her suits were appropriate for the contest, further show her manipulation of the judges. Rachael lifted to win, for her pride. She encompased her own definition of sexuality and sensuality. Her outer appearence (she believed) was sexy, and her mannerisms were sensual. They enhanced her beauty.
Name:  Amanda
Username:  ahrubik@brynmawr.edu
Date:  2002-02-27 09:02:33
Message Id:  1249
As previously stated, the character for the BMC group was Rachel. While I cannot say that I personally liked her, I think that opinion is largely based on the way the director chose to show her through the film. Every shot with Rachel in it attempted to direct the audience's attention to the fact that Rachel believed that being feminine and pretty, from one's hair to one's swimsuit, were more important in this competition than anything else. We see her working out, but without overt "body-builder" results. She is admired by Lori, but the director never gives the audience any chance to see anything redeemable or admirable in Rachel, aside from her offhand, flippant religiosity. She is clearly intended to represent the side of the body-building argument which implies that women body-builders ought to compete for sexiness rather than musculature. However, whatever strenghts that argument may have are completely undermined by the director's representation of Rachel as whiny, ungrateful, underhanded, overconfident, and willing to do anything, including cheat, in order to win.
For Rachel, according to the director's vision of her, she is the total embodiment of sexuality, sensuality and feminity, from her over-done hair to her sequined swimsuit.
Name:  Jenn Sawyer
Username:  jssawyer@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Rachel
Date:  2002-02-27 14:15:27
Message Id:  1258
I didnt' like the character of Rachel very much, and I think that's because of the way the director portrayed her. Her concentration wasn't on body-building, it seemed, but on epitomizing femininity, sexuality, and sensuality. She concentrated on being as womanly as possible, as opposed to Bev, who was concentrating on body-building itself. Carla was the one who balanced the two qualities, and therefore was the one to win. Since it was a documentary, it was trying to show the different personalities in an actual competition, and in doing so, concentrated on the extremes. Rachel's extreme is the one I like least, simply because of the actions she takes to acheive it.
Name:  MOlly
Username:  mfinnega@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  week three
Date:  2002-02-27 16:37:45
Message Id:  1261
Though I think the movie does a good job in suggesting that women can be both sexy and athletic, it can't resist portraying Rachel as the beautiful bitch, who is more interested in dramatic/sexual performance than athletic performance, who isn't a real athlete, who can't take competition. I'm not suggesting that these people don't exist, or that it didn't add a certain necessary dramatic tension, but it plays on and reinforeces the stereotype. I think they could have downplayed her bitchiness/craziness and took more time to subtly examine the questions of femininity/sexuallity/sensuallity.