Women, Sport, and Film Course

Sponsored by the Department of Athletics and Physical Education at Bryn Mawr College, with support from the Center for Science In Society at Bryn Mawr College and the Serendip website.

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FORUM ARCHIVE

WEEK 1

Name:  Amy Campbell
Username:  acampbel@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Dare To Compete
Date:  2004-01-29 18:17:08
Message Id:  7825
Comments:
1. Please introduce yourself to your 'team'.
2. Respond/react to: Societies view of women and sport has changed significantly in the last 80 years. How do these changes impact women today and is the culture of sport still changing?
Name:  Tegan.
Username:  ageorges@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Howdy
Date:  2004-02-01 01:01:28
Message Id:  7859
Comments:
1. Please introduce yourself to your 'team'.

Hi team.

I'm Tegan, I'm from Texas, I live in Erdman, I'm a philosophy major, and I was once on the losing-est little league team our division had ever seen.

2. Respond/react to: Societies view of women and sport has changed significantly in the last 80 years. How do these changes impact women today and is the culture of sport still changing?

It's good I suppose that women are no longer kept from athletic endeavors for fear of "harming their reproductive organs" or other such nonsense. I am as much a beneficiary of the widened acceptance of the "strong woman" culture as anyone else: I think a lot of that imagery becoming more and more popular has to do with women gaining access to sports.
Still, I think that sports--as well as the rest of society--have a long way to go before it's perfect: women unlike men are expected to be both athletic and pretty, strong but not overly masculine. Until strong and healthy can be considered human and not specifically masculine ideals, women are going to be at a disadvantage, and not only in sports.
Still, I think we're headed in that direction...


Name:  Julia F.
Username:  
Subject:  Hi
Date:  2004-02-01 20:33:39
Message Id:  7878
Comments:
1. Please introduce yourself to your 'team'.

Hi, I'm Julia. I'm currently living in Rochester; we just moved from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I'm a frosh, so I have no idea what my major will be, but am trying many things out, including Archaeology and Computer Science. I'm rather accident prone, so sports were never a good thing for me to get into, though I took gymnastics at an early age. However, I did get into voice studies and I took lessons for four+ years.

2. Respond/react to: Societies view of women and sport has changed significantly in the last 80 years. How do these changes impact women today and is teh culture of sport still changing?

Though the view of the ideal woman has changed from a docile, stay in the kitchen ideal to an athletic, powerful, take charge ideal, the views of women fitting into those ideals have not changed. For a woman to be considered "beautiful" or "athletic," she must fit into the ideal exactly. Any deviation from the ideal voids her beauty or her athleticism. She must still work to fulfill society's expectations of her. Women are beginning to be seen more in just the context of their skill than how they fit the ideal though, like men are. It doesn't matter what ideals you fulfill as long as you are good at what you do.

The changes over the years, such as women being able to compete more freely, have empowered women in a way that not much else has. Knowing that women have entered into a previously exclusive male society gave women hope that they could do anything, not just sports. It made women question that if they could participate in sports, what was keeping them from the high level jobs, the military, etc... Those impact of women in sports continues to affect other fields today.


Name:  Jessica
Username:  jbourne@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Intro! Tada!
Date:  2004-02-01 20:33:42
Message Id:  7879
Comments:
I'm Jessica, I'm from Florida and I live in Rhodes North. I'm a pretty lazy person, I admit. Ironcially, I tried to get into Kickbox Aerobics this quarter but didn't. :( That was my major effort to have some kind of exercise, too. But I'm in next quarter, so that's okay!

Anyway, how does society's view of sports and women impact women today? I'd have to say that society's more accepting view has allowed women to become healthier people, because it's 'okay' for them to be physically active. In addition to this, since physical activity has generally been a masculine activity, I think society, in having been forced to admit that women can also be good at sports, has also been forced to admit that a woman can be a man's equal. So I think it's helped the cause of equality.

I believe that the culture of sports will always be changing. I don't much like sports myself, but if people are going to focus on spectator sports, I wish that they'd focus more on a player's ability and less on how pretty she is. On the other hand, I feel that, recently, it has become more acceptable for women to become messy and sweaty, so that's good.


Name:  Sarah Halter
Username:  shalter@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Hi, I'm Sarah Halter
Date:  2004-02-01 20:43:29
Message Id:  7880
Comments:
1. Please introduce yourself to your 'team'.

My name is Sarah Halter. I'm a sophomore English major/history minor. I'm from the Cleveland area in Ohio, but I live in Rhoads North now.

I started playing softball when I was six because my parents thought it'd be good for me. I have such a love-hate relationship with that sport; I've detested it and wanted to quit so many times, yet I played varsity softball for four years in high school (I was the pitcher oh, the stress) and I even played at Bryn Mawr for PE last spring. I love soccer more than anything. I also swam for a while and was on a diving team. I decided to take a break from sports, though, when I came to college. And I really miss soccer. A lot. And I suppose I miss pitching, too.

2. Respond/react to: Societies view of women and sport has changed significantly in the last 80 years. How do these changes impact women today and is the culture of sport still changing?

Well, clearly the changes influenced my life. I never knew a world where I wouldn't be allowed to play softball or soccer. It was just assumed that I was a kid and I should play so I could get some exercise. Like Tegan said, I feel I've benefited from the "strong woman" culture.

At the same time, it bothers me that my pitching instructor in high school needed three jobs, while various Cleveland Indians players spend millions on cars. I know complaining won't solve anything, but I wonder what the solution is. As much as the strong woman is appreciated, I think it's still more popular to be small and petite like a model, rather than healthy and well-built like a sportswoman. And that's sad.

The culture of sports is still changing a lot. Anyone else remember the little Women's World Cup scandal a few years ago when Brandi Chastain ripped her shirt off after scoring that winning goal? In soccer, male players usually rip their shirts off as a sign of victory when they score a goal. That's what Chastain was doing. But people threw a fit. The woman was wearing a sports bra and shorts (more clothes than all the Victoria Secrets models show), but people got really upset. I didn't get that. I mean, when she pulled her shirt off, I was almost in tears because I was so happy we won. And when I saw the photos from later, I remember looking at her arms for a while and thinking, "Wow! Look at those muscles! She's so cool." I don't know why people in this day of age got so upset.

My girlfriend read an article a few days ago in Newsweek. They had asked some sports guy (I don't remember his name) if he knew what would make women's soccer more popular. And this guy replied, "Tighter shorts." That makes me so angry. I mean, I look at Mia Hamm or Shannon MacMillan and I feel so amazed at what they can do. And then some silly person says something like that.

Sorry, I'll get off my high horse now. I guess I just think we have a long way to go and not just in sports.


Name:  Katie Aker
Username:  kaker@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Hi
Date:  2004-02-02 04:07:04
Message Id:  7895
Comments:
I'm Katie Aker and a freshman at Rhoads South. My interests lie in art history and creative writing.

In today's society, the media's portrayal of the 'perfect' woman is one that is fit and toned, crash diets and exercises. Sports are no exclusion to media stereotypes. As in the film, women were expected to still look feminine while having the playing capabilities of men. Women in sport are supposedly portrayed as an image of power and strength, when their sex appeal is usually more at the focus of the media than there talent. In this perspective I think that women in sport have many more societal barriers to cross before being fully appreciated for their talent, strength, and power.

However we have come a long way when it comes the availability of sports to women. Although there are still flaws, Title 9 has been doing its job for the most part: integrating women into the world of sport. With this equality also comes more pressure to be the perfect sports figure.

Another issue that needs to be addressed, not only for women in sports, but in the workplace is the income difference. Although there is supposed to be equality, men are stil being paid more than women for the same job, sometimes even done less efficiently than oif the woman would have been hired. In sport, women get paid less not only because of their employers, but because of the media. Women's sporting events usually do not get primetime coverage and even in high schools the mens events are seen as the main events. Society accepts that women's athletics are less than the men's by letting the media onslaught continue.

Although there have been major advances of women in sport and society, it is evident that in society, as well as athletis, there is still inequality and much more work to do for equality.


Name:  Jennifer Colella
Username:  jcolella@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Women in sports
Date:  2004-02-02 17:07:14
Message Id:  7901
Comments:
Hey, I'm Jen, and I'm a junior currently living in Erdman. I'm an English major, and a recovering chocoholic. I live in Connecticut (not too happy with that, but until graduation...).

I think the way women are perceived in sports has changed so much in the last century. I know I'm the product of a new feminine ideal. Granted, women are typically more accepted in bikini bathing suits than sport swim-gear, but it is also a generation with Ph.D. Barbie dolls (Barbie herself is a whole other issue for women) and sayings like "you go girl." Equality of women has a long way to go, but it is has come a long way yet.

Sports were instrumental in the battle of sexes. If a woman can run 26 miles or do the 800 meter dash without her uterus falling out, what's to stop her from running major corporations? If a woman can swim the English Channel faster than men with a more demanding stroke, what's to stop her from running the country? I think it was one thing for men to accept women into pink color jobs, not set so much against a women as a nurse or a personal assistant, but women in sports are ambitious, determined, and strong. They are a representation of just how many things women can do when given the option, and for the social world, the image of women in sports is a motivation to see strong women in other sectors of society.

Also, traditional notions of beauty can be called into question. The female that looks "masculine" because of muscle mass or acts "masculine" because of aggressive plays. The idea of sexuality is called into question, and I think this is a notion we, as a society, are just beginning to grapple with. The male athlete is all the more a heterosexual man (if it's true or not), but the female is suddenly a lesbian, and suddenly (whether it's true or not) that's a problem.

Sports becomes the ultimate, physical-contact battle of the sexes, so extreme in its physical manifestation of the dilemma it becomes the visual battlefield, and I think it will continue to be so.


Name:  ria banerjee
Username:  sbanerje@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  hey
Date:  2004-02-02 18:39:19
Message Id:  7905
Comments:
hi, my name is ria banerjee, i'm a sophomore English major, and i live in radnor.

to be perfectly honest, i know very little about women in sport... so i guess it's provident i'm doing this class! but in general terms, it's undoubtedly a good thing that women are no longer considered delicate fragile creatures who should be protected from the sun (ironically, while almost dying in tight corsets). i would love to know more about the specifics of this topic, however, before i venture a more detailed response.


Name:  kate
Username:  kamlin
Subject:  
Date:  2004-02-02 18:52:37
Message Id:  7906
Comments:
Hi, I'm Kate, I'm a sophmore (poli sci major, russian minor) in Radnor.

Since everyone else has written insightful comments on the evolution of gender equality in sports, and although I do agree that the opportunities for women in athletics have drastically impoved over the last century... I thought I'd bring up something new.

Title IX has caused problems for a lot of girls in my state (Michigan). A few years ago, pursuant to Title IX, the seasons for girls sports switched around...under the premise that switching things like basketball and volleyball seasons would give the girls the same opportunities as the boys. Many girls found that this policy drastically impaired their ability to play sports since, by switching seasons, they lost the majority of their practice time to male teams since practice space was limited. This resulted in less play time, and many girls lost their chances to be scouted for college teams. No there's a huge lawsuit to get the seasons switched back to what they were before this part of Title IX when into practice proving that this legislation, just like some others designed to help women gain equal opportunities, has actually impeded their progress.


Name:  Amy Campbell
Username:  acampbel@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  what are the questions that arise?
Date:  2004-02-03 14:15:08
Message Id:  7940
Comments:
Great comments by all-- it the 'conversation' does raise some intersting 'next questions". Has the enforcement of Title IX had some unintended consequences- aka Michigan... I'd also like to toss out (yes another sports metaphor..) how we define ourselves and who is an athlete? Do you consider yourself an athlete? athletic? and are we all athletes at one time or another? How can /do we think about our physical selves...what is the connection to the movies??
Name:  Julia F.
Username:  
Subject:  Comments
Date:  2004-02-04 18:24:36
Message Id:  7967
Comments:
I really don't know much about the consequences of Title IX, because my old school pretty much ignored it altogether. Men's Football got all the funding...nevermind our gymnastic team, which was incredibly good. Football got new equipment every year, while gymnastics was working on 10 year old equipment; not only was it unfair, but dangerous! But as I was reading Title IX, I realize that they must have known about it, maybe just recently though. For the first time ever, a guy was let onto the cheerleading squad. In previous years, guys had tried out and gotten voted in, but the administration thought that it was "unsuitable" for a male to be on the team. Maybe someone finally clued them in that it was against Title IX to do that! I don't know of any unintended consequences though.

I don't really consider myself an athlete, not for lack of interest though. I've tried tennis, soccor, fencing, but just, well, lacked the minimum required skill. Not only that, but I am incredibly accident prone. No matter what sport I have tried, I have managed to get injured in a remarkable short span of time.

So I would say that an athlete should at least have some athletic skill! Other than that, I say that it is up to the individual person to define themself as an athlete. I really don't have any preconceived notions of "the athlete."

I'm not really sure how we think about our physical selves, I also think that it is unique to each person.

I think that while sports movies concentrate (obviously) on sports, the underlying theme is to be comfortable and confident about who you are. Success in sports can translate for anyone into whatever they want it to be. Success in school, in business, in life. We do compare ourselves to the figures in sports movies, at least I do, and perhaps measure ourselves against the protagonists, but I never really considered the physical aspect, perhaps because I don't want to think about it!


Name:  Sarah
Username:  shalter@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Answer to 2nd Question
Date:  2004-02-05 00:52:06
Message Id:  7979
Comments:
I went to an all girls' school, so we never had any problem with sports. Rather, certain teams (like the softball team) were ignored for more popular sports (like lacrosse). But in terms of Title IX, I can't really answer the question.

I guess I would consider myself athletic because I played sports for so long and I enjoyed them. I'm not an athlete right now, though, because I haven't played since high school. I don't really know how to define an athlete. I mean, in golf you don't run around a field and kick a ball into a goal, but it still requires skill and power over your own body. So I wouldn't say someone who plays golf isn't an athlete. I think to be an athlete, you have to just try at a sport. You don't necessarily have to be good, you just need to try.

The movies are supposed to inspire people to try their best at anything they do and not only in sports. I like how sports movies exist where the main team doesn't win. The point is they did their best and tried. (Although I get upset at the end of A League of Their Own every time...)


Name:  Tegan.
Username:  ageorges@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Culture of Appearances
Date:  2004-02-05 01:57:55
Message Id:  7982
Comments:
I think one of the biggest unintended consequence of Title IX has been the slahing of men's sports teams by schools in an attempt to make the balance between men's and women's teams appear more equal... In these cases, it's not usually the popular men's teams--i.e., football--but the less popular ones: in doing so, it limits access to sports by both men and women: instead of creating a women's lacrosse team in addition to the men's, we'll just not have either...

I don't define myself as an athlete. I have always thought of the term "athlete" as applying to anyone with a kind of dedication to physical training and discipline, and while I have discipline in a lot of other realms of endeavor, the physical realm is not one of them.

Also, as far as connection to movies, we live in a society increasingly inundated with images in the media, through movies and television and the internet. As with all other kinds of mental processes, we define ourselves through our interactions with things and with people around us: women are especially encouraged to adapt themselves to visual images and ideals (perhaps having something to do with the idea that women are more capable of dealing in words and pictures than in numbers). Problem is, many of these images are abstractions, unattainable ideals that women are expected to emulate, or at the very least, want to emulate. And though there are increasingly positive visual portrayals of women in the media, there are still plenty less than positive ones, and with so much information to process, it's hard to know what will/should stick and what won't/shouldn't.


Name:  Jessica
Username:  jbourne@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-02-05 09:55:38
Message Id:  7986
Comments:
Great comments by all-- it the 'conversation' does raise some intersting 'next questions". Has the enforcement of Title IX had some unintended consequences- aka Michigan... I'd also like to toss out (yes another sports metaphor..) how we define ourselves and who is an athlete? Do you consider yourself an athlete? athletic? and are we all athletes at one time or another? How can /do we think about our physical selves...what is the connection to the movies??

I do think that Title IX had some unintended consquences-- most rulings do-- but I couldn't really say what they are, as I'm not familiar with it.

As for how we define who's an athlete-- I tend to think of an athlete as someone who enjoys sports, physical activity. I myself don't so, no, I don't consider myself an athlete. I don't think we are all athletes at one time or another-- some of us just never enjoy being active, like me, while others only enjoy certain sports, and others just enjoy being active and are happy doing whatever so long as they're doing something sport-like.

I think maybe one unintentional effect of the sports revolution for women is that now woman are almost expected to be active in some way. Play a sport, join a club, go to a gym. Something. And women like me... well, I feel sort of slugish sometimes. It's not like I sit around eating candy and not moving all day-- I lead a fairly active life and I eat well, but I still feel, occasionally, that I'm falling a little short because I don't make time to join a team or something. Which is, of course, the opposite of the view that used to be held.


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