By Sarah Copeland
I apologize for the continual blog posts about women representation. But there are just so many issues that need to be addressed! I always considered myself a feminist while I viewed my sister as an extreme feminist. I think that my Race, Gender, and the Media course is making me more and more like my sister after every class. I now have more heated discussions with my boyfriend concerning the topics we discuss in class. I know he plays the devil’s advocate sometimes when we discuss topics such as women’s roles in the media, but I now get more carried away and angry at the points he makes. Now I want to address something that isn’t deniable: Women and sports.
Here’s something that was pointed out in class the other day: most television sports news centers focus solely on men’s sports rather than women’s. Think about the last thing you saw covered on television about sports. It was probably football or men’s basketball or probably even hockey. Heck, even other countries’ men’s soccer is on television at sports bars rather than women’s sports. Do you realize how fantastic our women’s soccer team is or how great our women league plays basketball?
Another point made was that the women’s sports that are shown tend to be things like volleyball where the women’s uniforms consist of a sports bra and tiny, booty shorts. I know I previously wrote about the Rio Olympics but let’s consider the games again. Which gained more media coverage: Men’s swimming or women’s? Women’s gymnastics or men’s? Women’s sand volleyball or men’s? Those should be easy to answer: men’s swimming, women’s gymnastics, and women’s sand volleyball. Isn’t it interesting that the sports that show women in the most revealing uniforms are the most popular? Yet, when it comes to actual talent, men’s sports are depicted more in the media. People constantly point out sexism in sports such as this article from Some News.
It’s all in the wording. Why are male athletes depicted as great for who they are, yet female athletes are described along with something feminine that takes the glory away from them? Sarah Grieves from a Cambridge team studying these differences says, “We found things like men being described as fastest, strong, biggest. For women, it’s unmarried, married, references to their age. There is an inequality there.” This comes from a New York Times article titled “Sure, these women are winning Olympic medals, but are they single?” This points out the fundamental problem: we only care specifically about what male athletes accomplish based on their skills with no side comment. Whereas a female athlete might have won a medal, but she must have been coached by someone great, married to someone better or some other fact that basically overshadows her accomplishment.
It surprises me that I never really noticed how men’s sports were mainly covered on the news. I go to physical therapy twice a week where they consistently have a sports channel on the TV. It wasn’t until after this class that I noticed women’s sports was rarely ever covered by that news channel. Why does this happen? Don’t women athletes work just as hard as male athletes? Will athletic sexism ever end?