Archive | October, 2010

Julia Archibald Holmes

28 Oct

On August 4, 1858, Holmes became the first woman* to climb Pikes Peak, as well as the first woman to climb a mountain over 14,000 feet high. It was another 23 years before a woman climbed another peak that high.

Holmes’s adventure began when her new husband and several miner trekked over 500 miles from Lawrence, Kansas to the Central City gold fields. She first saw the peak June 28, 1858 and wrote about her first sighting. She said:

“This day we obtained the first view of the summit of the Peak, now some seventy miles away. As all expected to find precious treasure near this wonderful Peak, it is not strange that our eyes were often strained by gazing on it. The summit appeared majestic in the distance, crowned with glistening white.”

Holmes was 20 years old at the time and climbed the mountain wearing bloomers, which was considered a great scandal at the time. Bloomers were a symbol of women’s liberation at the time, comparable to a woman burning her bra in the 1970s.

It took four days to reach the summit. Holmes and her husband continued on their journey. They didn’t find any gold and moved to New Mexico, where they spent several years. Holmes is a known abolitionist and suffragette.

*In some of my research, Holmes was described as the first white woman to ever climb Pikes Peak, but I could find no record of a woman of color climbing the mountain before her. If anyone has more information on this, I’d love to here it!




A Common Stereotype

28 Oct

While conducting research for a study on cultural definitions of female athletes, I found one of the most common misperceptions of female athletes is that they are all lesbians. This belief is fueled by the cultivated idea that female athletes to too aggressive, too muscular, too masculine. Essentially, female athletes are accused of suffering from a severe case of what is typically called “penis envy” because they play “men’s games.”

It’s no secret that men and women are not treated equally in athletics, but why has our culture decided that the sexuality of female athletes is an important mode of defining the female athlete as a whole? Sexuality is rarely, if ever, part of the media coverage male athletes receive.

The way I see it, the stereotyping of female athletes as (again, stereotyped) lesbians is a way of explaining  and dismissing their talents. The idea of a woman being gifted athletically is waved away, since now, instead of their talent being attributed to hard work and dedication, it is their closeted masculinity that makes them great.

Vincent’s Hope for Equality

26 Oct

I just finished John Vincent’s article, “Equitable Media Coverage of Female and Male Athletes: Is There a Solution?

In his article, Vincent gauges the media coverage of both sexes using several factors. These include: the amount of coverage for “acceptable” female sports (such as gymnastics) and “unacceptable” female sports (field hockey, for example).

The nature of acceptance for a sport a woman plays is directly correlated to the societal norms of femininity. Sports that maintain feminine qualities in an athlete receive more media attention than sports where the woman’s athleticism is considered culturally “masculine.”

Another factor was the hypersexualized or otherwise demeaning portrayal of female athletes when they do receive coverage. Portrayal of the athletes in this way cancels out any coverage otherwise intended to be positive.

Vincent also gauges coverage by studying that of male athletes, where their athletic prowess is revered, and they are not objectified.

Vincent concludes that media is largely responsible for shaping the beliefs of adults and parents who go on to pass such beliefs to their children. Impressionable youth adopt these media portrayals of gender through their parents and through the media, perpetuating the cycle of discrimination for another generation. Also in his conclusion, Vincent encourages parents to expose their daughters to a healthy lifestyle, encouraging female athleticism and minimal consumption of fast food.

While Vincent’s guidelines for working towards more equitable media coverage were good and realistic, I was a bit disappointed by his conclusion. I agree that media shapes the opinions of the consumer, and such opinions reach younger consumers through their parents. Vincent’s suggestion to expose daughters to athletic role models and encourage female strength and athleticism was also good.

What disappointed me was that, according to his conclusion, young males do not need to learn this same information. The merits of female athleticism and more positive coverage cannot happen without help from the dominant group, in this case men. Like in most cases of oppression: white privilege, heterosexual privilege, etc., the dominant group is unaware of the oppressive cycle. It is of vital importance that both sexes, especially men, receive the proper cultural conditioning that could enforce a more equal society.

Women in Sumo

22 Oct

I read a recent article in NY Times about how promoters have been fighting to get sumo wrestling included in the Olympic games. It hasn’t been added in the past because the sport is not typically played by both sexes, a requirement for an Olympic sport since 1994.

Some sumo enthusiasts are against including women because it deviates from the traditions and history of the sport. This got me curious, when did women start sumo wrestling?

Initially, women were banned from even watching sumo because their presence was thought to desecrate a sacred Samurai ritual. It wasn’t until 1873 that women were allowed to attend matches.

Despite the banned from being a viewer, women were known to sumo wrestle as early as the 1700s. This was typically performed in conjunction to prostitution, where the women would wrestle topless with other women or with a blind man.

Because some of the women were talented, tournaments reached Tokyo until they were banned for being “immoral” in 1744. Matches still took place in other areas of Japan, as well as Hawaii.

Women’s sumo matches were completely banned in 1926. To this day, women sumo wrestling is considered a taboo subject among traditional sumo enthusiasts because of its links to prostitution.

Some facts on sumo wrestling:

  • A typical round only lasts a few seconds.
  • The circle the wrestling takes place in is only 4.55 meters (approx. 15 ft.) in diameter.
  • There are 87 canonic techniques used during a match, with more than 700 possible combinations of moves.
  • Sumo wrestling can be traced back to around 900 A.D.

So, what do you think, should sumo wrestling be the next Olympic sport?

Top Paid Athletes

21 Oct

The world’s highest paid female athletes are:

Maria Sharapova-She earned $24.5 million last year.

Serena Williams-$20.2 million

Venus Williams-$15.4 million

Danica Patrick-$12 million

Kim Yu-Na-$9.7 million

And here are the top 5 male athletes’ salaries for the previous year.

Tiger Woods: $110 Million

Kobe Bryant: $45 Million

David Beckham: $42 Million

LeBron James: $40 Million

Phil Mickelson: $40 Million

What does this say about our society that there is such a discrepancy in the earnings of equally talented athletes? What needs to change before males and females earn equal pay and equal media representation? You tell me. I’d love to hear your insights.

Cheryl Miller

21 Oct

Miller was born in Riverside, California January 3, 1962. When in high school, she helped her basketball team earn 132-4 record. Miller was the first basketball player, male or female, to be named “All-American” by Parade four times. Still in high school, she averaged 32.8 points and 15 rebounds a game. In a game against Norte Vista High School her senior year, Miller scored 105 points.

Sports Illustrated reported that Miller could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one. In 1988, she did: 7-11.

Miller played forward at the University of Southern California. She scored 3,018 career points, ranking her fifth in NCAA history.

She was part of the U.S. teams that won gold medals in the Olympics in 1984, Pan American Games in 1983 and the Goodwill Games in 1986.

After graduating from college in 1986, Miller was drafted by several professional teams, but due to knee injuries in the late ’80s, she did not continue to play. USC retired her number, 31, in 1986.

Miller worked as an assistant basketball coach at USC from 1986-1991 and became head coach in 1993, when the previous head coach was fired. She coached two seasons at USC, then four seasons with WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. With them, she also served as the general manager. In 1998, the Mercury went to the WNBA finals, where they lost against the Houston Comets. In 2000, Miller resigned.

Miller worked at a sportscaster. From 1987-1993, she was a reporter for “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” She commentated on the 1994 Goodwill Games. Miller is also a sideline reporter for TNT’s Thursday night sports.

Sports Bras

14 Oct

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s breast cancer awareness month, and a good sports bra is an absolute must for the comfort and prevention of breast problems in female athletes. So here are some tips on shopping for a good sports bra, courtesy of

  • Figure out what sports you will be playing. For example, a yoga bra requires far less support than a running bra.
  • A good sports bra is made from materials designed to move moisture away from the skin, such as CoolMax and Drylete.
  • Seams are also important. Look for rolled edges and off-center stitching. These minimize chafing.
  • Try them on! Tip: when you find one that seems to fit well, jog in place for a few seconds. It should minimize movement without twisting and bunching.

Hazzah! You found the perfect bra! Keep it in good condition by washing it in cold water and letting it air dry. Overall, the elastic should last about 75 washes.