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The War Against Men

4 Dec

On my usual hunt for ideally eye-opening material to share and discuss here, I type in the typical variations of feminism and athletics. Lucky me, I find an article that catches my eye, “The Feminists Continue Their War Against Men.”

Immediately I am intrigued by the use of language. It is a common misconception in society that feminism is a war against manhood. It is a battle, but not against the male sex. Feminists fight against the conditioned beliefs in the inferiority of women prevalent in society.

Furthermore, the title of this article suggest a men vs. women stance. Who says men cannot be feminists? The negative associations with being a feminist cause people to deny their desire for equality. This stigma stalls a lot of progress.

I disagree with a lot of the so-called logic of this article, but to let you judge for yourself, here’s an excerpt.

“This year’s spectacular Rose Bowl game attracted a phenomenal 35.6 million viewers because it featured what we want: rugged men playing football and attractive women cheering them on. Americans of every class, men and women, remained glued to their television sets, and nearly 95,000 spectators watched from the stands.The runaway success of this game proved again that stereotypical roles for men and women do not bother Americans one bit. Political correctness lost out as all-male teams battled and women cheered.It’s too bad that male sports are being eliminated on most college campuses. Except for Texas, USC, and a few other places, radical feminism rules in the athletic departments at the expense of popular male sports.”

Wow right? I know a couple studies that might better inform the author of the “pleasant equality” that exists in the world of today’s athletics.

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The “Female Factor”

18 Nov

Question: What does the “female factor” even mean? Let’s ask the New York Times.

For the past few days, I’ve been checking the sports page of the Times website, and I’ve seen a maximum of two articles about women’s athletics posted under this category.

First of all, I had to dig for these articles, located towards the bottom of the page, just above the older article written in small, forgettable type.

Second of all and again, what do they mean by female factor? Well, I did the unoriginal thing and looked up both these words in the dictionary.

Female: a person who belongs to the sex that can have babies

Factor: component: an abstract part of something

So, if we’re to interpret “female factor” literally, the NY Times suggests through these words that female athletes are 1) First and foremost baby-makers and 2) An abstract part of the sporting world, apart from the more “concrete” concept of male athleticism.

From someone who often looked to the NY Times for serious, relatively unbiased journalism, I am so disappointed to see such flagrant discrimination of female athletics.

I may sound overly dramatic, but how many of us trust the Times almost unconditionally with our news? Take into consideration how easily media affects us, affects today’s youth. Female athletics need to be promoted as more than just a blip, a “factor,” in this already sexist world.

What the Kids are Learning

4 Nov

I was searching for information about athletic “Battles of the Sexes,” and I found an article on a site called Kidzworld. Poor spelling aside, I skimmed the article for valuable insights on the topic. I was intrigued that a kid-oriented site was talking about historical elements of “battles of the sexes.”

I somehow assumed this site promoted equal gender representation and shared my views that these “battles” are often necessary for female athletes to prove that 1) They respect their chosen sport and 2) are just as athletically talented as male athletes.

I get towards the end of the article, which up until then wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I thought it could have possibilities if backed up with other sources. So I started reading the comments on the article. This was the first comment, which I originally thought was the article’s conclusion.

“Obviously boys are better at just about everything. It’s complete nature that they are. Sure some girls are better than some boys, but the best boy is always better than the best girl. That’s just the way the world works. Even in dancing, there are few of them but the boys are better. Why do you think no one watches women sports? It’s been said that a state champion boys HIGH SCHOOL soccer team could beat the U.S. women’s soccer team from the World Cup. That’s just how things work.”

After I got over the initial shock of this statement, my jaw dropped a second time when I saw this comment was posted by a girl. I’m truly devastated to see that someone at such an impressionable age group has these feelings.

Clearly someone has been conditioning the writer of this comment to believe that women are this inferior to men. If parents continue to enforce these beliefs, female athletes will never receive equitable media coverage (if not in quantity, then quality) to what male athletes receive.

This comment just goes to show that sexism is not an outdated concept, nor is it a problem likely to be solved in my lifetime. Humanity must continue to make strides for equality with the understanding that reversing hundreds, if not thousands of years of oppression takes time.

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.

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.

African American Women and Sports

15 Sep

I just read Donna Lopiano’s article, “Gender Equity and the Black Female Sport.” When a member of a culturally dominant group, sometimes you forget that others groups are fighting for equality. Yes, it’s difficult for women to find a place in the sporting community, but African American women face an even bigger struggle. Here is some of what I learned from Lopiano’s article.

  • less than 35% of all high school athletes are women
  • less than 34% of all college athletes are women
  • male athletes receive $179 million more in athletic scholarships each year than their female counterparts
  • collegiate institutions spend 24% of the athletic operating budgets, 16% of their recruiting budgets and 33% of the scholarship budgets on female athletes
  • less than 1% of all coaches of men’s teams and less than 46% of all coaches of women’s teams are female
  • African-American females represent less than 5% of all high school athletes
  • less than 10% of all college athletes
  • less than 2% of all coaches
  • less than 1% of all college athletics administrators

These statistics are troubling. Lopiano goes on to describe how these numbers can be improved with adjustments to “engineer change.” No doubt about it. Change needs to happen.

Sports Reporting

15 Sep

While researching topics for this blog, I decided to plug in various combinations of my topic into Google. The first link after typing in “female, sports” was and article called “World’s Hottest Female Sports Reporters.” And, like magic, there’s my topic.

Sports continue to be male-dominated. So does sports reporting. Women seem to have much more to prove as sports writers than men. Largely, they have to prove that they are journalists first and women second. Even if they do that and do it beautifully though, they will always be known as a female sports reporter. I feel like this connotes a sense that only men can be “purebred” sports reporters. Women will always be the less desirable mutt.

Back to the article. The title alone suggests that these women are not professionals, that physical appearance is more important (as a FEMALE journalist) than being a talented writer.

You think I’m overreacting, that the article discusses these women’s jobs and the fact that they are role-models to girls who want to break the glass ceiling? Well, read these quotes from the post.

“For the most part, these women are articulate and knowledgeable about sports. But for the most part, men don’t care. Boobies! Boobies! Boobies!”

“Erin Andrews hard at work makes me hard at work!”

To be fair, this wasn’t an article in the NY Times. It was meant to be funny. Still, the sporting world is hard enough for women without men undermining our professionalism by reducing us to our “boobies.”