Nov. 29, 2016
Hi everyone! Welcome back to another entry of sports related news and commentaries and of course where I voice out my opinions to you all. Today’s topic I want to talk about will be on the issue of gender representation and inequality in sports. But before I start, let me give you a bit of background on my experience of gender discrimination in sports. Sadly, this discrimination actually happened to me at a very young age. During my elementary school and early high school years, I really enjoyed playing sports and was on the track and field team. My grade 7 elementary school track and field team consisted of mostly boys and only a few girls. I remember this one statement that I received that hit my emotions hard and I wished I could’ve stood up for myself at that time. There was this one boy on the team who would make fun of me for running track. He said to me, “You aren’t fast enough to run track, why don’t you go back to playing dress-up or something.” The “young me” back then stayed silent and didn’t know how to retort back to that insult. The “me now” definitely would have said something back to him and to tell him what he said was wrong and that I have every right to run track no matter what gender I am! So since that early age, I have already experienced discrimination as a child playing sports. This is why I decided to talk about the issue of gender inequality in sports because I never got the chance to back then. I want to let girls and women know that we can be the best in anything we do! We shouldn’t let peoples’ words hurt us or bring us down. WE ARE STRONG AND POWERFUL WOMEN!
History: Sports and Women
In 1996, the coverage and representation of female athletes came into prominence through the shift in popular media. Women’s achievements in sports were beginning to be recognized by the world of athletics. BUT, many magazines continued to frame successful women in sports by focusing only on their appearances or body, instead of their athletic talents. (Couture, 2016, p. 124) Even today, there are still problems with the mainstream media portraying women playing sports in a sexual light. This is a major issue because sports are considered as an influential institution in many societies. There is a tremendous amount of people all around the world who plays and watches sports. Sporting events such as The Super Bowl and the World Cup hits over a billion views each year. (Corrigall-Brown, 2016, p.167) People are greatly exposed to this world of sports and athletics. The media coverage of sports can have a powerful influence on what we think and see. If the media continues to downplay the importance of women in sports, women will always be subjected to this terrible treatment of sexualization and harassment. Women should be able to freely play the sports they love without prejudice and being looked down upon.
Platform for Change: The Importance of New Media, Web 2.0 and Globalization
For each issue I will be discussing about, I will include a short section called “Platform for Change”. This will be my own little blurb on what I think we can do to bring awareness to this issue of gender inequality in sports. I feel that new media and the Web 2.0 plays a big role in the influencing and spreading of ideas, so I want to incorporate this as part of letting my readers know what we can do to reduce gender discrimination. Web 2.0, as some of you may know has great “emphasis on user interconnection, participation, and collaboration through social media usage, interactions, and platforms”(Pedersen, 2014, p.101). This is important because with social media and the emergence of Web 2.0, we are able to communicate our ideas and thoughts just like what I am doing with this blog! YOU as online audiences play an integral part in the “globalization process in receiving and dispatching communication, free of hitherto awkward constraints of time, space and technology” (Rowe, 2017, p.7) By this I mean that we as active audiences have the ability and technology to spread out positivity and to encourage others to be respectful to women and others in the sports industry. So after reading this blog entry, please try to speak out if you see gender discrimination happening in real life!
Now finally, let’s take a look at the 5 awful truths about women inequality in sports and what we can do to change this ridiculous unfairness!
1.Gender inequality – Yeah …we totally deserve to be paid half as much as men…
Why do women who play the same type of sports as men get paid less? Unfortunately, in the sporting world, this is quite common. Women in team sports are definitely underpaid compared to men. Their hardworking, strong capacities in sports are shut down by this type of gender pay discrimination. In a recent lawsuit, top female players accuse U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination. You go girls! They filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in order to speak out about the wage issue. The women’s team won many successful championships such as the Worlds and Olympics, yet they earn as little as 40% of what players on the men’s national team earned. The men’s soccer team were considered as mediocre and did not win as much championships, but they are paid so much more. The women’s team goalkeeper, Hope Solo speaks up and says, “The numbers speak for themselves … we are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships and the men’s players get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships” (Das, 2016)
Platform for Change: Stay strong!
Keep fighting for what you believe in. If you see an issue involving any type of gender discrimination, we should voice out our opinions and take it a step further by bringing it up to the public about this issue. We should stay strong and fearless and refuse to let others take us down if they are in the wrong.
2.Sexualizing the gaze – Wow look at her booty!
This is a common issue happening in sports – sexualizing and objectifying women. Instead of being praised for their athletic abilities, they are being looked at for how fit or how beautiful their bodies and face are. This refers back to the concept of ‘emphasized femininity’ in which “representations of strong, athletic women in sport are often purposefully staged in unnatural and/or overtly sexualized positions”(Currie et al., 2005). The media especially tends to focus on the aspect of sexualizing the female body. In the London 2012 Olympics, NBC sparks anger from viewers over the over-sexualized footage of female athletes. NBC created a controversial slow-motion video called Bodies in Motion featuring women athletes wearing minimal clothing. The broadcasting company also edits the video with soft-core porn sounding music playing the background. The video focuses on close up shots and clips of athletes’ breasts and rear. Viewers are outraged at how the video objectifies and portrays women as sexual fantasies in sports. The network also comes under fire for portraying an “ overwhelming notion that ‘Olympic bodies are at their most noteworthy when they’re female, (mostly) white, stereotypically feminine, and thin” (Fleming, 2016)
Platform for Change: Embrace your body!
We should embrace our body, but we should show them that our talents are worth more than our looks! If we feel uncomfortable, we know there is something wrong. Women should feel safe in an environment, instead of being catcalled or experiencing crude comments. We should be free to wear what we want and not be judged.
3. Sexist Treatment – Yes, Mitch Unrein’s wife is amazing for winning gold …..
When Corey Cogdell won the Olympics medal for her Rio triumph in sharp shooting, how did the Chicago Tribune tweet the win? The newspaper referred to Corey Cogdell’s win for her medal as the “wife of Bears linesman”. (Bryant, 2016) Corey, being the strong, powerful amazing woman she is slams down this sexist treatment of female athletes and states:
“I definitely understand that people want equality for women and that we should be recognized for our own accomplishments and attributes outside of who we’re married to or what our husband’s or significant others have accomplished.”
Her comment gathered tons of supporters and many tweeted out in support of her:
Platform for Change: Stand Up for Yourself!
If someone says something that is rude or demeaning, we got to call them out. To create change, we need to stand up for ourselves! Don’t be afraid to speak out. My younger self back then was afraid to confront the sexist comment made towards me, but now I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in.
4. Negative Connotations of Women in Sports – Look so slow, he runs just like a girl!
Retrieved from: https://s-media-cache ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c8/43/59/c84359b60f0e676a5b64c6ddd162f349.jpg
Women has made tremendous strides and breakthroughs in the athletics world, but there is still the dominant stereotypes that they have to face such as the role of gender and how women has to be the submissive, weaker sex. Gender roles such as how women are “supposed to be emotional and fulfill the role of caretaker and mother.” (Cotrell et al.,2006) Women are also subjected to negative connotations of phrases that people will say such as “So slow, he runs just like a girl!”, “Shouldn’t you be home playing with dolls, instead of getting yourself dirty playing baseball?” Not only these scenarios, but also women in sports are subjected to Internet ridicule. People create memes that degrade women’s status in sports. Memes are “a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way” (dictionary.com, 2016) Below are some examples of negative memes I found in regards to women in sports:
Platform for Change: Stay true to yourself!
Don’t let what others say bother you. Keep being the beautiful self you are! If people don’t recognize your worth, don’t mind them and succeed for yourself, not for what others think. If we see these types of negative memes being circulated, we should not share it!
5. Finally, Less Recognition in Women’s Sports
Another growing issue is the lack of recognition for women in sports. Women are increasingly participating in more and more sports, but they are still not getting the praise and recognition they deserve. For example, in the Olympic games, women are being admitted to more previously designated ‘male’ type sports, yet there are not a lot of media coverage upon these athletic events that they participate in. (Hartmann-Tews, 2003, p.1) Even when you look at sporting magazines and newspapers, women are rarely seen on any covers. And when they are on magazine covers, they are sexualized such as the ESPN picture above showing some of the women wearing tight and revealing clothing with the headline caption saying, “How hot is too hot?” Another example is a tweet of a user’s daughter counting out sportsmen vs. sportswomen in the Guardian newspaper. Shockingly, there were 127 pictures of men and only 1 picture of a woman.
Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/RabbleChorus/status/527039237192159232/photo/1
Platform for Change: Break the Boundaries
There are people out there who think you can’t make it to the top. But, YOU can prove them wrong. Be proud of who you are. Keep training your best and show them who’s boss! Women deserve to have more recognition!
Thanks for taking time to read my blog entry! 🙂
Bryant, M. (2016, August 10). Olympic medal winner Corey Cogdell slams the sexist treatment of female athletes after being described as ‘the wife of an NFL player’ in reports about her Rio triumph. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3733467/Olympic-medal-winner-Corey-Cogdell-slams-sexist-treatment-female-athletes-described-wife-NFL-player-reports-Rio-triumph.html
Couture, J. (2016). Triathlon Magazine Canada and the (re)construction of female sporting bodies. Sociology of Sport Journal, 33(2), 124-134.
Corrigall-Brown, C. (2016). Imagining sociology: An introduction with readings. Don Mills, Ontario, Canada: OUP Canada.
Das, A. (2016, March 31). Top Female Players Accuse U.S. Soccer of Wage Discrimination. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/01/sports/soccer/uswnt-us-women-carli-lloyd-alex-morgan-hope-solo-complain.html
Fleming, O. (2012, August 9). ‘Porn music’, slow motion and ‘too many close-ups’: NBC sparks anger from viewers over sexualized footage of female athletes at the Olympics. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2186262/Olympics-2012-NBC-viewers-angry-sexualized-footage-female-athletes-porn-music.html
Hartmann-Tews, I., Pfister, G., & MyiLibrary. (2003). Sport and women: Social issues in international perspective. New York;London;: Routledge.
Hoiness, A. R., & Weathington, B. L. (2006). Perceptions of Female Athletes Based on Observer Characteristics. Athletic Insight The Online Journal of Sport Psychology.
Kelly, D.M., Pomerantz, S., & Currie, D. (2005). Skater Girlhood and emphasized femininity: ‘You can’t land an ollie properly in heels’. Gender and Education, 17(3), 229–248. doi:10.1080/09540250500145163
meme. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 6, 2016 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/meme
Pederson, P.M. (2014). The Changing Role of Sports Media Producers. In A.C. Billings & M. Hardin (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Sport and New Media (pp.101-120). New York: Routledge.
Rowe, D. & Hutchins, B. (2014). Globalization and Online Audiences. In A.C. Billings & M. Hardin (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Sport and New Media (pp.7-17). New York: Routledge.