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Women in sports judged on looks more than ability.
September 14, 2000 1:52 AM   Subscribe

Women in sports judged on looks more than ability. That's all well and good, but her remedy of "genuine equality in sports at all levels" rings hollow with me.
posted by owillis (16 comments total)

 
Didja know that all the Olympics women's volleyball tickets have been sold out; unlike the male volleyball.
Don't ask me how I know.
posted by Neale at 2:14 AM on September 14, 2000


Many of these famous female athletes are actively and happily promoting the "looks are more important" meme themselves, participating in eroticized photo shoots, exploiting their bodies for fame and money. (Not that there aren't some men doing the same thing, of course.)
posted by aaron at 7:26 AM on September 14, 2000


More pie in the sky idealism from the author. I can think of at least two trends to help explain this that the author didn't even take the time to summarily dismiss:
1) Men are judged by their looks too in sports.
2) Most paying sports customers are men still.

Is it any wonder that advertisers and media types are still pandering to their audience?
posted by norm at 7:46 AM on September 14, 2000


I like the way the article helps make the psychologist's point by using a picture of Anna Kournikova instead of Mary Pierce.
posted by dogwelder at 9:41 AM on September 14, 2000


Women's Volleyball: Didja know that the female players have been attempted for months to win the right to wear compression shorts while playing, or at least to have the chance to wear what works best for the sport?

According to the volleyball association rules, and olympic rules, female volleyball players must wear bikinis, that have not more than 6" of fabric over the hip. Didja know that the decision to keep the ruling was based on using sex appeal to attract viewers, rather than athletic prowess?



posted by kristin at 2:42 PM on September 14, 2000


The only obvious problem that I can see here is that "genuine equality" really means that women would compete directly with men. And I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon. Not that I would object if it did. And isn't all idealism "pie in the sky"? Isn't it a good idea to have something to aim for? A world in which we all get on with each other? No? I guess most people just prefer to sit around in there comfortable middle class homes and snear.
posted by davidgentle at 5:30 PM on September 14, 2000


I think there's another side to this story that shouldn't be overlooked. Women athletes have helped change the standard of beauty, too. Whereas just a generation ago, a woman entering the Boston Marathon was forcefully ejected from the race, as if it were somehow undecorous for a woman to run, or that it would distract the men, nowadays athletic women are admired and provide role models for young girls.

I think we're well beyond the point where we have to pretend that sex appeal has nothing to do with professional athletics. The women who've done those photo layouts or whatever are also trying to enhance their saleability to sponsors, which especially in the individual sports, is the only way to be able to do it.

And to say that women are exercising to look good instead of for their health ... well, jeez, how many MEN are exercising for their freaking health? That's contextless and pointless.
posted by dhartung at 5:48 PM on September 14, 2000


DavidGentle's "genuine equality" arrived years ago.

There are two sports in the Olympics where women and men compete together equally for a single set of medals, where they compete against each other, where there are not separate "women's medals" and "men's medals" but just medals for the sport.

Let see if anyone can guess what they are. I'll post the answer later.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:44 PM on September 14, 2000


There are three - equestrian, shooting, and yachting.
posted by the webmistress at 7:25 PM on September 14, 2000


I take your point about those sports. I didn't know abou them (because they are fairly obscure). But at what point will we have a total equality 100m? I would have thought that broad usage of storoids and more futuristic technologies would make it a possibility. How many current female athletes would want to compete in the mens version of their sport?
posted by davidgentle at 8:29 PM on September 14, 2000


> How many current female athletes would want to compete in the mens version of their sport? <

any of them, if they thought they could win.

I think women athletes *are* promoting themselves as sexy girls, and I think that's because the stigma has always been that if you're athletic you're "boyish". women want to be recognised as being attractive not in spite of, but because of, their athletic abilities (and by extension the well-toned machine of a body that gives them that prowess.) I have no problem with that.

the point of the article still stands (at least to me): women are being highlighted by the media based, not on "she's an athlete, and boy is she sexy" but on "she's sexy and, oh, also an athlete" (based on more conventional standards of beauty).

sort of the difference between "she's so smart and I think that's so sexy" and "she's really a babe, even though she got has a law degree."

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 9:00 PM on September 14, 2000


I don't doubt that, Rebecca. But it remains that a huge majority of those media "look at that hot babe" pieces are based on the "look how sexy I am" actions of female athletes themselves. They pose for the photos, wear clothing designed to show off their bodies when they can (i.e. the Williams sisters and Kournikova during Tennis matches), make eroticism-laced commercials and print ads for the products they hawk, etc. If you consider the article's argument to be legitimate, then many female athletes have to shoulder at least some of the blame.

>>But at what point will we have a total equality 100m? I would have thought that broad usage of storoids and more futuristic technologies would make it a possibility.<<

Steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs are banned in most organized sports. (Whether they should be is up for debate, I think, but they are, and I doubt that's going to change anytime soon.) So that's not gonna happen. And even if we did finally come up with something that would allow women to run as fast as men in the 100m, and it were allowed to be used, it would probably make the women's bodies look so bizarre, overly bloated with extra muscle mass and such, that few would want to make use of it.
posted by aaron at 10:03 PM on September 14, 2000



Of course they would compete if they thought they could win but so would I. (Should I set up a "genetically challenged" league? Maybe that's the answer. Set up leagues for everyone so that everyone can be a winner.) My point was that right now it's just not going to happen. Does anyone actually disagree with that specific point?
posted by davidgentle at 7:01 PM on September 15, 2000


The WebMistress tops me, because I didn't know about yachting.

Dressage is particularly interesting because it also permits handicapped people. An amputee competed in it once. I'm sure the other sports permit handicapped participation, but there's really no way they could qualify in most cases. Seems to me like a leg amputee could compete in shooting, though, since they shoot prone.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:18 PM on September 15, 2000


>>Should I set up a "genetically challenged" league? Maybe that's the answer. Set up leagues for everyone so that everyone can be a winner.<<

Somebody beat you to it.
posted by aaron at 11:33 PM on September 15, 2000



Yeah but I don't see a category for "short guy that can't be bothered to excercise". And their definition of special isn't just about genetics is it?
posted by davidgentle at 6:29 PM on September 16, 2000


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