Mariah Burton Nelson: Standing Tall for Women's Rights

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In Mariah Burton Nelson’s article I Won, I’m Sorry, the relationship between women and athleticism is put into perspective. Athletes fight to dominate while a feminine woman fights to appear nonthreatening and beautiful. Female athletes must battle to display a balance between these two different worlds. Nelson reveals the struggles of a woman attempting to establish herself as a fearsome competitor while maintaining a feminine grace in order to gain the acceptance of the public and more importantly, the opposite sex.

As a former professional basketball player, Nelson is all too familiar with the female athlete’s battle to earn respect as a force to be reckoned with, without betraying the qualities of an elegant lady. She traces her claims as far back in history as the forties and fifties, discussing the commonness of dress codes being enforced on female athletes, even going as far as following championships with beauty competitions. From Nelson’s perspective, it seems to be a way of demonstrating vulnerability so as to accommodate male superiority, an everlasting tradition that shows no signs of fading away. As if it is not enough for women to avoid wearing heels to prevent being taller than their husbands, Nelson provides evidence that female athletes will sometimes go as far as expressing apologetic behavior for their “‘masculine’ strivings” in order to preserve acceptance as a genuine feminine woman (Nelson 572). The athletes cannot display their desire to go out and win without appearing aggressive and unladylike, so they might compensate by being featured in the media modeling for makeup ads or squeezing into revealing swimsuits and posing in vulnerable positions to depict themselves as the weaker sex. Nelson expresses her distaste for the division between femininity and athleticism throughout the article, arguing that if men can retain their respect even after displaying recklessness during competition, women should not be discredited for showing the...
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