Media Representatin of Women in Sport

Topics: Maria Sharapova, Gender, Female Pages: 6 (2268 words) Published: August 9, 2011
Major Essay
Current society is built upon stereotypes and constructions that are predetermined by previous generations’ views. One of the most recognised historical constructions is the patriarchal theory, that the female is subservient to the male. However, this construction of gender power is slowly equalising, with the rise of feminist groups in the latter part of the 20th century giving reason for this occurring. Nevertheless, gender battles are still occurring, particularly in the sporting industry, which remains male dominated. Female sport has been given much notoriety over their uproar in the past decade, but is finding in a male controlled industry it is difficult for women to receive help from governing bodies. Female sport is marginalised compared to male sport, largely due to the sexualisation of the athletes themselves. Professionally they are receiving very little media coverage in comparison to males and in an amateur sense; females are being stereotyped as a result of the images of ‘athletic’ sexualised women displayed in magazines such as Zoo, Sports Illustrated and Alpha. The media has evolved female sport into sexually appealing entertainment and doesn’t give the sports that have not been sexualised, enough coverage. (Maria Sharapova Bikini)

The media have constructed their own image of what a female athlete ultimately looks like by posting images in their magazines, “characteristics favoured in visual media are those commonly associated with feminine beauty, such as smiling, unblemished skin, slender and toned physique, and long blonde hair” (Schell n.d.). Maria Sharapova pictured below is the perfect example, and even though she isn’t the number one female tennis player and hasn’t been for some time, she is still one of the most popular and most followed players in the women’s circuit, she was the highest paid female athlete in the world come 2006, earning more from endorsements than prize money (Carr 2006). We see in Australia the sexualisation of sports like Netball, where women in the ANZ Championship wear skin tight, short dresses to play, making it appealing to male audiences. We often see at the Australian Open, similar length dresses or skirts that leave little to the imagination. Venus Williams sent the media into frenzy in 2010 with her skin colour underwear visible as soon as she moved around the court, to which she designed herself (Eurosport 2010). Tennis uniforms are becoming a fashion statement more and more every year, which is always judged by the media when someone wears something even slightly risky or sexy. Anna Kournikova was the pioneer in making tennis ‘sexy’ with her risqué photographs in the magazine Sports Illustrated (Cover pictured below). Former tennis player and feminist rights activist Billie Jean King gave a response to the Anna Kournikova Sport illustrated photographs with this, “It doesn't bother me at all if some of the guys come out to watch women's tennis because they want to see a beautiful woman. Who could hold that against Anna? Still, it's unfortunate when others with a high skill factor don't win the endorsements. Sure, the good-looking guys get more endorsements, but the difference in men's sports is that the ugly ones get their share, too.”(Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles 2000) In America, ‘sexploitation’ is taken to another level at a professional level, particularly in the sports of wrestling and in the gridiron league Lingerie Football League. In these competitions, females wear very little, going down to the bare minimum. Pictured below is an image of the Lingerie Football League, clearly the uniforms

(Lingerie Football League 2009)(Anna Kournikova 2000)
leave little to be desired, but are used to entertain to a male dominated audience. These sports are both considered to be female sports in their own right, but we also see the sexualisation of women in male sports, particularly in professional sides in the form...
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