Sexualization and Trivialization of Female Athletes
AP Literature and Composition
5 December 2014
Media Representation and Sexualization of Female Athletes Through Visual, Verbal, and Written Commentary Six time U.S. Open champion. Highest-earning woman athlete of all time. Currently ranked No. 1 in the world. Posed naked on the cover of a magazine and in a bikini for several others, downsized to nothing more than a sexy body. This is the sad reality of this star tennis player, Serena Wiliams, along with many other female athletes in the world today. Sexualization and minimization of female athletes and women’s sports in mass media is an unfortunate trend that continues to occur in the sports world. Especially in sports like tennis and volleyball, the accomplishments and athleticism of stars like Anna Kournikova and Brandi Chastain are down-sized, with the only focus being on their “golden and sleek” bodies or their “tantalizing short skirts and tight tops” (Fuller 177). The language used by television and radio commentators as well as the ‘sexy’ covers of magazines and photo shoot spreads minimizes females to pure sex objects and nothing more. While many seem to note that this is unfair and plain wrong and few have even made attempts to stop it, the media continues to marginalize these women; this includes tactics such as having athletes pose naked and in physically attractive clothing to detract from their athleticism, limiting their television airtime to about 5 percent, gender-marking, and using ambivalent diction to portray the women as, in general less powerful, skilled, and successful as their male counterparts.
Up to the present time, women’s involvement in sports took a very long time to develop. Prior to the first suggestion of women’s participation in athletics in 1870, opportunities for competitive physical activities were very limited for women. Activities were recreational and emphasized physical activity such as horseback riding, swimming, and showboating, playing a
Cited: Bell, Richard C. "A History of Women in Sport Prior to Title IX." The Sport Journal (2008): n. pag. 14 Mar. 2008. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.