Sexualisation of Women in Sport
Discuss what it means when theorists suggest that there has been an increasing sexualisation of sportswomen (2 marks).
In the society today, children are brought up knowing that sports are meant for men. The boys grow up knowing that the sports world is significant only to them and that it therefore defines their masculinity. Sports and being feminine are conflicted ideals in the modern society. Women participating in sport are compared to men and they end up being subordinated. Sporting displays of the women in sport do not concentrate on their fitness as they do for men, but rather they are just posed in sensual manners. Women being featured in sports magazines and printouts are not shown in their fields of play but they are posed to display less clothing than normal. It has been observed that coaches encourage their female sportspersons to add on make up and make themselves ‘sexier’ before going on the field of play apparently to make them get funding and to increase their visual appeal (Horne, Tomlinson, & Whannel 1999).
The media has increased the number of sexual images of women in sports that they deliver to the people. Apparently, media house and sports organizations encourage this sexualisation of women in sports to promote the watching of sports. This is done through the uniforms they adorn and the marketing promotions and advertisements they post. However, the coverage remains low since the women are subordinated to men. Their discussions on the media and social websites are those of their physical appearance, their private domestic lives such as how many children they have, and sportswomen posing in highly sexualized poses.
Provide and explain arguments, which suggest that this sexualisation is empowering for women (4 marks), then provide and explain arguments, which suggest that this sexualisation is disempowering for women (4 marks).
In terms of marketability and promotion, sexualisation of the women becomes empowering to them. This is so because the woman in sports is viewed not by her fitness in sport but by her feminine beauty and by her sexual attributes. This means that the female body is analyzed and her visibility is what is focused on to catch the eye of the viewers who are mostly males. In this case, the value of a female sports person is weighed not by her skill and prowess as an athlete but by her body type, shape and attractiveness. In this case, most women scoop the prize and if coaches are using the same strategy to secure funding for their teams then it becomes empowering. If a female athlete, after making herself more ‘visible’ shall catch the eye of sporting scouts, then her sexiness is empowering to her since she shall get what she wants (Rowe 2008).
On the other hand, if all female athletes shall be judged according to their sexual appearance, the real judgment done shall not be on their skill and prowess as athletes but as beautiful and sexy female beings. This shall be a misjudgment for good female athletes who are not endowed with female qualities that are considered seductive and sexy. This then becomes disempowering to those in the latter bracket. This sexualisation is also disempowering to women since they are followed by stereotypical assumptions that cloud the air. Some of these are, for instance, that women who are well built or muscular and strong are viewed to be homosexual (Rowe 2008). These assumptions spoil the minds of many and they end up limiting the sportswomen’s excellence in their careers. As long as these mindsets continue, they shall end up causing a negative effect in the female sports industry.
Sexualisation becomes disempowering when the viewing of a female athlete in terms of their sexual appearance and attributes rather than by their athleticism occurs. This is coupled up by sexual exploitation since the skimpy clothing and the display of their bodies is inappropriate. This emphasis made on female athletes as sexual objects rather than athletes, ends up degrading them towards the men and eventually female sports shall serve as a raunchy and erotic entertainment to the men. This shall spoil the athleticism of the female gender and cause much damage to the female sports industry. This shall, in the long run, be highly disempowering to the female athletes and gender as a whole. Though women might have excelled in the sporting field, their excellence and achievement in this field shall be rendered meaningless if this vice of sexualisation of women athletes continues.
Horne, J, Tomlinson, A & Whannel, G 1999, Understanding Sport: An Introduction to the Sociological and Cultural Analysis of Sport, Routledge, London.
Rowe, D 2008, Sport, culture and the media: the unruly trinity, Open University Press, Oxford.