Women, Sport, Film (Dalke) Forum


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Week 1 Question
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-01-31 12:13:56
Link to this Comment: 4334

Week 1
Welcome to our e-forum. As we explore the image of women in sport as framed by film, we hope you will enjoy participating in this on-line forum with students from Smith and Wesleyan.

Please start your response with a note introducing yourself to your forum group.
Respond to either one of the following two questions. Feel free to return to your forum and see what others have written and continue the 'conversation".


1. What makes Title IX a social justice issue and why? How does it impact women today – not just athletes, but the culture of access and equity for women's participation in any area that has a history of male dominance.

2. What is the cultural ideal of women in sport? How does it differ from men?


Title IX as a Social Justice Issue
Name: Emily Hans
Date: 2003-02-04 21:13:54
Link to this Comment: 4402

1. This week's question deals with Title IX as a social justice issue. As Thursday's movie illustrated, women had few opportunities to participate in sports and certainly not to the same extent that men competed. The adoption of Title IX gave women to right to not only compete with men on an equal standing, but to demand equal funding for their sports and for scholarships. Recently, the current President has requested an investigation into the possibility that the provisions in Title IX are discriminatory towards men because men's sports are losing funding in order to provide equal funding for their female counterparts. Title IX was intended to level the playing field between men's and women's sports and provide women with the same opportunities of their male counterparts. The fact that men's sports are losing some of their funding hardly makes up for the centuries that women's sports had NO funding. Even today women's sports receive far less attention and funding than men's sports. Title IX has done more than just provide parity for women's sports, it has given women the confidence to pursue their dreams and to believe themselves capable of the same things as men. By rolling back Title IX, as the Bush Administration hopes, the government sends a message to women that they don't deserve the same opportunities as men, and that their dreams are not as important.

2. The ideal for women in sports is vastly different from men. While men are supposed to be strong and competitive, the ideal for women is to be agile, a "good sport", and to excel while still appearing feminine. Last week's video mentioned how the women of the Tennessee Tigers were encourage to finish their race, duck out, and quickly reapply makeup so they wouldn't appear any less feminine. Society views sports for women as something they should do to keep fit, not to enjoy in a competitive sense. Those women who appear more competitive are portrayed as the "bad girls". The video mentioned how the press portrayed Chris Evret and Martina Navertalova. Because Martina was more combative and competitive than Chris she was portrayed as the "dark side" or the "evil woman". Women in sports have also always had to continually prove their sexuality. Women that appear too talented often have their femininity questioned. There either called "dikes" or "butch". Men involved in sport rarely have to prove their heterosexuality. Their automatically considered to be manly because of their obvious athletic ability. While society's opinion of women in sports has changed greatly in the past centaury, there are still many obstacles women need to overcome.


the cultural ideal of "women" in sports
Name: Rachel Kah
Date: 2003-02-05 11:43:29
Link to this Comment: 4415

1. The cultural ideal for a woman in sport is to be a "woman." While this may seem like an obvious statement, problems arise when we start to define "woman." In our society, people are forced to fit into one of two categories: male or female. This binary gender system is so accepted and so obligatory that it wasn't until I started to read about intersexuality (people are considered intersexual if their reproductive systems, chromosomes or genitalia do not fit the norm for either male or female) that I realized how incredibly problematic the system is. In 1968, the International Olympic Committee began requiring that all athletes undergo sex testing, so that males could not compete in female competitions. Intersexuals are still banned from Olympic competition today. Some estimates place the number of people who do not fit either male or female standards at 1 to 2 for every 100 births. This means that 1 to 2% of people are still banned from competition today. I feel that this is an important issue to bring up with regards to our class because I don't think it is widely known that, despite Title IX, there are still people excluded from sports. Also, to directly address the question at hand, the binary gender system is (unfortunately) very influential in determining the cultural ideal for "women" in sports. In order to be a popular, well-loved "woman" in sport, one has to fit neatly into the category of "woman" as defined by the binary.
(I got my stats, dates and definition from these two great websites. www.isna.org and http://members.fortunecity.com/dikigoros/intersexism.htm)


Cultural Ideal of Women in Sport
Name: Stefanie K
Date: 2003-02-05 13:42:23
Link to this Comment: 4417

Hi Everyone!

My name is Stefanie, and I'm a senior neuroscience major, chemistry minor at Smith College. I've played a lot of different sports in my life, and am currently an intercollegiate basketball player here at school.
Growing up, I always considered myself an athlete, and never gave a second thought about competing with the boys in the neighborhood. In this respect, I was never discriminated against as a girl, because I proved I could play just as well, if not better than most of them. I was able to shun the label of a "female athlete" and prove that as an athlete, I am competent and talented in sports. Today, even with the help of Title IX, culturally, women athletes are still seen as slightly inferior to their male counterparts. In my opinion, this is due to the fact that they are labelled as "female athletes". Biologically, women and men are different, their bodies are constructed to perform differently in certain situations. Therefore, labelling an athlete as a woman, before even assessing her talent, etc, already separates her from male athletes with similar talent. Seeing the statistics of a coed basketball game, without using any names, each athlete will be assessed with the same respect. Yet, once you add names and realize that one of the athletes on the roster is a female, there is already a form of discrimination being used when comparing her stats to those of her male teammates. Therefore, in order for women to be culturally identified at the same level as most male athletes, we first need to shed our identity as "female athletes" and demand that we be viewed as strong, competitive athletes.


Title IX
Name: Emmi Conno
Date: 2003-02-05 13:59:14
Link to this Comment: 4418

My name is Emmi Connolly and I am junior at Smith College. I am a Chemistry and Pre-Med major and I play basketball for Smith.
As most of us are, I never experienced women's sports during the time that Title IX did not exist. I take my oppertunities of equality for granted; that is for sure. Title IX as a law states that no person be discriminated against based on gender in any area of education, athletics or any other program that recieves federal funding. In that sentence, lies the definition of a social justice. "Social work that promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being." (International Federation of Social Workers,www.ifsw.org/Publications/4.6e.pub.html). By giving women social justice, it gave them an arena to excell in not only athletics, but it gave them oppertunities in areas that men had dominated, such as science, medicine, economics, engineering and politics.
It has given women power in most professions and oppertunities except for coaching and athletic administrators. When Title IX came into effect, most of the segragated athletic departments merged into one, handing the higher paid and distinguished jobs to the men. Even now, most women's teams are coached by men and athletic departments are overwhemlingly dominated by men. What happened? Does this lie under Title IX?
The current review of Title IX is backed by coaches and players of collegiate sports that do not draw much revenue or recognition, such as gynastics and wrestling. I am not suggesting that women's athletics be cut to fund these opperation, but isn't this a form of descrimination as well? Is this fair to those athletes that give as much passion and heart to their sport as football players?


Title IX
Name: Lisa Lindb
Date: 2003-02-05 19:21:53
Link to this Comment: 4425

Hi, I am Lisa Lindberg a Senior at Smith.

Of couse Title IX is a social justice isssue. It was never intentioned to be only an athletic issue. Title IX guarantees equality in all aspects of education not just athletics. It applies to admissions, recruitment, facilities, access to course offerings, access to vocational education, counseling, financial assistance, student health and insurance benefits, housing, marital and parental status of students, education programs and activities, and employment. The enforcement of Title IX is not taking away access to funds to which men are entitled. In fact, it is the opposite. Giving more equality to women does not mean men become less equal, nor are their opportunities for advancement slighted. However, denying women equal access to funds does operate to further subortinate their role in academic spheres, a place where men are already favored.


Title IX
Name: Marla McCo
Date: 2003-02-05 21:56:38
Link to this Comment: 4434

Hello, my name is Marla and I am a junior chemistry major. After watching "Dare to Compete" I came to realize what an impact it has had on my entire life. Title IX has and will continue to influence the role of women in American society. Everything from educational and athletic opportunity to equality for women in the work place has been touched by this law. I think that it is important to understand the gift that title IX has given so many women and extend those ideas to reach all excluded people and not take steps backwards by repealling it.


Cultural ideals of women in sport
Name: Anna C. Cr
Date: 2003-02-05 22:09:49
Link to this Comment: 4436

My name is Anna Crary, and I am a junior Art History major, African-AMerican Studies minor at Smith. I used to play soccer, volleyball, and swam competitively in high school. I am currently a member of Varsity Crew here at Smith.
While there are aspects of contemporary American society that have evolved when its views of women in sport are concerned, there are many ideals - social, cultural, political, and personal - that are still relatively old-fashioned, conservative, and limiting as to the roles an athletic woman can play, or the ways in which she can be portrayed. In my experience as an athlete, when placed in co-ed environments, women who are intense, competitive athletes, i.e. those who sweat a lot, lift a lot of weight, make noise when they compete, etc., are ridiculed as being manly, masculine, or otherwise unfeminine. Think of the riducule Monica Seles endured because of her on-court grunting, or the sexually oriented insults Martina Navratilova, Babe Didrikson, and other strong, successful, competitive female athletes received from the press and public at large. I think that on one hand, contemporary society is fascinated and greatly entertained by female athletes. The success of the William's sisters, Sarah Hughes, the WNBA, etc. attests to this. However, while male athletes are allowed to compete as simply athletes, I feel that female athletes are never fre of that label - female. They never exist solely as athletes. Beliefs that these athletes should somehow maintain and represent "aspects of their femininity" while also competing are engendered by a huge segment of America, to the extent that female athletes who are not conventionally attractive or feminine in a way society sees fit, are not focuse on or given as much media play time as those athletes whose physical appearance is visually pleasing. Take Anna Kournikova, for example. She has yet to win a major tennis tournament, yet she is one the most printed and photographed female athletes today. Do we ever hear about the mediocre male players? Besides coverage of Agassi and Sampras, both phenomenally successful athletes, we never hear about the B-grade male athletes even if they are attractive. Female athletes are held to maintain complex sexual standards, whereas male athletes are asked simply to play and win.


Title IX & Social Justice -- and the "cultural ide
Name: Mary W. Ja
Date: 2003-02-05 22:12:32
Link to this Comment: 4438

Today, one area of focus within the larger "social justice" category is reparations for American descendents of African slaves. I personally think that there are many questions that can be raised about reparations of any kind, for any past wrong. I like Title IX especially because it does NOT try to address past wrongs, but instead goes forward, in effect from 1986, to create equal opportunity and equal access to the money and resources that support athletics for men and women, girls and boys.

Of course, we can bring up the idea that there have been centuries of INequity -- but the main direction of the Title IX provisions has been to create equal access now and into the future. To me, the unwillingness to hark back to past wrongs strengthens the arguments made by the Title IX provisions for equal access now and makes it all the more important that we not allow these standards to be eroded away in the slightest.

Regarding the "cultural ideal" for women in sport, so vividly illustrated by many frames of the "Dare to Compete" film, I think that, largely thanks to Title IX, we have really "come a long way, baby"! As many of the participants in this discussion have noted, most female athletes today think of themselves as athletes, not female athletes. This is just what Title IX was intended to create, a nation of committed paticipants in sport, who do NOT focus on gender, but on athleticism. As a fifty-six-year-old mother of a son and daughter, both now in their twenties, I can really attest to the difference between the "then", when I participated in high school sports and the "now", watching our children grow up competing in a total of six sports each, from elementary school through college. Whether teams were single sex or co-ed, school or league, girls and boys were treated exactly the same throughout -- and thought of themselves in the same way, as athletes. I have always thought that this marvelous development was 100% due to the changes brought by Title IX. In case I ever tended to forget that, I couldn't help but be reminded, when our daughter and her friends were led triumphantly out of Middle School to troop down Capitol Hill to participate in Girls and Women in Sports Days on the Capitol grounds and the Mall, complete with participation by Olympic athletes. (We've lived in Washington, DC during all our kids' growing-up years.) Perhaps we've been especially lucky to be in Washington, where equal access for girls to sports funding and resources is assumed, but this has been my rewarding experience in raising our children. It's a striking contrast to my own years on a crummy high school basketball court, wearing a one-piece "gymsuit" with, yes, bloomers, and being allowed only three bounces of the ball, before being called for "travelling". Everyone meant well -- but we were definitely treated differently, thought of differently and we thought of ourselves as less athletic than our male peers back in the early 'sixties.

Now we need to focus on accurate media reporting of the moves made by the Commission which will be making important decisions regarding Title IX. We can let seemingly innocuous changes be made that would reverse more than twenty years of progress. Mary W. Jayne, Smith College


cultural ideal
Name: Caitlin Sn
Date: 2003-02-06 12:33:46
Link to this Comment: 4450

Hi, my name is Caitlin Snow and I'm a senior psychology major at Wesleyan. I am also a captain of the women's indoor/outdoor track and field team.

Today is February 5th, 2003 and yet women are still held to standards and ideals based on stereotypes that should have died thirty years ago with the advent of feminism. While progress has been made, women are still expected to maintain their "femininity", both during an athletic event and in their private lives. It is not a coincidence that sports articles about women include questions about their spouses (for example, how the spouse feels about her career- funnily enough, no NBA stars are asked how their wives feel about their profession) and children if they have any. If they do not have children, they are occasionally asked if they plan to have them in the future, and if so, how they expect to fit said children into their athletic careers. If a WNBA star were to sleep with men in every major city and occasionally mother children, only to abandon them, there would be not only public outrage but also court proceedings.
There is a curious double-standard regarding muscular athletic women. While it is necessary for elite athletes to train rigorously and develop strong muscles, women must toe the line between the "athletic look" which is desirable and sexy and the "amazon woman" who is "mannish" and therefore undesirable. Women who power-lift and body-build competitively are often placed in this category, while a muscular Brandi Chastain in a sports bra made the front cover of Sports Illustrated. One can argue that male power-lifters and body builders are also viewed negatively because of their incredible size and musculature, but they are viewed as "extra-manly" whereas women in the same situation are viewed as less than women and more like men. These double standards continue to haunt both professional and non-professional female athletes daily, and it will take a massive media campaign for the American public's expectations and standards to change.


Cultural Ideal of Women in Sports
Name: Marta Sobu
Date: 2003-02-06 17:04:04
Link to this Comment: 4459

Hello everyone, I'm Marta, sophomore, Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology(YEAH!)/Italian major at Bryn Mawr.

I would like to focus for a moment on the component of the question being the cultural 'ideal', which for me is a term with a strong positive connotation. The cultural ideal of women in sports makes me think, on a very primary and superficial level, of strong, sportive, and healthy women, whose bodies are in a state close to fitness perfection. However, watching the acrobatic olympics several times, I came to think that the ideal bodies of sportswomen, from the perspective of sport competition, are oftentimes bodies shaped by unhealthy training of development of only those sets of muscles, which are essential for the excellence in performing a particular game or sport. My impression is a construct, which came to be as a result of combining the tv images of small skinny girls with unnaturaly (sorry for that cruel expression, but I cannot think of a better word) elongated members of the body, with notions of how training affects women's biological functions(which may be a shovinist prejudice, but I suppose it is possible for the menstruation to stop occurring as a result of an extensive training and usage of drugs which should enhance the performance in sports). The modern ideal of women in sports is thus by definition a paradox for me, as sometimes, in the above case of young athlets, the ideal bodies of sportswomen are far from being ideal from other, mainly sociologically formed perspectives.


Female athlete expectations
Name: Rachel Hoc
Date: 2003-02-06 17:19:00
Link to this Comment: 4460

Hi, I'm Rachel, I'm a junior at Bryn Mawr.

It seems to me that there are just too many stereotypes surrounding athletes in general, and too many expectations of what male athletes and female athletes are supposed to be. For female athletes, I think the biggest expectation is that they be women, as well as athletes. In order to be popular in society and in the eyes of fans, they are supposed to be pretty as well as strong, they are supposed to look feminine. This always struck me most when I used to see shampoo commercials with female athletes; there would be a shot of the athlete swimming, or biking, and shaking out her hair and a voice over about how her sport makes it hard to have good hair. But such and such a shampoo can help her play hard, and look good too, or something like that. To me it reflects a certain cultural expectation that women "look good," whether they're athletes or not, but it presents a problem for women in sports, because it's hard to look good when you're sweating and exhausted. Men, on the other hand, are allowed to be sweaty and gross--a lot of times, that somehow makes them even more attractive to women.


Cultural ideal of women in sports.
Name: Christen G
Date: 2003-02-06 18:05:29
Link to this Comment: 4463

Hello!!! My name is Christen And I am a freshman at Bryn Mawr College.

After watching the movie in our first class I was struck by how sports represented much more than just a chance for women to play and compete for one another. At the trun of the century the invention of the bicycle offered women a new kind of activity. Bicycling offered women a chance to get out of the home and become active in a public sphere. Though there was criticism of the sport and its effect on women, it quickly became a popular sport. In 1906 the Playground Association of America was organized. This association worked to organize sports activites for both girls and boys. These early strides in the fight for women's sports were also early strides in the fight for the idea of "the new woman." A woman who could work and play outside of the home. A woman who could compete not only in the sports arena but also in a political and public arena as well.
The passing of Title IX in 1972 was the culmination of these early battles. It ensured women of their equal right to be athletic, powerful figures.


Question 2
Name: Laurel Jac
Date: 2003-02-06 18:57:34
Link to this Comment: 4464

Hello, everyone. My name is Laurel, and I am a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College, majoring in Biology. Throughout high school I was a starter on my high school's girls basketball team. I experienced first hand the unreasonable expectations that our culture sets forth for female atheletes. I always noticed that in a boys b-ball game, the referees let things slide, allowed a little more attitude, and ignored lots of mistakes such as "walking" and fouling under the basket. In my games, the refs made a point to call anything that was moderately out of line. If a girl went to confront a ref about a call, he would often tell her to "calm down", or "it's just a game; relax." I found this type of behavior extremely sexist and offensive, as though girls games don't matter. So, even though title IX has allowed for much growth for women sports, cultural ideals still limit women. It's difficult for some people to accept women as sweaty, foul-mouthed, agressive, and yes, sometimes even angry atheletes. We are expected to be demure ladies who keep their mouths shut and slap on a toothy smile.


many questions!
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2003-02-07 09:39:02
Link to this Comment: 4471

Hi, guys. I'm the moderator of this forum, checking in one week late. I teach in the BMC English Dept, run the Gender Studies program here, used to be a swimmer but (because of being diagnosed w/ osteoporosis this summer) have shifted to weight-bearing exercise and am now a serious walker (well, less serious than i should be ...paradoxically, i exercised more regularly when i had to fit my schedule around when the pool was open!)

I had serious doubts (ahead of time) about our watching "National Velvet," but found myself completely engaged last night. A range of reactions, to
-- the gender differences (beginning w/ the girls' sweet singing in the schoolroom, while the boys yowled @ the window; continuing through Donald's boyishness and his father's obstreperousness);
--the way in which horsebackriding was clearly a sexual sublimination for Velvet (whoa! those riding-in-the-bed scenes!!)--and yet? she didn't "hook-up" w/ Mi @ the end...all that got displaced onto her mom/dad's memories of their union...and their (finally!) calling each other by their first names!
--I'm wondering how gender-specific her dream/her mother's dreams were: was it important that she was an adolescent girl, coached by a guy? that her mother was? (another way to ask the question: is this a girls' movie? would guys relate to it?)
--I'm curious to know how YOU all related to it, whether it spoke to your dreams/your desires to do something "great," your willingness to value "folly," your willingness to move on to something else, when one task is accomplished...
--the wise, wise mother particularly intrigued me; I found her very powerful and very mysterious (wanted to BE her!...and yet I found myself resisting, more than she was--@ least overtly--the confinements of her current life....)
--I thought Velvet's fainting, as she crossed the finish line, was "cheating": why'd it happen that way? could she not be allowed (when the movie was made, in 1944 ) to win???

Looking forward to hearing your reactions--
Anne


Week 2 Questions
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-02-07 11:29:57
Link to this Comment: 4476

Week 2 Questions. Please respond to at least one of the questions. Particiapnts may also continue to comment on the questions from week 1. To read the comments of the Week 1 questions, please refer to the archived link.

1. What is the meaning of the images used in the popular media that portray women? Portray women athletes? Give some examples of positive images and some negative images. Look at the WNBA website for an interesting look at the intersection of media and women's professional sport. www.wnba.com

2. What role does gender play as enhancing the athletic image of women in sport? What influence, what difference, did the image of Velvet as being gender neutral – and in fact trying to pass as a male jockey. What does this say about women in sport, women in male domains, and the cultural ideal of women? Is this applicable toady?

3. How does the cultural ideal of sport relate to the cultural ideal of women in society?

For those students who watched National Velvet, add the question:
Are you, or did you ride horses in your youth? Describe the passion of riding horses. How would you describe the link between gender as portrayed in the movie?


Reacting to National Velvet
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2003-02-12 10:25:57
Link to this Comment: 4552

Hi, guys. I'm the moderator of this forum, checking in two weeks late. I teach in the BMC English Dept, run the Gender Studies program here, used to be a swimmer but (because of being diagnosed w/ osteoporosis this summer) have shifted to weight-bearing exercise and am now a serious walker (well, less serious than I should be ...paradoxically, I exercised more regularly when I had to fit my schedule around when the pool was open....)

I had serious doubts (ahead of time) about our watching "National Velvet," but found myself completely engaged last Thursday night. Afterwards, I had fun talking about it w/ Paul Grobstein (who gets all blame/credit for picking the film in the first place). Our conversation covered the range of our reactions:

-- the gender differences (beginning w/ the girls' sweet singing in the schoolroom, while the boys yowled @ the window; continuing through Donald's boyishness and his father's obstreperousness);

--the way in which horsebackriding was clearly a sexual sublimination for Velvet (whoa! those riding-in-the-bed scenes!!)--and yet? she didn't "hook-up" w/ Mi @ the end...all that got displaced onto her mom/dad's memories of their union...and their (finally!) calling each other by their first names!

--how gender-specific Velvet's/her mother's dreams were: was it important that she was an adolescent girl, coached by a guy? that her mother was? (another way to ask the question: is this a girls' movie? would guys relate to it?)

--I'm curious to know how YOU all related to it, whether it spoke to your dreams/your desires to do something "great," your willingness to value "folly," your willingness to move on to something else, when one task is accomplished...

--the wise, wise mother particularly intrigued me; I found her very powerful and very mysterious (wanted to BE her!...and yet I found myself resisting, more than she was--@ least overtly--the confinements of her current life....)

--We thought Velvet's fainting, as she crossed the finish line, was "cheating": why'd it happen that way? could she not be allowed (when the movie was made, in 1944 ) to win???

Looking forward to hearing your reactions--
Anne


sport vs. women's sport
Name: emmi
Date: 2003-02-12 14:14:32
Link to this Comment: 4555

Even after the influence of Title IX began to sweep through the sporting world, women's sport still held stereotypes and questions on the appropriateness of the activity. In 1983, the "New Agenda for Women and Sport" conference identified six myths of women's sport that they wanted to dispell by "any means necessary." They were: 1) Sport masculinizes women 2) Sports are medically risky for women 3) The female body is inadequate for sports performance 4) Women are not interested in sports 5) Women are not phychologically tough enough for sports 6) Present financial resources are adequate for women's sport. Even though several of these myths have been overturned and stomped in the past. However many of these myths still remain with new, yet similar myths stemming from them.
Women have seen many desirable changes in sport and have transformed the roles of women into limbo. Old sport created the traditional masculine ambiance and society reflected this believe. Some believe as equality begins this thought will be extinguished. The article, "The Knowledge Expolsion: Generations of Feminist Scholarship", states [sport was] "...created as it is by men and women who possess and reflect both "masculine and feminine" qualities..." Is this believed in our present culture? Look at the media. Look at the way women athletes, even with wonderous acolades, championships and respect are shown to us.
An example of this is the WNBA website. I had never visited the site, but when it was suggested, I was excited to see it. I waited for it to load and was astonished at the large pictures, front and middle that covered the site. They are not the large pictures of the league's stars dunking or shooting, like Nick Van Exel and Shaq on the NBA's website. No, they are pictures of the league's stars, Ticha Penicheiro and Lisa Lesile hugging rappers Nelly and L.L. Cool Jay. Even when I tried to look in the photo gallery, it was pictures of the All-stars in dressy clothes, lookinf feminine and classy. This is still the norm for women athletes. They must maintain their feminine stature and image out of this myth and expectation of our culture.
One side note is that at Tenn St, the Men's Basketball team is going to be coached by the female athletic director after the coach was suspended on Tuesday. This is the first female coach for DI. Neat to see what happens.


WNBA
Name:
Date: 2003-02-12 16:29:22
Link to this Comment: 4557

Hi, I am Lisa from Smith...

I would like to urge everyone to look at both NBA.com and WNBA.com. The two websites really articulate the differences in the media's portrayal of men and women in sport and how women are still undervalued as athletes in order to fit heternormative gender roles. The contrast between the images of men and women on the two sites infuriates me. On the women's site there are rarely any pictures of the women playing or even in uniform.
The title above one of the photo galleries is, "This is who I am" (photo galleries, 2002). In that gallery there are pictures of women dressed everything from leather to a debutante gown, but not one has on her uniform. I highly doubt that Lisa Harrison identifies more as a parasol carrying debutant than a strong, dominating basketball player. This website is not only reinforcing gender norms by making women subscribe to traditional definitions of feminity, but also legitimizing them. The WNBA is supposed to be a place of empowerment for women. These photo galleries certainly do not send that message, they take away women's authority as athletes as well as their agency. I am sure it is for this same reason that not one WNBA athlete is out as a lesbian.
The boys have it a lot easier, their pictures are in their uniforms. Most of the pictures are of them amkign great plays. They do not have to fit a dual role as athlete and male because gender norms already tell us that it is inherently masculine to be an athlete.


Media Images of Female Athletes
Name: Mary W. Ja
Date: 2003-02-13 10:36:41
Link to this Comment: 4567

Historically, the cultural ideal of sport has long referenced health and fitness. I think it's interesting that Mary Jo Kane noted, in her commentary that accompanied the film "Playing Along", seen by the Smith Class this week, that there's a media requirement for "wholesomeness" for women athletes. This is sort of an extrapolation of the health & fitness thing, but it has unfortunately meant emphasizing cultural images of feminity -- marriage and family -- for women athletes. It has also meant avoiding lesbian athletes. "Out" lesbians usually sacrifice the earnings they would be able to bring in, were they to choose to hide their sexual orientation. Therefore, media presentation of women athletes places gay female athletes at a tremendous disadvantage -- AND cheapens the athletic achievements of straight women as well. Images of such highly accomplished women as Chris Evert were included in the film in a segment that showed an inordinate degree of emphasis placed on her dating history and her wedding pictures -- rather than on her athletisc accomplishments.

In terms of positive media treatment of women athletes -- I think that there has been overall positive treatment of Mia Hamm. I live in Washington, DC and see a great deal of coverage of her athletic achievement in local media there -- and relatively little focus on her personal life.

Mary W. Jayne, Smith College


media vs progress
Name: rachel
Date: 2003-02-13 10:38:35
Link to this Comment: 4568

The WNBA site is really interesting. Clearly, it is a media produced site, with media controlled images. Compare this site with a fan site for Ticha Penicheiro: http://www.angelfire.com/games2/monarchs/ Five out of the seven pictures show Penicheiro in uniform, and in the other two pictures she is NOT wearing a tight leather outfit. A website created by a Swedish bodybuilder, Petra Enderborn, provides another interesting comparison: http://www.petraenderborn.com/news.htm Almost all of the pictures on the site show off Enderborn's athleticism and muscles. In the photo gallery, the first three sets of photos show her competing or training. While media sites like nba.com and wnba.com are still clinging for dear life to the binary gender system, I think that fans and the athletes themselves are beginning to embrace the possibility of a spectrum of gender identity.



Name: Christen G
Date: 2003-02-13 17:06:15
Link to this Comment: 4583

Hello!!! My name is Christen from Bryn Mawr College.
National Velvet
I really enjoyed watching National Velvet. I had never seen it before but I found it very cute in a historical kind of way. I am also glad that we did not actually talk about the movie directly after watching it. Some things are just ruined when you try to analyze them too much. The movie was made to be enjoyed, so I would like to think that we can look past all of the silliness of it and just appreciate the fact that it was a product of it's time.
That being said......
What I was most intrigued by in the movie was the relationship between Velvet's mother and Father. Her father liked to think that he ruled the roost but when it came right down to it he had the less control over the household than anyone else. Mrs. Brown consistently found ways to quietly bypass Mr. Brown's commands and edicts, in everything from feeding the dog from the table to providing Velvet with the money to enter the race.
Anytime Mr. Brown "laid down the law" so to speak, Mrs. Brown was there with a few wise words and a sound argument to thwart her husband and change his mind. It seems that it is ok for women to rule the roost and "win" at home but not in such public arena's as horse races or such.


National Velvet
Name: marta bryn
Date: 2003-02-13 18:14:05
Link to this Comment: 4586

While watching the National Velvet, I sort of was able to predict what the outcome of the little girl's passion for horses was going to be, but I was impatient to discover who in the end will ride the horse, and whether, by the fact of cutting her her and disguising herself as a boy (how many nice literature parallels one could make from just noticing that!) Velvet actually conformed to the rules of the male domination in the world of sport, or perhaps questioned it and interrupted the order of the men's world. I am not able to make up my mind, but all I know is that the horse riding scenes were just outrageous and perhaps it is my exposure to the 'screaming-sexuality-off-the-media' to wonder how did 'they' get away with those scenes all those years, and more interestingly, what instructions did Elizabeth Taylor get to act out that scene. Quite off-topic from the sports now.. I have an impression that the movie did not portrey adequately the struggle of women to make an appearance on the sports scene, which most likely derived from the direction in which the characters were developed: Velvet's mother, even though a champion swimmer is happy with her role as a mother and a housewife; Velvet herself, even though a winner in a prestigious competition, does not seem to fight for her place in media (understood as a way to convey the message of female sportswomen into the world), and everyone peacefully accepts the fact of her disqualification.. lots of tangents to the theme, but not much of them reflect the actual attempts of women to become equally important as men in sport.


National Velvet
Name: Laurel Jac
Date: 2003-02-13 18:36:08
Link to this Comment: 4588

While watching National Velvet last week, I was struck by the role that Mrs. Brown played. It's interesting that she had a past filled with sports, with triumphs in sports, and yet she accepts the cultural norm of the day by settling down with a husband to have lots of children. Although she maintains the household and the butcher's shop, she has relegated her past--one filled with the independence that sports had brought her--to a chest in the attic. She encourages Velvet to go after a littly "folly" at this time in her life, but she does it with the attitude that this will be the one and only time Velvet will be permitted to step out of bounds. Perhaps she was merely being realistic with Velvet...most mothers at the time would not have condoned such behavior at all. Mrs. Brown is the wise mentor to Velvet, the calming voice of truth to everyone in the family. I'm wondering if it was necessary to have included her brush with sports fame in the movie in order to establish her as this kind of character--one who can sympathize with Velvet. Other than her relationship with Mi's father, which leads him to their family, Mrs. Brown's sporting career plays a small role in her everyday life. It's a little disheartening to think that after all the trials Velvet has gone through, this will eventually just be a distant memory. It may affect her life, and she will carry on the ideals taught by her mother, but she will never again pursue a career in sports because included in her mother's ideals are the inevidable conditions of marriage, family, household, etc.


National Velvet
Name: Marla
Date: 2003-02-13 18:42:46
Link to this Comment: 4590

I was pleasantly surprised by National Velvet. Not only was it an enjoyable movie to watch, but it had one of the best messages for women today and for when it was first released. I was impressed that a movie from that time period was so encouraging of a woman's dream of sport. The part of the movie that struck me most was when Velvet's trainer allowed her to race for herself even though it was his dream to be a jockey in the grand nationals. This seems like a rare occurance even today when women being in sport is much more acceptable.


National Velvet
Name: Rachel
Date: 2003-02-13 19:10:33
Link to this Comment: 4591

I was one of those kids who always loved horses as a child, but somehow I managed to never watch National Velvet.... I enjoyed it quite a lot when we watched in class, though I knew the basic story already. As other people have pointed out, I was really intrigued by Mrs. Brown, and pleased by the strength that was so obvious in her. It surprised me, as other people have also expressed, that a movie from that time period would portray a strong woman like Mrs. Brown. She wasn't particularly feminine-looking, even in the scene where her hair is down; she has a more masculine build and face, and aside from all that, she was obviously an amazing swimmer. And she's portrayed as very strong-willed, as well, though she's quiet about it, and she's very much in charge of the household, above and beyond the authority of Mr. Brown as the man of the house. I'm not sure what all of that means in relation to women in sports, except that I'm pleased that Mrs. Brown was such a strong character.


WEEK 3 Questions
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-02-16 16:09:22
Link to this Comment: 4623

The class at Smith, Bryn Mawr and Wesleyan have viewed a few different films--all films have themes that connect to the larger questions of women and sport. Please respond to the questions based upon the films you have watched. Feel free to comment on the themes that link all of our classes together in the broader conversation about women, sport, Title IX, gender etc. Enjoy the conversation!!

1. What is the cultural ideal displayed by the main characters in each film? What norms/ideals of the time, do the characters challenge and expand?

2. What is the relationship between the main characters in the films and their message about women and sport? Has it had an impact on what is happening in women's sport today? How does it effect womne who are not engaged in sport?

3. How does the media - print - video/movie - web - portary women and sport? Is it helpful?


media
Name: Rachel
Date: 2003-02-19 12:23:06
Link to this Comment: 4672

I think that print media and news media both tend to portray women athletes as if they are other than athletes; in their kitchens, wearing bikinis, and in general, pretty, sexy and feminine in the most traditional sense. Film is a little different; there are many films that portray women athletes playing their sports, getting sweaty, getting hurt, getting dirty. Love and Basketball was a good example of this--the main character was definitely portrayed as a strong and capable athlete, with many scenes on the court, and probably more scenes than the male lead. The differences in sports media coverage was also highlighted in Love and Basketball--there was a sequence of scenes on the court with both the female lead and the male lead, and during the men's team games, there were scouts and cheerleaders and media people everywhere, lots of noise and fans and such, while at the women's games there was a much smaller group of fans, no media, and no cheerleaders.



Name: Rachel
Date: 2003-02-20 00:07:11
Link to this Comment: 4694

While I think that Q respected Monica's basketball playing abilities from the beginning, it took him a while to realize that she took the sport as seriously as, and wanted to be considered as seriously as, a male basketball player. This was most evident when he wanted her to miss her curfew for him. Had she stayed with him, she would have given up her dream and possibly her career for him. Women often were, and still are, expected to give up their dreams to take care of their husbands. Monica challenges this cultural norm when she stays true to her own goals. Eventually Q challenges cultural norms too. The ending of the movie shows Q holding the baby while Monica plays in the WNBA. The cultural norm of the wife supporting the husband was turned upside down by this "role reversal."



Name: Christen G
Date: 2003-02-20 02:32:43
Link to this Comment: 4695

Hi!! My Name is Christen from Bryn Mawr College.
The idea that the media misrepresents female athletes when it portrays them in pictures and commentaries is one that has recurred several times in our discussions. It seems that whenever a magazine features a female athlete we see her on the beach or in the kitchen but never as an athlete. A newspaper might run a story about how a female athlete is also a mother or a chef but hardly ever is a story written about the records or accomplishments of the female athlete.
Why is it that the media can ignore the woman as an athlete? Why don't the athletes become upset when they are photographed wearing almost, or in some cases, absolutely nothing? Why don't they insist that photo shoots include shots of them playing their actual sport? Yes, some of this is the fault of the media but some of it is also the fault of the athletes. No one is forcing them to put on a bathing suit and play in the surf. No one is forcing them to pose with only strategically placed soccer balls as a covering. The fact of the matter is that the photo layouts won't change until the female athletes insist that they be portrayed as athletes.



Name: rachel
Date: 2003-02-20 16:15:36
Link to this Comment: 4710

In response to Christen's comments, I think a fair amount of blame should be placed on the media and I agree that if the athletes refused to pose in little clothing, the exploitation would stop. However, the media is perhaps not so much to blame as the people who look at and buy the images. The media simply tries to make as much money as it can by producing what society will pay to see. If everyone stopped buying the images of soccer players in bathing suits, the media would stop trying to sell it.


Week 3
Name: Marta Sobu
Date: 2003-02-20 17:37:28
Link to this Comment: 4712

Hello everyone, I watched "Love and Basketball" this week I really enojyed this inspirational movie, full of important problems concerning the position of female basketball players in society, as well as the role of sport a women's life. I agree with Rachel that Monica challenged the cultural idea to a significant extent, by becoming a great professional player, however I am not quite sure if the same can be said about Q. The ending of the movie, which portrays him sitting with their baby and cheering for his wife, can be interpreted in two following way: either Q has accepted the fact that Monica is a better player than himself, and allowed her to lead the relationship with regard to sports (and, I assume this of course, but it could have been his way of agreeing with Monica pursuing her career in basketball), or, the second interpretation: Q did not essentially have to make any sacrifices or decisions, because his supposed role of the 'house-husband' was imposed on him by the unfortunate accident that disabeled him to become the star of American basketball. I think that Q would challenge the usual stereotype of male in sports, had he not experienced contusion and at the same time agreeded for Monica's pursuit of her careers, as she was obviously brilliant at it. What also interested me was the impact that the social/psychological conditions had upon Monica's deicision to quit playing basketball, when she realized that she loved and missed Q and that she was not inspired anymore to compete and win, as much as she was when he was by her side. I am in trouble trying to link this fact to the role of a strong female player, which I believe we would all agree Monica was. It makes me tentativly conclude that in the two of the films, we have watched, there is a repetition of a certain behavioral pattern, namely, how women, after having achieved a lot, still are able to prioritize the family higher than the sports. Such was the case with Mrs. Brown in the National Velvet, and now Monica, at the peak of her career decides to stop, if Q is no longer a part of her life. However, this makes me think (and be proud of the fact ;) that those two women were not only great at competing in sports and achieving great results, but they are also able to acknowledge their emotions and feelings, as Monica did, and make the 'sacrifice' of having a family, as Mrs. Brown did. Anyway, Ladies and Gentlemen, what are you thoughts about it?



Name: Laurel Jac
Date: 2003-02-20 18:10:58
Link to this Comment: 4717

In Love and Basketball presents a picture of a successful female athelete and a fulfilled housewife. I found it interesting that the makers of the movie chose to display both of these woman as happy, complete individuals who want nothing more than to play basketball/to cook and clean for her family, respectively. I applaude them for not making one of these roles "wrong". Both Monica and her mother suffered hardships because of the choices they made in life, but they respected themselves, and in the end, each other.
At first, I was offended by the ending of the movie. It seemed to weaken the character of Monica to say that the game just wasn't the same if her man wasn't in her life. Why does she need both? Couldn't she have given up Q and still led a happy life? It was hard for me to accept that Monica needed Q. Afterall, she loved basketball before Q, why not after? Later, it occured to me that the movie is not completely dedicated to Monica. It's also about her relationship with Q. I remembered after Q's surgery he had confided to Monica that he was going back to school because apart from the fame, it wasn't fun anymore. Somehow, the fact that both Monica and Q were dependent on each other for fulfillment made it more palatable.



Name: Laurel Jac
Date: 2003-02-20 18:30:29
Link to this Comment: 4719

After reading Rachel's and Christina's comments, I immediately thought of Anna Kournikova--the oh-so-beautful, untalented tennis player who seems to be continually in the media. Is she commended for her athletic ability? Rarely. She is in the spot light for one reason--her sex appeal. I know that women atheletes who pose scantily clad for magazines say that they are trying to draw attention to their sport. But the kind of attention they seek is the wrong kind of attention. It seems counterintuitive to try to attract the attention of people not interested in women's sports by presenting an image that is not concerned with women's sports. I am not suggesting that every woman who plays a sport is responsible for always being seen as athletic, but it would probably bring a welcome change to the objectification that comes when sexual inuendo is included.


love and basketball
Name: Marla
Date: 2003-02-20 18:40:03
Link to this Comment: 4722

When I think of the ways in which women in sports are portrayed today, what strikes me most is the seemingly unavoidable ties between women as athletes and women as sexual beings. It seems that female atheletes are sensationalized as much for their athletic prowess as for their physical attractiveness, or lack thereof. For example, the female athletes that are portrayed in current advertisements conform (physically, at least) to the current American view of what is attractive, and therefore desirable; thin, muscular women in basketball jersies and short tennis skirts cavort across the screen in an attempt to convince the audience to buy the product that, presumably, assisted them in the process of becoming athletic and beautiful. However, I have yet to see a female power lifter in a commercial for skin cream or Gatorade. Apparently only certain female athletes are deemed commercially useful.



Name: Christen G
Date: 2003-02-20 18:43:19
Link to this Comment: 4724

Hello!! My name is Christen from BMC.
If as Rachel says, some of the blame about how the media portrays women also lies with society, (I am not arguing this point just hypothesizing.) then the question becomes why does our society "buy into" only the sexy images of female athletes? Why can't a woman be both strong and feminine? What does this say about the society in which we live? Maybe there needs to be some sort of reeducation among sports fans, who seem to be mostly male?
Does the challenge the media presents to women athletes represent something more?
Are there still some barriers that women need to break through?



Name: marla
Date: 2003-02-20 19:12:39
Link to this Comment: 4733

With regard to Laurel Jackson's comment about Anna K. being untalented: I'm not sure that she actually is untalented, I think that she's just among the worst of the best of the WTA, which is nothing to sneeze at. I think that it's sad that all of the hype around her (and other good-looking sports stars) detracts from their perceived talent. It's funny that the media is so willing to thrust anyone into the limelight (athletes, single men and women willing to look for love on national TV a la Joe Millionaire and the Bachelorette), as long as (s)he fits certain physical criteria.


Love & Basketball
Name: Mary W. Ja
Date: 2003-02-21 21:05:26
Link to this Comment: 4744

Hi Everyone:

I'm an older student at Smith, (an Ada Comstock Scholar, or "Ada"). My name's Mary and I loved the movie "Love & Basketball" because the film-makers tried to present a complex story on multiple levels. Many of the earlier comments have reflected this.

There was the story of Monica and Quincy -- kid neighbors/athletic rivals/high school crusaders in their chosen sport/then lovers/sparring lovers/spouses.

There was the story of Quincy's doomed family unit and of his role within his own nuclear family and the separate story of Monica's uneasy role within her nuclear family. These contrasted with each other in such an interesting way. Q modeled himself on his dad, eventually to his frustration and bitter disappointment. Monica strove to take the opposite path from her mother & sister and ultimately, you infer, made a comfortable peace with her chosen path in relation to the paths of her mom & sis.

There was the story of each individual, Monica & Q, in relation to her/his own trajectory in organized basketball. Two very different stories. The early, easy path for Quincy in high school & then college. The struggle for Monica in both arenas. Q dropped out of college to turn pro and was injured, all the while experiencing personal turmoil, due to family troubles. Monica sticks with college, then settles for European league basketball, just to keep playing.

Everyone who's commented so far seems a little uncomfortable with the "pat" ending of the story of Monica & Q as reunited lovers. Could real life ever be this neat & tidy? Each of the characters gets exactly what she/he wants? But you do feel happy for these two, nonetheless. The film-makers have done a great job of getting you to like both of the main characters enough to be willing to accept the perfect denouement. The story has moved along at a leisurely pace in order to accomplish this. The scenes with Monica & Q as children, as high school athletes, at the Prom, in college -- all lead slowly and carefully down this road toward a happy resolution. There is even time to quite fully develop most of the roles played by the various family members of the two main characters -- as well as those played by their respective team-mates, especially Monica's.

This really is a well-told story, that takes time to focus on issues in sport, as well as in love and family relationships. There are very few stereotypes. Most characters are well developed. (Perhaps Quincy's parents are exceptions to this, especially his dad.)

For me, the issue of race is not at the forefront of "Love & Basketball". I found the stories more human than particular to a racial group. I concluded that, if this was going to be a story of basketball stars in school & college, it made sense for the lead characters to be African-American. Race was never made an issue for the characters -- and it never seemed to me to be an issue either. Although Monica & Q were both obsessed with their sport, you felt as though they could have just as easily been tennis players or musicians or aspiring writers. They were both kids from families that had high aspirations for their children. It was as simple as that.

We're just starting "Blue Crush". I don't think these characters will be travelling as smooth a road.

Mary W. Jayne


Week 4 Questions
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2003-02-22 09:34:36
Link to this Comment: 4749

Please answer one of the three questions:

1. Is it advancement for women in sport, that the main character is the first woman on the cover of SURFING magazine? Why or why not?

2. (Same as week #1) What is the cultural ideal of women in sport? And how does it differ from men?

3. How does this film stereotype the main and supporting characters in this film?


Love and Basketball
Name: Anna Crary
Date: 2003-02-23 18:50:07
Link to this Comment: 4767

I'm Anna, a junior at Smith College.
In terms of Monica in Love and Basketball, I think that her decisions to place basketball at the forefront of her life for the majority of the movie - putting it before her relationship with Quincy, making it the deciding factor in where she goes to college, and deciding not to stop laying post-college, but to move to Europe and continue her career- breaks the traditional female mold concerning their in involvement in sports - or, more appropriately - what used to be considered the traditional female role concerning sports. She truly made it her career, her life, and continued to do so even after she has a child,a s we see at the end of the film. I think that this representation of her placing basketball before many other things in her life was veyr tasteful and fair to her character. She is not depicted as selfish, or as a wayward female "who hasn't got her priorities straight." I think that this film's depiction of her in that way is uncommon from the way in which the media usually depict female athletes, i.e. women who neglect their dutiesd as wives, mothers, and women, in general.

Monica was also allowed to be seen as an athlete, unconcerned with projecting her femininity on the court while playing. While she did appear in her sports bra a good number of times - I had to wonder at that depiction, and whether it was a choice of the producers to make her more sexualized or make her more believeable as an athlete - the depiction of Moinca was always, first and foremost, as an athlete, not a female sex symbol. I think that this letting her be seen in warm-ups, in sandals, in tshirts and shorts, all teh time, is far and away from the typical depiction of female athletes in the media - film, paper, etc. Like I previously stated, while she is allowed to function as a feminine, sexual being, those two functions never seem to overwhelm her functionality as a superb athlete. I wish that more athletes could be represented in this way, both visually and characteristically. More of the ideas and thoughts of Venus and Serena and ANnika and ANna and less of them in their underwear. THe development of MOnica as a complete person, as an intense, thoughtful athlete, just lent more validation to her existence within the film. I feel that similar treatment towards other popular female athletes would result in our seeing them not as sex symbols or a good fantasy, but as complete, awe-inspiring people.


Blue Crush
Name: Liza Eckel
Date: 2003-02-23 22:43:58
Link to this Comment: 4778

In the sport fo surfing, I feel like males and females can compete more directly. The males don't necessarily have any athletic advantages over the females. Because of this equity of ability, the males in the movie were very defensive and acted condescending towards the female surfers. Drew was always being a jerk to Anne Marie, because he felt threated by her surfing abilities. Deep down he knew that she was a better surfer than he was, so he thought that calling her a coward and other derogitory terms would put him above her in the hierarchy surfing subculture. The male surfers objectify the females, by calling them Barbies and picking on their "girliness" as if having any feminine qualities is detrimental to the female athlete.


women's role in sport
Name: emmi
Date: 2003-02-23 23:31:56
Link to this Comment: 4780

Monica challenges the stereotype of women in sports in the first scene of the movie, "Love and Basketball". The neighborhood boys allow her to join in their game without knowing that she is a girl, but when the discovery is made, Monica retorts with, "I can ball better than you." She then confidently states that she will be the first woman in the NBA and goes on to beat the boys before Q pushes her out of bounds.
Her mother, who declares why her daughter must play like a boy upon Monica getting hurt, contrasts her confident attitude. This contrast is carried out through the movie as Monica grows up and her mother is constantly portrayed as the voice against Monica's empowerment through sport. The examples are that Monica's mother is never present at her games, automatically thinks that every time Monica is upset, it is about basketball and only is seen in the movie when Monica are going to the Spring Dance. Monica defies this voice against women athletes throughout the movie and is portrayed as an athlete who loves her sport above all else until the end of the movie. She places basketball before everything else in her life until the end of the movie when she declares her need to be near her family and Quincy. I think that this is fair to her character because these are feelings that not only women athletes feel, but many men who play overseas. It is also typical for women athletes though to take a break in their careers to get married and have a child or fulfill their duties as a woman. This part in the movie seems to mirror typical media portrayal of women athletes.
Other than this example, Monica's feminine sexuality is not the focus of much of the movie. She is often shown in sweatpants, tee-shirts and sneakers. The only scenes of the movie where she is dressed up is for the dance and for her work in the bank. During her playing time at USC, she is often shown in her sports bra, even when she is talking to her coach. This was amazing to me because my coach won't even let us out of the locker room unless we are completely clothed and most times dressed alike or in team gear. As the article from the Journal of Sport & Social Issues states, "...(women in sport) ultimately these women were judged within the limitations of heterosexual desirability." This movie portrays Monica as a great athlete, dedicated and gifted in her sport, but it also makes sure that Monica is portrayed as a stereotypical woman who desires what "every" woman wants, a family as well as a career. In this way, her differences with her mother are solved because she has taken on the role that her mother portrays, but also one of her own.
I think that there is the possibility for a woman to be a dedicated athlete and also a stereotypical woman. I am more impressed with a female athlete who is proud to also be mother and wife than one who does not want to portray this side of their life. This also goes for men. Male athletes who are proud of their families and loving homes impress me. I think that this is a value not only for women, but for men as well.


Portrayal of women athletes by the media
Name: Stefanie
Date: 2003-02-24 00:54:42
Link to this Comment: 4782

Hi everyone,

My name is Stefanie and "Love and Basketball" is one of my all time favorite movies. This movie is drastically different from most any sports film just based on the fact that the main storyline is about a woman basketball player trying to succeed in a sports arena that has been previously dominated by men, and the only professional opportunities available were overseas. In this respect, the portrayal of a woman athlete differs from the typical layouts of women athletes seen in magazines, in ads, during interviews, etc. Usually women are seen in roles that are far from athletic or that have nothing to do with the sport or sports in which they are involved. Their feminine physique is the focus of any pictorial layout, whether that requires them to wear their typical athletic apparel or not (most often not). Yet in "Love in Basketball", the main character, Monica, refuses to wear anything that she can't shoot hoops in, such as a dress or heels. She is consistently portrayed in an athletic environment, sweating in her uniform during a game, or wearing some form of athletic apparel while hanging out. She is shown to work hard and play harder, a mantra typical of male athletes, and even once in a while she will lose her temper just like the "boys" do during their games. She is the epitome of a "tomboy" and yet does not identify herself as anything but a female basketball player.
However, within the movie, the focus on the female form is still prevalent. For example, many scenes are done inside the locker rooms where the athletes are changing and are typically conversing in nothing more than shorts and a sports bra. In this respect, the movie is showing that Monica, how ever good a basketball player she is or will become, is still a female. This is affirming her "femininity" even though she can trash talk with the boys, and possibly play just as well. Monica proves herself a great athlete, and yet still must be portrayed as a female through the modest, yet obvious, nudity of these scenes in order to reduce the threat of female athletes infringing in the world of male-dominated sports.


Blue Crush
Name: Christen G
Date: 2003-02-24 17:00:28
Link to this Comment: 4787

Hello!!! My name is Christen.
Although I found the idea behind Blue Crush to be a very interesting plot I was a little disappointed by the characters in the movie. I felt that the movie would have been much improved if there had been a little more character development. I think we could have learned a lot more about the characters if the relationship between the girls would have been expanded and explained. Also the idea of the "missing mother", could have been used as a chance for the viewer to become closer to the Anne Marie and her younger sister.
My least favorite scene in the whole movie was the one where Anne Marie leaves the beach party and runs into the water, wearing her evening gown. I hated the fact that she seemed to need Matt's approval and advice to figure out what she would do. I think that the directors of the film were probably trying to show that Anne Marie was vulnerable and human just like the rest of us, but I felt that the whole scene was just kind of silly and that her vulnerabilities could have been shown in another way...any other way...and it would not have seemed as silly.
On a completely different note...I thought that the scenes where they recreated the feeling of drowning under water were great. The cinematographers really captured how scary it can be when you are underwater in the pounding surf and you can't tell which way is up.


Blue Crush
Name: Stefanie K
Date: 2003-02-27 10:10:13
Link to this Comment: 4862

The struggle of Ann Marie to overcome her fear of surfing the pipe is an integral part of the storyline in the movie Blue Crush. Not only does it depict the danger of surfing, but how difficult it is for an athlete to overcome not only the physical aspects, but the psychological aspects of sustaining an injury during competition. Ann Marie is forced to re-evaluate herself as a female and as an athlete, and must decide whether surfing is still an important part of her life. This is what makes us, as the audience, feel so proud of Ann Marie when she finally surfs the pipe in competition, gaining perfect scores across the board, yet not quite making it into the next heat.
Ann Marie didn't win the pipe competition, yet she was asked to be part of the Billabong team and even became the first female surfer to be featured on the cover of SURFER magazine. On the surface, this seems like a huge leap forward for female athletes and the advancement of women in sports. Yet, I am skeptical to believe that if we were to open the magazine and read the article about women surfing the pipe, it would strictly talk about the skill of these female surfers. Instead, as with most articles featuring female athletes, the focus would remain on Ann Marie, a poor Hawaiian native with no mother, who overcame a possible career ending injury to score one perfect wave. There might be a brief synopsis of the rest of the women surfers, and maybe, just maybe, a picture of who actually won the competition. Yet, I am hesitant to think that Ann Marie making the cover of SURFER magazine will cause even the smallest ripple of interest in female surfing.
A more recognizable example of this is the WNBA website. Not one picture on this site is dedicated to depicting the female athlete as a basketball player. Instead the pictures show these athletes in gowns, skirts, heels, etc, to give them a more feminine appeal, and show that they are more than athletes. We as consumers, do not see women as skilled athletes, yet instead as people who have lives outside of sport, and oh, and by the way, are pretty good at sports too.


Blue Crush
Name: Emily Hans
Date: 2003-02-27 15:03:21
Link to this Comment: 4868

1. While the overarching concept in Blue Crush, women surfers, is an interesting one, I feel the movie did a poor job doing justice to the sport, not because of any stereotyping of women in sports, but because of a significant lack of character development. The movie created many mini-plot lines through which they could have used to explore the idea of women surfing. From Ann-Marie's missing mother, her relationship with her sister and friends, to her relationship with the quarterback, each could have provided an avenue through which the audience could have connected with the main character. However, because the movie lacked any sense of focus, it became involved in too many subplots and the audience never felt any empathy with Ann-Marie. As a result, the movie lost an opportunity to discuss the idea of women in sports.


Blue Crush
Name: Marla
Date: 2003-02-27 18:34:19
Link to this Comment: 4874

Response to Question One

I think the fact that the main character of the movie was portrayed on the front page of "Surfing" magazine suggests the advancement of women in sports. However, like other people in the class, it seems that this triumphant message was somewhat overshadowed by the love-story part of the plot.



Name: rachel k
Date: 2003-02-27 18:39:28
Link to this Comment: 4875

I know this is focusing in on a very small point in the movie, but I think it is interesting that the picture of Ann Marie on the cover of SURFING shows her at the end of her ride, not in any danger, and not showing her involved in any of the physically difficult parts of surfboarding. In a way, this is similar to the pictures we often see of women athletes in their kitchens or in dresses. The picture of Ann Marie was more about her posing than about her as an athlete playing her sport.


#3
Name: Laurel Jac
Date: 2003-02-27 18:43:16
Link to this Comment: 4876

I agree with the people who have posted before me. One of the main problems with Blue Crush is lack of character development. Instead of delving in and teasing out the intricacies of each character, or any character, the movie makers chose to make the characters identifiable to the audience by presenting sterotypical characters. You have the somewhat talented, oh-so-stubborn and "hard" friend Eden. You have the goofy, playful friend Lena, the little sister who's constantly trying to prove her independence, Penny. Not to mention all those wonderful, dirty, self-absorbed, arrogent football players. Finally, there's Anne Marie. The movie makers try to imply that she's been through a lot, and has come out all right. They try to play her off as a wounded, strong young woman who's lost some of her self-confidence due to a surfing accident and her mother leaving. The fact of the matter is that without developing the story of her mother, the audience fails to embrace that as an actual trial that she's had to suffer. It's not believable. In fact, most of the story is not believable. It's as though the movie makers replaced actual characters with sterotypes. In doing so, they succeeded in making a movie filled with people who rarely present anything deeper than shallow. A movie that had promise to make strides in the presentation of women in sports is reduced to a bad chick flick.



Name: Katie Hort
Date: 2003-02-28 08:57:18
Link to this Comment: 4881

Question I: It is advancement for women in sport that the main character is the first woman on the cover of Surfing Magazine. However, as with anything there are positive and negative aspects. It was great that she was actually on a surf board which somewhat curves the usual portrayal of female athletes away from their sport; nonetheless it was not the real action shot that would surely be included had it been a man. Secondly, why was Anne Marie the only surfer there wearing a skimpy bathing suit? It seems to me that the other women had shorts on etc. As for her relationship with Matt, I think I have a slightly different take than most. I saw her going to the football banquet the night before her competition as self handicapping behavior—if she went and didn't surf well the next day she could blame him. Then when they were in the water I liked Matt's response to her question and saw it as him respecting her competitive and independent nature. Lastly, when she was in the first aid tent and he launched into his story about his first NFL game I really think that if she could have moved she would have kicked him. Her reaction looked to me like she was indeed ignoring him until he got off of himself and got to the point of the story: don't do something or pass something up that you'll regret later. So, though I have to agree that the romance aspect of this movie left much to be desired, (or begged to be ditched), I don't think that all of their interactions were all that negative. Ultimately, while the press may not be that great, good press is press nonetheless.


Question 1/Week 4
Name: Mary W. Ja
Date: 2003-02-28 12:17:35
Link to this Comment: 4882

Yep -- I agree with most everyone who's addressed this question, but I have one thing to add, that I didn't see mentioned above. While the "Surfing" magazine cover depiction of Ann Marie will probably be followed, as other participants have speculated, by a somewhat shallow, superficial, exploitative story -- I still feel that it's an important accomplishment for Ann Marie, for one important reason.

Early on in the movie, Ann Marie specifically says to someone, I can't remember who, that she hopes a female will be on the magazine's cover one day. Thus, she has framed this as a goal she envisions for the sport itself and for women surfers -- and, by implication, for her, Ann Marie. Perhaps it's a little too cute for the movie to end with a shot of the cover, but sport is all about setting goals and striving for them. In this way, despite all the stereotypes in the movie and despite all the digressions the movie makes into the characters' relationships with each other -- the film has, in fact, addressed a central value of athletic training and competition -- reaching for and achieving a goal.

Since Ann Marie herself has achieved a goal she hoped to see women surfers reach as a group, I think you have to say, "Yes -- her courageous performance in competition, that ultimately got her onto the magazine cover does, in fact, represent advancement for women in sport."

Mary W. Jayne


Goal setting
Name: Stefanie K
Date: 2003-03-02 09:52:07
Link to this Comment: 4890

I agree with Mary in respect to the importance of Ann Marie setting a goal and eventually achieving it, i.e. getting on the cover of SURFER magazine and finally getting a sponsor. Yet, I'm tentative to say that this is advancement for women in sport; instead I would generalize this further as advancement for surfers, or maybe just all athletes. If I was a young surfer, or even just a young athlete, watching Ann Marie set out on a goal to be the first woman to ever be depicted on the cover of SURFER magazine is extremely inspiring. Inspiring enough to make me work just as hard to achieve a goal I have set out for myself, i.e. playing basketball for the UCONN women's team. Yes, I am a woman, and I am an athlete, but the inspiration I gained from Blue Crush is not because Ann Marie is a woman who accomplished a goal for all womankind, but because she wanted it as an athlete. Indirectly, her being on the cover does help bring more media coverage to women surfers, whether it is good press or bad. Therefore, her goal does lead to some sort of advancement for women in sport, yet I think the main message was much broader. I think the movie is trying to reach out to all audiences, all types of athletes, not just surfers, and not just women.



Name: Lisa
Date: 2003-03-05 20:48:48
Link to this Comment: 4956

I don't think that Ann Marie being placed on the cover of Surfer Magazine was an advancement for women in sport at all. Her picture is just like every picture we see of female athetes in the mainstream: a smiling woman, poised, and NOT competing. However, I do think that article that accompanied the photo was a mark of an advancement, but not an advancement in itself. What or who should have been on the cover? Well, I think that a picture of a woman riding the wave would have been better, perhaps a picture of the woman who won the competition. In terms of sponsorship, Ann Marie has a lot going for her other than her talent. She is an athlete, but she also fits the cultural ideal of women. She is beautiful, and she has a boyfriend, a masculine, rich boyfriend. In the sports world, one good performance does not get you a sponsor, it takes a lot more hard work and dedication that what the movie showed of Ann Marie. I was happy to see Ann Marie achieve her goals, however, if she didn't, it would have amde quite a boring movie.


Anne Marie on the Cover of the Magazine
Name: marta sobu
Date: 2003-03-20 07:08:11
Link to this Comment: 5111

I wish I could say "never judge the magazine by its cover" but it is difficult to imagine that the picture of Anne Marie in a skimpy bathing suit could in fact lead to a more sport-focused, rather than sexual image of a female athleete. I base this view upon the numerous newspapers I have seen (but I am unfortunately not able to name them), and the constantly repeating theme of men being presented in a way, which shows their strenght, effort, and physical accomplishment, while the focus in representations of sportswomen is placed on showing that they are beautiful (according to modern fashion) women, before they are excellent at their respective disciplines. Anne Marie, as a movie character, seems to enjoy being a beautiful woman, to the point that her friends have to remind her about the competition, and her goals in sports. This reinforces the idea that her picture on the cover, would be her personal advancement, and would not imply much about the condition of the discipline in general. To maintain the objectivity however, I must say that I find it difficult to understand in what way her accomplishment in the tournament was significant. It seems like she had difficulties approaching the wave, and had it not been for the more experienced surfer, who gave her advice, she was not probably going to start the surf. It is thus more evident for me that the fact she was able to do a great performance on that one splendid wave, is more of a personal achievement, which proved not that she was a great public athletic figure, but that she was a brave individual. Coming back to the subject of the magazine, it is probably already a great achievement of female surfers to appear in the sports magazines, however there is even greater work, which needs to be done before the press starts emphasizing the fact that they are hard working, strong and determined athleets. The only circumstances, in which I would agree Anne Marie's picture is be an advancement, would be if she had been portrayed in action, surfing and being a strong and athletic sportswoman, and not in a way, which creates an impression of her being solely "an attractive female who at the same time happens to surf". This way, I view her picture as an advancement on a large scale in the way the female surfers would be perceived by the public, and contribute to the general positive image of women in sports.


Why is Title IX considered a social justice? How
Name: Anna W.
Date: 2003-03-21 10:28:02
Link to this Comment: 5121

Title IX is a social justice for it served to end injustice based on sex discrimination. Social justice can be difined as the recognition of injustices and the actions that are taken to rectify the problem. Title IX addressed the dicrimination that Women during that time faced.
Women athletes did stand to benefit the most from this law, but the lives of all women changed, both those athletes and non-athletes. Many opportunities are now available to women that were not available before. Title IX gave women access to areas that were at one point dominated by men. These areas not only included sports but also extended into the academic areas as well.


How does the cultural ideal of sport relate to the
Name: Anna W.
Date: 2003-03-21 10:41:53
Link to this Comment: 5122

The cultural ideal of sport does not relate to the cultural ideal of women. The image of the former is one that glorifies men, and their physical strength and agility. This image doe not include women. Our society's cultural ideal of women portrays women as subordinate to men regarding sports. Women athletes are not given enough compensation for their talents in relations to men. This is due the to the fact that the cultural ideal of sport excludes women


How does the media-print/movie-web portrayal women
Name: Anna W.
Date: 2003-03-21 14:45:45
Link to this Comment: 5125

Very often, most of the forms of public exposure that women athletes get in the media-print/movie-web are those that depict their feminineness in conjunction to the sport that they play. Rarely are women seen and depicted simply as just athletes, free from their sexuality and stereotypes that their gender suggests. Women athletes are captured in print, media, etc., half naked or in the kitchen holding some sort of sport equipment that tells what sport they play. I have yet to see an image of a woman athlete where only she and her talent are given attention. The media portrays women and sport as two separate entities


How does the film stereotype the main and supporti
Name: Anna W.
Date: 2003-03-21 15:06:41
Link to this Comment: 5126

I feel that we should not take this movie seriously, nor should we think so critically about all of the short-comings of the film. I doubt that the film's viewers will see this film as one of those films that will break stereotype and set standards for films about women and sport.





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