Women Sport and Film - Spring 2005 Forum


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Week 1 Dare To Compete
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2005-01-28 19:20:50
Link to this Comment: 12295

1. Trace the connections of how sport has an influence on the role of women in society
and how social norms have influenced the role of women in sport.

2. What are some of the barriers that still challenge women in sport and why do they
still exist?


RE: Questions
Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-01-29 20:49:28
Link to this Comment: 12315

1. Trace the connections of how sport has an influence on the role of women in society and how social norms have influenced the role of women in sport.

I think one of the really interesting things here is that the relationship between sport and the position of women seems to be reciprocal - female participation in sports pushed social acceptance of women engaging in activities that are not traditionally feminine, which in turn allowed more participation in sports. Gives rise to a sort of chicken-and-egg question. Why did women's sports start to gain a foothold during the Victorian era, of all periods? It's hard to imagine a part of history less conducive to female athleticism - the Victorians were health nuts in their own weird way, so I suppose that may have had something to do with it, but their medical literature was still full of strange myths when it came to females (see: Freud, hysteria, infertility, uterus-falling-out-of-body syndrome).

Moving out of the historical question, the most immediately obvious effect of women's sport upon society has to be image. (Though the question of whether we should even be discussing what women look like rather than what they do that was raised in the group discussion on Thursday is very valid, I don't think we can ignore image - for better or for worse, looks are a big factor in social ideas about femininity.) Nowadays, it's kind of sexy for women to be assertive and have muscles. It's a big shift - look at movie stars in the 40s and 50s. They're certainly not fat, but compared to the female ideal presented now, they're very soft-bodied. Going the other way around, something that really struck me in the documentary was the emphasis on women's sports being cooperative, rather than competetive. That's just as clearly social ideas about what women should be like influencing sports. Having women compete and be agressive would have flown in the face of an image of women as fundamentally gentle and yielding.

2. What are some of the barriers that still challenge women in sport and why do they still exist?

Though it's more acceptable now for women to be assertive, I think a lot of people are still genuinely squicked by women being aggressive. Though women's sports are certainly a lot "harder" now than they've been in previous decades, there are still some games in which the women's version rules are noticeably less aggressive than those of the men's version. (Lacrosse is the most obvious example I can think of.) I think there's also a prevailing attitude that women are less physically able than men. There's a grain of truth there - the top 5% of women won't be able to match the top 5% of men in terms of raw strength. According to the statistics I've seen, however, the overlap between the sexes in this area is greater than what's generally acknowledged.

As to why these attitudes still exist, I think a great deal of it can simply be put down to the glacial rate of social change. This kind of shift in the way humanity perceives 50% of itself won't happen easily in ten or twenty or fifty years. There are core elements of society that retain an image of women as gentle and passive and continue to propogate it, intentionally or not (religion, tradition, and the American dream, for instance). Women themselves may unintentionally reinforce it - many (most?) will eventually have families, and of those who do, a good percentage may choose their family over career. I'm not trying to imply that there's anything wrong with that. It's a fact, though, that in popular imagination, there are few ideas as gentle, nurturing, and emphatically non-aggressive as that of "mother." (And, hey, remember that when you exercise too much, your reproductive organs malfunction - there's certainly something going on there.)


responses
Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-01-30 20:39:09
Link to this Comment: 12349

I would say that social norms and women’s role in sport are mutually reinforcing. This is to say that one cannot be wholly separated from the other. An example of this which was demonstrated in the film is that of Billie Jean King. Although a tennis player by profession, she suffused her feminist views into the game of tennis. Interestingly enough, when the match between her and the lead male player (I forgot his name) aired on television, it was broadcast as the “Battle of the Sexes.” This just goes to show the extent to which social norms influence women in sports as well as vice versa.
This of corse does not mean that all women are necessarily empowered in the process. To go along with the theme of tennis, there are many tennis players that are attacked for not adhering to predominant social norms, i.e. they are too masculine or too aggressive. I thought one of the most interesting points made in the film was how the exclusion of white women from many sports allowed for black women to get their feet in the door.

I think the major obstacles for female athletes today is not gender discrimination but socio-economics: who has the best equipment, who has access to what playing fields, who can afford to pay for a coach, etc. A good deal of the hype surrounding the Williams sisters was that they grew up in a poor neighborhood; they weren’t trained by professional coaches but by their father. Although their examples prove that class (and race) are no barrier to success, I think for the majority of female athletes coming from a less than privileged upbringing, wealth is a big factor in determining whether an athlete reaches her potential.
Furthermore, I think the discrimination that women athletes face today is just as pernicious as that faced in earlier decades because discrimination today is institutionalized, making it harder to recognize and combat. While there may no longer be specific legislation limiting women in sports, discrimination still exists as a latent element within society.



Name: Talya Gate
Date: 2005-01-30 23:10:57
Link to this Comment: 12364

Sport has an influence on the role of women in society because sports are stereotypically considered a very macho thing with winning and proving your manhood as the result. Sports are a forward step for women, sports lead to progress as long as women are not unwilling to hold themselves back based on the stereotypes that society has instilled in all of us. Social norms are the ideas that we all have in our head of what is appropriate behavior for women and what isn't. As soon as we, as women, get passed the "social norms" and move on to what we want to be, the social norms will actually become a realistic view of women rather than the epitome of the gentile feminine creature.

The main barriers that still challenge women in sport are the barriers that we set up to fight and limit ourselves. To prove to men that we are weaker and to convince ourselves that we are weaker and therefore need men to protect us. I don't think that men actually pose a true barrier, I think that women create the barriers that they want to see.


Women Creating Their Own Barriers?
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-01-31 08:56:04
Link to this Comment: 12377

I totally agree with what Talya said in her comment about women creating the barriers they want to see. Of course, men have posed barriers for women, both figuratively and even literally (eg: on the video, when the organizer of the marathon tried to forcibly pull the female runner out of the race), but today, many of these male-imposed barriers have been destroyed by those women who fought so hard for all of us.



What, then, are the barriers which women create for themselves? I think that women are still struggling for self-definition, and until a precise definition is mutually agreed upon, barriers will exist. We want to see ourselves as being strong, able to excel in sports, able to excel in Anything, actually, but because of that need to Show Others (well, maybe just the men), we take failures in sports, or the lack of advantages in sports, even harder. It's a fact that men have more endorsements, scholarships, prize money, etc., etc., but we must remember that the struggle/fight for women to come into their own in sports is after all relatively recent (After watching the video, I was shocked by how recent it all is, actually.) and that if things go well, the endorsements, prize money and scholarships Will increase. It's not as if men had all of those thrust at them all at once - their schols, prize winnings, endorsements, etc took time to increase as well.







Name: resa
Date: 2005-02-01 20:56:49
Link to this Comment: 12424

sport reflects a woman's role in society. women's athletics got a big boost with the women's rights movements. social norms and expectations of how a woman should or should not behave, in the early days, carried over into sports. this is not an unrealistic expectation, nor should it be attacked as one. if a woman is expected to act like a lady in all other aspects of society, sports should not be any different. this expectation, however, should not be confined simply to women in athletics, but it should also be held to men. there should be no excuse for ungentlemanly/unladylike behavior, and indeed that is what sportsmanship is about- promoting healthy, and at times aggressive, competition, while maintaining and respecting the opponent.

"ladylike" should not only describe the athlete's behavior, but her appearance as well. i played softball for 10 years, basketball for 6 or 7, and soccer for 3 or 4 and you had better believe that in each of my bags i carried a brush, a mirror, and some gel. there is no reason to look a mess, even if you are out in the 100 degree sun playing all day in a tournament, or running hard for what seems like minutes on end.

the barriers to women in sport are the same as the barriers to women in the professional world: the glass ceiling. with the exception of maybe tennis and golf (although even there you really have to be the bomb), there is no future for a career in sports. there are professional leagues, but the players are not compensated nearly enough to make a living off of that alone.

p.s. the whole thing about the beach volleyball... it's BEACH volleyball. you don't go to the beach in turtlenecks. get over it.


e-conversation
Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-02-02 12:52:38
Link to this Comment: 12436

I agree with Talya’s comment on the barriers still facing women today. While I think men are in part to blame for the sexualization of women athletes, we cannot overlook the ways in which women set many obstacles for themselves. This can take the form of self-criticism or self-imposed barriers or it can take the form of peer criticism. From my own personal experience as a competitive swimmer, I found the other girls on the team to be the most critical of themselves and of one another.
Trisha was right to point out to the importance of image in the lives of female athletes since much of the barriers which surround women have to do with image. It’s interesting to consider that for most male athletes, image is not that big an issue but for women, it is a defining feature.



Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-02-03 05:18:29
Link to this Comment: 12462

The idea of women willingly holding themselves back in sports is interesting - it may have a lot of truth to it. As Angela said, we seem to want it all. There's a whole mess of concepts of femininity (both modern and traditional) floating around now. The comment about women struggling to define themselves seems dead on.

But perhaps this sort of flux in gender stereotype is a society-wide thing, rather than just restricted to women? There's significant conflict between traditional and modern ideals of masculinity also. (Be a macho stud or a sensitive guy?) I don't doubt that the female side of the question is more pronounced - there's a greater disparity between ideals to be dealt with. It may not be peculiar to the two Xs camp, though.



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-02-03 12:55:03
Link to this Comment: 12477

As far as how sports have changed women’s roles and vice versa, I think it’s really important to think about how deeply connected the two are. Trish talked about this in her answer, and it really is a chicken-or-egg question. It’s socially acceptable for women to wear pants nowadays—but was that because women athletes started to wear more comfortable clothing on the field (or court, etc.) or was it the other way around (i.e., since other women started wearing pants it became acceptable for athletes to do it?). I guess answers to particular aspects of how women in general and women in sports have benefited one another require historical research, but in general it seems to be a sort of symbiotic relationship.

To me, the biggest barrier for women in sports is lack of funding and attention. My 18-year-old sister, who is a senior in high school, wants to be a professional soccer player, but she can’t, simply because there isn’t a professional soccer league (not here in the U.S., nor in Mexico, where I am from.) It’s a societal thing—if people don’t care enough about women’s sports to support them, it’ll be harder for women athletes to get to the top.


WK 2 Personal Best
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2005-02-03 13:24:59
Link to this Comment: 12483

Sexual orientation has historically been a touchstone issue in sport. What message does the film give and has the climate changed in the past 23 years? Today, what is the message when sexual orientation and sport is discussed and what link does it have in the role sports plays in our society?


women's role in sport
Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-02-03 16:10:59
Link to this Comment: 12489

Sport has played an important Role in women's lives since the beginning. Women were not allowed to participate in sports because of misnotions of not being able to produce. Back then, women were thought of as people whose responsiblitiy in life was to raise children. Because of this misnotion, many females were not allowed to participate in sports.

I agree with Keti about socio economics being a problem with women in sports. The lack of money and interest in women's sports in society has prevented them from moving forward, and instead has led them to move behind.



Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-02-03 16:14:11
Link to this Comment: 12490

Sexual orientation has been a role in sports also. Many women's sexual orientation was question becaue they participated in sports. People had the notion that only men are allowed to participate in sports and if any one threatens this notion, they will be suffer.
going back to women's sport not advancing over the years, I believe that society has played a role in this. It is the interest of the people that allow something to become popular. It is sad that women's participation in sports has to suffer due to this.



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-02-03 17:37:56
Link to this Comment: 12495

I think sexualization of athletes is a big problem--but both for males and females. It might be more pronounced for women, since we're traditionally seen as sexual objects. At the same time though, a girl in my hall that had a huge Derek Jeter poster on her wall didn't have it because she thought Jeter was a great athlete; she just thought he was hot.



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-02-06 10:55:23
Link to this Comment: 12547

I think the message of the movie was that one doesn't need to be a lesbian to be an athlete, and that's why Chris ends up with a guy. While that's a valid claim, I really dislike the way in which the movie made it seem as if Tory had "turned" Chris gay--it just perpetuates stereotypes about what "most" women in sports are like. Ideally, we should just not care about what an athlete's sexual orientation is, period.

It's incredible that sexual orientation remains such as a central issue to women in sport today--we've come such a long way in other respects, but what it boils down to is that we still want to know is who is sleeping with whom. I find it disrespectful towards female athletes that we can separate their professional/athletic life from their personal life. And, if these women choose to reveal details about their private life and sexual orientation, we should not let that affect our view of her as an athlete (positively or negatively) or of female athletes in general.



Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-02-07 10:24:03
Link to this Comment: 12592

What was striking was the movie's attempts to reconcile female sexuality and the audience's acceptance of that. A lot of people said that the scenes in the sauna/shower room were unnecessary, but I think they were necessary - to show women who are comfortable and open about their bodies, and, to put it rather bluntly, to point out that just because women walk naked in front of each other or sit and talk to each other naked doesn't mean that they are gay. The movie seemed as if it was trying to keep a balance, by portraying two gay female athletes, and then the other heterosexual female athletes.

Yet, despite trying to be (and succeeding in being) radical for the most part, the movie seemed to end up taking the easier way out when Chris ended up with the guy. But, is it really the "easier" way out? And if it is, Why does she have to take the "harder" way? She is the one who has the right to choose, because she is the one facing that situation. Ultimately, it's important to remember that these are all individual choices, and perhaps that was in part what the director was trying to bring across.


Personal Best Comment 1
Name: Katie Eich
Date: 2005-02-07 15:46:16
Link to this Comment: 12615

Sexual orientation has historically been a touchstone issue in sport. What message does the film give and has the climate changed in the past 23 years?

I think that Personal Best gives the message that there are homosexual female athletes, but not all female athletes are homosexual. I think the movie is trying to portray that the climate has changed significantly - the coach doesn't really have a moral problem with Chris and Tory's relationship, the water polo player who becomes Chris's boyfriend doesn't have a problem with their previous relationship, and although it is fairly obvious to other members of the track team, the other women don't have a problem with the relationship. This movie seemed to send mixed messages however. In one light it was very progressive and seemed to be breaking stereotypes by portraying strong female athletes in a positive light, but then it went back to enforcing stereotypes. For example, Chris is portrayed as a very confused young woman who is swayed by Tory into a relationship, but she was really straight the whole time and ends up dating a man. She is shown as a straight woman who is just "more than friends" with Tory, and she refuses to admit that she is in a serious relationship with Tory.

Today, what is the message when sexual orientation and sport is discussed and what link does it have in the role sports plays in our society?

The message today where sexual orientation and sport is concerned is still that women who play certain sports, play a game a certain way, are assumed to have a certain sexual orientation. If an athlete plays a "rough" sport or is more aggressive she is typically stereotyped as a lesbain. I think that this plays into the societal viewpoint that a woman should be demure, passive, and weak. Strong women are seen as threats by others, whether they be athletes, politicians, lawyers, or activists.


Personal Best
Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-02-07 17:44:38
Link to this Comment: 12631

Sexual orientation has historically been a touchstone issue in sport. What message does the film give and has the climate changed in the past 23 years?

The filmmade it seem as if homosexuality was a choice or that it was simply an expression of oversexualization. In other words, Chris was not really a lesbian, shw was just just interested in sex or so the film seemed to suggest. Another point is that the film depicted athletes as sexual beings, that just because they play sports they are more sexual. This was especially true in the case of Chris who decides to sleep with a man instead of a woman. What was interesting however was that the word "lesbian" or "gay" was never mentioned nor was sexual orientation ever explicitly discussed.

Today, what is the message when sexual orientation and sport is discussed and what link does it have in the role sports plays in our society?

Today, I think just as much scrutiny is directed towards male athletes at there is towards women athletes. This is not to say that homosexuality is accepted in the sports community: in fact I think most athletes, both men and women, choose not to discuss their sexual orientation. Someone made the comment in class that many male athletes who are gay do not come out until after they have retired.


Dare to Compete Comment 1
Name: Katie Eich
Date: 2005-02-08 17:20:59
Link to this Comment: 12698

Trace the connections of how sport has an influence on the role of women in society and how social norms have influenced the role of women in sport.

As women have become more liberated and able to exercise the freedoms men have always been able to exercise sports have become more accessable to women. In the beginnings of female sports competition was not encouraged, as women were supposed to help each other play the sport and not compete. Society influenced the role of women in this way.

What are some of the barriers that still challenge women in sport and why do they still exist?

Some of the barriers that still challenge women in sport is the competitive nature of some sports, for example rugby/football is rarely played by women. Many sports have different rules for women compared to men. I think this is based on the view that women are more delicate and less physically able than men.



Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-02-09 22:47:10
Link to this Comment: 12729

Sexual orientation has historically been a touchstone issue in sport. What message does the film give and has the climate changed in the past 23 years?

I thought one of the interesting things about the film was that sex seemed to be linked to strength and power more than anything else. Come on - the two female leads fall into a sexual relationship via an arm-wrestling contest. There is plenty of quasi-sexual photography of women engaging in strenuous athletic activity. Even when Chris and the water polo guy meet up, it's her strength that impresses him. (Granted, the view he got can't be discounted either.)

Perhaps the idea of strength is tied here to the idea of sexual dominance? Strong women might want to be in charge in a relationship and might seek out more pliable partners (ie other women)? If that's so, maybe Chris' relationship with the water polo guy is meant to signify her returning to a "normal, healthy" balance?

Today, what is the message when sexual orientation and sport is discussed and what link does it have in the role sports plays in our society?

Things are slowly changing, I think. Not all strong women are automatically lesbians these days, but those who are not strong in the right ways (too bulky, too aggressive) are still under suspicion.

Perhaps the related ideas about sport and sexual orientation in regard to women both arise from a common concept of feminine nature as "docile, gentle, nurturing, and weak." If an athlete violates that idea by engaging in aggressive, physically demanding sport, society may expect her to act "male" in other ways, including her sexual preferences.



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-02-10 09:12:12
Link to this Comment: 12737

Keti talked about how the words "gay" and "lesbian" were never uttered in the movie. It makes me wonder if they would be if the movie were made now. We've "come a long way" with regards to the acceptance of homosexuality, supposedly, but I think there's still a lot of bias and homophobia. I'm trying to think of other movies I seen and Bend It Like Beckham comes to mind. Yeah, the do talk about lesbians in it--but just about how Jess and Jules aren't gay. I guess that, sadly, I'm having a hard time picturing a mainstream audience accepting a female character who unabashedly declares her homosexuality.


team conversation
Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-02-10 14:29:19
Link to this Comment: 12751

I agree with Gilda's comment on the sexualization of athletes. This is something which pertains to all athletes, whether male or female. Although we have already discussed the downside to this attention to image, there is an upside as well which cannot be ignored: image sells, it gets you endorsements and scholarships. The fact is that the careers of many professional athletes is derived in large part to their marketability. And while this marketing of athletes may seem to "devalue" the true nature of sports in some way, sport is nevertheless a form of entertainment and therefore this focus on image/sexualization is bound to remain an integral dynamic.


personal best
Name: izzy rhoad
Date: 2005-02-10 16:37:29
Link to this Comment: 12757

I agree with Katie's post, especially the part about assuming that because women play certain sports, they have a certain sexual orientation. I think in the bi-co this stereotype is often brought up in conversations about the Bryn Mawr/Haverford Women's Rugby team. Because they play rugby, and are considered "tough" or even "rough," it is also assumed that they are lesbians. However, many "straight" women play on the rugby team too, yet this stereotyping persists because of the very physical nature of the sport. Are women's rugby players at co-ed schools thought to be lesbians as well? Or is it just at women's colleges?





personal best part 2
Name: izzy rhoad
Date: 2005-02-10 16:41:51
Link to this Comment: 12758

I think in the past 23 years society has changed a lot. A movie like Personal Best wouldn't come out today - at least not in the mainstream. If it did come out, it would be ridiculed for not using relationship words between the women in the film, and for not directly acknowledging that they were women and in love. Also, the words gay and lesbian would definetly be used - I think there would be less images of sexuality and more dialogue about the politics and realities of sexuality in today's world.



Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-02-10 17:03:11
Link to this Comment: 12760

i noticed from keti's post that the words gay or lesbian were not mentioned at once during the movie. this is very interesting for both characteristics did not see themselves being involved in a relationship.
about gilda's comment on bend it like beckam and the two girls relationship. it is very intersting because the indian girl was breaking boundaries in anohter way. she was having a relationship and secondly wiht a man who was not Indian.



Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-02-10 19:36:11
Link to this Comment: 12768

the movie that we saw in class i feel added to the stereotypes of women and the misperception that society has on women who play sports. the movie was shown in the 80s when homosexuality was seen as a taboo topic. i believe though that the film also adds to the courage of the women, and how chris overcomed the obstacles driven by her coach .


Week 3 Hero For Daisy
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2005-02-11 09:53:07
Link to this Comment: 12780

Challenging the assumption of how women should act--- do women's sports - high school, college, professional, recreational have an opportunity to change the accepted assumption? In the three movies we have watched, what evidence is there and how do you see it reflected today?


Hero for Daisy
Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-02-13 10:16:09
Link to this Comment: 12825

It seems fairly obvious that women's participation in sports can and does challenge expectations of how women should act. If it didn't, it wouldn't be so fraught with issue (and we most likely wouldn't be attending this course). I think the very fact that women's sports are now common in primary and secondary education shows that they can also change expectations of women's behavior. (In my highschool, at least, girls would be more likely to catch flak over not participating in sports that for participating.)

This kind of change in assumptions about women is easily visible in the first movie we watched. Women's sports seem to have fueled their own growth. As was commented earlier in the forum, the more they were played, the more acceptable they became.

In Personal Best, there's that post-knee injury scene in the gym. It's obvious that the water polo guy isn't expecting Chris to be that strong, but it's also made clear during that scene and subsequent ones that that's one of the things about her that he finds attractive.

In Hero for Daisy, it's emphasized that Chris Ernst is not typically feminine - that's she's tough, determined, and stubborn - but it's presented as a positive quality. The message is clearly that she's to be admired for it.



Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-02-13 17:24:57
Link to this Comment: 12847

Challenging the assumption of how women should act--- do women's sports - high school, college, professional, recreational have an opportunity to change the accepted assumption? In the three movies we have watched, what evidence is there and how do you see it reflected today?

Women's sports, in changing assumptions of how women should act, have met with many negative reactions.In the first film, although women's participation in sports challenged existing norms, this challenge was met with much criticism: warnings about reproductive failure, question of sexual identity (Babe). In the second film, Chris' athleticism and strength is seen as something to be admired yet here we see that perception that strength is linked with lesbianism. As an audience, we castigate female athletes who defy womanly stereotypes while at the same time being in awe of them. Never is this more evident than with Chris Ernst: the documentary undoubtly aplauds her defiant actions and defiance of female stereotypes. Although many people who spoke in the film characterized her as an amazing athlete, as a woman she was described as "fierce", as if strong women are something both admired (as athletes) but castigated (as sexual objects).



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-02-13 20:52:39
Link to this Comment: 12857

I think that all of the movies we have watched show how those assumptions can be challenged--but also the difficulties in actually changing those assumptions, especially in Dare to Compete. In Hero for Daisy, we see how Chris Ernst and her teammates actually did successfully effect change on Yale's policies toward women's teams. But other that, how many of the women we have looked at really made a statement that changed the way we look at women? There are certainly a handful (Billie Jean King and martina Navratilova off the top of my head), but it obviously hasn't been anough, because the general public still has a lot of prejudices regarding the way women in general and female athletes should act.



Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-02-14 14:59:06
Link to this Comment: 12879

Challenging the assumption of how women should act --- do women's sports - high school, college, professional, recreational have an opportunity to change the accepted assumption? In the three movies we have watched, what evidence is there and how do you see it reflected today?

The assumption of 'how' women should act has slowly been broken down over time. These days, even if there are still people who feel that women should stick to their traditional roles, they are not able to voice their opinions as openly - society has changed so much since the 50s-60s, when it was acceptable to overtly express prejudice, to a much less tolerant climate today (much less tolerant of prejudice, that is).



With, to a large extent, resources comparable to that of men these days, it seems that women's sports teams do have an opportunity to challenge the traditional (inaccurate) assumption of how women should act: be ladylike, demure, unaggressive - not that these are bad qualities to have, but women want to have more than just these qualities. I think, though, that the women who are in sports did not take up a sport for the sole and primary reason of challenging such an accepted assumption. Most women athletes are in their sports simply because they love playing their particular sport, and if playing it helps them challenge the assumption, then that is a bonus.



In the three movies we have watched, it was plain that all the women were out on a 'mission' of sorts to fight for the right to be able to do what they wanted - not to be forced into a stereotype imposed by men. The message was less obvious in Personal Best but nevertheless still there to a certain extent. Women's efforts in sports, then, mirror the message in the films, or perhaps it's the other way around.


e-conversation
Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-02-15 12:36:22
Link to this Comment: 12911

I agree with Gilda's comment that women's role in sports may help change assumptions without necessarily changing public perception. While the dominant conception of beauty has expanded to include strong, even muscular women, female athletes are still treated as sexualized objects. I think beauty standards have changed but public scrutiny and sexualization of women athletes has not.



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-02-16 14:10:53
Link to this Comment: 12929

Keti says that beauty standars have changed, but the sexualization of female athletes has not. I think that's painfully obvious in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, which I believe comes out this week. I was reading about how Venus Williams is one of the swimsuit models. In a way, it's great because it shows that people are going beyond the white, skinny girl type in what they consider beautiful--it's great that a strong woman like Williams fits today's image of beauty. but on the other hand, SI's swimsuit issue is all about the sexualization of the female body, whether it be that of the professional models or athletes like Williams who are posing. What saddens me even more is that women with a lot of power in the world of sports voluntarily agree to participate in this sort of thing--Williams makes tons of money off endorsements and other deals, she doesn't need to objectify herself.



Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-02-17 06:33:47
Link to this Comment: 12961

While the pervasive sexualization of female athletes may be somewhat distressing, I wonder whether the issue pertains less to women specifically than it does to sport itself. I think all athletes are sexualized to a degree. Sports tend to involve lots of obviously fit people in relatively skimpy clothing engaged in heavy physical activity and a personal contest of wills. There are obvious parallels for those who want to make them.

It's more acceptable in our society for women to be passive sexual objects than it is more men, which may partially explain the emphasis on female athletes, now that they exist in fairly large numbers. But if you look at art predating women's thorough involvement in sport, depictions of male athletes are often just as overtly sexualized.


hero for daisy
Name: Izzy Rhoad
Date: 2005-02-17 14:04:02
Link to this Comment: 12970

Challenging the assumption of how women should act--- do women's sports - high school, college, professional, recreational have an opportunity to change the accepted assumption? In the three movies we have watched, what evidence is there and how do you see it reflected today?


I strongly believe that women's sports play an integral role in changing the way society views women. Female athletes are examples of women who do not take on the passive role in life. Athletes strive to acheive their goals, and as the case was in Hero for Daisy, sometimes those goals are not only within the "game," but in the larger societal context. Female athletes challenge the assumption that girls are weak, that they are wusses, that they get hurt easily. They defy stereotypes that are often placed on them at birth.

I had the opportunity of hearing Jenny Kiesling, one of the women who was part of the Yale rowing team depicted in the film (the one who was wearing the army shirt during all her interviews) speak at a conference this fall. She is now the rowing coach at Westpoint, and a professor of military history there. She told us the story of her team and the naked protest against the way they were being treated, as a way of relating to us (we were a group of college activists/pacifists and she worked for the military...) It was interesting because it was her participation in sports that led her to be a part of that group that stood up for their rights, and she has used sports as a means to claim her personal rights in other parts of her life as well. I had never thought of sports in that manner before, and it helped me realize why title IX is so important - not only to women who play sports, but every woman because it helped to change the way our society views females.


response
Name: izzyrhoads
Date: 2005-02-17 14:09:54
Link to this Comment: 12971

"Although many people who spoke in the film characterized her as an amazing athlete, as a woman she was described as "fierce", as if strong women are something both admired (as athletes) but castigated (as sexual objects)."

This excerpt from Keti's post was really interesting to me, and I agree with her reasoning here. I also feel like the film shied away from portraying Chris Ernst in a feminine light, except for the scenes with her children. It seems like there is quite a dichotomy between representations of Chris as a woman and representations of her as an athlete, as if they are not one in the same, but two different views.


Personal Best
Name:
Date: 2005-02-17 14:55:50
Link to this Comment: 12972


Personal Best
Name: Talya
Date: 2005-02-17 15:00:01
Link to this Comment: 12973

I agree with Ambika about how she interprets women's historical role in sports. I also agree with Keti. Women weren't considered people to work and make money, they were home makers...this meant that it was (and on some level still is) expected that men will make more money than women and therefore support the family financially while women support it emotionally. Stereotypically, however, men also held the role of playing sports with the children (namely boys) because that was the masculine thing to do.


Personal Best - 2
Name: Talya
Date: 2005-02-17 15:04:33
Link to this Comment: 12974

I think that sexuality has been looked into, not simply in sports, because people are curious about others' sex lives. People want to hear about their friends' and, on some level, want to ensure that they are getting more. It's a way of boosting confidence and self esteem about a very touchy subject. The American public is obsessed with famous people. When you add in something that is not traditional (homosexuality) it becomes enticing and even more interesting.

I don't think that the movie made a clear stance on sexuality in general. I saw it as two women who were in a relationship. The relationship had it's issues (as does every relationship) and they were exhibited through injuries and sports. It is very interesting how that could be compared to today's society and I think that it might represent the present (after you've replaced the language, clothing, hair, etc.).


Hero for Daisy-1
Name: Talya
Date: 2005-02-17 15:09:20
Link to this Comment: 12975

I don't think that sports change an assumption. They may bring new issues to light but I think that there are still many people out there who believe that women are not capable of the things that men can do...women only play 3 matches in a tennis game while men play 5...why is that?

I thinkt hat there is an effort made to encourage a change in society and I think that for that change to come it will be important for more people like Chris in "Hero for Daisy" to puch the boundaries...challenge leaders and make a stand. Without people who show that something needs to be changed many people will continue to ignore the fact that people need things to be changed.


Women in sport
Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-02-17 18:54:49
Link to this Comment: 12987

Challenging the assumption of how women should act--- do women's sports - high school, college, professional, recreational have an opportunity to change the accepted assumption? In the three movies we have watched, what evidence is there and how do you see it reflected today?

I believe that women's sport, whether it is at the high school, college, or professional level have an opportunity to change the accepted assumption. This may seem like a daunting task but I see it as feasible. By encouring young girls to take part of a recreational sport and making P.E. mandatory in all elementary and high schools will be one step. Also, by having female role models-for example during the Women's World Cup Soccer games, so many young girls looked up to Mia Hamm. I feel that the first step for the schools to do is encourage women in sport, and go away from the stereotypes.


e conversation
Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-02-17 18:57:24
Link to this Comment: 12988

I agree with Izzy's comments. Title IX has helped the world realize that Women's participation in sports is vital more than ever before. I feel that the first movie we saw, opened my eyes to realizing that there were more women in sports participating than I had realized were back then .


League Of Their Own
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2005-02-18 14:47:57
Link to this Comment: 13006

Much of our discussion, last night, about A League of Our Own focused on familial dynamics: the competition and love and jealousy and fondness that exist between two sisters, one of whom is more talented (or is she??) than another. This morning's follow-up question is about the ways in which the film's focus on the sibling relationship between Dottie and Kit contributes to (or reduces?) the usefulness of this movie in on-going query of this course: how do films about women in sports reflect and/or challenge social norms?


In other words, does the movie's enticing us into investment/identification w/ one or another of the sisters (and framing their story as an intensely nostalgic one) lead us away from engaging in the larger social issues (as defined not just by gender categories, but also race and class and sexual orientation...) of access to the public arena, public performance, public accomplishment and acknowledgement?....


Looking forward to hearing some more of your thinking on these matters--
and thanks for last night's enjoyable discussion--
Anne


A League of Their Own
Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-02-21 08:10:15
Link to this Comment: 13055

In other words, does the movie's enticing us into investment/identification w/ one or another of the sisters (and framing their story as an intensely nostalgic one) lead us away from engaging in the larger social issues (as defined not just by gender categories, but also race and class and sexual orientation...) of access to the public arena, public performance, public accomplishment and acknowledgement?....

I would agree with this assessment. Though the film touches on the relevant issues, it does so tangetially (albeit by a fairly heavy tangent). Yes, there's mention of the obstacles an all-female team faced in the 40s, and it's pointed out that they faced both opposition and expectations, but nothing really comes of it, and it's not dwelt upon.

The focus is almost exclusively on the sibling relationship - I have the feeling that this was what the film was about more than sport was - sport was merely a setting.

Actually, I hadn't seen the film before now - the first assessment that came to mind was "chick flick." It's a really, really sappy, relationship-centric movie. (Not necessarily a bad thing - don't mean to cast aspersions on those who like it. Just not to my taste.) It kind of makes me wonder if it's an attempt to "feminize" a sports film. May be reading too much into it, but if it is, while it may be a good thing that a studio was aiming a sports movie at a specifically female audience, I've got to take issue with the way they did it.


A League of their Own
Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-02-21 20:45:08
Link to this Comment: 13077

In other words, does the movie's enticing us into investment/ identification w/ one or another of the sisters (and framing their story as an intensely nostalgic one) lead us away from engaging in the larger social issues (as defined not just by gender categories, but also race and class and sexual orientation...) of access to the public arena, public performance, public accomplishment and acknowledgement?....

I think the social issues are present in this film bit only as an undercurrent. This is not to say that issues such as race or class are not touched upon but that they are touched upon in a superficial manner. For example, the scenes where the black woman returns the ball or where the illiterate women can't find her name on the roster. These two scenes in particular were disjointed from the rst of the film which seemed to focus primarily on sisterhood. It is this that constitutes the dominant narrative of the film, whether it is the sisterhood between the two sisters or "sisterhood" in the sense of the bonds between the team members.



Relevance of the movie to the class
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-02-22 12:59:36
Link to this Comment: 13135

In other words, does the movie's enticing us into investment/identification w/ one or another of the sisters (and framing their story as an intensely nostalgic one) lead us away from engaging in the larger social issues (as defined not just by gender categories, but also race and class and sexual orientation...) of access to the public arena, public performance, public accomplishment and acknowledgement?....



Perhaps the movie showed us that there are other very important issues we have to think about too - issues of relationships and competition. To try to frame the movie in the context of the class, perhaps this movie is relevant simply because it puts things into perspective: we have been talking so much about women's roles in sports, women facing prejudice, women fighting for their rights, etc., and now here is a movie which reminds us that women are still human - alongside the fight, on the sidelines, women still face personal struggles and relationship problems. Equality and rights for women in sports is such a huge goal, such a huge task, that it occasionally eclipses the humanity of each woman fighting - the frailties and, dare I say, mundane (maybe just smaller) problems in our daily lives.



Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-02-22 22:32:17
Link to this Comment: 13144

I don't necessarily agree with the statement that the film was not about sports. I think the relationship between the two sisters could be interpreted as a comparison between two kinds of athletes: those who persevere and those who don't, or those who love the sport and those for whom it is merely a distraction. Whether this is actually the case, the fact that Dottie's reason for quitting the team is left ambiguous suggests that the question of what it means to be an athlete is an important part of the film.



Name: Widget (Ca
Date: 2005-02-23 16:11:06
Link to this Comment: 13173

In other words, does the movie's enticing us into investment/identification w/ one or another of the sisters (and framing their story as an intensely nostalgic one) lead us away from engaging in the larger social issues (as defined not just by gender categories, but also race and class and sexual orientation...) of access to the public arena, public performance, public accomplishment and acknowledgement?....

I think focusing on the relationship between the two sisters did draw away from the larger social issues, but I also think that to some extent it needed to do so. I think the makers of the movie might have liked to focus more on the social issues, but just drawing attention to gender in sports in a Hollywood film was probably difficult enough without trying to do social commentary. So they picked brief scenes to highlight those issues and then focused more on gender and relationships to make it sell. So yes, the relationship drew away from the social issues, but at the same time, I think they needed it to sell the movie.



Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-02-24 14:54:08
Link to this Comment: 13212

Angela's post raises an interesting question, I think. If we need to be reminded of the humanity of female athletes, does that imply that role of sportsplayer is still incongruous enough to necessarily eclipse a more comprehensive identity for women? (I.e. That it's so noticable that a woman plays sports that everything else about her may be missed or judged irrelevant.)



Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-02-27 14:10:24
Link to this Comment: 13259

When I watched this film when I was younger, I did not notice the big picture what the film was trying to portray. I thought it was good that women are proving men wrong and trying to play a sport. However, as I watch this a few years later, I believe that their relationship leads us away from the larger issues. I feel that there relationship caters to the audience. When I looked at the scenes without the stiers, I become much more aware of gender categories. In the scence, when Dottie catches the ball from the African American women, it reminds me that African American women were not given the opportunity at all to perform in sports at that time. There was alos a constant reminder that once the men come back from the war, women will not be needed to "entertain" others in sports. Also, I noticed that women were only brought up to play baseball because men were in the war.



Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-02-27 14:14:35
Link to this Comment: 13260

I agree with Keti how the relationship with the sisters, takes the audeniecne away from larger social issues that arose during the time when women played baseball. If it was not for the reminders, I would have not been reaffirmed that women were being "used" to play baseball as entertainment-there skirts were extremely short so they can attract other audience members. More importantly, women had to take part of "Manner Lessons" to prove their feminity to the rest of America. It is these issues that are greatly important in the film, for the relationship among the sisters, I feel, is only part of a Hollywood mimic to attract the audience.


Week 5 Pumping Iron II
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2005-03-02 20:42:15
Link to this Comment: 13361

This movie pushes us to think about our definition of femininity and who 'owns' that definition, oneself- or others. Is it possible to be a woman, be strong, push the boundaries of sport---and feminine?


A League of Their Own 1
Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-03-03 00:56:03
Link to this Comment: 13368

Yes, I do think that the sibling relationship obscured the larger social issues at play and, particularly, the interplay between sport and gender. However, I see this as necessary to a certain extent--Hollywood has to make movies that sell, and, sadly, I don't see a movie about women in sports being hugely popular UNLESS is presented and marketed as a so-called chick flick. It'd have been great if the people who made the movie had delved deeper into those larger issues, but I think it would have detratcted from its commercial success.


a league of their own
Name: izzy
Date: 2005-03-03 15:01:50
Link to this Comment: 13384

I think that the film was framed as the story of two sisters much more than the story of women's baseball. This is especially noticeable in that they focused on only one season - the season that dottie and kit both played in. The story of the two sisters made for an enjoyable movie, but left a lot of questions about women in sports in that time period unanswered. The issues of sexuality, race and class were only briefly addressed and even seemed out of place in the movie.


response to amy campbell
Name: izzy
Date: 2005-03-03 15:04:46
Link to this Comment: 13385

In response to Amy Campbell's question, I think sometimes that women are not in control of notions of femininity, and rather that men often decide what is feminin and what is not in our society. As for whether or not a women can still play sports and be feminin, I think it depends on who is deciding what is and is not feminin.



Name: Talya
Date: 2005-03-03 17:39:19
Link to this Comment: 13388

I think that this movie represents the real issues that were going on in the US during WWII. There was a comment made about Rosie the Riviter (sp?) and the women who were playing baseball. I think that the movie had less to do with women in sports than it did women during the war. Women were earning their place in the US because they had to and were beginning to demand it. This is simply a Hollywood way of encouraging society in general to look at and learn about history in a fun way. There needed to be all of the Hollywood tricks to ensure an audience, but once the audience was in it was used to portray real issues. I think that this is particularly evident when you consider the cast: Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell, Gena Davis, Madonna, etc...These are people who are "big names" and who also make a point (most of the time) of doing movies that aren't simply soap-opera dumbing down of society crap. I think that it's not only very important to recognize this but it is also important to give them, and the movie industry, credit for making a movie that will increase awareness about history. A subject that is sorely lacking in many schools. This is a fun and approachable way to learn not facts but ideas...which is often more important.



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-03-03 19:00:14
Link to this Comment: 13394

I do agree with Talya that Hollywood should be given props for taking upon themselves to make movies about women and sport. And, like I said in my previous post, the way the issues are presented is a way for them to make the movie appealing to audiences. That's the way things work so kudos for them for making the movie, but we do have to realize it's a dressed-up feel-good version of reality.


A League of their Own
Name: Angela
Date: 2005-03-03 21:53:02
Link to this Comment: 13396

I agree with Izzy's observation that the show lost out a little by only focusing only on one season - the season in which both Dotty and Kit played. By choosing such a focus, the movie of course loses out on being able to fully develop the other themes which our class is interested in (the role of women in sports, women's struggles in sports, self-definition, sexuality, etc). However, maybe it wasn't the movie's aim anyway to focus in-depth on such themes. By touching briefly on a few of these themes through the focus of the sisters' relationship and sibling rivalry, I think the movie actually makes these themes more 'palatable' to the larger movie-going audience, most of whom won't, in their daily lives, be terribly interested in such issues. In this respect, then, the Hollywood frame through which the movie is shot is not a shortcoming, but rather very much of a bonus, if it can actually get people who usually wouldn't think too much about women in sports to become more interested in the topic.


Personal Best (II)
Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-03-13 12:09:27
Link to this Comment: 13468

I thought Keti raised an interesting point when she suggested that the film treated homosexuality as an outgrowth of oversexualization. There's also been a lot of commentary on the sexually suggestive photography, and the strict necessity of elements like the sauna scenes. There seems to be a definite confusion of physicality and sexuality. For me, at least, the question that this raises is whether society pegs athletes as inherently highly physical (oversexed), or whether it sees sports, because of their physicality, as making people oversexed. It seems like it could go either way, and in the end, maybe it's some of both.


Hero for Daisy e-conversation
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-03-13 21:36:45
Link to this Comment: 13478

I agree with Talya's comment that sports itself does not change people's perception of women/sports, and that we require leaders, people who aren't afraid to be pioneers, to effect the changes that we want. In Hero for Daisy, it was clear that Chris was a leader - she was strong, charismatic, and unafraid. What I'm wondering though, is about the types of leaders which sports needs: these courageous, outspoken leaders are the women we hear about, but how about the quieter women who do their part too, albeit on a smaller scale, and more in the shadows, to change things? And - are there such 'quieter' leaders in the first place - do they have a role in the field of sports, which requires such blazing courage and immense strength (not just physically, but more importantly of character)?


Dare to Compete e conversation
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-03-13 21:45:25
Link to this Comment: 13479

I think that what Keti said in her comment with regards to Dare to Compete, about how white women being excluded made it easier for black women to come into their own in sports, notably track, was very interesting. I feel that this brings up a question of whether exclusion is needed in order for one group or another to thrive. Is sports perhaps too small an arena for the equal and fast growth of all groups? I definitely don't want to think so - and it definitely does not seem so, because sports is such a vast field, divided into so many different categories, that it would seem that there is more than sufficient space for anyone to find a niche and to thrive. Yet, perhaps, societal rules have created a situation where each group has to thrive at the expense of another. Maybe it's partly because the audience is such a large element in almost all sports, and since the audience cannot concentrate or devote all of their attention (and hence their money = resources for sports) to every single sport, both genders, all races, etc., the media has to play up one group at the expense of another.


Pumping Iron
Name:
Date: 2005-03-14 10:47:08
Link to this Comment: 13485

This movie pushes us to think about our definition of femininity and who 'owns' that definition, oneself- or others. Is it possible to be a woman, be strong, push the boundaries of sport---and feminine?

The question of who defines femininity is a complicated one, and to really answer it, I think there'd need to be a prior definition for "femininity" - something more precise than "not-masculine." That's nitpicking though.

There are three general areas one can point to for the role of definer (society, men, and women), and I don't think any of them can claim to be its sole occupant. Women themselves are certainly in charge of the majority of the definition at its most immediate level. They're the ones who decide how to present themselves on a day-to-day basis, in the end. In past times, it might have been fair to say that men were in charge of a substantially larger portion of the definition of femininity, simply because they were the ones with the power to propogate a definition. Now, when women have approximately equal access to public outlets, I think this is no longer true. Both sexes most likely have near-equal power.

This is not to say that distorted ideas about femininity do not exist. They've been around forever (possibly literally), and they're not about to just go away. Society continues to preserve and perpetuate them because they're easily recognizeable, and they evoke a quick, knowing response. (Good advertising and networking comes down primarily to the art of the well-placed reference.)

Ultimately, I do think that it's the individual themself who is most able to control the specific definition of femininity that applies to them. Blanket definitions will continue to exist, but they're just that - they're default categorizations to cover for an absence of knowledge. They cover limited, general characteristics of women (exaggerrated or not), and should the general characteristics displayed by most women deviate from the traditional definition, within a generation or two, the definition will most likely change to match them.


Pumping Iron
Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-03-15 14:33:42
Link to this Comment: 13517

This movie pushes us to think about our definition of femininity and who 'owns' that definition, oneself- or others. Is it possible to be a woman, be strong, push the boundaries of sport---and feminine?

There will always be competing conceptions of femininity. The film demonstrated this tension: both the judges and the female body builders argued among themselves over what it means to be feminine especially in the context of body building. The film reversed the expected gender roles by portraying the female judge as the most critical and one of the male judges as the most supportive of the more muscular competitors. It is impossible to say who owns the definition of femininity because multiple competing definitions all exist at once. This is proven by the fact that the lead character did not win the competition even though she herself did not feel as if she had compromised her femininity.



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-03-15 22:36:29
Link to this Comment: 13540

This is such a difficult question, because people tailor their definition of femininity to their own convenience and biases. On the other hand, that's the beauty of the word--its flexibility. In the movie, Bev didn't fit the judges' or the traditional standard of femininity, but who is to say that we must subject ourselves to someone elses's definition of feminine? Furthermore, why is femininity (as narrowly and traditionally conceived) such a coveted ideal? A true definition of femininity, based on the ssence of the world, should encompass every woman, no matter what she looks like, who she loves, and what sport she does (or if she choose not to do sports).


Pumping iron response
Name: Keti Shea
Date: 2005-03-16 12:22:59
Link to this Comment: 13544

I agree with Gilda's comment about the flexibility of defining one's femininity. Even though there are certain socially-constructed norms women are expected to live up to, there are also many subaltern definitions which oppose the accepted norms. In the film we see Bev's love interest who clearly is falling in love with her, muscles and all. This goes to show that because any definition of "femininity" a is subjective one, this allows for multiple interpretations of what the word means to each person.


pumping iron 2
Name: izzy
Date: 2005-03-16 15:43:51
Link to this Comment: 13550

This movie pushes us to think about our definition of femininity and who 'owns' that definition, oneself- or others. Is it possible to be a woman, be strong, push the boundaries of sport---and feminine?

It is definetly possibly to be a strong female athlete who pushes boundaries and still feel feminine, but the question is whether or not others will see that woman as feminine. That's what is hard about femininity, it is so subjective. I could feel very feminine and someone else could think I was a "tomboy" and maybe wouldn't describe me as feminine.

I dont really know who 'owns' the definition of feminine. If you are applying it to yourself, you own that definition, because I believe feminity can be a feeling. If someone is applying it to you, they own that definition, and it could be whatever way their particular culture constructs femininity, whether that means painting your nails, or being more domestic, or simply speaking with a softer voice, or being petite... i mean its so subjective, which is the problem with defining it.



Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-03-16 20:32:40
Link to this Comment: 13557

This movie pushes us to think about our definition of femininity and who 'owns' that definition, oneself- or others. Is it possible to be a woman, be strong, push the boundaries of sport---and feminine?

I strongly believe that the movie pushes us to think about our definition of femininity and who owns the definition. I believe that not one single person owns femininity, but it is held but each of our individual selves. I also believe that femininity can be seen as a collective force of a group of women moving together as a central force. I believe that a woman can be strong and push the boundaries of sport. Although, some people in society might think that women that succeed in a sport are masculine, I belive that this statement is incorrect.


Pumping Iron II
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-03-17 06:54:01
Link to this Comment: 13574

This movie pushes us to think about our definition of femininity and who 'owns' that definition, oneself - or others. Is it possible to be a woman, be strong, push the boundaries of sport---and feminine?

I think it is possible to be strong and feminine at the same time. The imperative is the definition of the 2 words. In the movie Bev really pushed 'the boundaries of sports' and truthfully I felt that it was quite understandable if some of the judges couldn't see her femininity. WE were the audience, the ones watching the film, and so we got so many scenes, and insights, on her AS A PERSON - training, hanging out with her friends/family, preparing for the competition, chilling, etc., whereas the judges had only a couple of chances to see her and to see her as a contestant. Perhaps, then, femininity is a relative concept that has to do with seeing the humanity in a woman - we are able to see more of it, or impute more of it to someone - the better we know and like that person. As for the people we end up not really liking...we may just write them off as being prissy.


Pumping Iron II e conversation
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-03-17 06:59:46
Link to this Comment: 13575

I think that Izzy's comment on how femininity could be a feeling is very interesting. Feelings are subject to times and places, so then this suggests that someone could feel very feminine one day and totally unfeminine the next - or even waver between the two in a day itself. What is great about this definition of femininity is that it suggests that we can control our femininity - as long as we learn to control (to some extent) how we feel. Also, this definition of femininity makes it clear that no one is 'naturally' feminine in the traditional sense we view the word - "Oh, she's so feminine!" as if it's something natural, a gift, which can never be aspired to by those who view themselves as being less feminine - and therefore empowering, since we can control it.



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-03-17 15:28:20
Link to this Comment: 13583

In a way, I like Angela's idea about how femininity is something that we can control--we can be feminine one day but not the next. It makes it more flexible, more accomodating. But on the other hand, I still wish that femininity could be seen simply as the condition of being a woman--a synonym for womanhood/girlhood, even. The only way that femininity as a concept can stop being exclusive is if it encompasses all women.



Name: Izzy
Date: 2005-03-17 17:30:17
Link to this Comment: 13600

I really like Gilda's comment about the idea of femininity someday being synonymous to womanhood - hopefully one day it will be so that every woman can be feminine or described as such if she so chooses. I think the word carries a lot more cultural baggage than that right now though, and we have to tear away at a lot of the other concepts and ideas surrounding 'what is feminine' before we can reach that goal of including all women in the definition of femininity.


Pumping Iron (2)
Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-03-17 17:59:05
Link to this Comment: 13606

Crap - sorry everyone. The unclaimed post is mine. Must have forgotten to enter the name field.

I think both Angela and Gilda's comments are particularly interesting. They seem to fall on exactly opposite ends of a spectrum, carried to an extreme. If femininity is a choice or a feeling, that still leaves the question of what someone who says "I'm feeling very feminine today" means - the term isn't yet strictly defined. It could be interpreted as leaving the traditional definition unmodified, but permitting that it be a temporary, subjective characteristic that can be donned and cast aside like clothing.

Gilda's idea about making it a non-exclusive term by making it something that applies simply to every female in the same way "humanity" does to every member of homo sapiens does exactly the opposite - it more or less makes it a permanent characteristic and broadens the definition significantly.

So on one hand, we have a narrow definition that we can choose to apply or not, and on the other, a broad one that applies irrespectively of mood or circumstance.

Personally, I think my preferred option might be that the concept of "femininity" remain in the state of flux it seems to be increasingly embroiled in. The ambiguity allows for some compromise in precise definition, and by that token, some degree of universality.


Pumping Iron II e conversation
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-03-18 06:47:57
Link to this Comment: 13617

Trish's suggestion that femininity be left undefined is an interesting one. By trying to settle upon one precise definition of femininity, we run the risk of potentially excluding one group or another from the concept. Yet, does this idea implicitly suggest our lack of faith in the 'ultimate' concept of femininity - that we don't really believe it is one which can encompass everything we want it to?


Week 6 Rocks With Wings
Name: Amy Campbe
Date: 2005-03-18 09:16:23
Link to this Comment: 13623

This documentary explored the relationship between sports, culture and class. What do you imagine happened to the girls on the team--from now until then? How does this film culminate the W.S and F class?


Rocks with Wings
Name: Keti Shea
Date: 2005-03-19 12:34:53
Link to this Comment: 13638

This documentary explored the relationship between sports, culture and class. What do you imagine happened to the girls on the team--from now until then? How does this film culminate the W.S and F class?

As someone mentioned in class, this was the first film we watched that treated women athletes as athletes. They were not sexualized in any way as were some of the female athletes we saw in other films. The fact that it was an all-girls team was almost incidental; the point was not to show the achievements of women in sports but the achievement of a group of athletes. The documentary also made implicit some themes which were suppressed in the other films. Most importantly, it illustrated the relationship between culture and sports and to a lesser extent, class and sports. This was an interesting way to end the class because it suggested that sports is not merely a physical endeavour but there is an intellectual/spiritual component as well. Coach Richardson said that the team had all the talent but mentally, they were not prepared to win. This is interesting to consider in the context of sports because seen in this light, sports is both a physical and mental, even spiritual process.


Rocks With Wings
Name: talya
Date: 2005-03-19 17:20:27
Link to this Comment: 13645

I would hope that the girls on the team had the opportunity to continue playing basketball for fun or in college. I know that many of them needed to stay at home and help their families but I hope that they got the opportunity to continue their education (or schooling more specifically).

I think that this documentary was a very effective end to the Women, Sport, and Film class because it encompassed most of the issues that we discussed. It brought up many important points that had not been clearly stated. It was good to see a documentary about women only a little younger than ourselves who were all dealing with very serious and important issues. Luckily, their high school basketball team played well and made not only an impact in their hometown or state but in the US. More people became aware of the issues still facing women in sports today.



Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-03-20 11:00:37
Link to this Comment: 13654

This documentary explored the relationship between sports, culture and class. What do you imagine happened to the girls on the team--from now until then? How does this film culminate the W.S and F class?

This documentary was a combination of sports and culture. I think that after the documentary, some girls left to college and played basketball. I feel that after they had won the championship, many doors were opened for them, including chances to go to college under basketball scholarships. This film culminates with women, sport, and film class because it combines young women, in sport. I agree with Keti, the girls are not sexualized in any way, but this is a film on how the girls use their roots and their culture when playing a game they love, basketball.


Rocks with Wings
Name: keti shea
Date: 2005-03-20 12:40:34
Link to this Comment: 13658

I agree with Ambika that this film and the girls' experiences playing basketball probably opened up doors for them, especially with scholarships to go to college. Another additional comment is that this film was a good way to culminate the class because it was an uplifting film. The other movies outlined to varying degrees the obstacles facing women in sports whereas Rocks With Wings emphasized the girls' success despite the obstacles they faced. The film itself depicts the culmination of women's evolution in sports in the current generation of women athletes.


Rocks with Wings
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-03-20 15:54:37
Link to this Comment: 13672

This documentary explored the relationship between sports, culture and class. What do you imagine happened to the girls on the team--from now until then? How does this film culminate the W.S and F class?

I hope that, through the playing and their win, the girls realized that there was a world bigger than Ship Rock (one of them, in fact, whose name I've forgotten, did tearfully say that she felt too stifled in Ship Rock) and that they could go explore that world, if they wanted to strongly enough.



This film rounds off the whole class neatly. The other films we've watched up till now touched only briefly on the relationship between class/culture and sports - most of the earlier films focused on the role of women in sports, oftentimes in relation to the role of men. On the other hand, this documentary does not bring gender issues into play - very clearly, its focus is class/economics/culture and sports.


Rocks with Wings e conversation
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-03-20 16:05:45
Link to this Comment: 13673

I think Keti's comment about the mental/intellectual component of sports is interesting. Most of the movies/documentaries we've seen in class so far have focused very much on the physical aspect of the game. Sometimes, the mental strength needed of an athlete has been touched upon, but very often framed in the physical nature of sports. In contrast to these films, Rocks With Wings framed its story in a cultural context - the background/nature of the town was carefully drawn for us, so we could understand the mental struggles the team faced on its way to the championship. The frequent interspersing of soundbites from the players themselves helped strengthen the cultural/mental/intellectual framework of the documentary. We see the challenges that the girls face as they grow mentally, and these struggles, interspersed with clips from their basketball final, highlights the dual nature of sports - both mental and physical.



Name: Ambika Chi
Date: 2005-03-20 16:42:03
Link to this Comment: 13674

I agree with Angela's comment about the mental and intellectual component of sports. The movies we have seen earlier in class did focus on physical aspects of the game, and I agree that it was important to focus more on the cultural aspect of the game. It is interesting to see how culture, their family, and their ancestors interplayed with the game. I think that the culture of the girls was a very important aspect to sports.


Rocks with Wings -2
Name: talya
Date: 2005-03-20 20:37:05
Link to this Comment: 13692

I agree with everyone who has posted about this already. I think that it was a very interesting culmination because it didn't view the athletes as women but as athletes who happened to be women.

The same women learned about themselves in the process of playing basketball. They learned about who they wanted to be in relation to their culture as well as in relation to their peers. Yes, basketball might have offered them scholarships to schools to help them leave Ship Rock, but they needed to be ready to leave it, otherwise they would have remained there within their minds and attitude. As Keti mentioned, Coach Richardson made a point of telling them that they were ready physically but not mentally. They needed to be ready mentally to leave Ship Rock as well.

It also became clear through the movie that spirituality and belief in oneself and others is truly necessary in order to succeed.


Personal Best & Dare To Compete Responses (Comment
Name: Katie
Date: 2005-03-20 23:16:02
Link to this Comment: 13708

Hey, sorry for the slacker-ness of me not commenting in a while. I thought what Angela said in this post about personal best was really interesting - that the sauna scenes were to show women being comfortable in their own skin and to show that most of the women were heterosexual. I was pretty uncomfortable about those scenes, so seeing a logical reason for them helps me see the point of having the scene there. For Dare to Compete, I thought Resa's post was really interesting and she pointed out something that is a realistic part of life - appearance. There are tensions between sports and appearance in that for many females (especially in middle/high school) appearance is everything, and sports that are messy some females may not want to play. This isn't really what Resa was talking about but it's a tangent about appearance I decided to go off on. Resa says that even if someone is playing a sport they will still carry the basics like a hairbrush, gel, mirror, deoderant -- to keep up the clean neat appearance. In most of our class discussions we kind of left out the subject of appearance in sports altogether.


Personal Best & Dare To Compete Responses (Comment
Name: Katie
Date: 2005-03-20 23:17:06
Link to this Comment: 13709

Hey, sorry for the slacker-ness of me not commenting in a while. I thought what Angela said in this post about personal best was really interesting - that the sauna scenes were to show women being comfortable in their own skin and to show that most of the women were heterosexual. I was pretty uncomfortable about those scenes, so seeing a logical reason for them helps me see the point of having the scene there. For Dare to Compete, I thought Resa's post was really interesting and she pointed out something that is a realistic part of life - appearance. There are tensions between sports and appearance in that for many females (especially in middle/high school) appearance is everything, and sports that are messy some females may not want to play. This isn't really what Resa was talking about but it's a tangent about appearance I decided to go off on. Resa says that even if someone is playing a sport they will still carry the basics like a hairbrush, gel, mirror, deoderant -- to keep up the clean neat appearance. In most of our class discussions we kind of left out the subject of appearance in sports altogether.



Name:
Date: 2005-03-20 23:20:58
Link to this Comment: 13711

I was struck by how much class would have an influence on what these girls chose to do after high school, but at the same time at the power that their playing basketball could have in determining their future. When one of the girls said that she wanted to go to Cornell, I wondered if she had ever realized her dream and how basketball might have helped her get to it. Maybe none of those girls were able to go to Cornell, or other fancy private schools. But if any of them got to go to college based on her high school basketball career, and prepared herself for a better life than she'd had, it is clear evidence of how sports are all around beneficial--not just for the girls, but for Shiprock as a whole.

What I liked about closing class with this movie is that it showed, much more deeply that the other films, how sports can positively affect individuals and communities in realms totally separate from athletics. The influence that sports can have for women goes beyond making us healthy and physically strong; they can actually change our lives.


Week 6 Comment 1
Name: Katie
Date: 2005-03-20 23:21:32
Link to this Comment: 13712

This documentary explored the relationship between sports, culture and class. What do you imagine happened to the girls on the team--from now until then? How does this film culminate the W.S and F class?

I think that the girls on the team continued to improve, and that they learned strength and discipline from their experience on the team. Their coach was difficult to work with, and he drove them hard, but he also taught them to push themselves to their best and never be satisfied with themselves. I think this film culminates the W.S.&F. class because it doesn't question women's ability to play sports - it just accepts that they can play and pushes to other issues like culture, class distinctions, race, and drive to succeed.


Week 6 Comment 2
Name: Katie
Date: 2005-03-20 23:27:13
Link to this Comment: 13713

I agree also with Keti's comment, and Angela's that sports is not just physical but also mental. You have to be in the right mindset to win in order to. If you don't have a lot of confidence, or are unsure of your abilities and therefore think you will lose, then you will. However, if you ignore all this and say to yourself, "I'm going to win this thing" then odds are better you will succeed. That pretty much goes for most things. Often if I'm too busy, I'll just tell myself everything will get done because I can't afford to not get everything done...and then I manage to fit everything in.


Week 3 Hero For Daisy Comment 1
Name: Katie
Date: 2005-03-20 23:35:16
Link to this Comment: 13714

Challenging the assumption of how women should act--- do women's sports - high school, college, professional, recreational have an opportunity to change the accepted assumption? In the three movies we have watched, what evidence is there and how do you see it reflected today?

I think some women's sports have the opportunity (and take advantage of said opportunity) to change the accepted assumption of how women should act. In Hero for Daisy, the crew team challenged this assumption by challenging authority and staging a sit-in in the athletic directors office (topless) to get better funding for the crew team boathouse. In the earlier films, we looked at how various women challenged the stereotypes of how women should act. I think that professional sports have the highest potential to change this assumption because they are in the public eye the most and have the most influence over young people. The evidence that the accepted assumption has changed is pretty easily seen - sports for women are very common, women play nearly every sport men do, and (due to Title IX) women and men have equal funding for sports.


Week 4 "A League of their Own" Comment 1
Name: Katie
Date: 2005-03-20 23:39:53
Link to this Comment: 13716

Much of our discussion, last night, about A League of Our Own focused on familial dynamics: the competition and love and jealousy and fondness that exist between two sisters, one of whom is more talented (or is she??) than another. This morning's follow-up question is about the ways in which the film's focus on the sibling relationship between Dottie and Kit contributes to (or reduces?) the usefulness of this movie in on-going query of this course: how do films about women in sports reflect and/or challenge social norms? In other words, does the movie's enticing us into investment/identification w/ one or another of the sisters (and framing their story as an intensely nostalgic one) lead us away from engaging in the larger social issues (as defined not just by gender categories, but also race and class and sexual orientation...) of access to the public arena, public performance, public accomplishment and acknowledgement?

I think this film does have too much of a focus on the sisters (or at least, our focus is too much on the sibling rivalry). The plot line is such that the arguably more important aspects of the movie (race and class involvenent) are ignored.


Week 5 "Pumpint Iron II" Comment 1
Name: Katie
Date: 2005-03-20 23:44:15
Link to this Comment: 13717

This movie pushes us to think about our definition of femininity and who 'owns' that definition, oneself- or others. Is it possible to be a woman, be strong, push the boundaries of sport---and feminine?

I think it is possible to be a strong woman and be feminine at the same time. Bev is feminine in her own way - she isn't conventionally feminine like Rachel (I believe that's her name) but she still acts feminine. I can't remember her name but I think it starts with an L (the one with the stripper boyfriend) is also very feminine, but is more muscular than Rachel. I think that you can push the boundaries of sport in other ways rather than just trying to be more muscular -- there is a limit to how much your body can handle, and pushing your body to its health limits is not good.


Rocks With Wings (1)
Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-03-21 08:13:24
Link to this Comment: 13734

This documentary explored the relationship between sports, culture and class. What do you imagine happened to the girls on the team--from now until then? How does this film culminate the W.S and F class?

While I hope that at least some of the girls got to go out and do what they wanted with their lives, I'm skeptical. As was commented in the film, places like Shiprock tend to foster inertia for a variety of reasons - because getting out seems hopeless, because nobody really knows exactly how to really get out, because nobody wants to see their neighbor get out if they can't do it themselves... While it was fascinating to watch so many people come together and get enthusiastic over a high-school girls' basketball team, it would take an awful lot of basketball to make a permanent change in attitude.

Still, who knows. Maybe some of the girls were able to ride that wave of optimism out. Heh. Maybe a few got sports scholarships.

I thought the film completed the course nicely, largely because "women in sports" did not really emerge as a topic. It was just a high-school sports team. The players could have been male or female and it wouldn't have changed the movie at all. It wasn't about female athletes. All the athletes just happened to be female. By presenting a portrait of them as people and completely ignoring the fact that they're female people, I think the film presents a more total view of them than we've seen in the other films we watched, which fixated to greater or lesser degree on a supposed strangeness about women and athletics.



Name: Gilda
Date: 2005-03-21 12:07:41
Link to this Comment: 13751

I agree with Trish when she says that Rocks with Wings didn't, unlike the other movies we've watched, focused on a supposed strangeness about women and athletics. " It was refreshing to see that the girls' gender was a nonissue when it came to their doing sports. I think that is true of hgh school sports for many girls, but disparities still exist. The good thing is that, if that "strangeness" in regarding women in sports is eradicated in girls' high school teams, attitudes might change faster than we might think when it comes to college and pro sports.


rocks with wings
Name: izzy
Date: 2005-03-21 14:08:13
Link to this Comment: 13762

I think that this film was a good end to our class because the girls were not sexualized like they were in so many of the films we watched. They were simply a girls basketball team playing basketball. I think it also helped that it was a documentary, so it was kind of like "this is what womens sports really looks like."

I think the movie also addresses how sports can be a stepping stone for many people, out of their class and sometimes even out of their culture into another world. It doesnt matter what your financial situation is, or what your culture you are from while you are on the field/court - what matters is whether or not you can play/perform.


Rocks With Wings (2)
Name: Trish Cowa
Date: 2005-03-21 14:11:49
Link to this Comment: 13764

I think Gilda's observation that a situation in which gender is more-or-less a non-issue when it comes to high-school sports teams is dead on the mark. I think, with the shift in generations that's coming, a lot of the lingering attitudes and assumptions regarding women and sports that we're familiar with today may be things of the past. Title IX was enacted in 1972. Most of us in this class were most likely born around ten years afterwards, and already our experiences and views are significantly different from those of our predecessors. Those born afterwards may not even have the holdovers to remind them about the way things used to be, like we did.


Pumping Iron II Comment 2
Name: Katie Eich
Date: 2005-03-21 15:27:20
Link to this Comment: 13776


Everyone seemed to have the view that femininity is a very subjective and loose term so one cannot really define who owns it or what it really is to be feminine. I thought that was a very good point because everyone really does have different views as to what it means to be feminine. I also thought the idea that femininity is more of a personal thing - you have to get to know someone and get a close look at them to know if they are feminine or not - was interesting.


Hero for Daisy Comment 2
Name: Katie eich
Date: 2005-03-21 15:33:59
Link to this Comment: 13777

I thought Keti's and Trish's posts were both interesting in that they both said Chris was to be admired for her stereotypically non-feminine personality because I didn't really think of it like that, but after hearing their perspectives I see that the director really did focus on those attributes as very positive, and so we come to associate her as being a great person because of those non-feminine attributes: stubbornness, strength, and aggressiveness.


A League of their own comment 2
Name: katie Eich
Date: 2005-03-21 15:43:44
Link to this Comment: 13781

I thought Gilda's post was really interesting in that she brought up the point that it's really hard to market a women-in-sports movie without making it a "chick-flick". That seems an accurate statement because most of the popular movies involving women in sports are very stereotypical (think Wimbledon). I think Million Dollar Baby is a little different though, but I don't think it would have been as popular had it not had such a famous cast and been marketed so much (after all, Girlfight has a very similar plotline in that both have women boxers facing opposition).


League of Their Own-2
Name: Talya
Date: 2005-03-21 16:59:34
Link to this Comment: 13799

I agree with people's comments about the movie except where people suggest that it has no redeeming value. It may not have spread a brilliant message but it showed that women were not given a chance in the 40's and then, when they were, they were sexualized to a point of disgust...they became objects, not women. However, this movie does enable the masses to experiencewhat the times were like, somewhat.


Hero for Daisy-2
Name: talya
Date: 2005-03-21 17:02:47
Link to this Comment: 13801

I really admire the main character in this movie. She knew what she had to do and although she was scared she voiced her opinion and managed to get what she, and all of the other women, needed.

I really like that in order to make a statement, she was willing to go to extremes, however, she included the others that it effected. It wouldn't have been right for her to create this image of Yale women's crew if they didn't all agree...


Dare to Compete-2
Name: talya
Date: 2005-03-21 17:07:30
Link to this Comment: 13802

As most people pointed out, not only is a woman one of her own worst enemies, but physical appearance is a way to kick women down. There is the stereotypical beauty and even women who are in top shape desire to be something that they are not. There are so many fashion magazines and on the conver of each is a picture of a woman looking fantastic, so women grow up thinking that they are required to look equally fantastic. Since none of us carries around an air-brush...it is impossible. Even the people on the covers don't look like that. The women who should be comfortable with their appearance are those women who are in great shape: athletes. However, there is always something more to aspire to and I think that women have gotten it pushed into them that they will always need to work ahrder, it will never be good enough.


Pumping Iron 2
Name: talya
Date: 2005-03-21 17:10:35
Link to this Comment: 13803

I think that this movie was a disgusting display of societal norms that completely go against all morals and ideals. Bev clearly deserved to win because she was in the best shape and the most "ripped." However, a woman who was supposed to be a role model to all girls was there drinking before a competition. But, she looked like a girl...so it was ok...that's crap. I do like that Carla won because she was in good shape and deserved everything that she got. However, I think that it's necessary to reflect upon the unfair nature of the judging.


Pumping Iron 2
Name: talya
Date: 2005-03-21 17:13:20
Link to this Comment: 13804

I was most distressed with the female judge in this movie. She was disgustingly discriminatory and offensive. Bev was not how she would describe feminine beauty so she was almost disqualified for having big muscles...isn't that what a body building contest is about? I"m confused. This woman was helping to box in the future for all girls...they must look a certain way, dress a certain way, and act a certain way. Why? Can't we all be individuals who have our own femininity? If it is what a woman is doing, doesn't it automatically become feminine?


Pumping Iron II e conversation
Name: Angela Sea
Date: 2005-03-22 12:34:52
Link to this Comment: 13867

Talya's question "If it is what a woman is doing, doesn't it automatically become feminine?" is a very interesting one. If the answer to this question is yes, then all the previous debate about the definition of femininity seems redundant. However, I don't think that the answer to this question should be that quick a "yes", simply because it seems too easy to dismiss the whole debate so quickly. This question implies that woman = feminine, no matter what she does, what she looks like, how she feels, etc. This question implies that a woman in a frilly dress is as feminine as another woman in a man's suit. This rhetorical question also implies that femininity is biological - since it depends on gender, which is biologically defined - unless we call into the question the definition of woman. It's terribly ambivalent, and I don't offer any answers - I just think that the question is a little presumptive and its implications should be explored further.





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