Extreme Roles of Women in Sports
Sports are so prevalent and popular these days that we often see them as symbolic of real-life issues and real-life drama. The football field can illustrate the battle between good and evil. The baseball pitcher, nearing retirement, can come back to give one last game and wow the crown one last time before gracefully surrendering the field. Isn't that what sports represent? The good guys (i.e. your baseball team) go to battle against the bad guys. It's not quite war, but it might as well be war without causalities. If they win, you celebrate. If they lose, you say, "Well, there's always next time." But if we can say that sports represent real life, do the players always represent real people? Is the quintessential soccer star also the quintessential man? He's controlled, fit, focused and aggressive. He wants to succeed and he wants to do his personal best. These are all admirable qualities.
But here is where we run into a problem. In the past, sports were generally dominated by men. Qualities that are usually associated with masculine imagery are still prized in sports. An athlete should be strong, aggressive, dominating and relentless. Unfortunately, these qualities were not always valued in women. Women, traditionally, were seen as the weaker sex. They couldn't handle straining themselves or they might damage their ability to have babies. Babe Didrikson, arguably the sportswoman of the century, blamed her infertility on her zeal for training in her youth. Tired, "collapsing" women on the track field at the 1928 Olympics were enough to keep women from the Olympic track world for many more years.
Allegedly this image is changing. And women are undeniably supposed to be tougher now. We're supposed to be able to make a go of it in the business world. We can play sports and Mia Hamm can challenge Michael Jordan on TV commercials. Yet, it's often the case that extreme images win out over moderate ones. It almost seems like a woman has to be an aggressive go-getter, a housewife and or both at the same time. In many of the movies we saw, the sports woman couldn't find a happy medium. In Girl Fight, we see that a woman has to chose one role or the other to play; Diana chooses to be tough and she alienates her boyfriend. She is one extreme. Jes's mother in is another extreme. She wants to be the perfect wife and sports have no room in her world. Yet, in Love and Basketball, the woman must become the Renaissance woman. She must put aside her life of being a tomboy, make herself attractive, marry and have a child. At the same time, she may get sweaty and play sports.
I would argue that these ideals shouldn't have to be so extreme. Why does a woman have to choose one (be sporty) or the other (be a lady) or both (be a perfect woman who balances sports, marriage, babies, etc)? Some girls don't want kids. Some do. Some want a kid and want to play a sport, but hate make-up and dresses. Perhaps this hearkens to...