Power Structures of Men and Women in Sports
As an athlete or a spectator, it is easy to both feel and see the impact sports have on people of both genders. Athletes are able to experience sports personally, while spectators usually experience sports through different channels of mass media. Realizing the effects that the world of athletics has on individuals and society as a whole is vital to the understanding of how sports can positively and negatively effect athletes as well as spectators.
To deepen our understanding of the cultural values embedded in sports and to explore current values and power structures regarding men and women, it is necessary to investigate the effect that the media may possibly have in influencing beliefs about gender-appropriate sport behavior. The media is a powerful factor which influences our beliefs, attitudes, and the values we have of ourselves and others as well as the world surrounding us. It seems that the televised coverage of athletics continues to reinforce the ongoing division between males and females, and to reproduce traditional expectations regarding femininity and masculinity.
One is able to witness the biased attitude directed toward the individual who attempts to participate in a sport that is non-traditional to his/her gender. Figure skating, for example, has been dominated for many years by women. Often if a person refers to figure skating, it is natural to automatically think of a female athlete because of the many more women who have participated in the sport than men. However, if a man chooses to figure skate he is generally referred to, by others, as a homosexual. Most likely this accusation of being gay has developed because figure skating is viewed as a popular women's sport, and regarded as somewhat of a delicate and feminine sport. Opposing this feminine image, men are generally perceived as being tough and masculine. If men do not maintain this expected image, and choose to participate in sports that have been dominated mostly by women, their sexuality is questioned. Comments like, "Wow, what a Fag," are often directed toward male figure skaters when viewed by spectators. This is very unfair and hurtful to the victims of this false perception.
Aside from males participating in figure skating, women boxers are generally viewed by others as "manly." This is one of the most offensive terms a person can call a female boxer. The word degrades femininity, especially when referring to a woman who chooses to be active in a sport that is non-tradition to her gender and has nothing at all to do with her femininity. In the film Girl Fight the main character, Diana, chooses to train to become a boxer. It is apparent that Diana is not a lesbian because she has a boyfriend, so her sexuality is not the issue in this film. However, because she is a female in a male-dominated sport, Diana does not generate the support of many people when she proposes her idea about...