The Portrayal of Female Athletes in Film
Images of women in sport, and the cultural ideals of women have moved somewhat synchronously through time. As notions of women's roles and perceptions of women change, so too did the portrayal of female athletes, and the acceptance of female athleticism into cultural norms. Likewise, as women began breaking the gender barriers in sport, the perceptions of women's roles changed and the change in portrayal and perception, led to increased acceptance of women as athletes.
In the documentary on women athletes, there were images of women who were strong competitors and driven athletes that were competing more with society's expectations and limitations on them as women, than they were with other competitors in their given fields. They faced images of women as weak, passive, and domesticated. These images led to the fallacies that riding a bicycle would damage women's reproductive systems, that it was unladylike to sweat, and that even something as non-competitive as pushing a baby carriage "freed women too much." It was these perceptions of the late Victorian era, and the early decades of the 20th century that prevented women from running great distances, and shrouded the athleticism and tenacity of a tennis match in the guise of a show of fashions.
The next movie in the series involved images of women with respect to cultural and familial expectations. In "Bend It like Beckham" the predominance of role expectations on the main character were derived from her family, and her mother's expectations of her as a daughter. She was constantly being told or called to cook, to prepare things for meals or events, or to go shopping, and to show more of a concern in female interests. In this film, the balancing of cultural values and gender expectations were the character's main conflicts in addition to working at being a competitive athlete. The images of women according to cultural ideals may have lent a hand in preventing there from being a professional women's soccer team, and also may have prevented women from earning equal salaries as the men who played on the professional squad.
In Girl Fight, the issue of inclusion in a male driven field was a victory of Title IX and of Dianna as the main character in the film. This film is an example of cultural ideals following athletics. Because there were no other women training at the gym where Dianna worked out, and because there were...