Women, Sport, and Film
In this course we have examined the changing cultural ideal of the woman. Throughout the course, there was an important relation between being female and feminine dress. We saw that those female athletes who were able to compete athletically on the field while retaining a feminine appearance off of the field were more easily accepted as female athletes. In many cases, this feminine quality attracted the male spectator. Having a male love interest that reciprocated these desires validated these athletes as females. Despite the evolution of the female ideal, women are still pressured to demonstrate their femininity. Feminine dress remains the symbol of femininity to which women retreat. For men, sport takes on the role of revalidating one's masculinity.
The cultural ideal of a woman today is much more complex than years past. An ideal woman in the fifties was expected to be the ultimate homemaker. She should support her husband and children, cook delicious meals, keep a spotless home and embody an attractive, immaculately dressed wife and mother. A perfect example of this woman is Julianne Moore's character in Far From Heaven. Her days are spent perfecting homemade birthday cakes and catering to her family's needs. However, the movie takes a twist when she suddenly abandons her perfect life and perfect family. The ideal woman of today is no longer expected to fit the homemaker mold. In fact, many women who do choose to stay at home full time experience social scrutiny for not developing careers of their own.
In the movies today we see two images of the modern woman, yet only one of these two is today's ideal woman. The first, as we saw in Love and Basketball, is the mother homemaker. She, much like the ideal woman of the fifties, works in the house, watching her children, cleaning house and cooking. As Love and Basketball clearly represents, she receives harsh criticism from modern women attempting to liberate female ideals. In Love and Basketball, Monica is unimpressed by her mother's role as a housewife. Alternately, we have another image of the 21st century woman. She has a successful career while raising a well-adjusted family. She embodies much that the fifties housewife did-she is well dressed, can cook good meals, has a spotless home and supports her family. However, the 21st century woman juggles a career as well. In this respect, she gives up childcare, housekeeping and much of the cooking to outsiders so that she can focus on the important areas of her life. Her appearance remains very important yet she does not hesitate to use professionals in this area of her life as well. This 21st century woman is expected to be in shape. She is neither over weight nor undefined. But, like other areas of...