Even though it is 2010 we still struggle with gender equality in today’s society. Women are often seen as inferior when compared to men. As we discussed this week in class gender is constructed both socially through social interactions as well as biologically through chromosomes, brain structure, and hormonal differences. Looking at gender through a biological lens. This distinction becomes even more evident in the world of sports. Looking at the article Women’s Sports on TV News: Scarce and Growing Scarcer this is apparent. Generally speaking men are bigger and stronger then women, many believe that this translates into men being better athletes. The battle of equality in male and female athletics has been a problem for years; men have been accused of receiving better recognition in the sports they play, having more playing opportunities, receiving higher salaries, and attracting extra media coverage. Over the past thirty years, the United States has come a long way in trying to make sports equal between men and women, but women still don’t receive all the benefits that men have
7 days a week 365 days a year it’s a pretty safe assumption that one would be able to turn the tv on an find some sort of men’s sporting event on whether that be basketball, football, baseball, or hockey the same cannot be said about women’s sports. According to ESPN “The “big three” sports — men’s basketball, football, and baseball — took up 72% of all airtime, and still commanded airtime out of season. Even the WNBA got only a fraction of the NBA’s coverage — during the WNBA season when the NBA season was over.” Why is this? This is due largely to the social framework in society today and the underlying belief that men are better then women. On the same station it was found, women’s sports garnered only “1.4% of airtime, down from 2.2% in 1999 and 2.1% in 2004. Much of this was part of a short March series, “Celebrating Women’s History Month: Her Triumph, Her Story,” rather than coverage of current events.” I am not a math major but 72 percent compared to 1.4 percent is a HUGE difference. The producers, editors, and commentators whom the researchers asked often pointed to viewer preferences and market forces to explain their emphasis on men. To blame it all on the market.” This is not right women are putting just as much time and effort into their sport as men yet they only receive a fraction of the recognition.
When I asked my teammates about Women’s sports have of them laughed and said it was a joke. One of my teammates that said it was a joke actually has two sisters one whom is a collegiate athlete and he still said that it was a joke. This shows how powerful the social framework of our society is to where someone with a sister who is an athlete still doesn’t respect women’s sports. The only stage where I believe women’s athletics is given the respect it deserves is in the Olympics. While this is good because it is the biggest stage this respect needs to somehow trickle its way down to women’s collegiate and high school athletics.
Allan G. Johnson would argue that this disparity is due to the fact that we live in a patriarchal society. Johnson states that patriarchy is not a system of individuals but we are in fact participating in something larger than ourselves, or any collection of us. We live in a male dominated society because patriarchal manliness and its related structures of control and dominance demand it. We perpetuate patriarchy by pushing boys at young ages to play sports and young girls to play with dolls. So from a young age children are taught that boys are suppose to play sports while girls should stay in the house. People often talk about how sports serves as a venue to get inner city boys into college but it also serves the same purpose for girls but people often forget about that.
Not surprisingly most of the sports commentators are men, 97% to be exact. “When women were discussed, they were often presented in their roles as mothers, girlfriends, or wives.” This, of course, devalues their accomplishments. Male commentators often use different language when they talk about female athletes. Where men are described as "big," "strong," and "aggressive," women are more often referred to as "weary," "fatigued," "frustrated," "panicked," "vulnerable" and "choking." Commentators are also twice as likely to call men by their last names only, and three times as likely to call women by their first names only as if to reduce them to children. Douglas talks about how men are often Intimidated by powerful women so they either sexualize them or belittle them to cancel out their power. A key Example she used was Janet Reno; she is a prominent women figure who is powerful in the public eye. Douglas would argue that the male commentators refer to female athletes as mothers, girlfriends, or wives to take away from their athletic achievement and reduce their power. Even when I googled women athletes the first thing that popped up was a link to the top 15 sexiest women. I laughed but at the same time that just shows how our society is set up. This has nothing to do with athletic ability but is based purely on looks as if to say we don’t care about you as an athlete we just care what you look like. When u scroll down a little you see a link to the top 10 greatest female athletes I expected something like this to come up first. I believe that the hyper sexualized portrayal of female athletes in the media contributes to the lack of respect women’s athletics receives. Anna Kornakova is an athlete and one of the premiere tennis players but she receives more attention for her looks then her actual ability. While male sports starts are often seen in the media in action photos female athletes are often seen like this.
Few steps have been taken in order to close the gap between men and women’s athletics. Title IX was one of those steps taken to close this gap it states: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Even with Title IX playing a role in athletics, men still obtain more playing opportunities than women. Title IX however has also caused controversy in order to create balance existing men’s programs are cancelled to create room for new women’s programs. There are now women’s football leagues, pretty much any sport a man can play a women can now play too just on a lesser scale.
The article ends by listing a few ideas on how we can begin to fix this problem: “The mass media can develop and support more women sports reporters and commentators. Sports organizations can provide the sports media with more and better information about women athletes. Viewers can ask producers of sports programs for more and better coverage of women’s sports and complain about sexist treatment of women in sports news and highlights shows.” I think this is a good list with media coverage being the front-runner in changing this culture. However changing this problem cannot be solely left on the shoulders of men women also have to contribute. Women can start to change this stereotype by demanding more respect in advertisements, cutting down on sexual poses. If women begin to demand more respect for themselves in the media I think they will slowly begin to gain respect for their respective sports. Reading this article has also made me examine my own views. Prior to taking this course I had little concern for women’s rights let alone women’s athletics. People rarely take time to think about issues that do not directly affect them or anyone close to them. This is the case with me and women’s athletics I had to take a step back and realize that I am in fact part of the problem. I also think that if people knew the extent of the gap between men and women’s athletics they would begin to do something about it. The first part of correcting a problem is realizing that a problem exists.
"Women's Sports on TV News: Scarce and Growing Scarcer." Women's Rights | Change.org. Web. 01 Oct. 2010.