The New York Times does soft core pornography feature of female professional tennis players

26 08 2010

Earlier I posted that today, August 26th, is Women’s Equality Day. No sooner did I post my blog and a colleague (thanks ED!) sent me something so distrubing I had to do another post today. What I will write about next is a perfect example of why Women’s Equality Day is important.

In my previous and many other posts, I argue and researchers have proven time and again, that female athletes are rarely seen in sport media and when they are, athletic competence is minimized (click here), and their bodies are sexualized as commodities to be consumed.

The most recent and blatantly sexist, disgusting and marginalizing example of sexualizing female athletes is a piece the New York Times just ran titled “Women Who Hit Hard.” The piece features professional female tennis players and I’m sure is meant to capture attention leading up to the 2010 US Open, and is replete with an article, slide show and slow motion videos of each player hitting tennis balls in sexy attire to eerie music. I’ve seen a LOT of examples of sport media that sexualizes female athletes, but this tops the list.

This is soft core pornography and has NOTHING to do with athleticism or tennis. It is pure exploitation of female athletes.





Women’s Equality Day is August 26th…and yes, we still need it!

26 08 2010

Today is Women’s Equality Day. Some may wonder why such a day exists, or that because women are achieving at all levels, why such a day should exist. Here are a few facts that point to the idea that women are far from achieving equality and Women’s Equality Day is still needed:

  • The Gender Pay Gap: women on average earn .77 cents to every dollar earned by a male (click here or here from more info)
  • Men outnumber women in all positions of power in all contexts (click here)
  • Women far outnumber men as victims of sexual violence, harassment and discrimination (click here)
  • The structure of our society disadvantages women who work outside the home, and who for the most part are still primarily responsible for care taking and household upkeep. Families need more flexible work schedules, comprehensive child care policies, redesigned family and medical leave, and equal pay as to help females succeed in life-work balance. (click here)
  • Women and girls are constantly exposed to what Susan J. Douglas (2010) calls Enlightened Sexism (a response to a perceived threat to the existing gender regime of male power) and bombarded by the media with messages that “purchasing power and sexual power are much more gratifying than political or economic power”…buying stuff and performing hyperfemininity has emerged as the way female empowerment (See Douglas’ book, Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism’s Work is Done for a complete explanation of the deleterious affects of enlightened sexism)
  • Female athletes are rarely seen in sport media and when they are athletic competence is minimized (click here).

What other ways can you think of in which females are not equal participants? Please comment and add to this list…





Should ESPN’s Kornheiser Be Fired?

24 02 2010

Amidst the Olympic fanfare, last week ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser made comments about the attire of colleague Hannah Storm, ESPN SportsCenter co-anchor, on his Washington radio show.

Kornheiser, opined that Storm was wearing a “horrifying, horrifying outfit” and a “very, very tight shirt,” adding that she “looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body.”  ESPN confirmed that Kornheiser has been suspended for two weeks from his duties on Pardon the Interruption.

What do you think about this? Comment here and vote in this poll.





A strange day in the world of sport media

23 07 2009

You know how people claim “bad things happen in threes” well after the last 24 hours of things I’ve seen and read in the sport media, I believe it!

1. “The Erin Andrews Peep Show” which if you haven’t heard about by now, then you’re not reading or watching the sport media (To read about what happened and the critical analysis “it” go to the Sports, Media, & Society blog, After Atlanta blog, or a post on Feministing.com titled “A long History of Objectifying Erin Andrews”.) Unfortunately as After Atlanta points out, nearly 20 years ago we had the Lisa Olson “incident” in the Patriots’ locker room, which documents a long history of sexual harassment and objectification of female sport journalists who dare to cover and/or write about male athletes. What I found almost as irksome is the public’s reaction to USA Today sport columnist Christine Brennan’s tweets (@cbrennansports) about the issue in which she said female sport journalists shouldn’t “play to the frat boys” but write or respond as if she were talking to a “12 year old girl sitting on her couch.” Brennan’s remarks were misconstrued and she herself was called “sexist”. Anyone who knows or has followed Christine Brennan knows this is ridiculous! But on the flip side, as Marie Hardin (one of the leading experts on media & gender) points out, female sport journalists in her research often play the blame game when a female colleague is discriminated against. However, which ever side you fall, I think much of the public response to Brennan was yet another example of the sanctioning of female sport journalists…in part, the the traffic over both these issues crashed the server at Women Talk Sports! Even that is sad…that BAD and icky news about women’s sport and female sport journalists have people searching those terms and THEN click upon Women Talk Sports.

2. Then I read on the @womentalksports Twitter an unedited USOC headline: “Can an Olympic athlete be a pimp?” The first line of the story reads, “A lot of women will need to have a lot of sex with a lot of men to get Logan Campbell to the 2012 Olympic Games.Yes, you read that right. Campbell, to cut a long story short, is a New Zealand taekwondo athlete who has opened a brothel to finance his ambition of winning an Olympic medal in London…He has more than a dozen women handing over half their earnings to him. It is, in his words, ‘a good moneymaking industry.’ ” I think this story speaks for itself, but the most disturbing part as it pertains to sport media is that the story was ON THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE.

3. And to round out the trifecta of sexist sport stories, an article about Bernadette Locke Mattox one of only three women in NCAA history to have coached in Division I men’s basketball. “Cool!”, I thought given my research on the dearth of female coaches at all levels….and then I read it. Rick Pitino hired Mattox because “he needed a woman to burnish the image of Kentucky basketball and to emphasize academics, career planning and integrity,” and the assistants reported she smelled good….but “she was just one of the guys.” You leave the article feeling like Pitino hired a pseudo-mother for “his boys” and her pioneering position and obvious skill as a coach were lost. This type of blatant gender bias in sport media is one of the many contributing factors as to why coaching men remains off limits to women at all levels (~2-4% of boys and men are coached by females at every level) and female coaches are routinely perceived as less competent than their male counterparts according to research.

Tomorrow is a new day….





From sports, to horse racing, to movies, to politics….sexism abounds

28 05 2009

I’m going to jump contexts for this blog as I can see a trend unfolding. That trend would be overt and covert sexism against women in positions of power. It was present when Hillary Clinton ran for President (read here, here and here), it was present when Pat Summitt got her 1,000th win this winter, it occurred when Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness, it is present in the new Star Trek blockbuster movie, and it is starting up with President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. For example, today in the New York Times, in an article titled Sotomayor’s Sharp Tongue Raises Issue of Temperament the reporter wrote “Ms. Sotomayer’s sharp-tongued and occasionally combative manner — some lawyers describe her as “difficult” and “nasty” — raises questions about her judicial temperament and willingness to listen.” Would a reporter write the same verbiage to describe a male Justice? I have never heard a man have “a sharp tongue”, this is sexist language at its finest. I know I’m not the only one who has noticed this emerging trend (read here, here, and here). Keep an eye out for continued sexism surrounding Sotomayor’s nomination and confirmation hearings….all the way through the summer!