Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Sexy Athlete Debate--Again

It seems interesting that in the wake of the NY Times article about female college athletes and their weight that I have found several articles about athletes who pose for various publications and endorsers as a way to make up in money what they cannot earn--because they are women--by simply being good athletes. None of the articles mention the NYT piece or Courtney Paris--who became the focus of its attention. But it is hard not to see the connection. A fair amount of discussion arose from the article which discussed that ways in which female athletes--specifically basketball players--are defying stereotypes by being successful larger athletes at over 6' and over 200 pounds.
The stereotypes they are breaking though of what a fit athlete really is. And I wonder how radical a notion it is considering there have been large male athletes around since--well forever. Some sports require larger bodies. But that has always been recognized in men's sports.
What the article does not acknowledge, but these other articles about the sexualization of female athletes do, is that the larger female athlete does not conform to appropriate femininity and that may not hurt her basketball game but it hurts her endorsement potential.
This one is the good one about the lack of media coverage of female athletes (only 8% of total sports coverage). It acknowledges that many female athletes use their sex appeal to gain recognition but, through Donna Lopiano's comments, does not necessarily approve of this as a viable tactic for increasing the popularity of women's sports overall.
This article--or editorial--is the bad one. It's basically one of those hackneyed "men will be men and we like looking at sexy women" diatribes. Why do we give female athletes crap over posing when we don't do the same for Hollywood stars? And then of course the author thinks he has the ultimate evidence that the double standard is ok because he has a female athlete--volleyballer Rachel Wacholder--saying that it's an American issue because in Europe nudity is everywhere and it's just accepted.
Jeez, I wish someone had told me the patriarchy had been overthrown in Europe. There's a little bit of context missing here.
Oh the final nail in the the prude's coffin, according to article: women think Tom Brady is sexy.
What the author fails to note is that even if he was not sexy to women (and the author does not mention that a whole lot of men find Brady sexy too) his athletic ability would not be called into question, he would still be well-paid for his work, and he would still be widely recognized.

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