of female athletes posing in a sexual manner I thought I would comment on this article that came out about a month ago in an Australian paper. It's about female golfers selling themselves and their sport by selling sex. And it focuses on one of the original purveyors of sexy golf: Jan Stephenson who is arguably more well-known for a picture of her naked in a tub of golf balls than for her actual golfing abilities--even though she won three majors and is considered one of the best Australian golfers alongside Karrie Webb.
Here is what Stephenson has to say about sex and sports more than twenty years later:
"You still have to market with sex appeal. It's not just women's golf. All sports are marketed with sex appeal. Until women support women's sport, for sport - and it's still 70% watched by men - men are visual. It's true!"
Yikes! She doesn't really mean "all sports are marketed with sex appeal." She means all women's sports. And then we get the lovely, Nancy Lieberman-esque blame the women for not supporting women's sports argument. And then we get some essentialism for good measure: men are visual. What the hell does that mean? Men are visual? Oh, you mean that even though the majority of the world's population can see and respond to visual stimuli that men only respond to sexualized images.
And of course there is the inherent heterosexism in this statement. Stephenson is probably not too keen on acknowledging that there may be some "visual" women out there as well. It's not news that many lesbians like golf. She wants women to support women's sport. Some of us are already here--and we're queer. And there is so little marketing directed at us.
And finally there's the actual evidence that sexualizing female athletes does not promote any kind of acceptance of or win over committed fans to women's sports.