Thursday, October 09, 2008

The W7??

I don't know how I could have missed this--could be that my eyes are just shut tight because I am so sick of the sexploitation of female athletes. Regardless, it seems seven members (the 7) of the LPGA tour--only one of whom has recorded victories on the tour--have signed with the Wilhelmina (the W) modeling agency.
The writer suggests that women's sports walk a "fine line" regarding attractiveness and athleticism that affects how they are appreciated. Yeah, fine line my ass. Everyone knows what the deal is. The W7 are not walking any fine lines. They know that if they are attractive, they will get endorsements even if some of them never win--as six of them have yet to do. In fact, they know the deal so well that they have "banded together to use their decidedly feminine attributes to tap into a potential wealth of endorsement money."
Sounds pretty self-serving, no? But the argument goes that the attention the W7 is getting is actually drawing people to tournaments who might not have shown up otherwise. This is a pretty sketchy argument. Haven't seen any empirical evidence to suggest this is true, but have seen studies that show sex does not sell women's sports--at least to men.
But people buy it. Others players buy it. Meg Mallon--who, as not a member of the W7, must fall into the category of decidedly unfeminine or maybe undecidedly feminine--thinks it's good for the sport and that once people get interested--for whatever reason--they will stick around.
Women's golf does not suffer because there are too few pretty faces on the tour. Golf has been historically a man's game. Sure women have always played, but the game (the rules, the space, the atmosphere) have always been geared towards men. Men played the game, women dabbled. Women becoming professional, becoming more serious about the game represents a threat to golf as a male domain. Especially now that it appears women could conceivably compete with men. I believe desegregation of the sport is an underlying fear that engenders a lot of the ill will that comes across as disinterest in the women's game.
So these women that pose all sexy, that allegedly sell the game are selling safety, too. They are selling the normal order of things. They are assuaging fears. Because their sexification produces a normalizing effect: see, these girls just want to be pretty and make a little pocket money; the are not a threat.

1 comment:

jfb said...

Interesting story about the W7. I used to work at the San Jose Merc, and I used to work with the writer. Looks like "business as usual" in the LPGA. Shouldn't the leadership of the LPGA discourage the sexist image? I don't see their commissioner doing that. Much like the WNBA leadership, which also pushes a certain image (by not speaking out against it) and conveniently forgets who the league's real fans are.