Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Why adjectives matter: The case of women's sports

I ended yesterday's post with a line about female Olympians, who are the minority gender at the Winter Olympics, receiving a greater piece of spotlight. The caveat (in addition to the fact that it actually might not be true if one does a thorough content analysis of media coverage) is that the spotlight they are under highlights their sexuality, or rather their performance of their (hetero)sexuality/femininity.
Obviously in most other arenas (pun intended) the spotlight on female athletes and women's sports is pretty dim. So much so that the media sometimes forgets altogether that women's sports exist. Because when "women" gets placed in front of "sports" it has some kind of cloaking effect, rendering women's sports invisible to the world.
This phenomenon was on display last year when Andy Murray won Wimbledon, the first Brit to do so since Fred Perry in the 1930s. Except for Dorothy Round Little, Angela Mortimer Barrett, Ann Haydon-Jones, and Virgina Wade (the last, who should get additional props for winning it with just one last name). Some media outlets were able to point out the discrimination within 24 hours, which I guess is a marker of this thing we call "progress."
But the phenomenon emerged again mere days ago when the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl--the first Seattle team to win a title since the Supersonics won the NBA championship in 1979. That news had Seattle Storm star Lauren Jackson more than a little confused (she was pissed!) because she remembers being on two championship-winning teams in 2004 and 2010.
I haven't yet seen any corrections to the misinformation.

1 comment:

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