Women and the World Cup

16 06 2010

The 2010 World Cup in upon us and with it a host of things to keep a critical eye upon. I’ve written before that women are rarely perceived to sports fans or knowledgeable about “real”  (i.e., men’s professional) sports, even though both are true.

I’m keeping my eye on how female fans of the World Cup are being included, erased and portrayed in the media. I have two contrasting examples to share.

1. The first is a page on Deadspin dedicated to “sexy world cup fans” (i.e., scantily clad women). The narrative accompanying the photos suggests the featured attractive women in attendance could not possibly be real fans, but planted there as marketing ploys. I’m not naive enough to believe this doesn’t happen, but the text is offensive. The author insinuates that women would not attend a World Cup game possibly because they enjoy and know the game, but were paid to attend. You would never see pictures of sexy male fans and text that implied they were planted…would you?

2. The second is a Portuguese ad that suggests women do enjoy and know soccer. It is a nice contrast to how female fans are usually portrayed. As Jezebel.com points out, this ad is in nice contrast to the 2010 Super Bowl ads that insinuate that women ruin the lives of men.

If you have anything to share along these lines, please comment here or send it my way!

Another Example of Sexism in Sport

9 06 2010

This started as a repost from Christine Brennan’s blog about the sexist ad the Chicago Tribune ran featuring NHL Flyers player Chris “Chrissy” Pronger, and has turned into more. It always amazes me that feminizing male professional athletes is seen as humorous, an appropriate marketing strategy, and a savvy attempt to denigrate a male athlete’s level of play.

Sports bloggers have weighed in as well here, and here as well as others.

Late Addition/More Thoughts: So I’ve been thinking about this issue some more and have additional thoughts after discussing it with Austin Stair Calhoun (one of our graduate students at the U of MN who appeared on Fox 9 News to discuss the issue…she raises some additional points as well and the piece is worth watching). Many have been asking the question, “What is the effect of this picture on young girls?” I can’t say for sure, but I think the bigger more interesting question is-“What does this picture communicate to young boys?” It tells boys that being associated with anything female is to be feared, avoided, and mocked, let alone face the stigma of have one’s sexuality called in question by being feminized (which unfortunately is still not deemed positive).

Does this create tolerant and equality-minded boys that grow up to be men who act respectful and empowering towards the women in their lives and the workplace? I would argue it communicates to everyone that it is appropriate to objectify women and make fun of men by equating them with the “lesser sex”. Females are not treated equally in the workplace and anyone who argues otherwise is just plain wrong. To read more about this issue, there are numourous sites– go to The Equality Myth, this Newsweek article or this one,or the Womens Media piece. Many, including sport columnists and commentators, have said the ad was “just in fun, and meant to be humorous”. The tactic of minimizing the impact of a sexist or racist comment and dismissing it as humor has long been used as a strategy to ignore and erase the real impact, by discrediting the person who raises the issue by accusing them of being stuffy and politically correct. I’m sure I’ll have more to say after I finish the books in my Summer Reading List, which can be found in the right margin of this blog.

Late Addition: 6/17/10  Read the Women’s Sports Foundation press statement and response to the Pronger ad here.