Shorts not Skirts!!

What do you see when you turn on the TV? In Germany it would likely be soccer, in the USA football, baseball, or basketball, and in the UK rugby. Every nation has its own favorite traditional sport, which of course is a good thing. But now, who do you usually see playing these kinds of sport, men or women? Yes, usually it’s men that have the greater media attention. Now, I am neither a feminist nor the contrary, but I thought that this is an interesting fact to investigate. We have heard a lot about marketing and commercialization of sport from my fellow blogger Mirja, and I would like to extend that to the issue of gender equality.What do you see when you turn on the TV? In Germany it would likely be soccer, in the USA football, baseball, or basketball, and in the UK rugby. Every nation has its own favorite traditional sport, which of course is a good thing. But now, who do you usually see playing these kinds of sport, men or women? Yes, usually it’s men that have the greater media attention. Now, I am neither a feminist nor the contrary, but I thought that this is an interesting fact to investigate. We have heard a lot about marketing and commercialization of sport from my fellow blogger Mirja, and I would like to extend that to the issue of gender equality.

The Sports Personality of the Year

There have been a lot of debates and complaints about the SPOTY (sports personality of the year) this year by several bloggers. This year, there are no women in the top ten list, which is considered to be an insult to the female athletes by the Sport, Gender and Media organization. This blogger states that women’s sport is appealing and interesting and just as good as men’s sporting performances, but the media simply ignores it. But through this ignorance now the female athlete’s presence in the media is one important topic that is being discussed a lot. Blogger Simon Hart thinks that it is just the right point of time for this topic to arise because of the upcoming Olympics. There female athletes are completely equal to the male athletes (a gold medal won by a male athlete is the same as a gold medal won by a female athlete) and they can prove how equally important they are.

 Woman = Skirt and Man = Shorts ?

The only parts of women’s sport that are covered by the media are sexist policies or decision making, claims another blogger. One policy that has been in the media for quite a time is, that several sporting associations think about policies that women have to wear skirts while doing sports. The International Amateur Boxing Association for example is discussing those proposals. Their decision will be announced in January if it will be mandatory to wear skirts at the Olympics.

Also the Badminton World Federation enforces a skirt policy on female players, reports blogger Fatima. This rule brought up many protests by players and associations, calling it the “sexualisation of athletes”. It is especially hard on Muslim women, who play this sport, because they cannot compete on a professional level due to the conflict between their religious believe and new dress code.

Another topic that involves women’s sport that was discussed by the media for some time is about decision-making. The IAAF set a new rule that world records in women’s races cannot be set in mixed-gender races. The idea is that women could get too much aid from a male pacemaker. However, many sports people do not accept this reason. They argue that male runners do have their pacemakers as well (the top runners are usually surrounded by approximately 6 pacemakers that accompany them for a while), so why shouldn’t women be allowed to have those pacemakers as well?

Should we be further down the road of gender equality?

Gender equality has always been somehow difficult to determine or to achieve. The question is though, are we moving backwards in the evolution of gender equality or are we right on track? And how would you describe the rules and policies described above? Some might think of them as minor disturbances in our more our less gender equal world, but others might claim that those decisions are causing a major fall back in terms of gender equality. How would you classify them?

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5 Comments

  1. juliajogs

     /  2011/12/28

    I think you hit a point there. It is absolutely right that men get the most attention when it comes to sports. Maybe it is just because men are the ones who watch sport games most. Men love sports and adore watching the games whereas women –including me- are not keen on looking any games. When the women football world cup took place this summer, I experienced that men always complained about the “boring” games.

    However, I think it is implausible that people are discussing about whether women should wear skirts at sport events. I think it is not necessary and just a desperate bid to catch attention.

    Reply
  2. tennisanika

     /  2011/12/28

    If you put it into the marketing context I clearly see the connection between athletic women wearing (short) skirts and attracting more viewers. As you have stated it is mostly men who watch sports. (and men like looking at short skirts !? 🙂 )
    BUT in my opinion the decision whether to wear a skirt or shorts needs to be left to the athlete. Otherwise I would call it invasion of privacy. It is clearly not about tradition (in Wimbledon, the players have to wear an outfit that is 80% white colored) but about how you called in in your post “sexualisation of athletes”.

    And as you are already implying with your first question, those “rules” (outfit & pacemakers) are a clear sign of moving backwards in terms of gender equality. ( I wonder if the person who came up with the skirt rule was a man or a woman… not hard to tell, is it?)
    Nevertheless, there are also sports where woman are the more popular athletes and viewers are seriously interested in the sport itself and do not pay major attention to outfitting. Think of rhythmic gymnastics. But these sports are of course less popular than soccer or boxing, so people forget about these.

    Reply
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    Reply
  4. In my opinion, the roots of such a problem we have to look for in the history. Just let’s remember, that in the first olimpic games, set in Greece, and long after their introduction the only participants were men and it was a difficult struggle for women to be allowed to take part in competitions. So, what I’d like to say is that there is no wonder why men are more interested in sports and that is the reason why in some kind of sports there can’t be any gender equality.
    And I’d like to support Anika’s opinion, that the form of the sportsmen and sportswomen is a commercial desicion. It’s known that sport isn’t a simple competition to find the best one as it was determined, but global business. So if it is more profitable for a women to wear skirts so they will do it and new supportive rules will be introduced.

    Reply
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