Tattooing the body, a traditionally masculine and, in some interpretations, deviant practice is increasingly being adopted by women. Contemporary boundaries of acceptable feminine presentation are changing to accept a body that is somewhat more masculine, including tone and muscle. However, for many women athletes strict conformity to feminine standards of presentation is often necessary to avoid the negative consequences of a collective public gaze which tends to judge her more on her outward appearance than on her athletic abilities. Physical attributes of the woman athlete often transgress the hazy dividing line between feminine and masculine and prompt frequent challenges to the femininity and sexuality of a woman athlete. How then might women athletes negotiate the shifting signifiers of having a tattoo within their self-surveillance of feminine presentation? Two hundred forty-five university-aged Canadian women athletes were surveyed to gain insight regarding their practices and interpretations of permanent and temporary tattooing. Results showed that a significantly smaller number of subjects had permanent tattoos than might be expected in a university population; however a majority utilized temporary tattoos in game situations as a motivating factor for their team. For this sample population, the desire for tattooing the body came as an indicator of achieving a significant sporting accomplishment such as making an Olympic team or winning a national championship.
Dayna B. Daniels
Never have women athletes made such rapid progress in a wide range of events in such a short time — some two or three years — or improved world records by such remarkable margins. The reasons for the progress of Chinese women athletes are examined in this article. One of the reasons is an absence in China of a number of deep-seated prejudices in regard to sexuality that have been common in western historical develoment — prejudices centred on the notion that sport was a ‘male preserve’.
The major factors that have facilitated Chinese women’s progress in sport have to be sought in various elements intrinsic to Chinese society and shaped by historically-conditioned attitudes to sport and women that differ markedly from those that have formed the dominant values of sport in western society, at least since the time of Ancient Greece.
Insosfar as world-wide women’s sporting attainments are reflecting, reinforcing and sometimes even precipitating processes of social change in the role and status of women, the Chinese women’s example offers exciting prospects for the future of women in all societies, particularly the modernising communities of Asia and Africa.
Fred Mason and Geneviève Rail
Newspaper photographs of athletes at the 1999 Pan-American Games from five Canadian newspapers were analyzed for sexual differences in amount and content. Improvements in media coverage were noted over earlier studies. The percentage of photographs of women athletes was very close to that of men, and bettered their participation rate. There was also little difference in the camera angles used or in the activity level of the athletes pictured. However, sexual differences were still created in very subtle ways. Photographs of men were more likely to appear in prominent locations in the newspaper. Women in some stereotypically “male-appropriate” sports received coverage that brought them back into line with feminine ideals and mitigated their “gender transgressions.” Results suggest that women in the sports media are receiving greater amount of coverage, but the media still maintains practices that subtly create and naturalize sexual differences and set particular sports off as appropriate only for men.
D. Stanley Eitzen and Maxine Baca Zinn
American colleges and universities use nicknames, colors, logos, and mascots as identifying and unifying symbols, especially concerning their athletic teams. This paper examines the dark side of these solidarity symbols by reporting the incidence and patterns found in the naming of collegiate men’s and women’s athletic teams. The data from 1,185 four-year schools reveal that more than half of American colleges and universities employ names, mascots, and/or logos that demean and derogate women’s teams. There are no significant differences in naming patterns by type of school (public, independent, or religious), but region is significant, with Southern schools more likely to use sexist names than schools elsewhere. The various sexist naming practices contribute to the maintenance of male dominance within college athletics by defining women athletes and women’s athletic programs as second class and trivial.
Michela Musto and P.J. McGann
The apologetic strategies women employ to manage the cultural tension between athleticism and hegemonic femininity are well documented. Existing research, however, tends to be small-scale. The cumulative symbolic implications of female athlete appearance on cultural ideals remain under-theorized as a result. Our quantitative content analysis of a stratified, random sample of 4,799 collegiate women athletes’ roster photos examined whether sport, school type, and geographical location are related to gendered appearance. Despite important contextual variation, we found overwhelming homogeneity across settings. Our results suggest that the normalization of women’s athleticism is limited and depends on subordinated femininities. Thus, despite some positive changes, team sport still helps stabilize and naturalize the gender order.
Jenny Lind Withycombe
Stereotypes have the power to dynamically structure African American female athletes’ oppression (Buysse & Embser-Herbert, 2004; Kane, 1996), for example, by trivializing their athletic efforts (Douglas, 2002). The purpose of this paper was to examine how African American women athletes experience such stereotypes. Drawing from Collins (1990) and Crenshaw’s (1991) work on intersectionality, data were gathered from eight African American female athletes regarding their sport experiences. Qualitative analyses revealed two major themes: Gendered Stereotypes and Racial Stereotypes. Findings suggested that complex intersections of these stereotypes significantly impacted African American female athletes’ sport experiences. It is concluded that future research should explore in greater depth the sexist, racist, and classist incidences of African American female athletes’ experiences at all levels of sport participation.
Stephan R. Walk
Recent work has suggested that masculinist sport subcultures (e.g., Young & White, 1995) and “conspiratorial” sports organizations (Nixon, 1992a) foster the acceptance of pain and injury by athletes. Using semistructured interviews, this study examined the experiences and beliefs of 22 student athletic trainers at a large university. The study found that student athletic trainers had conflicting alliances to student athletes and to staff trainers, held competing beliefs about athlete pain and injury, and struggled with athletes who did not properly use health care services and advice. It is recommended that future studies focus upon processes of negotiation and conflict, that more attention be directed to medical treatment of injured women athletes, and that recommendations to change medical services for athletes await further research.
Nicolas Apostolis and Audrey R. Giles
This research note examines Golf Digest’s depictions of gender through the publication’s portrayals of women in its 2008 issues. Through the use of intersectional theory and critical discourse analysis of the contents within Golf Digest, we found that despite its emerging use of women columnists and content concerning women in articles or advertisements, the magazine mainly reproduced dominant images about white, wealthy, heterosexual women athletes. In particular, we argue that the magazine often reinforces exclusionary attitudes toward women golfers by maintaining systems of privilege and oppression that benefit wealthy, white, heterosexual males. As such, we focus on gender as the most visible intersectional identity with white males, and discuss how including mainly white, wealthy, heterosexual women also conveys messages about other women’s involvement in golf.
Elaine M. Blinde, Diane E. Taub and Lingling Han
This exploratory study examines the potential of intercollegiate sport participation to empower women at the group and societal levels. Telephone interviews were conducted with 24 women athletes from various sport teams at three Division I universities. Findings demonstrate that at the group level, sport facilitates female bonding and the development of a group identity and common goals. Empowerment at the societal level was noted when athletes indicated that their participation in sport challenged societal perceptions of women as well as making them more aware of gender inequalities in sport. However, the sport context did not appear to be an effective vehicle in enhancing athletes’ consciousness as women or encouraging their activism in support of women’s issues.
Ellen J. Staurowsky, Heather Lawrence, Amanda Paule, James Reese, Kristy Falcon, Dawn Marshall and Ginny Wenclawiak
As a measure of progress, the experiences today of women athletes in the state of Ohio are far different from those attending institutions of higher learning just after the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. But how different, and how much progress has been made? The purpose of this study was to assess the level of progress made by compiling and analyzing data available through the Equity in Athletics Disclosure reports filed by 61 junior colleges, four year colleges, and universities in the State of Ohio over a four year span of time for the academic years 2002-2006.2 The template for this study was the report completed by the Women’s Law Project examining gender equity in intercollegiate athletics in colleges and universities in Pennsylvania (Cohen, 2005), the first study of its kind. Similar to that effort, this study assesses the success with which intercollegiate athletic programs in Ohio have collectively responded to the mandates of Title IX in areas of participation opportunities and financial allocations in the form of operating budgets, scholarship assistance, recruiting and coaching.3