Monday, February 18, 2008

Sexualizing the sporting woman

SI's swimsuit edition, the magazine's biggest money maker, was released last week. The magazine, in keeping with a practice that stretches back at least 10 years, features athletes in sexually provocatives poses -- this year, it's Danica Patrick. Although sports feminists have condemned such images as degrading to women, athletes like Patrick argue that it's a sign of their empowerment. Our interviews with collegiate athletes -- many of whom look to women like Patrick as role models -- show they are torn. They see posing as an athlete's right...but they aren't so sure about the "empowerment" part.


Jason Clinkscales said...

Marie, do you think the problem is further complicated by the multiple forums in the current day and age?

I recall listening to ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike show last week and the consensus seems to be that while the Swimsuit Issue is still an attention grabber, it doesn't hold even a fraction of the sway it did even a decade ago because (seemingly) every major Internet, TV and magazine outlet has some list of best-looking female athlete and/or entertainer. Very curious on your thoughts.

Fat Louie said...

I'm not going to keep commenting if it's not going to get a dialogue going, but I would think that the Tucker Center's work pretty much puts paid to the empowerment argument, as I've said in several of my blog posts. There is no evidence that men who view sexualized images of female athletes change their views about women in athletics, because it continues to play into their fantasies of women as subordinate and powerless. For Patrick and others to play the system consciously is not the same as changing the system. I've blogged about this several times and I keep swearing each one is the last, but the issue won't go away.