Week 14 Prompt Two-Helling

abby wambach

Marketing any new professional sports league is a difficult undertaking. There are powerful traditions and habits in place that drive people’s behavior. Adding on the fact that it’s a women’s league and the game being played is soccer, and you are going to have a rough go of it in the United States. I am not sure that without some massive cultural shifts, it will ever work financially. Of course, without attempts at making those cultural shifts occur, it would probably never happen. The strategy for this must be a winning one, because those involved have already been spotted a huge deficit before the game even begins.
Joanna Lohman is a player in the newest attempt at a women’s professional soccer league. She writes an essay about her opinion at what the marketing strategy should be for the new league. In response to Lohman’s essay, an article was penned by Kevin Parker in rebuttal of many of Lohman’s ideas. There is one huge fact that both voices have completely avoided in their arguments, and that is that the main source of revenue for the big boys is not fans.
Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL and NHL all get the largest piece of their revenue pies from broadcasting contracts. Ticket sales, concessions takes, merchandise royalties all add into that pie, but the biggest slice comes from selling broadcasting rights. If you took away the money these leagues get from media outlets which pay to broadcast the games, the leagues would be a shell of what they are now. The main point is that even the all-powerful NFL could not survive on the scale it has reached solely on the wallets of its fans.
So how should a women’s professional soccer league market itself? The real money is in convincing TV networks and radio groups that your product is worth buying. You have to convince them that if they broadcast your games, they will get enough of a market share to take those numbers and sell it to potential advertisers. That’s the golden ticket.
How the proponents of this women’s professional soccer league will compete for limited resources such as sports broadcast dollars when facing such obstacles such as gender ideology, the heterosexual matrix and even an American exceptionalism anti-soccer bias in sports is a difficult question to answer in a positive way. If ever a women’s professional soccer league is sustainable in the United States, they will have hurdled major obstacles to get to that point.


Week 14 Prompt One-Helling


Amanda Levitt writes the blog, Fat Body Politics. In a post dated October 6th of this year and entitled “Bullying it’s Not Just for Kids,” Levitt explains how she sees the ideology that bullying stops when people become of a certain age and that adults don’t have to deal with the problem as an issue in our society.
The most interesting point that Levitt made was her argument that if society called bullying by more specific terms such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. that we could more directly address the problem instead of sweeping under the all-encompassing rug of bullying. Levitt argues that children should be taught about each of these issues individually.
My question in response to that is more logistical than philosophical. I agree with Levitt in theory. There are many questions to be asked about at what age children/youth could adequately grasp these concepts and how best to instruct them about the issues. Teaching them about these dynamics of power lines in society at an age too young would be futile, too old could be too late. If educators have ineffective methods, even if given at the right age, then the lessons once again might not get the job of broadening minds done.
The other criticism I have to offer in connection to this idea is that if we deliberately teach children tolerance, we also run the risk of too narrowly defining the roles that people of varying gender expressions, sexualities and racial identities must fit into. We say that if someone looks or acts a certain way, then they must be (insert label), so don’t make fun of them for that. We end up perpetuating the system of categorization and rigid roles.
This is similar to Adams, Franklin and Schmitke wrote about in their article “Tomboys, Dykes and Girly Girls: Interrogating the Subjectivities of Adolescent Female Athletes.” In the article, Adams et al. write that teenage female athletes present themselves in a certain way because they have been taught it is necessary to be read in society as heterosexual women. No one has to enforce these norms with these young ladies, but rather, “the regulation of the female body is accomplished through a variety of self-regulatory mechanisms, such as the adherence to ideals of beauty that require women to maim and deface their bodies, control their food intake, and take up as little space as possible.”
In the same way Adams et al. argue female adolescents regulate themselves to appear heterosexually female, we could create a culture in which other groups similarly regulate. If we present a list of characteristics to watch out for, we send a couple messages. First, that adolescents whom wish to identify themselves in like manners must adhere to those behaviors and secondly that all those whom exhibit those behaviors must wish to identify with those labels. Both messages could be potentially harmful.

Tristan Meade Prompt: 3

I believe that there is a large difference between Men and women’s sports when it comes to homophobia and heterosexism. Men are looked at in society in such a way that they are “the bread winners” or “the protectors”.  They are supposed to look and act a certain way and this image just becomes more magnified in men’s sports.  Because of this pressure to conform to how society views male athletes, men are more cautious about coming out to their fellow teammates.

Female athletes are perceived in a more masculine way, causing society to associate certain terms such as “dyke”, “lesbian”, “butch”,  and “masculine”.  Women in society are excepted to look beautiful, skinny, tan and fit in order to fit into society and that has caused a lot of younger women to put a huge chip on their shoulders to look and act a certain way.  Because of the pressures of society male and female athletes are being pressured to keep their sexual orientation quite, especially if it goes against the “social norm”.

Male athletes feel that they need to play their role in their sport.  If a male plays a sport he feels as though he is supposed to be a heterosexual male, who is strong, fit and good at what he does.  Also the factor of being attractive to the public eye is a huge deal.  Men especially in sports such as football haven’t come out because of the fact that society see’s football players as the most masculine and heterosexual athletes, and these athletes have to fulfill that role in society.  No athlete wants to be the first to come out in their sport either.

Women have come out and addressed their sexuality publicly and dealt with the media in a very tame manor.  These women feel like they needed to stand up for themselves and their sports and let other people know that it is ok to express yourself and your feelings about your sexuality.

Because men have always been seen as the greater sex, they feel as if they can not come out especially in more masculine sports such as football.  Men feel like the consequences of coming out publicly especially being on a professional team would put too much attention on them and some are even afraid of the backlash that they will get if they do come out.  Looking at these facts I believe that male sports are definitely more homophobic then women’s sports, just because a lot more women have come out, and feel comfortable in their own skin to do so.

These women know that there will be backlash and a lot of publicity with their announcement but because of the support system that they have they aren’t afraid to come out.  Whether you are a homosexual or not people need to realize that everyone is an individual and that everyone is different.  Just because someone is gay doesn’t mean that they are more or less weak than they would be if they are heterosexual.  And the fact that people can not accept the fact that people like other people of the same sex just boggles my mind because our society has come so far in accepting certain aspects of life and the fact that people can not accept these people for how they feel just saddens me.

Prompts for Week 14: Homophobia & Heterosexism

Please choose one of the following prompts. If you’d like to write on another topic, let me know and we can chat about it.

Prompt 1: We talked briefly about the link between homophobia and bullying. Please read this Fat Body Politics Blog and discuss how calling a female athlete a “dyke” works with regard to power, the heterosexual matrix, and ideology.

Prompt 2: Beginning next spring there will be a new, yet un-named women’s professional soccer league. Since the announcement many stakeholders and scholars have been debating how to properly market the league. Given our discussions this semester, what strategies would you promote? Which would you critique? And are there any other strategies which the league might consider?

Prompt 3: There seems to be a common assumption that men’s sport is more homophobic than women’s sport. In the past several weeks we have worked our way through “attractiveness,” muscles, femininity, race, and sex/gender/sexuality. We’ve seen how sports have change their rules and policies to be more “feminine” and how female athletes are expected to look and act in certain ways. Is men’s sport “more homophobic,” or does the homophobia/heterosexism just look different?

Prompt 4: We had a very good discussion about the ways we might combat homophobia and heterosexism in women’s sport. How might we actually put these things into practice?

Lauren Moss: Prompt 1


Muscles are a sign of toughness and tell a story of a path to success. It is a prized possession that many athletes cherish and that the average person plans to achieve. All athletes should be proud of their bodies, but society is giving out the message that female muscles are unattractive.  For female athletes, muscles seem to be a contradiction to society’s picture of the “perfect woman.” Our culture today, depicts the ideal woman as petite, thin while looking “tight and fit.” Unfortunately, that picture perfect woman that society tells us all to be, is extremely hard to achieve and not common today.

Female athletes with muscles have never been described as the perfect body that the average woman wants. Shawn Johnson, Olympic Gold medalist gymnast, has constantly been scrutinized for her body in society. There have been times when she was photographed in regular clothes and called “fat.” This woman is nowhere near fat and in fact extremely fit.

Johnson’s weight led to “hurtful” comments in the tabloids.

“That whole process kind of broke me down and taught me something,” she said. “People put too much emphasis on looks.” -USA Today

Even when she was at the top of the gymnastics world, Johnson battled weight issues.

“I was at the Olympic Games winning medals and I still doubted my image,” she said. “I doubted what I looked like. That’s sad. Girls should be taught different than that. I think everyone should be taught different than that” she said.

Johnson put on the weight after the 2008 Olympics and her 2009 victory on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” She tore her ACL during a freak skiing accident in early 2010 and added some heft to her athletic 4-foot-9 frame. Johnson said she’d perform Internet searches for her name and was horrified at the results.

We seem to have a skewed vision of what is beautiful. We are creating a hurtful world where if a woman puts on 5 pounds, she is seen as fat. Anorexia and Bulimia seem to unfortunately be common problems in today’s world. As a member of a sorority house who lives with 64 other girls, I have seen girls go through these struggles in order to look thin.

Muscles are beautiful. Women should be proud of their muscles, instead of being afraid how society will depict their image. As a society, we need to change our mindset and learn that all women are beautiful.

Kylie S. Prompt 4

ImageThinness as a standard for feminine beauty has created issues within female athletics for decades. Yet, the sport which it seems to be most prevalent in is women’s gymnastics. Gymnasts enter the sport at an extremely early age and are encouraged to maintain a small, girlish figure throughout their career. This fact often contributes to female gymnasts turning to extreme measures like anorexia and bulimia to remain as thin as possible. One such gymnast who struggled with eating disorders throughout her career was nine time Olympic medalist, Nadia Comaneci. She was the first ever gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10 for a performance, but had to sacrifice along the way to sustain perfection. Another gymnast who struggled immensely with the expectation of thinness and perfection, and ultimately died from organ failure was Christy Henrich. She was told by judges she was too large for the Olympics team and would need to lose weight in order to make it. In desperation, Henrich turned to anorexia and bulimia and lost 47 pounds taking her down to only 60 pounds and shortly after she passed away at 22-years-old.

Gymnastics is not the only sport where the athletes suffer from this expectation. It is extremely prevalent in professional ballet, as well. The expectation for thinness in our culture pushes female athletes to overwork their bodies on little to no fuel. In cases like Henrich near the end of her life, it causes these women to have to completely stop participating in sport. In cases like Comaneci, it caused her to feel weak and never 100 percent. She felt pressure from constantly living under the spotlight and posing for countless magazines. This can be said for many female athletes. The pressure of thinness is always in the back of their minds as it is for most women in our society. However, for these women, energy is vital and they are unable to perform to their fullest when they are continually exposed to the expectation of perfection.  

It also causes these women to experience their bodies in a negative way. If they are stressing about whether they are thin enough, they are often not building the muscle mass they need to perform in elite athletics. They may never be satisfied with their appearance even if their performance is exceptional. It’s an ongoing cycle which will not end unless the media takes some of the pressure off by relenting from the obsession of thin women.


Donnelly: Prompt 3

Sports such as body lifting, weight lifting, and MMA are typically sports that males dominate in, we don’t usually see as many women who participate in these types of sports, so the women that do participate in these sports have to constantly prove their gender. In many ways, society makes women who participate in these sports appear as heterosexual by forcing them uphold this ideal feminine image. We see this in Choi’s article, Muscles Matter, where we learn that women who do participate in bodybuilding have to maintain an image that isn’t too muscular, but that they are also still maintaining a feminine image.


In this image above, we see these women body builders dressed up as feminine as possible. They are wearing high heels, bikini swimsuits, and are posed in a feminine way with their hands on their hips while smiling. They aren’t giving off a body builder type of vibe to show off their strength and lifting ability, because that is something that would be masculine. Instead, they are dressed as if they are in a beauty pageant because society expects them to be seen as a sex symbol as well as heterosexual, and if they weren’t smiling and appeared to be more masculine then society would view them as lesbians and they wouldn’t be “normal” according to the heterosexual matrix.

          Although these three sports are typically the ones with the most gender controversies, there are still other sports where gender is questioned. We see this in the Schultz article, Caster Sementa and the “Question of Too.” Caster Semenya didn’t fit into society’s gender norms because she was more muscular than the other girls and appeared to be more masculine. While competing in her running competition, we see her somehow manage to come all the way from last place to second place. Many questioned whether she was holding back and if she could’ve ran faster than she did. But because of her amazing comeback she was quickly put on the spotlight and her gender was questioned immediately.

              Women are constantly questioned about their ability to perform in all sports, not just weight lifting, body lifting, and MMA. As soon as a woman performs as well as, or better than a males performance she is suddenly put in the spotlight. Society still controls women who participate in sports by forcing them to still be feminine even if they aren’t. Many times women aren’t recognized for their talent, but instead are recognized for how sexy they are.  We see this all over as well as in magazine covers where women athletes aren’t in their typical sporting gear, but instead are in revealing clothes that not only sexualizes them but makes them also appear more feminine. Women athletes have to constantly battle with the heterosexual matrix and appearing normal in their gender while competing in sports.

Prompt 3: Derek Stecklein


Physical sports are often known as manly sports in which women do not participate; However over the past years women have got involved in sports such as weightlifting,bodybuilding, and MMA.

After these women began to participate in such sports, the media has been asking questions about these women and their gender. A lot of these women are bigger, stronger, and faster than others and because they are makes these questions arise as to their gender. I believe women get stereotyped because in the past women did not participate in these sports and now that the sporting scene continues to grow these women are doing manly sports that women have never been apart of during that time. In class this past week we discussed two women who because of weightlifting they were getting scrutinized because of the way they look.

One woman discussed Holley Mangold. Holley is a 22-year-old weightlifter from the United States who was competing for a spot on the USA Olympic team this past summer. Weightlifting has been a male dominated sport until recently when more and more media coverage started to show the sport. Women have not been seen as strong individuals and certainly are not supposed to be stronger than males. Conan O’Brien made the comment about her weight and how she was forcefully capable of bringing home unwanted men (Williams, 2012). The media tore into this comment about how she looked out of context. The media continue to be the talk of gender controversies because they do not look like the traditional woman .In class we learned about what the ideal woman has been over the period of time. In pre-modern time the ideal image of a woman was a larger, cherubic women who were well feed and in the upper class. As time went by in changed into larger women becoming those of greed and lack of control. The thinner women are the better in accordance to today. Also female body builders are thought to be considered masculine and unattractive.

Women have been questioned in sports in which they excel beyond the women they are competing against. Caster Semenya is a female track star who was questioned because she was so much faster than everyone else in the field and Brittney Griner has also been questioned because of her athletic ability along with her size and even the way in which she talks.

Women will continued to be judged based off their athletic ability no matter which sport they play. Society has an image of women and it is not one of strength and dominance in any sport today.

Week 13, Prompt 3 — Kyle Soldwisch

Sports such as bodybuilding, weightlifting, and MMA  are at the center of many “gender controversies” because women partake in actions that are not seen by society as feminine.  Women in bodybuilding,  weightlifting, and MMA do tasks that require physical strength.  This goes against the ideology that women should be weak and take a secondary role to men. Muscles and pulled back or short hair is also not seen as feminine, breaking another societal ideology.

Bodybuilding, weightlifting, and MMA are all the the middle of “gender controversies” because of the lack of exposure they recieve.  This makes it easy for women who do choose to participate to be deemed not feminine or as lesbian.  When exposure is given, it follows the ideological control of women that was discussed during class on Wednesday nights.  Women who bodybuild, weightlift, or fight are portrayed as athletes that are unnatural women.

According to a Nov. 11 blog post on Sports, Media, and Society, women like to be photographed in two ways:

(1)   A woman in an action shot, participating in her sport (competency frame),

(2)   A woman with some symbol of her sport (such as holding a ball in her hand), but outside of playing field (mixed message frame)

However, the media rarely portrays women in this way, instead choosing to show them outside thier athletic fields.  The blog post in Sport, Media, and Society claimed that  “hypersexualized, soft pornographic images are counter-productive as they do not foster respect for female athletes and women’s sports.”

This explains why women in bodybuilding, weightlifting, or MMA are at the center of “gender controversies”.  Action shots of the sports cannot be “hypersexualized” because of the physical stregth they require.  This does not allow the women to respected, but does allow them to be cast off as not feminine or as lesbian.

This isn’t the only sporting space where gender and sexuality are questioned.  To be honest, any sport that women have to be physically strong or have advanced physical capabilities is a space where gener and sexuality are questioned.  Whether it is softball, basketball, swimming, or track and field, women who exert themselves in  a physical way have thier gender questioned.  The reading on track runner Caster Semenaya (Schultz 2012) detailed how Semenaya’s gender was brought into questioning because she was running too fast to be a woman.  This proves that women from all sports are under questioning because being a great athlete isn’t seen as a feminine attribute.

Prompts, Week 13: Muscles, Atrractiveness, Heterosexuality

Please choose one of the following prompts. If you’d like to write about something else, let me know and we can work it out.

Prompt 1: Muscles seem to be a necessary part of sport in our culture. Yet, female athletes who have “big” muscles are often maligned in the media. Do a bit of research and find an athlete who found herself in the midst of controversy about her muscles. Provide a brief overview and analyze the comments surrounding the controversy using the heterosexual matrix.

Prompt 2: We’ve talked all semester about “attractiveness” and the idea that “sex sells.” Given the common assumption that women who are attractive and pretty will make more money in sports, generate 3 questions/arguments that expose “attractive” and “pretty” as mythical ideals.

Prompt 3: Why are sports such as bodybuilding, weightlifting, and MMA the center of many “gender controversies”? Are these sports the only sporting spaces where women’s gender/sexuality is questioned?

Prompt 4: Thinness  is the standard for feminine beauty in our culture. How does this affect the ways in which female athletes are expected to look? How does this affect their athletic performances? And how might it affect the way they experience their own bodies?