Moran- Week 6 Prompt 2

In the late 1800s sport became an activity which medical experts feared might turn a woman into a man, what was known as “gender inversion.”  This idea became homosexuality in the 1900s.  Medical experts switched their thinking from females turning into males to females sexual desires and action turning more masculine.  Just as we discussed during the first week of class when sex and sexuality means something different experts decided your sex could not change, only your sexuality.  When the idea of  hetero- and homo-sexuality emerged the fear of lesbian-ness became a huge part of women’s sports.

Chapter 1 of Susan Cahn’s book Coming on Strong is entitled “The New Type of Athletic Girl” and that change began in the 1920s and 30s.  During the roaring 20s sport was just beginning to gain the immense popularity we know today, and therefore all athletes were being covered more and more.  Because of the shift in the thinking that women will become men if they play sports was gone more females were joining sports teams.  The idea of women not playing sports does not just go away over night however and therefore it became a stereotype that all female athletes were lesbians.  “They stood on the borderline between new feminine ideals and customary notions of manly sport” (Cahn 8). The effect this had on women and young girls was they now had another reason to not play sports.  It went from “I don’t want to turn into a man” to “I don’ want people to think I am a lesbian”.

This stereotype still exists today to some degree.  It is mostly reserved for the sports that require more muscle however, such as softball.  But with more and more athletes coming out and that homosexuals are becoming more and more accepted by society each day this stereotype will hopefully fade.  Here is a list of the 11 most powerful lesbians in the sporting world-

One of the most influential women in taking the fear of lesbian-ness away is Billie Jean King.  She became one of America’s favorite athletes and thus the fear of lesbians began to diminish.  Candace Parker is also an athlete that lately is crushing the stereotype that big strong female athletes are lesbians.  She is pregnant and is also the MVP of the WNBA.

In the 1920s and 30s these athletes did not exist, but without the 20s and 30s they wouldnt exist today either.  We have grown from the days when all women athletes were seen as homosexuals and the fear of playing a sport and being called a lesbian is gone in today’s society.


Cole Smith: Week 6, Prompt 1- Boxing’s Declining Masculinity

One sport that has undergone a major change in gender expectations from the 1800s to today is boxing. Over the course of the last century, boxing has changed from a sport that was a primary display of masculinity into a sport now open to females. While boxing still displays masculinity, the gender expectations of the participants have changed. This was evident in the 2012 Summer Olympics, as women boxers were officially allowed to compete. Opponents of women’s boxing thought the sport was too violent for women; however, potential violence should not be a concern for spectators, according to a blog post at Women Talk Sports.

According to Adams’ Artistic Impressions, “gendered sports categories are social phenomena produced and reproduced through the ideologically motivated actions of people in particular historical and cultural contexts.” This definition explains how the inclusion of women’s boxing in the Olympics has allowed the sport to undergo the process of feminization. According to Adams’ definition, feminization has made boxing appropriate for feminine people.

According to Adams, gendered expectations change over time. There have also been many historical events that have caused the gender expectations of boxing to change. Women began boxing professionally in the United States in the 1970s. In the 1980s, fights were shortened from 15 rounds to 12. By shortening the fights to reduce violence, boxing again lost some of the masculinity that it was previously associated with. There has also been an ongoing trend that has impacted the masculinity of boxing. As a boxing fan, I have noticed that boxing has lost a sense of masculinity with the decrease of bigger, stronger participants. This decrease in the “traditional” athlete in boxing has resulted from the exodus of many “traditional” masculine men to other sports, such as football and basketball. As a result, our culture believes that sports like football have seen an increase in masculinity while boxing is now seen as less masculine.

The way that our culture views boxing is changing, as the sport is no longer reserved for the strongest men. As a result, women have gained access to boxing. Our cultural views towards boxing and its decreasing masculinity will eventually grant more access to women boxers, much like the figure skaters from Artistic Impressions.

Kyle Soldwisch: Week 6, Prompt 2 – Is wrestling next?

According Adams’ Artistic Impressions, ice skating was once considered manly, but is now considered a feminine sport  Could this process be happening to wrestling?

Wrestling has historically been viewed as a men’s sport, and as something that women should not do.  The video that was viewed in class about a female wrestler from Texas displayed how tough it was for a girl to gain acceptance in the wrestling world.  The idea that women should not wrestle is changing.  This was evident in the 2012 Summer Olympics, as women where allowed to wrestle for the first time in the history of the Olympic games.  Wrestling is starting to occur at the college and high school level, which was displayed in the blog posts under “Wrestling” on Women’s Sport Talk.

According to Adams, feminization is the process of becoming understood as feminine or appropriate for feminine people.  Wrestling is definitely under the process of feminization, as more people are beginning to see it as an appropriate activity for women to partake in.  Adams also detailed that gendered ideas change over time in a fluid process.

Males tend to be somewhat homophobic, and try to avoid situations that may make them seem homosexual.  Wrestling involves wearing a tight, skimpy outfit, as well as grabbing your opponent anywhere you can grip your hands.  If our culture begins to see the sport of wrestling as not masculine, the fluid process of gender expectations changing over time could begin its course.  This will happen because culture will promote the opposing versions of masculinity and femininity, meaning they will push males away from wrestling if culture no longer considers it a masculine activity.

Women have already made massive strides in terms of being accepted into the wrestling world, but they’re increased involvement could begin to change the way culture thinks of the sport.  This change in thinking could turn wrestling into a sport that is viewed as a feminine activity, similar the way figure skating shifted from masculine to feminine.

Lindsey H: Week 6, Prompt 2: Gender and Sexuality in the Flapper Era

The beginning of the twentieth century was a time of tremendous change, not only in the United States but worldwide. Women were exploring new freedoms they never knew existed, including new found athleticism in sports. Female athletes were making a name for themselves nationwide according to Susan K. Cahn author of Coming on Strong. Helen Wills, a female tennis player, won eight singles championships, Gertrude Ederle, an Olympic gold medalist, broke the record of the previous male swimmers who swam across the English Channel, and Babe Didrikson, a star athlete in everything she competed in, was an Olympian in both basketball and track and field. These are just to name a few and Cahn says that feminists supported the successes of female athletes while traditionalists became anxious. Women were facing adversity of all kinds in the early 1900’s and according to class notes from September 19th and 26th 2012, this may have had a lot to do with the cultural norms prevalent in the late 1800’s; women were thought to have finite amounts of energy, were often given instruction from doctors for bed rest, were generally seen as lesser to men, and were not actively encouraged to pursue physical activity of any sort. Women were ready to break free of these restrictions but many others were unsure how to feel about women progressing in sport, an area that was formerly thought to be masculine.

Heterosexuality and dating become a large part of the consumer inspired culture of the early 1900’s and traditionalist imagined that women’s succession in sport would cause males to lose a sense of their masculine privilege and superiority, resulting in men not assuming the role of powerful protectors thus changing the dynamic between sexes, Cahn says. Society wanted women to maintain feminine qualities while playing sport to promote heterosexuality. Homosexuality had just recently become a part of the English language, one that described people of the same sex having sexual encounters together. This was a term that much of society wanted nothing to do with because it didn’t follow the cultural norm of women and men being together. Previous to this era, sports were made up predominately by males, thus people were not only questioning the role of sex in sport but women’s sexuality as well. People were coming to understand that female’s who were competing against men in sports, were not only looking for sporting success but for power as well.

Women were changing the notions of sexuality and gender everyday in the 1920’s and 30’s. During this time sport became highly popularized and gained mass audiences of people. Women benefited from this also and according to Cahn it was in this period that middle-class women started straying from Victorian values of reservation and started exploring new sexual morals and manners that accompanied the growth of the consumer nation at this time. The new popular trends that came from this rising culture were for women to be slim, boyish, and flirtatious. These women were often called ‘flappers’ and coincidentally shared many of the characteristics of female athletes. Athletes were praised for their “boyish athleticism, independence, and willful, adventurous spirit” says Cahn, and both of these images of women flourished during this time of consumption and entertainment. Women now revered sport as a pleasurable form of physical activity and with the cultural acceptance of women and their sexuality increasing, men were further losing their place as sports superior gender.

A picture of women sport players in the 1920’s:

Here is a short YouTube video on Babe Didrikson

Rector: Week 6- prompt 2

Opinions about gender, sexuality, and sport have changed a lot throughout time, becoming less and less conservative. If you go back the late 1800’s, the ideas surrounding women, sport, and sexuality is much different than it is today.
During the late 1800’s many people, including medical experts, thought that sport would turn a woman into a man (gender inversion). According to DR. G. L. Meylan in Cahn’s “Coming on Strong,” “we should not care to see our women teachers of physical training… approach the masculine type.”
Yet, there were some people who disagreed. In “Coming on Strong,” Cahn argues that “crossing barriers into “male” spheres contributed to a fuller realization of womanliness, free from the debilitating, restricting femininity of old.” Indicating that women’s participation in sport is good for them and it is a thing of the future. However, as hetero and homosexuality emerged as social categories, many people began to fear that sport would turn women into lesbians. As a result, some women strayed away from sport so that they wouldn’t face any public scrutiny. However, some women remained adamant with participating in sport, creating the idea of the “athletic girl.” The “athletic girl” won acceptance because she epitomized the spirit of new womanhood, and also because as long as the numbers of women participating in sport stayed small, the female athlete didn’t endanger men’s control of the sporting world.

Prompts for Week 6: History

Please respond to one of the following prompts. If you’d like to write about something not covered in these prompts, just let me know and we can work it out.

Prompt 1: One of our readings earlier this semester (Adams’ Artistic Impressions) discussed how ice skating changed over time from a manly sport to a feminine sport. We’ve spent the last several weeks talking about the 1800s and early 1900s. Are there any sports that have undergone a similar change in gendered expectations from the 1800s to today?

Prompt 2: This week we discussed changing notions of gender and sexuality. In the late 1800s sport became an activity which medical experts feared might turn a woman into a man (gender inversion). As hetero- and homo- sexuality emerged as social categories concerning gendered sexual activity, the fears shifted toward sport and lesbian-ness. How did these shifting notions of gender and sexuality effect female atheltes in the 1920s and 1930s?

Prompt 3: We’ve been talking generally about “women” in sport and how shifts in gender and sexuality have affected them in the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, there are many different types of women who were effected by these shifts differently. Discuss how race and social class interacted with gender at this time to create different expectations for different women.

Julian G: Week 4, Prompt 2

Females portrayed in media is a topic that has caused a great amount of drama and is highly debated. Female athletes are typically portrayed as being highly sexualized, a hyper-heterosexual, all-american girl next door, ambivalent, or athletically competent. An example of a female athlete portrayed as highly sexual is Brandi Chastain posing with no clothing except Nike shoes and a soccer ball in hand. Posing for Gear Magazine, Brandi is not even depicted as an athlete. The picture doesn’t really depict her as a professional soccer player and the only thing that suggests that she may be an athlete is the soccer ball she is holding.

In my opinion, this picture does one of two things, it highlights her athletic stature as she is posed in a way that allows her to show off her athletic body. Second, it doesn’t really allow the audience to fully see Brandi as a female athlete. It depicts her as being a semi-nude world class athlete and reinforces sexual objectification of sportswomen.

In class we discussed about three ways in which media influence the content that is presented to us, they were hypodermic model, agenda setting and encoding/decoding. In regard to the picture of Brandi, this depiction is an example of how much of an influence media has in the portrayal of female athletes. Audiences may think that Gear Magazine is trying to say that Brandi is a highly sexualized athelte who so happens tot be a professional soccer player. The media does this by indirectly telling us what to think through the picture.

For a second wave feminist, this picture of Brandi Chastain may seem hyper sexualized as it does not depict her as an athlete at all. She is just posed naked and a second wave feminist would most likely have problems with how the photo depicts her as an athlete. As for a third wave feminist, she would embrace the contradictions and conflicts that the photo might bring.

Kira Schneider: week 4, prompt 2: Hope Solo

Due in large part to the United States women’s soccer team’s recent success in both the World Cup and the Olympics, Hope Solo has emerged as a very recognized face among professional female athletes.  Hope has been playing on the Us women’s national team since 2000 with tremendous success, including winning two Olympic gold medals.  However, these statistics often times get put on the back burner, and her good looks steal the spotlight instead which could be a significant reason why she landed a role on Dancing with Stars.  Hope also posed for the ESPN body issue, in which she was pictured naked.  Despite the fact that this issue features an equal number of male and female athletes, second wave feminists would strongly oppose Hope posing naked in an nationally published magazine.  They would see it as extremely provocative and inappropriate, and sending the wrong message to her fans and admirers.  Third wave feminists would also disapprove of it as well, and would perhaps say that, because of the fact that she is a female athlete, she should go against what most of the attractive female athletes do, and not put themselves out there as a sex object.

In my opinion, I believe Hope Solo is a very admirable and honorable athlete.  She has not gotten into any trouble and she, for the most part, stays out of the spotlight unless receiving recognition for something she has done on the soccer field.  She is very humbled and she is a hard working athlete, and because of her hard work and dedication, she has accomplished a lot in her professional soccer career.  I don’t think posing in the ESPN body issue is degrading, rather I believe that it is an honor.  They usually pick stand out male and female athletes from several sports, so to be asked to pose in it is quite an honor.



Needless to say, her (mostly male) fans were thrilled to find out that she posed in the ESPN body issue.  Below is an article written just for the fact that she posed in the ESPN body issue:

Kylie S. Week 4 Prompt 2


Within the past decade, there has been an increase in female athletes posing nude for magazines like Sports Illustrated and Maxim, and it has caused quite a bit of controversy in the sporting world.  A current example of women posing nude in order to display their athletic bodies and gain support is the U.S. women’s indoor volleyball team before the 2012 London Olympic Games. The team posed in ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue.  Second wave feminists would criticize this photo saying although these women do look athletic and their muscles are on display, they are sitting in a position they would never be seen in during a sporting event but rather in a womanly way showing off their femininity.  The second wave feminists may also point out that the only evidence of the sport they play are the three volleyballs placed in the photo. Thirdly, they might bring up the fact that because these women are Olympians, they are examples for the youth in America and this type of photo shoot may suggest that in order to have a following as a woman in sports, you have to strip.  Third wave feminists such as Megan Hodge and Nellie Spicer of Team USA, say this is a great way to show off their toned bodies which they have worked so hard to create. “I was a little nervous about doing the shoot, but looking back, I’m glad I did it,” said team member Megan Hodge. “I thought it was a cool, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show the world the work we put in every day.”  Clearly, third waves feminists like these women, believe that the message coming through from their photos is one of empowerment. It was also discussed that this type of photo shoot was the perfect team activity to improve chemistry before competing at the Olympics.  I tend to lean toward the third wave feminist’s view especially with these particular photos. The photos displayed in ESPN’s Body Issue are tasteful and do show how hard these athletes train.  On the other hand, there are many examples of athletes in Playboy and Maxim which aren’t tastefully gaining support for their sport.  In those magazines, the athletes pose in sexual ways showing off their cleavage and curves.  I also think that though it’s extremely unfortunate, men do control the power in the sporting world and it does seem that in order to gain their support, beautiful women athletes need to be seen.  This explains why the most popular women’s Olympic sports are ones where their bodies are the focal point such as gymnastics and figure skating.  In the video, “Playing Unfair,” it talks about how sex sells and it seems the women athletes of today realize this and pose in order to prosper.

Video clip behind the scenes with the team:

Photo Source:,,20610529,00.html