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.


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