November 24, 2009

Is the sexualization of women's basketball teams perpetuating the problem of homophobia in women's sports? Sports writer Jadya Evans responds to FSU's women's basketball team's new marketing ploy. Besides the obvious issues (girls can't just play basketball, they have to look pretty doing it too), Jadya asserts that this "feminizing" of women's basketball teams also represents the rampant homophobia in women's sports. By emphasizing gender norms and feminizing women basketball players, the viewer is meant to assume heterosexuality. If you know anything about women's sports and homophobia, you know this is hardly the first time that this has been an issue in the way that women's sports teams are marketed. What's even more frustrating is that these tactics aren't just harmful to the queer women they're trying to mask. They undermine all women, with the assumption that a woman can't just be amazing at what she does best, she must also be the "perfect" woman, glammed up, committed to community service, and blatantly heterosexual (being pregnant once in a while helps too). This isn't to say that any of these things are bad on their own, but when it becomes more important to emphasize these traits over the skill and sportsmanship of the women, especially in media focused on the sport, it's a problem.

1 comment:

  1. "blatantly heterosexual"? What does that mean in this context?

    Regarding community service and the like - I've seen similar comments about the off-the-court works of men and women - college and pro. Regarding men, primarily to make a counterpoint, media guides and advertisements for NFL/NBA/NHL/MLB/etc stars tout their service to community and dedication to their "home" base. Several stars - men and women - have foundations for just such a purpose. The existance of those and the team's use of them for advertising pitches seem to be based more in wanting folks to perceive the men or women discussed as good all-around people...

    I don't see this as a zero-sum-game -- the fact that those women are simultaneously engaged in academics, excelling at sports, and participating in meaningful extracurricular activities is - seems to me - something to be celebrated... The A&M poster seems much weirder to me than the Florida State one - actually, generally, the posters I have seen have either had the coaches well to the side or not at all and either of those options would have been better here, methinks :)