Sporting Women: Media Representations

在文檔中 女生跑起來! 企業、媒體與路跑中的女性 - 政大學術集成 (頁 22-27)

立 政 治 大 學

N a tio na

l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y

2.2 Sporting women: media representations

In the late 1960s and 1970s, a man-centered media dominated the world. The

media molded myth, idealized women’s bodies, and challenged women’s movements

and feminists; therefore, the media became the major focus of feminist research (Gill,

2007; 倪炎元 Ni Yan-Yuan, 2003). The significance of media representation is that,

like all other media, through selection, composition, and manipulation, it depicts the

order and the ideology of society (Rowe, 2004). Hargreaves (1994) took magazines and

comics as examples, describing how they stood as powerful public symbols to affect

the gender roles of children’s perceptions to construct gender conception. In media texts,

women have been underrepresented in sporting organizations and as skillful athletes

(Hargreaves, 1994). However, nowadays, under the hardship and dedication of feminist

scholars, with more women participating in sports, the role of the media needs to be

reconsidered. Does the media recreate and promote male hegemony over women or

reproduce gender stereotypes? How the media presents gender, and especially women,

is the core question.

Around 2003, most gender and media sports studies fell into the category of

television (Messner et al., 2003; Higgs et al., 2003; Rowe, 2004). Afterwards, more

‧ 國

立 政 治 大 學

N a tio na

l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y

accumulated empirical study on sports photography expanded the problem of gender

bias: sportsmen were pictured more than sportswomen, and they were given prevalently

more attention than women athletes (Rowe, 2004). Similar results were found in

Western countries such as the U.S.A. (Lumpkin & Williams, 1991; Duncan et al., 1991;

Kane & Greendorfer, 1994), Britain (Hargreaves, 1994), New Zealand (French, 2013).

Media exposure is one aspect of power in the sports media, and image representation

is another. Previous studies had significant overlap regarding the coverage of

sportswomen’s characteristics in the media.

(1) Sportswomen’s characteristics

Sportswomen have been consistently trivialized and marginalized (Kane &

Greendorfer, 1994). McKay noting that they reacted passively, independently, and

heavily relied on men both emotionally and technically (quoted in Hargreaves, 1994,

p.147). Often, sportswomen’s images are full of sexualized femininity symbols and

feature more domestic contexts (pregnant or with children), depicting a gender role

rather than women’s athleticism (Rowe, 2004). In Theberge’s study, she pointed out

that if any women’s sports was reported in detail, it only happened in the traditionally

considered as showing feminine characteristics sports like gymnastics, swimming.

‧ 國

立 政 治 大 學

N a tio na

l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y

Women rarely covered in non-traditional women’s sports like rugby, basketball, soccer

(Theberge, 1991). Overall, women are continually portrayed as weak sex object, no

agency existed, only traditional gender relationships. The represented sportswomen’s

bodies not only solidified imbalanced gender relationships but also symbolized the

importance of the “body”.

The sporting body is the prime appealing instrument of sports, “embodying” wider

social issues and identities, as sports images always involve sexualized, gendered,

racialized roles (Rowe, 2004). Through scientific techniques and technologies, humans

were believed to pursue a “better body,” as it resonated through different societies from

modernity to postmodernity (Eichberg, 1998). Several studies on sportswomen pointed

to the rise of the “fitness concept” and the changing meaning of women’s sportswear.

(2) Fitness and women’s sportswear

Fitness has long been related to militarism, anticommunism, endangered

masculinity, and competitive sports (King, 2003). However, in early 1980s America, a

movement known as “fitness boom,” attracted millions of middle-class men and women

to become followers of a fit body. As individuals were asked to take responsibility for

their bodies, fitness products pervaded the consumer market: TV fitness shows were

‧ 國

立 政 治 大 學

N a tio na

l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y

broadcasted into living rooms, and the film industry depicted sexualized women,

promoting a disciplined and slender body (King, 2003). Meanwhile, fitness

publishing’s emphasis on the sexual and physical appearance of sportswomen’s bodies,

drawing complaints from many feminists (Smith, 2002). The body then became “a

status symbol and an emblem of one’s purchasing power, moral worth, and personal

discipline” (King, 2003, p. 309). The appearance of numerous new fitness-related

products on the U.S. market was not the simple reason for the fitness boom. King (2003)

proposed a novel point of view about the rise of fitness, as it was actually the neoliberal

government’s strategy. With more individuals adopting the idea of pursuing a better

self, by encouraging them to go to the gym or consume fitness products, the government

could reduce the health costs and put effort into educating the public to take

self-responsibility for one’s health (Ingham, 1985). Still, more evidence is to prove whether

this was the actual intention of the government. Except fitness, the significance of

women’s sporting bodies also involved the display of women’s sportswear.

Women’s sportswear has changed dynamically since women were allowed to play

sports, and it is laden with diverse social meanings (江欣惇、許光麃Chiang Shin-Dun

& Hsu Kuang-Piao, 2010). “The severe restrictions of stays, corsets and hobble skirts

‧ 國

立 政 治 大 學

N a tio na

l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y

were being replaced by looser-fitting and lighter clothing” (Hargreaves, 1994, p. 92).

Sportswear reform entailed greater freedom for women and symbolized their physical

independence, expanding the number of sports items available to them. Simultaneously,

it enabled women to experience the physical joy of movement, as they entered into

more varied spheres of sports (Hargreaves, 1994). 江欣惇、許光麃Chiang Shin-Dun

and Hsu Kuang-Piao(2010) captured the social and cultural connotations of women’s

sportswear development. They argued that women’s sportswear changes represented

the course of women pursing body autonomy, similar to Hargreaves’s (1994) viewpoint.

Different generations have unequivocal standards regarding sportswear; it stands

for contemporary social constraints and aesthetic value judgment, and sportswear is

another means of making women’s image conform to social expectations. In the modern

epoch, women’s sportswear is assumed to play a more significant role in gaining capital

and valuing aesthetics than was previously the case (江欣惇、許光麃Chiang

Shin-Dun & Hsu Kuang-Piao, 2010). The media orients the clothing and athletes’ bodies,

and it focuses on feminine sportswear, personal style, and a curved body shape.

According to the media’s representation, beauty, a feminine temperament, and attire

were the only capital that women have to compete with men’s masculinity (Hargreaves,

‧ 國

立 政 治 大 學

N a tio na

l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y

1994). Modern sportswear, moreover, helped women to enhance their feminine, sexy

characteristics, and the curved body shape no longer points to leisurewear or sportswear

but is more practical, functional, and fashionable. In this spirit, sports has become

inseparable from the commercialization of the female body and the commercialization

of sexuality (Hargreaves, 1994).

It was clear that, under the saturation of the public culture industry, girls were

bombarded with idealized images of the female shape that were almost impossible to

ignore and separate from consumer culture (Hargreaves, 1994). Reading and analyzing

media sports texts provided opportunities to reify social ideology and manipulation of

cultural power. So far, the body presentations of sportswomen correspond to the gender

inequity and the dominant heterosexuality in sports (Hargreaves, 1994), which putting

under Taiwan road running texts, demanded further examination of sportswomen’s

characteristics and what kind of the body aesthetic values it praised.

在文檔中 女生跑起來! 企業、媒體與路跑中的女性 - 政大學術集成 (頁 22-27)