Bend It Like Kiss My Ass
m.snowe had a whole long rant composed for this blog tackling the insidious comments about women and sports made by some men she sat near on a subway the other day, which were said when the men thought they were out of the earshot of women (or at least the women they play sports with). But in the interest of not making the reader’s eyes bleed, m.snowe would rather explore sexual appeal, its relation to sport, and the sometimes unfair judgments made upon one when examining the other.
m.snowe doesn’t want to be considered a sexist towards males, so she will immediately admit that she, and of course most women, have often made comments about a male athlete’s attractiveness, or lack thereof. We are all human, sexual beings and to ignore that would be idiotic. But if this was the end of it–that both sexes just happened to do this, then there’d be no need to post anymore. But m.snowe was still miffed about something during and after her attempts to negate her overzealous (though possibly righteous) anger.
Conclusion: When male sport players are judged, be it in regards to their sporting abilities, sexual attractiveness, personality, etc., all these aspects are usually (by and large, for the most part, regularly, more often than not–take your pick) separated out and judged by their own unique merits. Example: Roger Federer is an exceptional tennis player. m.snowe also recognizes that many people find him attractive. However, his ability to break hearts is not in any way proportional in his ability to break serves. And regardless of his attractiveness, people would continue to watch his matches. It doesn’t hurt that hes good-looking, but it’s not why people spend hundreds of dollars on Wimbledon tickets.
Women athletes, on the other hand, are judged in tandem–sporting ability and attractiveness, and it seems that for women, the two aspects of their persona are stickier for people of both sexes to detach from each other. And this can translate into multiple scenarios: Woman gets acclaim because she’s athletic and hot (“Wow, what a rarity!”), or woman gets written off because she’s hot, and not that athletic (“Yeah, Anna Kornakova’s 200-seed match is only on television for one reason…”). Contradictorily, women who are not attractive (in as much as ‘attractiveness’ can be universally quantified) are considered, by some, less deserving of athletic acclaim. But the reverse argument is also used: women who are attractive are not “serious” athletes. You might be shaking your head in disagreement, but just reflect upon this for a moment. How often have you heard a brilliant woman athlete labeled “butch,” or mannish? Or when Maria Sharapova gets on a court, aren’t comments made on her backside just as much as her backhand? m.snowe’s humble analysis is this: women are de-feminized or hyperfeminized…out of, fear? Either the woman is good at sports and attractive, and therefore a victim of hypersexualization so as to remind us we’re still dealing with a chick, or the less attractive woman good at sports is accused of being in some way unnatural because she is excelling at something that men also take pride in being tops at. And women are not blameless here–they play into the marketing campaigns of major sponsors that play up their looks or even lack thereof. But honestly, they’d be foolish not to if they want to earn a living at their sport.
You still unsure? Well back in the days of The Gay Recluse (now MatthewGallaway.com) this post on beach volleyballers spiked so many site hits, it was ridiculous. m.snowe is sorry, but you can bet that many of the people who bought tickets to this event at the Olympics were more or less motivated by an unfair mix of things, not just the technical prowess of the competitors. And it’s not like the people who made those “uniforms,” or those on the US committee that required players to wear them, weren’t aware of it.
m.snowe will leave you with quotes that support her point, but prove nothing, because they’re from A League of Their Own:
“Dave Hooch: I know my girl ain’t so pretty as these girls, but that’s my fault. I raised her like I would a boy. I didn’t know any better. She loves to play. Don’t make my little girl suffer because I messed up raising her. Please.”
“Announcer: Then there’s pretty Dottie Henson, who plays like Gehrig, and looks like Garbo. Uh-uh, fellas, keep your mitts to yourself; she’s married. And there’s her kid sister Kit, who’s as single as they come. Enough concentrated oomph for a whole carload of Hollywood starlets.”