Diablog #6 - Initial Summary

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In Textual Portrayals of Female Athletes, Victoria Carty insists that there have been many fields throughout history in which females are not allowed to participate because they are mostly male dominated. The opportunities for women to participate were limited, especially in sport area, because they were considered activities for men. She says that this fact shows that how societies define women and men differently. In the past, there were some female-dominated sports, which were thought less active, such as figure skating and tennis. Nowadays, many girls and women play sports, which were male-dominated and thought rough for women, such as football and rugby, because the benefits that women gained became equally significant. She also argues that increased participation of women in sports have led to the introduction of a new notion of femininity. However, despite these changes in the perception of women, female athletes are spotlighted because of their sex appeal and the qualities of femininity. She claims that through mass media such as television commercial, printed commercial and magazine we can see how the ways in which female athletes are portrayed and encompass gender roles and notions of femininity and feminism in the societies. She says that in many cases, the use of sex appeal or nudity increases the social status and financial value of women athletes; as such many companies use women athletes as their models to endorse their products. The uses of sexed body are interpreted in different ways by each radical feminists and post feminists. From a radical feminist perspective, femininity is closely related with sex appeal because femininity is defined by men. Thus, radical feminists don't accept the use of femininity as sex appeal to attain genuine gender equity and autonomy from male-defined sexuality. In contrast to the perspective of radical feminists, post feminists see sex appeal as empowering and liberating. She also insists that aside from athleticism, men don't necessarily have to use their bodies as sex appeal to gain outside benefits, and this is not the case for women. Thus, different interpretations of the encompassed meanings of how women are used for marketing purposes can coexist. In addition, she points out that societies value white women and black women differently because the way of their sexuality is portrayed and received differently depending on their races. Since black women have not been included in general society for very long time, they are not tied down to as many traditional or cultural expectations as white women. Lastly, she mentions that when women make efforts to have toned bodies or be athletic in order to have sex appeal, they are complying with society's definition of what is feminine.

Question
-What creates the difference in the way black women and white women are valued?
-What makes differences of portrayal to sexualize each race? Why are the sexuality and sex appeal of white, black, and Asian women differently evaluated and valued?
-What affects the different uses of bodies between men and women in advertisements?
-Why are only the physical attractiveness and sex appeal of women, especially women athletes, emphasized in the ways of marketing?

3 Comments

This summary really grasps what Carty had to say about women's femininity in sports. I like how you differentiated between the radical feminists and post feminists. Do you feel it is empowering for female athletes to use nudity in their own time, or do you feel like they are just objectifying themselves in the whole scope of things?

I think that using nudity/sex appeal can be interpretated both ways. If nudity is usued appopriately(probably we need to define what is appropriate use of nudity), it is empowering for female athlets because the characteristics of their bodies such as good-shaped phtsique with more muscles are very special. But, if only the sex appeal/nudity are emphasized, it is interpretated as objectifying themsevles through theri sexual attractiveness. The interpretations could be diffrent depending on historical/social backgrounds or some other elements. And it is really hard issue to cover.

It absolutely is a hard issue to cover! But I agree with what you said. It is a very delicate balance between empowering nudity and sex appeal nudity. I guess when it all comes down to it, the women who choose what to do with their bodies are the ones who decide what it means to them.

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