Our whole lives we have been taught to respect and cherish our bodies, especially a woman’s body. So when did it become okay for the media to start disrespecting female athletes and advertise males before them?
The simple model of communication is from the work of Shannon and Weaver who’s model consists of a sender, message, a channel where the message travels, noise and a receiver. The model relates to this topic of the media and society anxiety of female athletics as the lack of media coverage has caused young girls to be undermined. The message the media often sends about female sports is often negative and, therefore, many partitions are created by the fact that females are sexualised to create a message. A perfect example is the new Roxy commercial – Found here – which caused drama² in society.
Through researching this topic I gained an understanding on how much female athletes aren’t actually publicised for their achievements and how the media has undermined a female athlete’s ability to be respected and taken seriously as people and certainly as athletes. Therefore, the central idea towards this blog post is to criticize the media for their lack of involvement in female sports and therefore creating anxiety within young people.
Female athletes, Indigenous people and ethnic minorities, are groups in Australian society who have and are usually discriminated against. The depreciating attitudes towards these groups reflect on today’s societal attitudes and the equality issues in relation to sports participation. Women always had social expectations to act like a lady and not become dominant in the masculine culture, therefore they were confined to sports like croquet and tennis. The 1960’s and 1970’s saw women take action and demand equality between men and women in the social, political and cultural life. This developed into the sporting sphere, where women began to challenge the expectations of society and take up sports like football, long- distance running and even weight lifting
Although as more females joined the sporting field, it saw a negative effect on younger girls as they were growing up with increased pressures and stereotypes that must be faced on a daily basis. A popular stereotype was that “females can’t play sport”, statements such as this downgraded women and disallowed females to be taken seriously. This added pressure for young girls has lead to consistent patterns of physical anxiety and therefore eating disorders and further body complications.
But why would that be true? Young boys are constantly watching heroic images of male athletes who have accomplished many achievements through their dedication and strength, therefore they have a figure to look up to. Whereas young girls don’t receive the same figures to look up to, due to the lack of media coverage of female athletes achievements. Then in 2009 a report from the ABS, showed that almost half the girls aged 5-14 do not participate in any sport aside from school. This shows that in today’s society males are the dominant figure in sport
In 2006 a study was conducted by Kimberly L. Bissell.
“The study developed that those with higher levels of physique anxiety were participants who were frequent consumers of general entertainment media, these females scored higher on the social physique anxiety scale than those who spent less time with entertainment media. Results across sport were inconsistent, yet athletes across sport had fairly high degrees of physique anxiety regardless of the amount of time they spent competing or practicing their sport and exercising.”¹
To validate these beliefs of society’s anxiety and the media’s lack of encouragement for participation, I have also found the popular video “Like A Girl” – which is linked below.
“Why can’t “run like a girl” also mean win the race?” ²
Through the video, as a viewer you can understand the immense pressure that young girls go through during their developmental stage and, therefore, there has been a clear increase of physique anxiety within young females. I believe society still has a long way to go until we reach full equality between men and women – on and off the sporting field – and it all depends on how the media broadcasts female achievements and development in society.
¹Project MUSE – Who’s Got Game?: Exposure to Sports and Entertainment Media and Social Physique Anxiety in Division I Female Athletes. [ONLINE] Available at: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/journal_of_sports_media/v001/1.bissell.pdf. [Accessed 15 March 2015]. ² Always #LikeAGirl – YouTube. 2015. Always #LikeAGirl – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs. [Accessed 15 March 2015].
²21,000 People Sign Petition Against Roxy ‘Surf’ Video. 2015. 21,000 People Sign Petition Against Roxy ‘Surf’ Video. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/26/petition-roxy-video_n_3999783.html. [Accessed 20 April 2015].