I can’t believe that this class is finally coming to an end! This class marked a lot of firsts for me; first online class, first area 2, and first summer class. All of these things brought on some difficulty, and there was definitely a significant learning curve, especially coming from an accounting background. With that being said, the amount I wrote for this class was probably more than I have written in my entire college career. I’m glad you all got to experience my botched comments, and grammatical error filled blog posts. Besides my attempts at the English language, this class forced me to explore a subject that I wasn’t particularly interested in. Thankfully, my girlfriend convinced me that this subject would be stimulating, and allow me to express my opinions. After six weeks of various readings and blogging, I have to say I have come a long way in terms of understanding feminism as a whole, but particularly on the topic of sports.
There was always a specific topic in feminism that I found interesting, and applicable was the women sports. I had always been a big supporter when it came to my friends that played sports in high school, and college no matter the gender. However, it is obvious that men sports get more viewing than women sports. It is largely apparent based on viewing, as well as the poor attendance at women sporting events. With this gap, it does make sense that they get paid for the fans, and viewers they attract, at least, so I thought.
Before this class I would see statistics such as “In 2014 the pay gap between men and women was 21%” (2016), and not really believe that the 21% was relevant. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust the data, however I didn’t believe that if a man, and a women performed the same job in this day and age that a man would get paid 21% more than a woman. Now, FIFA isn’t the most morally sound organization out there with the recent money laundering scandal in 2014. But unfortunately, when it is compared to other organizations on the topic of gender wage gaps, they are with the best of them. A great example is in the 2015 World Cup, the US took home the gold medal, and about $33M less than the German’s counterparts, who took home the medal for claiming the men’s title.
I saw this article before I was enrolled in this class, and I thought nothing of it because I figured there was a reason behind the numbers. Sadly, after doing some investigation, I found out that the US men’s team got paid $700,000 more for just qualifying for the team (2015). Not only that, but they got a higher bonus for making it to the round of 16. In attempt to right the wrong, the US soccer federation has proposed to pay the men and women equal amounts for upcoming Olympics ($15,000). Justice! Right? Unfortunately, the women are projected to bring in nearly double the amount as the men’s team (2016).
I wish that the pay gap was the most disturbing of my findings when looking into this inequality debacle. Until I came across the statement “I think women’s sports would be more popular if they wore tighter uniforms,” which isn’t from some random sexist, rather a direct quote from Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA president (2015). Women who play sports have had a stigmatism associated with them, labeled as “tom boys,” and athletic defined girls are said to have “manly bodies.” These all take away from what sports should really be about, which is competition. This brings me to my next reflective point, the focus on women and minorities in sports.
Dark vs. Light Skin
“People are in their feelings about how Cam Newton performs cool masculinity on the football field” (2016), when me, and so many other people watched the 2016 Super Bowl these were exactly what subconsciously thinking. Cam Newton, who had one of the best seasons of any quarterback in the history of the NFL, was not heralded for his leadership, or genius, but rather for his ignorance, and “natural ability.” This issue took a little while to resonate with me, and the perfect comparison came about during this class. In the NBA there was also a standout player, however this player is “light skinned” and his name is Stephen Curry.
Curry is one of the cockiest players in basketball, turning around and high fiving his team before the ball goes in, dancing, carrying on, his type of celebrations has never been seen before in the NBA. Everything Cam Newton has done, however, instead of being seen as ignorant, and cocky, he as perceived as a family man, and a great shooter. “Light skin” privilege is a big thing in sports, and I do have to admit it’s something I never considered, however now it is evident to me that media paints different pictures for different players, and there is a hierarchy.
Body, Color, and Gender
Serena Williams is a prime example of everything wrong with media and sports. This section isn’t too much of a reflection, because the comments made by tennis officials, and the media have been so blatantly sexist in their remarks it’s tragic. Being a “dark skinned”, muscular, women tennis player unfortunately makes you a prime target from a media standpoint.
“Give us a twirl!”
“She looks like my husband in that dress”
These are just a few things she has been slammed with over the years. These are horrible comments that reporters, and others have made specific to Serena, however I have now noticed that this happens even more subtly with all female athletes.
A great video that I’ve seen is #CovertheAthlete that illustrates the absurdity of the questions females get asked during interviews by simply asking them to male athletes. This realization didn’t come too quick to me, my mom would always bring up how in interviews the questions were gender biased, and I didn’t see anything wrong with them because I was conditioned to hearing women being asked those types of questions. However, when the roles are flipped, it becomes quite obvious that the media does try to influence us to think about athletes differently.
I’m going to say it again, I had a really great experience throughout the class. I do really enjoy looking back at my old work and seeing how my way of thinking about feminism has grown, and developed. I feel as though I have definitely come a long way in terms of understanding sports. I am a little embarrassed to admit I would get sucked into the media deception. When the media was against a player, I would normally buy in to the medias opinions. Moving forward I’m going to focus on players on the field play, and form my own opinions on the quality of the player’s persons. In regards to women’s sports, I’m going to try to start watching them more often, at the very least the US and Virginia Tech teams. Even if I don’t watch them as much as I should, I have a much greater appreciation for what all the female athletes have been through, and if someone is talking down to women sports, I will try my best to present my knowledge I’ve gained from this class. As far as the class goes, my favorite part was the interaction. I didn’t think that the conversations would be as effective online, but this format allows you to really clearly articulate your entire opinion, which led to some great insight. I am also going to attempt to recruit my guy friends to take this class at some point in their college careers, so we can reduce the ignorance on Virginia Tech’s campus, and in the world. It was a great summer semester, and I’m going to miss blogging my opinions all over WordPress.
The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. (2016). American Association of University Women.
Kroh, K. (2015). This is why the women’s world cup team gets paid so much less.
Data: How does the U.S. women’s soccer team pay compare to the men? (2016). Retrieved July 01, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/data-how-does-the-u-s-womens-soccer-team-pay-compare-to-the-men/
Newtonism: Notes on Cool Masculinity and the Fear of Black Genius. (2016). Retrieved July 01, 2016, from http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/2016/02/05/newtonism-notes-on-cool-masculinity-and-the-fear-of-black-genius/
Blay, Z. (2015). When We Attack Serena Williams’ Body, It’s Really About Her Blackness. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/serena-williams-policing-of-black-bodies_us_55a3bef4e4b0a47ac15ccc00
(2015). #CoverTheAthlete. Retrieved July 01, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol9VhBDKZs0