branded :: women in sports

So the other night I watched this powerful documentary done by ESPNW. It's part of a series called Nine For IX  - which is inspired by the 40th anniversary of Title IX and is: About women. Made by women. For us all. 

The episode I watched was called Branded and it focused on how women in sports have to market themselves and sell themselves differently than men do. 

The feminist in me was appalled - but let's be honest, you shouldn't have to be a 'feminist' to be upset by this. Anyone that supports equality in general should be upset by this, feminist, female, or not. 

Basically what it comes down to is, men in athletics can make money and support themselves on their athletic abilities and talents alone...whereas women in sports, even the top professional female athletes, have a much harder time making a living off their sport and talents and instead are forced to basically sell themselves off of sponsorships.  Successfully branded women in athletics fall into two categories: girl next door or sexy vixen - and both of those categories expect you to be attractive. Even more so, most female athletes make top dollar when using the 'sex sells' approach - think Danica Patrick in Go Daddy ads, Gabrielle Reece posing for Playboy, etc. As Gabrielle Reece (who posed for playboy and made a lot of money doing it) mentioned in the documentary, 'boobs will never go out of style'.

The thing is, I don't blame these women for doing what they have to do in order to be successful in a male dominated sports society and culture....what kills me is the fact that the majority of their profit and success doesn't even get to come from their athletic abilities and talents like it does for men.  There are A LOT of ugly men out there, that get paid A LOT of money to just play sports and you just don't find that in women's sports. Instead, when you hear talk about women athletes it is always focused on their looks and their bodies. There are countdowns of the sexiest female athletes, etc. Here's the deal - these women are fit, and strong, and sexy, and they work hard for their bodies... but they don't do it for the sex appeal, they do it to excel at their sport - so why can't they get more credit for their accomplishments in sports alone? Why was Lolo Jones criticized and told she should give her sponsorship money back, because she didn't medal at the Olympics? Evidently, 4th in the world is not good enough .... But Mark Sanchez can get paid ridiculous amounts to butt fumble. That's not equality and we have a long way until we are there. I just don't understand why females can't just get credit for being good at their sport? Is that too much to ask? 

The questions I had after watching the shows were:

::Why do we have to distinguish between male and female athletes? Why are women only ever considered one of the top female athletes in the world?! Why are they never seen as one of the top athletes in the world?

::How is that out of the top 50 highest paid athletes in world, not one of them is a female? 

::Why, as a culture, do we focus on sex so much? (Miley, athletes, celebrities, you name it)?

::What kind of example are we setting for the young female athlete - you have to be attractive and sexy if you want to succeed and be a professional athlete and your skill level comes second? Not cool, people, not cool.

Anyways, the documentary was really eye opening. Yes, we have come so far when it comes to women in sports, but clearly we have a long way to go, people.

Linked up with Sarah for Fan Friday on this one.

Also linking up with Whitney for #backthatazzup Friday.  This Say Anything song just seemed fitting.

Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too by Say Anything on Grooveshark

End rant.

<3 BB

Image found here

Venus Trapped in Mars


Helene in Between said...

love this post, and totally agree. I describe myself as a feminist (people think that it's a bad word...it's not) but it's sad that in sports women have to work a lot harder to make a name for themselves.

Chandler said...

I love this!! I think it is so sad the differences that still exist between men and women today!! And what you said about their being ugly men who get paid a ton of money for playing their respective sport, hello why aren't women paid just as much?!?!

Venus Trapped In Mars said...

I just want to stand up and applaud you for a solid 3-4 minutes. This post was incredible. I'm going to go read it a few more times. The comparison between Lolo Jones and Mark Sanchez. Brilliant.

Kelli @She Crab Soup said...

I think women having to work harder and not being recognized or paid as much is true across all professions unfortunately. While we have "equal rights" we are still not treated as equal to men.

Sara Elizabeth said...

I watched this when it aired and had the same questions you posted here. It's ridiculous to me that we're still placing women into those 2 strict categories of girl next door/ sexy vixen. The one that bothers me the most (there are way more) but is how Hope Solo is portrayed in the media. All because she spoke out during the '07 WWC, she's been categorized a bitch/villain. God forbid a woman speak up for what she believes is right.

Kasey Lynne said...

This is so frustrating to me as well! Frankly, I think all professional athletes get paid WAY too much money, but both men and women should be paid equally for sure.

Sarah :: Your Plucky Picaroon said...

Wow. What a powerful post! You've brought light to a few things that I think I've subconsciously known for a long time, but never really put into words. It makes me think about what kind of parent I want to be someday when my kids want to do theater or sports or space camp. Gender rolls blow big hairy balls.

Sarah :: Your Plucky Picaroon

Kalyn V said...

Gah that is so true! There is such a stigma placed on young women playing sports... I overheard a conversation my two guys watching a college softball game and all they could talk about were what these ladies looked like! All I could think was, they are playing in the college world series, WHY should that matter. Ugh

Courtney B said...

I've always thought it was ridiculous how much money men are paid to play sports (my husband is always telling me who signed what contract and the dollar amount in baseball. it's sickening how much they make!) but I've never thought about women sports. I had no idea they made considerable less, but I shouldn't be surprised that it's mostly based on sex appeal. This world.... ugh.

Shaylynn... a girl, a story, a blog said...

This makes me very uncomfortable and pissed off all at the same time.

MacKensie said...

This is a great post. And incredibly upsetting at the same time. Ridiculous. Thank you for shedding some light on the topic. Seems like I never hear shit about female athletes..unless they're hot. Ugh.

Heather Marie said...

so good... and so so true... it is crazy how caught up we get in sex and the image that it portrays. fundamentally i think that it goes back to the idea that a women loves to be pursued and wanted, therefore will go to extreme measures to do so, not saying that this is everyone just some people.

Candace said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Being a hardcore NFL fan, it's so easy to forget that these are a bunch of men beating up on each other and getting paid insane amounts of money for it. Women couldn't come close to having any type of event that matches up to the Superbowl. Thank you for putting things in perspective. :)

Karra said...

This post is so wonderful!!! Though we've made progress, we're not where we need to be. I think that's true in sports as well as business & life in general. Woman have to work twice as hard as men to get recognized.

Katie Qué said...

Two (very different) things:
1) Have you watched MissRepresentation? I'm guessing yes, but if not, you would appreciate.
2) I lost my virginity to that Say Anything song.