Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How Women are Framed in Sports: Yankee babes vs. Phillies babes

It is always interesting to see how the media integrates women, if at all, into major sporting events. This year's World Series pits the New York Yankees against the Philadelphia Phillies. With the series about to commence, The New York Post has a photo-story up titled "Yankees babes vs. Phillies babes," showing 12 photos of Yankee or Philly players with their "babes" (i.e., wives, fiances, or girlfriends). A few examples from their gallery:

(Caption: "Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth and his wife Julia Werth.")

[Caption: "Yankees' designated hitter Hidecki Matsuit (misspelled) holds up a drawing he did of his bride" (note the contemporary visual of Matsui, a Japanese national and "his" picture bride).]

(Caption: "Karen Burnett, wife to Yankees pitcher AJ, hangs out with Amber Sabathia, Kate Hudson and Michelle Damon.")

[Caption: "Stephenie LaGrossa, fiancee to Phillies' pticher (misspelled) Kyle Kendrick."]

As is common in sports media, women in this photo-story are framed as appendages to the more central male athletes. This may seem obvious to the average sports fan since the athletes are the celebrities and therefore merit being the photo-story's central focus. The point, however, is that society still affords males this particular institution of male privilege where women are consistently marginalized.

How often are there stories where female athletes are shown with their male boyfriends, fiances, or husbands? One may argue those stories of women with their "male appendages" do not exist because there are simply fewer female athletes. But that's part of the gender disparity, part of the male privilege in sport and society.

Furthermore, women are relegated symbolically to figures whose worth lies in their sexuality and/or readiness to support their men. When women in this photo-story are shown by themselves (ostensibly centered), they are still cast on the margins of the sporting world, sitting in the stands and/or flaunting their sexuality. As is "par for the course" in the sporting world, we see again how women are valued.

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  1. And then in Italy, it starts at the very top: "Italian Women Assail Berlusconi For Sexist Remarks" (10.28.09)

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