Feminism and Sports – Is sexualizing women an okay way to make up for the wage gap in women’s sports?


For years upon years, there has been a distinct pay difference between men and women across many occupations. One of the largest areas this is seen is in sports. Pay in professional sports is often defined by the amount of viewers. Is it acceptable to sexualize women’s sports in an effort to equalize the wage gap, or are there other ways to get involved?

My Video:

Where Wages Stand Now:

An immense gap.

What’s important to know:

Important to know now is the viewers of women’s sports. According to The Economist, “Research conducted by Mary Jo Kane, a sport sociologist, and colleagues, suggests that sexualised images of female athletes turn off women and older men and so “alienate a core fan base”. Males aged 18-34 liked them, but for other reasons.” While this states that a large fan base would be alienated from being sexualized, men aged 18-34 actually make up a large portion of women’s sports viewers that could be profited off of more. On top of that, “More men than women watch female football matches; 55% of American men in a survey last month said they preferred watching women’s tennis to men’s.” Media bosses are beginning to notice this trend, and will most likely being to start capitalizing and exploiting this trend. Is this okay? Is it needed for women to give in to the desires of men? “Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, the governing body of world football, expressed a wish in 2004 for female players to compete in “more feminine garb”, suggesting that they wear “tighter shorts”.” I firmly believe women should not have to give into the desires of men to be successful and flourish in their sports. In fact, I think going the other way might actually be more lucrative.

A possible solution?

A much less degrading idea is possible to help the growth and flourishing of professional women’s sports. I believe that we can close the gap through women supporting women. The Economist discusses women’s soccer in Europe, and how female involvement is helping the team. “Kelly Simmons, the FA’s director of the professional women’s game, says that these new, multi-million pound sponsorship deals have been transformative.” This deal that Simmons made helped double the prize money at the women’s world cup. On top of that, women are excited to support women. “Female-focused brands have been especially eager to get involved. Avon, a beauty and cosmetics company, became the first such firm to sponsor a women’s professional football club, after agreeing to an exclusive deal with Liverpool Ladies FC. Boots, a pharmacist, has finalised partnerships with the national teams of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Wales.” As more brands invest in the sports, the more prize money and wealth can be brought to these female sport tournaments, and the closer we can get to closing the gap.

What can YOU do?

Involvement with community is key. I doubt many people reading this are owners of multi million dollar companies just itching to invest in professional sports teams. However, starting small is important. I think campaigning small businesses to sponsor high school leagues is a place to start. Staying educated and aware of the teams in your community and going out to watch games and matches is really important as well. Most importantly, support the women around you. Research what companies sponsor your favorite team and make an effort to shop there. If you’re passionate about a game, get your friends together to go see it. Getting excited and hyping up these teams is one of the most important ways to help.

Works Cited:

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  1. April 24, 2020 by Sophia

    I found the information you gave really interesting, and it definitely made me think of something I hadn’t even considered before. I agree that capitalizing off of the sexualization of women in order to increase views and appeal to a specific audience is incredibly disgusting and I hope that more awareness is brought to the topic and other supporters can get involved. I’m also a rower, and I was wondering if you have either heard of or even witnessed women being sexualized in the rowing community?

  2. April 26, 2020 by Justine Fellows

    This was very eye-opening. I haven’t thought of the issue from this perspective. As a female college athlete, it was always a struggle to get equality and very upsetting that the sport that I played had very few outlets to continue after college. It’s wonderful to see progress but it is just way too slow. Thanks for helping to make change!

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