Women In Sport
Australian Volleyball provides equity for athletes in regards to participation but like many sports issues need to be addressed to ensure gender equality is achieved. Women have made a consistent and significant contribution to Australian sports at all levels however they are still not always provided with the same opportunities. Gender equality is the “unequal and biased treatment between the two sexes” which guarantees the dominant position of men and subordination of women which is known as hegemonic masculinity (www.uchicago.edu). Even though volleyball is one of the most equitable sports in Australia, women still receive a lack of media coverage in comparison to men. Often sexploitation occurs in volley ball which is due to certain uniform requirements. By the lack of equity in sports of today a wide range of population groups are affected, including young women in society who are not encouraged to participate in sports possibly due to lack of confidence in body image due to the current uniforms. Professional sports women are also affected by the inequality in sport, especially in volleyball as they are unable to make a proper living due to low payments.
The media has a significant influence on individuals and the culture in which they live in, it persuades the audience to obtain certain beliefs and creates opinions especially in relation to women in sport (REFERENCE) . There is serious lack of media coverage allocated to women’s sport resulting in the misinterpretation of women in physical activity. The role of the media plays an important role in an athletes’ career and women of today receive inadequate coverage and are often stereotypically portrayed when they are included. (www.dsr.nsw.gov.au). This lack of representation in the media can been seen in a report by the Australian Sports Commission which showed women’s sport receives only 1.2% of all air time devoted to sport and also only 4.5% of newspaper coverage (Danielle Woolage, 2003). Furthermore this limited media coverage can be seen in an activity conducted by all year 12 Loreto College Physical Education students, who recorded the amount of male and female articles in the sport section of the Courier Mail for two weeks commencing on the 05/05/08 to the 18/05/08. At the end of this investigation period it was discovered that only 15.1% of the articles were devoted to female athletes often focusing on personal issues rather than their sporting achievements (appendix 1). The survey also found that the majority of women’s sport coverage was found on days when there was little male sport; also articles were often on the bottom of a page and rarely included a photograph. The language also used to describe woman in these articles were often emphasizing their weakness, passivity, and insignificance, detracting from their athletic abilities (www.dsr.nsw.gov.au). If a photo was a part of an article it was often just a head shot or a posed image rather than an action shot which would usually accompany an article featuring a male athlete. Also during this investigation period it was found that there were no articles about either the male or female volleyball competition. These results are a clear indication that the women are represented by the media unfairly therefore showing that there is a high level of inequality in sports especially in volleyball. (GOING TO INCLUDE SPONSORSHIP CYCLE)
Women in sport in today’s society are continued to be seen as inferior to that of the male domain, rarely are they noticed for their accomplishments. Due to a variety of reasons the continued thought that the sporting field is a masculine arena and that woman are not skillful nor as worthy as their male counterparts continues. There is strong links between ideology, female sexuality and physical activity which are all central to the analysis of women and sport (Women’s Studies International Forum 1987, Pages 381-386). Attitudes and practices surrounding female sporting participation constitute an important component in the social construction of femininity in sport (www.theage.com.au). Allegations of lesbianism serve patriarchal interest by discouraging female participation in so-called masculine sports, therefore decreasing participation rates. (Women’s Studies International Forum 1987, Pages 381-386). Within society it can be seen that there is a strongly belief that women’s sport is inferior to that of males however this is a belief that has been constructed since the beginning of sport and also by the media. Sport is traditionally associated with masculinity, it is considered inappropriate for women to engage in sports, and women of today are strongly affected by this myth (REFERENCE). Women’s volleyball in comparison to males volleyball, even though neither have high media coverage, it can be seen that women however are rarely recognized for their achievements in this sporting field. However men do receive adequate exposure clearing showing that women’s volleyball is seen as inferior to that of the male domain. A survey conducted by year 12 physical education students at Loreto College with 85 participants, allowed for the students to display their opinions about women in sport. The survey was a clear indication that many people of today have altered their opinion. That women’s sport is not inferior to males, with 67% disagreeing that males were better athletes then female athletes (appendix 1). Even though a high percentage did disagree with this comment it still shows that a part of the population is still under the influence that males sport does exceed females and this must be changed to insure equality in sport.
Sexploitation which is the marketing, promotion and the attempt to gain media attention by focusing on sexual attributes of the female athlete is a major concern in sports today, especially volleyball (www.australiansportscommission.com). This effect is often caused by revealing or skin tight uniforms which often denigrate the athlete and portrays the female body in an inappropriate manner. An article featuring in the Morning Herald on September 8th, 2006 titled ‘Daggy or daring, girls fear the gear’ is a clear representation of sexploitation in volleyball which also highlighted that such uniform requirements were a barrier stopping female participation in sport (www.smh.com.au). The Loreto College survey was also a strong indication showing that 25.6% of the girls had felt uncomfortable wearing sporting uniforms. Even though this is not the majority of the cohort, it is however still showing that uniform requirements are leading to women not participating in sport. Poor body image is a growing epidemic in the youth of today, with only one in five women being satisfied with their body weight and nearly half of all normal weight women overestimating their size and shape (www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au). Due to this current epidemic of poor body image it can be interpreted that revealing and tight volleyball uniforms are possible making applicants and current players feel uncomfortable playing in these uniforms, leading to a low participation rates in women’s volleyball. Women volleyball players of today are forced to wear short bike pants accompanied with a short tight top however men are able to wear knee length baggy shorts and an elbow length loose t- shirt (www.avf.org.au). These current uniform requirements are a clear indication that sexploitation is occurring in women’s volleyball and there is high level of inequality evident.