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  • Writer's pictureProject Voices

Macy Goodwin

Hi my name Macy Goodwin, I’m a rising Junior at Newton North High School. I really enjoy watching movies with my family and playing field hockey. I wrote this speech for an English assignment this year because I feel very passionate about differences and inequality’s in women’s sports.

Female Athletes not females first athletes second

Sports have always been considered a way for men to demonstrate their “manliness”. When women started participating in sports, especially the Olympics, it threw this dynamic off, and as a result, society sexualized female athletes. Their solution was to focus on uniforms and looks rather than the sport to reassure male athletes and the public that female sports did not pose a threat to overtake mens. Even today media outlets and announcers often comment and take pictures of female athletes to focus on their appearance rather than skill. Why should female athletes be sexualized to fit society's standards?

Between 2012-2016 55% of the time ESPN and Sports Illustrated magazines featured females on the cover in non-athletic settings, and 5% of women’s covers were considered pornographic. A recurring pattern in photoshoots for female athletes is using their sports equipment as justification for an almost entirely nude photo. In one photoshoot mixed martial artist Gina Carano modeled for an ESPN magazine, instead of being shown in an empowering fighting scene she was pictured in only underwear and gloves. Without showing their bodies female athletes risk publicity which can affect how often they are booked and even their pay.

Athletes should be able to play their sport competitively and comfortably without the fear they are revealing themselves. To support this many women's Olympic teams have been fighting uniform rules. At the European Championship in July, the Women’s Norwegian beach handball team wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms. Consequently, they were fined a total of 1500 euros, about $1,760, for all 10 players that broke the dress code. When I researched this I didn’t hear about how the team did just this “scandal”.

The original uniforms for field hockey were thick kilts and shirts, but since its creation in mid-1800s England, the uniform developed into thinner tops and skirts. I have played field hockey for six years. Even here at Newton North, it is required that we wear skirts. Wearing a thin, short skirt is not easy nor comfortable to play in, often our skirts have gone up too high. In addition to it being embarrassing, photos and videos of our events are oftentimes not usable due to the exposure. I often find that I get asked more about why we wear skirts, or what we wear under them rather than the actual game. Who are we wearing them for?

If you have never felt sexualized or uncomfortable while playing then how is this relevant to you? It isn’t all on the athlete, the majority of this issue comes from the media and spectators. If petitions are going around sign them, advocate for your fellow peer athletes, and show support. Spectators need to adjust their focus to the game being played and the athlete's hard work instead of the uniform being worn.


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