From women not being allowed to run marathons because women are ”too fragile” to being sexualised in social media, gender inequalities in sports are unfortunately nothing new to our society. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer made more than newspaper headlines by illegally signing herself up for a marathon; something only men were considered able enough to complete. According to Cahn (1994) when women made their entrance in sports it was considered as an intrusion and they were even questioning their sexualities.
Currently, we live in 2021 and examples of female athletes being described as too masculine by the media are still very much alive. From a woman’s perspective, I always failed to understand the need for “GymProof” makeup, “workout makeup” and makeup for “active women”. The pressure to always be perfect and to always look appealing for what society and the media considers “feminine”. However, after thorough research I quickly understood how well connected society was with the media.
For better or worse, the media can easily control and affect society’s beliefs. According to Trolan (2013), print media traditionally would always praise women athletes for their appearance rather than their skills. Their make-up, hairstyle and body shape would make headlines whereas male athletes would be praised for their physical skills and strength. Even when a female athlete was to make a mistake while performing the media would blame it on “emotional reasons” whereas for men it was the case of bad luck. Female athletes would be referred to as “young lady” while broadcasted whereas males as “capable man”. Therefore, it could be argued the construction of stereotypes is being formed in the smoothest way possible by the media.
In the past, social media provided only one point of view through newspapers or T.V news. However, now through platforms such as Instagram, Twitter or TikTok, a variety of opinions are heard since comments are enabled to users (Lindgren, 2017). However, this definitely doesn’t state the problem is solved. Although everyone might now be given a voice, it is much easier to comment behind a keyboard, through fake accounts and anonymously which sparks a new wave of hate. Nonetheless, news channels also have official accounts in most social platforms. The individual is once again targeted by them and consumes content to an even greater scale and although they are given a voice, they end up being heavily affected by what the media projects. Therefore, the pressure on female athletes remains.
Anna Kournikova, a renowned tennis player, has always been targeted for her perfect body-shape but recently she has also been body shamed about being ”too skinny”. Similarly, Serena Williams has also been a constant target for her masculinity and has even been questioned for her ability to move fast because of her weight by Ion Tiriac, a Romanian billionaire. Nonetheless, sexist broadcast from the media and hate comments do nothing to help solve the problem of gender inequality in sports. However, due to women finally fighting for the equality they always deserved, these examples are brought to the surface more frequently and more women speak up about the problem. So let’s not forget that female athletes train as hard as men, they wake up as early as every other athlete and they put exactly the same effort. So why do they need ”GymProof” makeup and a perfect body as well? The media would say because they need to be feminine and look beautiful at all times but instead of asking the media I would like the readers to ask themselves first, without looking at the comments or checking the news.