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The Portrayal of Women on the Cover of Sports Illustrated

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Corinne Winkler

on 5 November 2011

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Transcript of The Portrayal of Women on the Cover of Sports Illustrated

Research Questions Thesis Gender Roles When was the last time you attended a professional sports game? Going to a professional game is not a routine activity. Sports enthusiasts turn to MEDIA like television, magazines and newspapers to receive updates on sports news. Often, sports fans rely EXCLUSIVELY on these secondary sources for sports news, game results and league standings. Therefore, the visual PRESENTATION of athletes in the media has the power to shape the public understanding of the physical features and personal characteristics associated with athletes. Are their athletic achievements given adequate attention? And finally, how does the portrayal of females compare with that of males? Harmful gender tropes --> distributed to the masses
Images of hard working and accomplished female athletes from the public eye are witheld and replaced by images of beautiful, sexualized and submissive women Sports Illustrated presents a patriarchal fantasy as reality.
In general, Sports Illustrated cover pages value MEN for their athletic achievements and WOMEN for their beauty, sex appeal and submissiveness.
These cover pages hinder the athletic capacity of female athletes and reduce the efficacy of women in general to superficial qualities. Passive Sexual Object Domestic Emotional Domestic Passive Emotional Sexual Object Do Sports Illustrated covers assert that females hold an important place in the realm of elite athletes? The 'Swimsuit' Edition? Male Equestrian Sports, 1954 Female Equestrian Sports, 1954-55 From Mittell's Television and American Culture Mittell remarks, “Media are an important site gender learning, as cultural norms of masculinity and femininity are repeated and validated, which encourages viewers to adopt them as part of their own behavior and further reinforces dominant gender norms.” (Mittell, Television and American Culture, p. 330) So What?
Does the Cover Page of Sports Illustrated Really Matter? On Sports Illustrated magazine covers, the importance of visibility for female athletes cannot be undermined:

“The mass media ‘symbolically annihilate’ women by under-representing them and trivializing their accomplishments.” (Ronald Bishop, Journal of Sport and Social Issues)

“Critics claim that the new media’s lack of attention to female sports hinders the advancement of females in sports, from grade school to the professional sports.”
(Michael Salwen & Natalie Wood, Journal of Sport Behavior)

“Performance athlete media images can prompt a focus on one’s physical activities and competencies in girls and women.”
(Elizabeth Daniels, Journal of Adolescent Research) Departing from Mittell's Theory Ultimately, I argue that Sports Illustrated magazine covers display a false conception of reality, disregarding the accomplishments of female athletes and undermining their potential in sports. Scheduling Conflicts
High Cost of Sporting Events
Proximity to Stadium
Good Alternatives There are many factors that can make it
difficult to get to a live sporting event
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