Gender issues and media portrayal of female athletes
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The purpose of this investigation aims to explore the integral themes of gender issues and media portrayal surrounding elite female athletes. These key aspects will focus on the marginalisation and trivialisation of their feminine attributes and achievements, within a broad category of sports. It was the intent of the literature review to draw upon previous research within this study area, to direct and provide the researcher with a subjective overview of these issues. The research identified that femininity stems from traditional notions and is still apparent within today’s culture, thus considering female athletes hold more value as a sexual object rather than a sporting professional. A quantitative epistemology was appropriately chosen for this study, where primary data was collected through the use of questionnaires. This approach allowed the researcher to acquire a vast quantity of information from a broad pool of subjects within the sporting environment of UWIC. One hundred and fifty participants of mixed gender representing eleven sports took part in the study, all of which were between the ages of 18-25. It was evident from the cross examination of results and literature that most female athletes participating within ‘female appropriate sports’, are depicted within the mass media more so for their feminine attributes than their athletic ability, thus perpetuating stereotypical attitudes. These females are those which gain more media coverage over athletes who participate within suggested ‘male appropriate sports’, where the media is quick to ridicule them and question their sexuality in a bid to reinforce ‘male homogeny’.
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