It comes as no shock to say that women are often under or misrepresented in the media, and sport is definitely another facilitator to this. Female sports are rarely televised and sexism and misogyny in the media are still rife.
The London 2012 Olympics were a huge affair for Britain, with athlete Jessica Ennis appearing as the face of the Games. This was great for women, except for the fact that Ennis was so obviously chosen for her beauty. Despite being an acclaimed heptathlete Ennis doesn’t have an overly muscular body like some female sporting stars, an attribute still seen as abnormal for a woman in society. Sportswomen are often highly sexualised, leading them to feel upset about their figures, despite their bodies being those of champions.
Rebecca Adlington is just one sporting idol to fall prey to the toxic female beauty regime injected into our current society. Speaking out on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, she said that next to models she felt “insecure” and that she was “not the prettiest”. Why should beauty matter to Adlington when she has two Olympic gold medals under her belt and is highly successful in her field? Because women are misrepresented in sport, they are still judged on their attractiveness as opposed to their sporting prowess. When has male beauty ever been an issue in the sporting world?
Female sporting sexualisation stretches into motorsport too, an area already underrepresented by women as they struggle to gain sponsors. If you Google Image search NASCAR star Danica Patrick you’ll be met with a plethora of images of her in her underwear draped over cars. Patrick is the most successful American woman in open-wheel racing history and yet her publicity remains focused on her body on top of the car instead of her expertise within it. Aspiring Formula 1 star Susie Wolff was even forced to drive in a pink car during her DTM years and consistently comes under scrutiny for her abilities because her husband also works in Formula 1.
Moving onto football there is a clear lack of female coverage on mainstream terrestrial television. The Women’s Football Show seems to have been entirely hidden away, the new series recently airing on BBC3. BBC Sport came under fire for their lack of publicity for the show as they posted its iPlayer link the following day instead of supporting it live.
Sexualisation of women remains rife within football. FIFA president Sepp Blatter claimed that female footballers are “pretty” and that they would enhance the sport if they wore “tighter shorts”. Then there was the 2011 sexism incident on Sky where Andy Gray was immediately sacked for his offensive comments relating to women and the offside rule.
This is not to say that everything surrounding female sport is wholly negative. Presenting legends Sue Barker and Clare Balding are certainly waving the flag for women with their enthusiasm and dedication to sport. Perhaps this is down to the influence of the BBC who, as an esteemed channel, often pave the way for the new and original. Let’s hope that women can start being represented more equally in the sporting world, be it as athletes or journalists.