Considering this blog is normally concerned with digital games, I thought it was about time to broaden the scope a little… Or maybe I just got this example of gender stuck in my head the entire day after reading Hargreaves’ “Femininity or ‘musculinity’.
I have been watching NFL for the last six years and I must say that from a bodily point of view I doubt that there are many males in the world that don’t envy the professional players just a little bit. They are perfected competition machines; quick, strong and able to endure ridiculous amount of pain - every week. I always especially admired the ones that also were able to handle themselves well in interviews and came off as intelligent men. I think that there is a strong hegemonic acceptance of professional male athletes as being a little bit spoiled, dumb and chauvinistic - which is probably true for a large portion. Every portrayal in books and movies also tend to the represent the male athletes as such, which is certainly not are certainly not very flattering adjectives to have pegged to your back - but who cares when you earn 100k+ a week, huh?
That was a long rumbling on the first half of the example. Second part of the example is how some clever businessman thought how you could possibly create a popular female pendant to the NFL. Considering there is an assumption that women can’t really perform to the same standards as men when it comes to pure competition (Hargreaves right there) and intensity, how can it be made interesting? Enter lingerie. Playing right into Hargreaves argument, that the female body is admired as a sex symbol and not as a competitive vessel, the clever businessman decided to dress mediocre (but very pretty) female athletes in lingerie and how them pull each others hair while jumping, running and throwing. These women are probably not chosen because of their athletic prowess, at least their body types tend to look more like glamour models than other professional female athletes, but yet here they are getting paid for “playing” football while men (and women) cheer.
Maybe not very video gamey, but a nice example of how one sport can represent two so different ideals of the human body. Men are portrayed as extremely competitive physical specimens, while the women can merely serve as a sexy sideshow (Lingerie Football started as a halftime gimmick in the men’s football final, the Super Bowl to make thing worse). I don’t even think there’s a draft….
Here are two comparisons of the the two leagues.
There is undeniably a focus on the sex appeal when the Lingerie Football is presented in media. Girls are looking seducing at the camera in almost no clothes. None of the male athletes are looking in the camera, but are looking focused and fired up. More interested in the game than who’s watching them play. They play for the competition. The women are presented as playing to pleasure the spectator.
This speaks for itself.