In The Game: Female Athletes Battle With Sexism

Merecedes Bentley

Abstract


Sports reflect the cultural meanings and values of society. Females in sport over the course of 2015 have been 
recognized for many new accomplishments; which may suggest that there is progress towards gender equity in both 
sports and society. However, in a time of relative success, the media coverage of such accomplishments are still 
minimized in comparison to those of male athletes, which serves to maintain male dominance in sports. 
Furthermore, even when female athletes receive media coverage, they are often subject to sexist and heterosexist 
commentary. With female athletes only receiving a fraction of sports media coverage it is instructive to understand 
how the social media content from a prominent female sports team, the United States Women's National Soccer 
Team, works to construct new cultural understandings of women in sports. This study extends our understanding of 
the complexities of sexism and heterosexism directed toward female athletes through an investigation of social 
media during the summer of 2015. Specifically, a content analysis of the Instagram accounts of U.S. Women’s 
National Team soccer players, alongside the ESPN Sportscenter account, reveal the relative lack of attention paid to 
even highly successful female athletes, the often vitriolic sexist responses to public celebration of female athletes, 
and also multiple forms of resistance and disruption on the part of female athletes.

Keywords


hegemony; ideology; sports; sexism; heterosexism

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