“Level the Playing Field: Girls, Women and Sports” was recently launched by “On The Issues: A Magazine of Feminist Progressive Thinking”. Based on the review of about 10 articles thus far, this tremendous collection stands out for its combination of quality, quantity, accessibility (its online), and readability. It notably bridges common gaps between academia and new media that prevent great work from being read by a mass audience.
From the press release:
The convergence of two events this summer brings excitement and attention to women in sports: the anniversary of Title IX, which opened the way for women’s greater participation in sports in the U.S., is on June 23, 2012 – 40 years since its passage. And on July 27 is the opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics in London, where an estimated 45 percent of the 10,500 athletes are expected to be female, the highest level ever.
This attention to women’s sports participation runs concurrent with surging interest in yoga, biking, adventuring and zumba. But, there are also undercurrents of tension, rarely discussed – What is the role of sports in U.S. culture? How do gender “roles” play out in sports? What is the effect of media coverage and spectatorship? What is the interplay with feminism? What is being done to address misogyny, homophobia and transphobia? On The Issues writers and artists look at these big-picture topics, along with sharing personal narratives and stories of accomplishment and empowerment in their just-released Spring issue, Level the Playing Field: Girls, Women and Sports.
The articles can be found directly on their website, and for reference, specific article descriptions and links can be found below along with the following radio show:
1) Bodies in Motion: Physical Females Face Different Risks by Eleanor J. Bader: Prior to the 1960s, women and girls heard a steady banter when it came to sports: Don’t participate. Of course, not everyone listened and those who insisted on taking part were warned to tread lightly lest the running, throwing, jumping and lifting irreparably harm their bodies and interfere with their ability to bear children.
2) Curious Tension: Feminism and the Sporting Woman by Susan J. Bandy: As a former athlete and a graduate student in Sports Studies, I embraced feminism in the 1970s. It seemed to be a natural alliance because I had experienced sports as personally liberating and felt that it offered females the possibility to become accomplished athletes, develop strong and healthy bodies, and defy societal views of females as physically and psychologically unsuited for sport.
3) Cheering or Being Cheered? My Daughter’s Cheerleading Adventure by Lu Bailey: This year, my 10 year-old told me that she wanted to try out for the cheerleading squad at her elementary school. First of all, is there really a competition to “make the team” at 10-years-old? The answer is a resounding YES!
4) Who Owns Sports? Dissecting the Politics of Title IX by Martha Burk: Title IX has been a part of our body of law for 40 years, and it has been contested legally and politically almost continuously since it was enacted. Although it applies to all educational programs receiving federal financial assistance, sports programs have drawn the bulk of the political fire. Opponents say that it is a quota system that pits women’s sports against men’s sports, and that the law is responsible for the elimination of many men’s athletic teams.
5) Why Sex Segregation Is Bad for Society by Alex Channonk: Sex segregation in sports is so widely accepted that it is hardly ever discussed. But this outdated and harmful notion merely reinforces a sexual hierarchy in society, and the assumptions behind it need some serious re-examination.
6) Films Lag in Sharing The Women’s Game by Ariel Dougherty: Forty years ago, at the same time that Title IX was passed by the federal government, Sheila Paige and I co-founded Women Make Movies in New York City. Since then, my work has centered on producing women-identified media and making it more available. The collective success of making substantial inroads into corporate media, however, has been exceedingly minimal. Both Hollywood data and sports media coverage point to how women are now losing ground.
7) A Soccer Dad Faces Parenting, Coaching and Dreams by Mauricio Espinoza: Jordan leaped to grab that ball as if nothing else in the world mattered, the way good goalkeepers do, oblivious to the sea of enemy legs that crowded the penalty box like hungry sharks with menacing cleats for teeth. My brave eight-year-old shark-slayer got to the ball first, preserving a hard-fought 1-0 lead against a superior team our novice squad had no business defeating or even tying, on one of those glorious fall afternoons I have grown so accustomed to love in Ohio.
8) Yoga Frontiers: Women Shape Practices in Exceptional Ways by Molly M. Ginty: Gathered in a circle on a rainbow of yoga mats, tucking braids, curls and dreadlocks into handkerchiefs and hair bands, women of all ages, shapes and sizes take a moment to check in before yoga class. “My menstrual cramps are bad today. Can we do something for that?”…
9) The Rise and Fall and Possible Rise of Women’s Pro Soccer by Tim Grainey: Women’s soccer in the U.S. has had many successes over the past dozen years, but two professional leagues have failed – the latest suspending operations early in 2012. A new limited playing opportunity in the U.S. is developing for this season, but post-collegiate players are still left in limbo. How can women’s soccer be both so popular and go so wrong?
10) Winning the Sports Beat: Female Writers Need Wide Angle Lens by Marie Hardin: When Title IX became law in 1972, it started a chain of events that have ultimately changed the sports landscape in the United States. While the well-worn adage by women’s sports advocates, “We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go,” is certainly still relevant, expectations around sports at the scholastic and intercollegiate levels are far different than they were 40 years ago. What hasn’t gotten the same level of attention is the influence Title IX has had on sports journalism.
11) Opening Historic Trails: Accidental Heroes Stomp Sports Inequity by Risa Isard: In the midst of a workout, I was not thinking about Title IX or the people who worked to secure my rights. But I knew about Title IX and I know what it’s like to climb a hill under a hot sun. So, I began to wonder not only about the implementation of the law, but also about the run-up to June 23, 1972, the day that President Richard Nixon signed it into law.
12) Girls, Women, Sports: What to Read – by Chané Jones and The Feminist Press: An exploration about sports soon reveals that it is about much more than athletic competitions — law, society, self-image and cultural mores. These eight books selected by the staff of The Feminist Press expand the topics in this edition with rich writing and varied explorations.
13) Women On High: The Price of Passion at the Roof of the World by Jennifer Jordan: I came to this rather obscure subject of “women high altitude climbers” as any self-respecting journalist should — I wondered who the hell was writing their stories.
14) Athletically Disinclined: My Counterpoint by Gabrielle Korn: I have a question. Who decided that sports – competitive, complicated, labor-intensive, rules-driven – are fun?…Clearly, feminism is several steps ahead of me on this one: as the very existence of this edition of On The Issues Magazine indicates, sports are extremely important to girls and women, and the women’s movement has made enormous strides in placing us alongside men and boys in the athletic world. So if feminism has opened the door to this world, why don’t I want to walk through it?
15) Goalposts: Tackling the Last Bastion of Male Monopoly by Andrew D. Linden: To watch his daughter, Angela, play quarterback in 2011, former National League Football quarterback Mark Rypien, Most Valuable Player in the 1991 Super Bowl, attended a game of the Lingerie Football League (LFL) team, The Tampa Breeze.
16) Aspiring for Medals: Watching New Gymnastic Generations by Zerlina Maxwell: “I’m going to make it to the Olympics!” I shrieked as a knot formed in my throat which happens when I’m about to cry. “You don’t believe in me, but I believe in myself. And if I set a goal, I will achieve it. If I want to go to the Olympics, then I will work hard and make it there!”
17) Athletes and Magazine Spreads: Does Sexy Mean Selling Out? by Laura Pappano: As a blogger and reader of women’s sports blogs, I’ve learned that one subject reliably spurs sharp (even bitter) debate: Female athletes’ bodies and how they use them. Whether the occasion is the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, bare-all ESPN magazine spreads or even NCAA softballers planning time for hair and make-up to play in televised championships, it hits a well-worn nerve.
18) Rules Put Extreme Pressure On Transsexual Players by Lindsay Parks Pieper: …Dick Carlson – a San Diego reporter covering the local tournament — found himself astounded first by [Renée] Clarke’s height, then by her skill. Curious about the sudden emergence of this previously unknown phenom, Carlson inquired about Clarke’s background. Initially, he had simply intended to fill airtime with an inspiring tale about a local standout; however, Carlson instead produced a revealing expose… He identified Renèe Clarke as Renèe Richards, the former male professional tennis player Richard Raskind.
19) Olympics’ Coverage Still Shortchanges Female Athletes by Jane Schonberger: Watching the Olympics is still a highlight for me. But when I stopped playing tennis and swimming competitively and started thinking critically, I realized there are a lot of issues with the Olympic media when it comes to the appearances and presentation of women athletes, and many untapped and emerging opportunities, as well. What’s Wrong with the Olympics?
20) Leaping, Racing, Spearing: The Female Athlete Amazes in Myth by Laura A. Shamas: The physically talented woman-competitor is an amazing feature of many timeless tales. She runs faster than all the men. She draws the arrow from her quiver, aims and hits her mark perfectly, every time. She swims without fear in the stormy sea. She vaults so high she can nearly touch the sun. She dances with enough force to make thunder. The powerful archetype of the Female Athlete has many names and thrives in cultural traditions worldwide.
21) Becoming Glory: Kicking Goals to Transcend the Night, A Memoir by Christine Stark: I could say soccer saved me, but it wouldn’t be true. I saved myself, as a girl, on my own, by becoming good at soccer.
22) Nine Titles Thinking About Title IX by Rachel Toor: Because I never played sports, because I went with my feminist mother to 1970s rallies and women’s groups, because I attended a fancy-pants college on financial aid and wanted to believe that the world was fair and meritocratic, and because I was naïve and narcissistic, I hadn’t thought about how or if Title IX affected me. Now I know, after a lifetime of working different jobs, jockeying for promotions that resulted only in title changes, winning races and earning titles, and being a writer and author, how much titles matter, and how much Title IX mattered.
23) The Poet’s Eye From Poetry Co-Editor Judith Arcana: 1) Diana Playing Soccer with her Nymphs on Cambridge Common, Kathleen Aguero; 2) Why Nymphs Like to Ride Bareback, Judith Barrington; 3) It’s Good I’m Slow, Carolyn Martin; 4) How Beautiful are Thy Feet with Shoes, Song of Solomon 7:1, Penelope Scamby Schott
24) Related Stories: Bold Discussions of ABORTION in On The Issues Magazine by The Editors: Sports – women have been active participants through the ages. But, relative to men, sports have been only a sometime-thing for many women. The articles we ran in On the Issues Magazine, while fewer in number than other topics, were provocative and revelatory. Read more.
25) The Art Perspective: Karen Shaw curated by Linda Stein: The Art Perspective provides a visual and audio forum for artists to exhibit their art and present exciting responses to major themes of our day. This edition on Girls, Women & Sports highlights the work of Karen Shaw, a New York-based artist exploring her feminist reactions to what she sees as the male-dominated world of sports.
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