Women in the Locker Room

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Feminism in Sports: Part 1 of 2

In her on-campus talk “Women in the Locker Room,” New York Times (NYT) sports reporter Karen Crouse compared her job to an anthropologist researching a bunch of patriarchal tribes.

Reporting on sports, I have noticed much of the same. Despite taking part in athletics, I feel like an outsider to the world of sports. Men dominate sports, and women are often pushed aside, whether they are fans or athletes.

Oftentimes when interviewing a male athlete, he will explain to me the various parts of sport. One player even explained to me who the quarterback is (and someone explained to Crouse, even as a NYT sports journalist, the same thing).

When discussing sports with men, in my experience (thus that is not to say that every man does this), I am frequently confronted with these sorts of comments. To be a woman in a discussion on sports, I must be equipped with twice as much knowledge and information than my male counterpart.

Even when I am well-prepared and well-versed in sport matter and jargon, I am met with the comment, “Wow, you know a lot about sports for a woman.” I cannot just know a lot about sports; there has to be the belittling addition that I know only a lot of sports for a woman, implying that women still know less than men.

I also have to prove that I am a true sports fan. I get quizzed with questions like: “Name three Packers players” or “How many championships do the Blackhawks have?” But a man walks in wearing a jersey, and it is just generally assumed he is a true fan and knows about his team.

Sports are a patriarchal society. There are far fewer female players and fans than males, and men in sports who fail to live up to expectations are feminized. Thus, the equivalent of being bad at a sport is equal to being a female.

Women in sports, whether fans or athletes, do not live up to the standards of men. We will never know as much, play as well or cheer as loudly.

When I am yelling and cheering at a sporting event, I get “the glance.” Similarly to relationships, women’s passion in yelling equals craziness or psychosis. A man yelling the same thing is looked at as knowledgeable and perfectly normal.

Sports provide a microcosm for women’s status in American society. We are continuously tested on our knowledge, viewed as lesser than men and when we do things well, we do it well “for a woman.”

Juliet Suess is a senior ECLS major. She can be reached at suess@oxy.edu or on Twitter @WklyJSuess.