It is true that female athletes face more ostracism than their male counterparts. There is that challenge of navigating an environment that stigmatizes women for enter a male dominated sphere. Women athletes are not alone in this stigma. Fans of women’s sports also face a level of harsh criticism. Male fans in particular are specifically targeted. There are certain stereotypical paradigms that people place male fans into. The first is the image of the fetishist, who does not care about an athlete’s performance, but her physical appearance and how she can best fit into intimate fantasies of the fan. Another image is a person who enjoys activities that are considered uninteresting. This actually is more sinister than it appears. There is the notion that women’s sports are not as exciting as the men’s events and anyone who watches must be dull. Besides these stereotypes, men who are specifically fans of the muscular and athletic female body also receive vituperation. Detractors question their sexuality and manhood. Some are so extreme they even question the status of the male fan’s mental health. While these claims seem ludicrous by detractors, these negative images still persist.
The image of the fetishist is one of the most negative of the male fan. This is a person who is obsessed with the appearance of the woman athlete’s body and engages in some form of sexual objectification. This type does not care about the athlete’s performance. The sole focus is on her looks. This attitude can not be blamed solely on a few people, but a corporate business model. There is the old marketing motto of “sex sells.” Magazines, advertisements, movies, and television fetishize the female body. It is done so much that the woman no longer is deemed human, but an accessory or object. This intersection of sexism and corporate avarice does serious harm. It directs attention away from the athlete’s accomplishments and talent, which should be the focus. The second problem is that it furthers the fetishist stereotype of the male fan. Not all men judge women solely on their appearance.
These covers present the women not as sex objects, but as skilled professionals.
This cover is borderline lascivious.
There are male fans who do value the performance of the top professional female athletes. The big issue seems to be cultural attitudes and business practices.The male fan is stuck between these conflicts.
The most frustrating stereotype is the image of the boring person. There is a horrid idea that women’s sports cannot be entertaining or exciting as the men’s events. This double standard only represents people’s negative convictions about women. Male fans of women’s sports are often compared to people who are stamp collectors or bird watchers. These activities are considered “boring” to many people in a modern post-industrial technological society. These activities are not boring, it just has not developed a level of popular faddism. These activities are enjoyable to particular individuals, but not at a massive level. Women’s sports are still a niche market. It is possible that with more media coverage and funding it can expand its audience. Die hard fans could be the harbingers to a popular faddism craze. Baseball was once considered America’s favorite pastime. Gradually, football eclipsed it in terms of popularity. People have all sorts of interests and hobbies. Trying to declare what is or is not quality entertainment is an attempt to impose cultural conformity. Calling male fans of women’s sports boring is baseless. Even more ludicrous is that people still hold the belief that women’s sports are not as good.
Male fans also face another challenge. Men who love the aesthetic of the muscular and athletic female body are harshly criticized by detractors. Accusations of latent homosexuality are directed at supporters. This lacks logic, because women with muscle are still women. This also represents a extreme intolerance against people of different sexual orientations. The manner in which it is expressed is an insult, but it would not be if a person was gay. Closed minded behavior such as this reveals more severe ills of society. Another attack is on the masculinity of the male fan. The question posed is “what type of man would be with a woman like that?” or “what type of pathetic man would want to be with woman stronger than him?” Traditionalists hold that strength is male only and any man who likes a strong woman is less masculine. The idea is that man has full control of the woman in all respects. Physical domination is just one area of that control. There are men who do not see it as an aberration, but a positive attribute. There is beauty in a highly developed female form.
Few can appreciate the aesthetics of the muscular female body.
The majority of people cannot see the beauty in it. Then there is another aspect. Male fans who like the muscular woman are seen as “abnormal.” Society erroneously believes that this admiration is connected to an obsessive sexual fetish. The male fan is put into a one dimensional box of either being a deviant or pervert. The facts are different. Supporters are not strange or abnormal, but come from different walks of life. The rise of the internet allowed larger exposure of women involved in strength sports. Personal websites of athletes do receive large amounts of traffic. This proves that there are people who do like the look, but a precise number is ambiguous. Some male fans in the face of this opposition hide their love of the muscular woman. The internet to an extent provides anonymity, which frees them from societal pressure to conform. It is odd with the rise of body acceptance for larger women rejects the unhealthy anorexic body, while acceptance is not extended to the muscular woman. There is some progress in which some muscle is tolerable to a degree on a woman. Yet, the hyper-muscular woman induces fear, hatred, and repudiation in the gender traditionalists. The male fans also have difficulty being labeled a social misfit.
Female athletes have to deal with societal and cultural pressures that their male counterparts do not have to consider. There are also challenges for the advocates and male fans who want to see women’s sports flourish. Negative criticisms are a reflection of people who particular biases and reject any form of change. The idea that women could be successful in a male dominated area is irksome to thoughs who believe in strict gender roles . The male fan is trapped in between a conformist block and their own values. Others may condemn particular view points, but have proven wrong years later. It was once believed that the Earth was the center of the universe, until proven false. Eventually women in sports and their fans will be accepted, but that will be many years from now.