Girls Sports : On the Right Track (1975)

This is an excerpt from 1975 from Phoenix  Films and Videos. It discusses the positive impacts of Title IX passed as part of the Education Act of 1972. Sex discrimination was prohibited in school programs. Sports programs were the area in which women and girls faced the most sex discrimination. If it was not for this legislation many women athletes would not have gotten the opportunity to compete professionally or in an international setting. There still remains challenges in terms of enforcement and ethnic as well as class disparities. Far-right presidential  administrations continue to attempt to dismantle it. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos wants to dismantle Obama era additions, which has caused much controversy.

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Girls Sports : On the Right Track (1975)

Women’s Sports Documentary

There are mass gaps in pay in professional sports. Basketball, soccer,  and tennis are bot extremely pronounced. This documentary exposes the economic inequality and sexism plaguing the sports world. There are solutions to these problems. Improving attendance to matches, having more media coverage, and women forming their own organizations could be possible solutions. Simply not making demands will not advance anything. There also needs to be a paradigm shift in attitudes regarding women. Women in sports are either trivialized as not being serious athletes or being less capable. Sexualization has been a problem with the media focusing on women’s appearance rather than their talents. Only when the corporate gatekeeper culture and media control is challenged can  the condition of women in sports can improve.

Women’s Sports Documentary

Anita Sarkeesian and a Gamer’s Response

Anita Sarkeesian’s “Tropes versus Women in Video Games” generated much controversy. While there is no denying there is sexism in video games her videos present the average male gamer as a misogynist and internet troll. The unfortunate aspect of this is that there are male gamers who fit this description.  Sarkessian’s analysis and the venomous responses of some individuals represent how extreme third wave feminism and men’s rights advocates seek to divide the gaming community. It is clear that there is an agenda to promote Feminist Frequency a website run by Sarkeesian. She claims to be a dedicated game enthusiast, but it has been rare to see her actually do so, rather than criticism. Her style of debate is to make small selections of data, rather than examining the entire picture. There are also people in the gaming community who also make such outrageous claims. The video “Anita’s “Myths” Versus  Real Myths ” also represents a distortion. A Youtube user by the name Prince Asbel responded to Anita’s video in the same irrational manner. The debate centered around the concept of women being the weaker sex. Users like him only give Sarkeesian fuel and paint a negative image of the gaming community. While sexual dimorphism is a biological reality, this does not mean gender stereotypes are based in truth.

         The video wants to challenge Sarkeesian’s claim  of women being stereotyped as the weaker sex. The problem is that Asbel uses a subject that actually disproves his point. The video shows Jill mills arm wrestling  three men and losing to two of them. One should realize that arm wrestling is not a precise measure of strength. This involves a level of technique as well as strength from the wrist, pectoralis major,  and biceps brachii.

His example was to demonstrate that women really cannot be strong. Jill mills has the ability to lift cars and do many feats of strength from years of training. She is certainly not weak. If this presentation wanted to be precise it would examine bench press, leg press, and squat records of female and male athletes. Men on average are stronger. This does not mean the female body cannot acquire strength. Jill Mills can deadlift 475 lbs for reps. Jill currently can bench 286 lbs and do a 442 lbs squat. These are impressive records and the reason she could not beat these men at arm wrestling is because she had limit training for it. It would be doubtful if the men in the video can do what Jill does without any training. However, it would not be possible that Jill could out lift the world’s strongest man.

The strength difference is not solely due to muscle. The male skeleton contains denser bones, larger ligaments, and bigger tendons. The video sites that Jill is covered in muscles and therefore she should have beaten the men. Large muscles do not automatically equal more strength. It has to do with the distribution of type II muscle fibers and the rate of muscular contraction. Type II muscle fibers are critical for explosive power. It is possible for a person with smaller muscles to be stronger if they are specifically training for that purpose. A weightlifter may be able to lift more than a large bodybuilder simply because one athlete is training for hypertrophy. The bodybuilder’s goal is an aesthetic one.

The notion that women are weaklings falls into the frailty myth. Physical weakness or lack of physical skills were thought to be women’s natural state. It seems Abdel falls into this perspective, but attempts to appear non-biased by mentioning his sister. Average does not correlate to all men being stronger. There are multiple factors that play a role in physical strength. Body type, endocrinology, body composition, and fitness level. Women produce more estrogen which allows for more body fat, rather than lean body mass. Myostatin in particular determines how large muscles can grow given a training regimen. Testosterone allows for greater muscular hypertrophy, which enables more protein synthesis. Genetics play a role in both sexes in terms of fitness levels. Men have more natural strength, but women also respond to the stimuli of weight training. At the cellular level, there is no difference between male and female muscle. Men just have more type II muscle fibers. The disparity is more about quantity rather than quality.

The difference in upper body strength is the greater compared to the lower body. The average woman according to rough estimates has about 55% of males’ upper body strength. Women have a closer range of lower body strength which is between 25% to 75%. This shows that men do have larger muscle fibers. This does not mean a man who does not train will be stronger than a woman who does. A woman who trains seriously could either equal or surpass the average man in strength. Then training method is also important. Training at high intensity allows women to acquire more strength and the use of plyometrics. The physiological and biological differences explain why female athletes have to train harder than their male counterparts. The differences in physical fitness potential change during puberty, when hormonal changes alter the body. Anatomically women have wider hips and narrower shoulders, which do effect athletic performance.

There is of course overlap between women and in men. The explanation for this is that each individual’s physiology is different, which gives then a natural advantage over other competitors. There also is the factor of technique in athletic skill. Strength and speed are critical, but if one has not mastered skilled movements for a particular sport, it will ultimately effect the total performance optimum. This may explain why some women could beat men in a physical contest if the skill and technique level is high.

This man clearly is stronger, but loses. The woman has a technique that nullified the strength gap. As you can see arm wrestling is not an accurate measure of strength. 

Sexual dimorphism is the product of millions of years of evolution. This does not prove women are inferior, but different. Humans are primates of a mammal order and usually males tend to be larger than females. There are exceptions seeing as gibbons are the same size for both sexes. The reason for size and strength differences between men and women may have to do with mating strategies. Our early ancestors of the past had to compete for mates. Size and strength would have been an element of natural selection to spread particular genes. There is vast amounts of genetic diversity in the human species, which allowed it to survive. Relevant to this discussion of female representation being a woman does not make one biologically inferior or physically weak by default. Stereotypes and negative attitudes do effect peoples’ behavior  and conduct in regards to certain groups. This is why women face extra scrutiny in occupations that are physically demanding like the military, law enforcement, firefighting, and sports. The assumption is that they are too frail and incapable of such work. Men are stronger, but that does not mean they have a monopoly on  physical strength. Asbel seems to present a distorted argument just like Sarkeesian.

        The problem with Anita Sakeesian is that she does not acknowledge that women in video games do not all fall into the damsel in distress trope. This trope is older than electronic entertainment and can be seen in film, television, and literature. There is a progression which features women characters as the stars of their own games. Fans are responding positively to this new development. The Tomb Raider reboots and Uncharted Lost Legacy  are great examples of this change. They fight, shoot, and march their way through danger in their new adventures. Gamers do not care that they are women.

The wonderful aspect about Uncharted Lost Legacy  is that it features non-white characters staring in their own game. Black and Asian representation has been lacking and this was a excellent remedy to that problem. While it may be true their is a social construction that women are helpless and ineffectual, there has been a change in particular beliefs. A female heroine is not such a shock to people anyone when consuming various forms of entertainment. When gamers  found out that Samus was a woman at the end of the first Metroid  game it shocked them. Samus continues to be one of Nintendo’s most popular characters. There are male gamers who do fit the archetype of woman hating trolls who want to exclude them from the culture. They are the minority, but are vociferous and get more attention. The reason the negativity appears is because women are having a greater presence. What the maker of the video does not understand is how some people operate on prejudice. Despite this, there has been progress. Sarkeesian does not help her case by painting all men as vicious misogynists. There are many gamers who do not approve of such convictions. There are many female characters that are strong and show character development.

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What should be avoided in female character creation is tokenism or predictable tropes. What Asbel calls reality actually is what he perceives. This is the same manner in which Sarkeesian presents her arguments. Ignoring that there is a problem will not magically make the issue of subtle or blatant sexism go away. Asbel want one to believe that there is no such issue. Sarkeesian wants to convince people that all gamers are rude misogynists. These are two extremes of  a spectrum. Video games and electronic entertainment should be an inclusive community. People promoting political or social agendas should look elsewhere to do so. The challenges can only be addressed if more women get involved in game design, start their own companies, and become leaders in the industry. Mere complaints will not lead to change; action must be taken to redress such grievances.

Anita Sarkeesian and a Gamer’s Response

No love for women’s sports? RT Segment (2011)

This segment from Russia Today exposes the often sexist treatment women face in sports. While men’s teams normally get invited to the White House, while women’s teams on rare occasions do. There is also structural challenges. There are no professional leagues for women’s baseball or  American football. These are the team sports which get much attention and commercial investment. Then there are those on the extreme end of the spectrum that say women should not play sports, because they were designed for men. James Preacher a  religious fundamentalist believes that women should not be involved based on scripture. Such archaic ideas are still prevalent. There is a level of misogyny that has been a part of the sports world and women’s entry as professional athletes has not erased it. Only when women become owners of teams, develop their more organizations, and challenge the pay gap can women reach equality in sport.

No love for women’s sports? RT Segment (2011)