Growing Up Female in America in 2011

In the United States, sports is something that affects almost everyone’s life in one way or another; there’s the Super Bowl, that some watch for the game or just the hilarious commercials, the World Series and the never-ending rivalry between the Boston red Sox and New York Yankees, and those rec soccer games that pretty much every American child has participated in while growing up in the suburbs. But with professional sport leagues, like basketball and tennis, almost all coverage is in the men’s division. When you hear March Madness, you don’t make a bracket for women’s college basketball, you only follow the men’s teams. This is one of the surprising trends that are still occurring today in 2011.
Although there has been an increase in the number of women’s sports over the years, there has also been a decreasing in the coverage of women’s sports in the media. According to a study done by Margaret Carlisle Duncan and Michael Messner, who is a professor of sociology and gender studies at the University of Southern California, only nine percent of airtime is devoted to coverage of women’s sports, as compared to the eighty-eight percent that is devoted to men’s sports, and female athletes are only covered in about two percent of airtime on ESPN’s Sportcenter (Armstrong). Commentators on these types of shows differentiate female athletes from male athletes based on the types of words the use to describe their performance; men are described as “strong’” “gutsy,” and “aggressive,” where as women are seen as “panicked,” “vulnerable,” and “choking.” Male athletes are also twice as likely to be called by their last names, while female athletes are three times more likely to be called by their first names. Duncan explains that this tactic “reduces female athletes to the role of children, while giving adult status to white male athletes.” (Armstrong).
What we see in the media affects how we perceive female athletes should look and act like. Advertisements involving “female athletes” have them placed in provocative positions wearing string bikinis while playing beach volleyball to represent ideal feminine athleticism. Advertisers try to create an ideal image for an athletic women; not strong, sweaty, or in action, but weak, idle, and in tight, revealing clothing, that any active woman would find impossible to work out in. When young girls begin to go out into sports, they see mixed representations of who they should be. Sports Illustrated represents female athletes as sexy, fit objects (i.e. their annual swimsuit issue), while more athletic brands are trying to change this representation of women by using real athletes in their campaigns and taking action shots of them in the game, not sitting on a beach. So when young girls see these ads from brands like Nike and Addidas, hopefully they’ll become inspired with the women in them by their courage, not by the way they look.


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Representation of Power

For months now, all eyes have been on Prince William and Kate Middleton. As soon as they announced their engagement in November, the world had been fascinated with knowing every little detail; the wedding date, which church they’ll marry in, and most of all, what Kate’s dress will look like. But with all of this hype, did anyone stop and think about why this is such an important event for us? Yes, William is a prince and Kate is going to become a princess, but what political power does the royal family actually hold in England? They don’t have much say within the government, but their iconic celebrity status and prestige has enough power to influence the world.
On Friday, April 29, 2011, every single news station on television in the United States was broadcasting the royal wedding in England, and it was on all day, being recapped on every little detail that occurred. Brian Williams, of NBC’s Nightly News, was the only news anchor that chose to leave London on the day of the wedding to go back to the United States and cover the deadly storms occurring in the South. So when the death toll that night was up past 170, all eyes were still focused upon Prince William and Kate. The cost of the wedding was around 35 million dollars, part of which is coming out of taxpayer’s pockets, and economists calculated that there was about a 50 billion dollar loss to the British economy. This is most likely because the wedding landed between two holiday weekends, workers had the chance to take eleven days off while only burning three days of vacation time (Phillips). While everyone in the United States were raving about this wedding and acting as if it was happening over here, not all citizens in Great Britain were ecstatic; according to polls, only thirty-seven percent of British citizens are ‘genuinely excited and interested’ with the wedding (Ridgewell). To many, it’s just another wedding between two people.
What makes the royal family so powerful today in society where monarchies are irrelevant and countries are now run by Presidents, Prime Ministers, and their cabinets? A monarchy is something that has always been a part of Great Britain’s history, and imagining it without one can be impossible. The Queen is more of a status symbol of the country than anything else, and when the royal wedding occurred, it was a giant party of celebration across the country and the rest of the world. So although the monarchy in Great Britain is not as powerful as it was centuries ago, their status in society still remains as strong as ever.

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The Political Lanscape

At exactly six p.m. on Saturday, May, 21st the world was supposed to end. It was known as judgment day where God was preparing to destroy the world as we know it, but most of us went through our daily routines, forgetting that they might have only hours to spare. The world obviously ended up not being destroyed, so who lead us to believe (or at least, gain enough attention to notice) that this would happen? Turns out it was an eighty-nine year old Christian radio talk show host, Harold Camping, in California that did.
How did this one man’s opinion become this popular to be able to persuade many people that their lives will end soon? Camping was so insistent that the Family Talk radio station which he broadcasted from campaigned across the country, and even spreading through parts of the world, spending about one hundred million dollars. More than three thousand “Judgment Day” billboards were displayed around the world, including in countries such as Ghana, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Philippines, and Israel. They also had caravans driven around the country, written with May 21st, 2011 on the side announcing that it will be the end. Some people were so convinced that was this man was saying was true that they took time off of work to prepare for the end of the world and even spent their life savings on advertising to help support the prophecy, such as one retired transportation agency worker from New York who spent $140,000 on advertisements.
So May 21st came and went with stillness; no rumbling earthquake that Camping predicted will cause the end of the world. Soon people were calling him, trying to get contact and seeing if he could possibly have any explanation for why nothing happened, but it was a few days later when he chose to talk to the public. According to Camping, May 21st was an “invisible judgment day” where Christ put the entire world under judgment, but the real physical rapture will occur on October 21st of this year. This wasn’t the first time Camping was wrong about Judgment Day; in 1994, he believed that the world was going to end that year but it never did. Many protestors are upset because in the Bible it specifically says that no one will ever know the exact date, only God knows, and Camping should not be trying to decide which day is the destruction of the universe. All of the money and belongings supporters donated to him will not be returned as well. So will the world finally end on October 21st? We’ll all have to was until 6:01 p.m. that night and find out.


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Connection to Another Student's Wiki

Athletics to something that is mainly perceived as a man’s world. Women are often left underappreciated, even if the work twice as hard to get noticed. A student who wrote about a similar topic to mine was Kyle, and he said how women were often overlooked in sports and the fact that there is little to no coverage on female athletes in the media.
But another subject he wrote about was homophobia in athletics; it might not be the same exact topic I wrote about, but they both share a strong, similar connection in which both females and homosexuals are not treated with full respect. It’s both fascinating and shocking that not one active professional athlete is gay or has come out saying they’re gay, and if the few that have had waited until they retired to announce this part of their life that they had been hiding. There is a major problem with homophobia in professional athletics, and it’s unfortunate that men and women are afraid to come out for fear of rejection, discrimination, and a possible end to their career, and fellow athletes who support homosexuality are being rejected as well.
Overall I’ve learned that whether you’re female, male, or homosexual, professional sports can be a tough field to be in without any discrimination at all. Although times are changing; women and homosexuals are slowly being accepted into the world of professional athletics, and hopefully with time, things can only get better.