Making Masculinity and Framing Femininity
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Soccer, which is also known as football in many countries around the world, is the most popular sport in the world. According to Sudgen and Tomlinson Soccer, compromises many countries’ national sport which provides a key site for the re/production of traditional forms of aggression and masculinity at an international level. Because of this, soccer has excluded and resisted the entry of women. The portrayal of soccer in the media shows us that soccer’s world regulating organizations, FIFA, remains masculine, heterosexual, and predominantly white. The influence of FIFA has, which supports the portrayal of soccer, is exerted through the media as especially the internet. FIFA’s web page influences the perception of soccer through the content displayed on their site, showing more attention to the male soccer teams compared to the women’s teams or the youth teams. FIFA’s website allows different cultures from around the world to connect and agree upon the discourses set about soccer.
Sports have been growing more and more each year, establishing discourses now even more than ever due to the rise of the media’s attention. Women around the world have begun to partake in sports, either as fans or athletes, due its major rise in popularity. Although there has been a rise in women taking part in sports, the media still lacks promoting women. As a matter of fact, the re/presentational practices expressed in sports media has not changed with respect to gender, race, or ethnicity. Soccer and its identity is formed through the eyes of the media and is being re/produced by people through language, texts, and interactions. Soccer has increased spectacularization and hyper-masculinization of male sport and undermines female athleticism. With the media being the predominant source of information to our world, the construction of central social discourse is at the hands of the media, which makes the media a power furl sight in the re/production of the traditional hegemonic gender order in masculinized typed sports like soccer.
Lackoff (1987) claims that in order to make sure that soccer remains a masculine dominant sport; it requires that femininity remains in the shadows. One way this has been shown is through the media. Kane and Lenskyji (1998) explain that the media built a strategy in maintaining the status quo of predominant sports such as soccer, and has excluded women from the sport, rendering women invisible in the sport. Women who do not take on the typical role of femininity are not covered by the media in order to preserve their feminine qualities. Some who woman who do challenge the masculinity of men are often questioned about their sexual orientation in order to preserve hegemonic masculinity of men. Women who do not fit within the hegemonic versions of femininity and/ or heterosexuality are simply not covered in the media in order to preserve the feminine qualities society has established.
Sports also establish great significance within the symbolic systems that compromise culture. The naming of linguistic marking in men’s soccer reveals how the men’s game is re/produced as the standard, compared to the linguistic marking in women’s soccer which makes people immediately “think male.” The media affects every aspect of soccer including the way it is being portrayed against those who do not fall under the masculine, heterosexual, or predominantly white categories. On June 1, 2007, FIFA.com and FIFAworldcup.com merged into one huge website. FIFA sent out an email regarding the change and included info about the Men’s 2010 World Cup. The women’s and youth soccer were missing out from the new great changes that were being made. The world cup strategically separated the men’s tournament from the other categories, which clearly brings in more attention to the men’s tournament.
This proves to be a powerful move by FIFA because it inevitably influences who the audience manly want to identify themselves with, the men’s soccer team. Youth soccer is often undermined because they lack the aggressive masculinity of men’s soccer. With important changes being done regarding the men’s section on the FIFA website, the women’s site as well as the youth’s site is being ignored and is receiving little to no attention from the viewers of soccer. The media is an extremely powerful resource that has a huge effect on its enormous audience.
The sports media has the power to re/produce ideologies of soccer and outcast those who do not fit in the accepted categories. I have begun to notice how skew the perspective of the media is in regards to sports. It would be great to know whether or not people are challenging the norms the media has set and has begun to re/produce, and what they are doing in order to receive any attention from the media. I personally believe that the media should begin to include women and youth more in soccer. This change can draw in larger audiences and also give FIFA a good reputation in finally fulfilling its mission of being a symbol of integration.