Like A Girl

As a result of Title IX, women have benefited from more athletic opportunities and more justifiable facilities. Also, women have received more athletic scholarships and as a result more opportunities for higher education that some may not have been able to afford otherwise. Title IX also increased the salaries of coaches for women’s teams. Despite all of the positive changes that have come from Title IX, there is still much work to be done in reaching full equality between men and women in the world of sports.

In the book The Playing Fields of Eton by Professor Mika Lavaque-Manty, there is a full title that explores some of the challenges women encounter in sports. This chapter entitled “Being a Woman and Other Disabilities” compares being a woman to having a disability in the sports world.  The title of the chapter alone, as the two are paired together, gives off the connotation that society views women in sports as being similar to those with disabilities. In society, men are stereotyped as being stronger, tougher, more competitive and more aggressive than women. These stereotypes create the ideas that men are naturally better than women at sports and that women cannot perform up the same standards as men.

This reminded me of a controversial Dove commercial that has gotten a lot of public attention recently. This commercial aims to get the general public to stop using the saying “like a girl”. In it, young kids that are asked to perform “like a girl” throw a ball as hard and tough as they can, while older children asked the same thing purposefully throw a ball less far than they normally would. This implies that, as kids grow up, society teaches them to believe that girls cannot perform as well as boys, and even girls have started to believe it. This has become a giant obstacle for all girls to overcome in sports.

It is implied that women’s sporting events are less intense and less exciting then men’s games. As stated in this chapter, there are a lot fewer spectators at women’s sporting events then there are at men’s. It is also said in this chapter that, “no women’s sport is what universities call a “revenue” sport”. Unfortunately, this has a lot of truth to it. It is obvious that a lot of the revenue at the University of Michigan comes from our men’s basketball, hockey, and football team. As a women’s lacrosse player here at the University of Michigan, I can say that we definitely do not get as many fans as any of those sports, especially as a brand new program. Plus, we were only able to create our program because of the revenue that these other sports have created for the university. However, women’s sporting events here at the University of Michigan are exciting.  As an example, we have one of the best softball teams in the country, ranked number 11. Our field hockey team is also ranked number 11 in the country. These sporting events obviously would be exhilarating to watch because these teams are competing against the best as they fight for the Big Ten Title.

Women's basketball game with many empty seats.

University of Michigan women’s basketball game with many empty seats.

Packed arena at a men's basketball game

A packed arena at a men’s basketball game

The fight for women’s equality in the sports world has been going on for a long time and in1974 Billie Jean King created the Women’s Sports Foundation. This foundation was created in order to fight for gender equality in sports. The mission of the foundation is to “advance the lives of girls and women through sport and physical activity”. They support and encourage girls to become more involved in sports and excel at them. Women athletes deserve more credit than they are being given as they do the same amount of training and hard work as men do. Women athletes are driven to succeed and are determined just like men.

WSF-GGG-Logo-General-web600

It is important to try to change the idea that women are not competing at the same high level as men do as well as the idea that these events are not exciting to attend. Society needs to make a change at the way that everyone perceives women’s sports. Although women’s and men’s competitions are different, it does not mean they are any less competitive or intense. Women compete just as hard as men and we should work to eliminate the saying “like a girl”.

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One thought on “Like A Girl

  1. First of all–I really enjoyed reading this post. While I am a female athlete at the University of Michigan, I see and hear everything you wrote about. I completely agree with you that Title IX has made a huge impact, but there is a log way to go, when it comes to gender equality. I am a volleyball player here at U of M, and the beauty of that is that we are the only varsity volleyball team at the university. This being said, we sell out all of our matches–leading to a very exciting environment to perform and compete in. At colleges that do have a men’s volleyball team, their games are often better attended than the women’s matches. If that were the case at Michigan, I would certainly hope that we would have close to equal attendance, but at this point in time–I am not sure we would. That is just a recent observation I have made.

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