Another Example of Sexism in Sport

This started as a repost from Christine Brennan’s blog about the sexist ad the Chicago Tribune ran featuring NHL Flyers player Chris “Chrissy” Pronger, and has turned into more. It always amazes me that feminizing male professional athletes is seen as humorous, an appropriate marketing strategy, and a savvy attempt to denigrate a male athlete’s level of play.

Sports bloggers have weighed in as well here, and here as well as others.

Late Addition/More Thoughts: So I’ve been thinking about this issue some more and have additional thoughts after discussing it with Austin Stair Calhoun (one of our graduate students at the U of MN who appeared on Fox 9 News to discuss the issue…she raises some additional points as well and the piece is worth watching). Many have been asking the question, “What is the effect of this picture on young girls?” I can’t say for sure, but I think the bigger more interesting question is-“What does this picture communicate to young boys?” It tells boys that being associated with anything female is to be feared, avoided, and mocked, let alone face the stigma of have one’s sexuality called in question by being feminized (which unfortunately is still not deemed positive).

Does this create tolerant and equality-minded boys that grow up to be men who act respectful and empowering towards the women in their lives and the workplace? I would argue it communicates to everyone that it is appropriate to objectify women and make fun of men by equating them with the “lesser sex”. Females are not treated equally in the workplace and anyone who argues otherwise is just plain wrong. To read more about this issue, there are numourous sites– go to The Equality Myth, this Newsweek article or this one,or the Womens Media piece. Many, including sport columnists and commentators, have said the ad was “just in fun, and meant to be humorous”. The tactic of minimizing the impact of a sexist or racist comment and dismissing it as humor has long been used as a strategy to ignore and erase the real impact, by discrediting the person who raises the issue by accusing them of being stuffy and politically correct. I’m sure I’ll have more to say after I finish the books in my Summer Reading List, which can be found in the right margin of this blog.

Late Addition: 6/17/10  Read the Women’s Sports Foundation press statement and response to the Pronger ad here.

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