May 12, 2011 1 Comment
Sex sells. I get that. Women every where get that. We’ve all used our looks to get into, or out of, situations. I am no less guilty of this than anyone else.
When I’m pulled over for speeding, it’s easier for me to smile and try to flirt my way out of a ticket, than to actually get a ticket. I don’t sit there and think “No. This will set the Feminist Movement back a few decades.” I’m not a stereotypical Feminist. I shave my legs, I wear bras, and I enjoy wearing dresses and looking sexy.
Hell, I just used a little bit of sex to sell this blog post to you. Sex sells, there’s no denying that.
While I don’t look, or act, like the widespread stereotype of a Feminist, in practice I am very much one. I’m financially independent, I respect myself, and I don’t ask others to fix my problems for me. If you exclude my physical looks and anatomy, how am I any different from a man?
Look, it’s about time we stepped into the 21st Century, where Feminism isn’t about looking and acting “manly”. Today, Feminism isn’t about “Penis Envy”, it’s about being proud to be a woman, with all that “being a woman” entails. It’s about being comfortable with your femininity, while still enjoying equal opportunities as your male counterparts.
It’s been a long, historic battle for women to be seen as equals to men. While we are generally seen as equals in the workplace and in the community, we are not seen as equals when it comes to our sports fandom.
Most of us have to prove ourselves as true fans to our male counterparts. Many men still hold the assumption that female fans don’t know about sports. This is why when I meet a guy, and tell him I’m a sports fan, I am made to feel as though I have to prove this statement. If a man says he’s a sports fan, it’s easily accepted by almost everyone. No further proof is necessary.
Unfortunately, this sexism isn’t only among fans, it is present in sports leagues as well. As an avid sports fan, and Yankees-obsessed baseball fan, I feel as though the wide world of sports doesn’t treat women as equals. Let me break it down for the men out there: Our physical make-up may stop us from playing in your leagues, but our mental and emotional make-up doesn’t stop us from being in your fan base.
A friend, “Tweep”, and fellow sports-fanatic Stefanie Gordon said it best in her blog post: Cluelessness and Sexism is Alive and Well in Sports.
While I do understand that the majority of the general sports fan base is still male, the female fan base is nothing to ignore. In baseball, for example, I would say females are just a little under half of the fan base.
I’d like to take this opportunity to shock a few men out there and inform you that our fandom is about more than wanting to see Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter naked. Don’t get me wrong: I would love to see them naked, and I very much appreciate how attractive some of the players are, but I would love baseball even if every player looked like Kevin Youkilis or Alexi Ogando. Baseball itself comes first for me. The attractiveness of players? That’s just an added, unimportant bonus.
I have met many female sports fans who know more about sports than your average male fans. Whether it’s in baseball, football, soccer, basketball or hockey, I can name at least five female friends of mine who know more about these sports than my male friends.
Surprise! It’s 2011. Women can be just as knowledgeable about sports as men are. We are no longer confined to the kitchen, only to appear during halftime or between innings. We are no longer only allowed to be fans for our love of staring at men. We are sitting (or standing) right there next to men at every single game, sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. Many of us are season-ticket holders, sports writers and journalists, sports executives, analysts, television/radio show hosts, and generally sports-obsessed.
While sex does sell, it can also alienate. This is how many female fans feel about the way sports are marketed in America, and the world.
Whether you look at promotional events, or even the sale of sports gear, leagues still view women in a way that suggests we only care about “looking cute while looking at cute guys”.
Try shopping online for your team’s gear. You will notice that most merchandise is marketed for men, not for both men and women. Generally speaking, the merchandise that is marketed for women is either something sexy, or something predominately pink. Before you say anything, I recognize that many women enjoy wearing pink gear to games. I am not saying that teams should stop tailoring to these wants, because that would be a stupid business move. Pink gear (unfortunately) brings in money, so by no means am I suggesting that they should cease to exist (although, I would love nothing more than to never see another pink hat at Yankee Stadium). What I’m saying is that the majority of the female fan base would like to see the real team gear marketed towards us.
Even when it comes to promoting the sport itself, it is done so in a sexist way. General approach to marketing sports is playing the “TESTOSTERONE!!!” card. You are more of a man if you watch our sports. Why? Because it is the manly thing to do. We always see images of a dad taking his son to a baseball game, because “that’s what makes a man”. How often do we see images of a mother taking her daughter to one? Oh, that’s right, sports aren’t for women. Silly me.
In the past, it was usually fathers who instilled the love of sports in their children. Honestly, I am the fan I am today because of my dad. This, however, is no longer the case. I am the one who taught my son about sports. It was me, a woman, who planted the seeds to sports fandom in his mind and heart. If and when I have a daughter, I will do the same. It’s 2011, people. Kindly wake up from your idiotic, sexist comas.
There are many other examples of sexism in sports marketing. I gave you a couple, but if you open your eyes to it, you can find many more every day.
So, why is it that, in 2011, “sex” and “GET YOUR TESTOSTERONE OVERLOAD HERE” are still the main marketing strategies used in sports? While I’m in no way against the fact that sex sells, and in no way denying the hormonal effects sports have on men, I’ve seen a little too much of it. I have been alienated too many times.
“Sex” and “testosterone” generally alienate the female fan base (Caryn Rose at Metsgrrl.com discusses this in her blog post: MLB ALIENATES 45% OF THE FAN BASE ONCE AGAIN WITH THE “MLB FAN CAVE.), but this is just as big a slap in the face to men, as it is to women.
If I were a man, I would be insulted by the fact that sports networks and franchises assume I only care about hot women dressed in sports gear, and men beating the crap out of other men. For the true male fans, sex and testosterone aren’t the real reason behind their love of sports. I think everyone can agree with this statement. Well, guess what? For the true female fans, sex and estrogen aren’t the real reasons we love our teams.
I will concede that there are many female fans who can only name the attractive players on the roster, but this no longer describes the majority of women who love sports. This is no more a representation of female fans, as the assumption that “men only want to stare at a lingerie model who knows nothing about sports” is a representation of male fans.
Even if I choose to ignore the fact that female fans need to be more respected for their knowledge in the world of sports, and look at it from a pure marketing standpoint, it is idiotic. Alienating a large chunk of the fan base is a business opportunity lost.
Dear MORONS in charge of sports marketing: Women bring you money, too. The majority of us care about more than “looking cute while looking at cute guys”, so start marketing more than those products to us.
I am done denying the fact that sports teams are businesses, as are sports leagues. So from both, a fan’s viewpoint and a business standpoint, sports leagues need to start marketing to the real female sports fan.
How about a little love for us? How about showing some appreciation to those of us who rock the real authentic jerseys, and appreciate the sport for what it is, what it was, and what it will be? How about taking a little time off from selling sex, and spend a little time on viewing women as equals to men in the world of sports fandom?
As a female Yankees fan living in the Middle East, I’m awake up for 3:00am first-pitches. It could be a complete blowout, and I will not stop watching the game before the 54th out is made. I can discuss our entire active roster and – here’s the shocker – our 40-man roster, too! I spend every day of every Winter discussing trades and acquisitions, and counting down the minutes to the first pitch of the Spring. I watch every Spring Training game. For the Yankees, I watch 162 regular season games, and every playoff game. When it’s a Yankees off-day, I will watch other baseball games.
I live and die with every Yankees pitch, every Yankees base-hit, and baseball controls my life April-October. When I lived in New York, I went to as many Yankees games as I could. I went to promotional events, autograph signings, and stood in line waiting for book sales.
If this doesn’t make me a “diehard fan”, I don’t know what does. So when I’m met with the sexism present in sports today, I am not only offended, but also disgusted. Why does my anatomy make me any less of a fan than my male counterparts?
I am not the only woman who is this way, and feels insulted by sports. There are as many “diehards” in the female fan base as there are in the male. The percentage of fair-weather, bandwagon, and idiotic fans in the female fan base is about equal to the percentage of these “fans” in the male fan base.
So, how about baseball, and sports in general, stop insulting women with their incredibly inaccurate stereotypes? We care about more than “looking cute while looking at cute guys.” Wake up, MLB. Wake up NFL, NBA, MLS and NHL. Stop being moronic and insulting your true female fan base.
Without us, you wouldn’t have a league worth promoting.