Monday, March 19, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Nineteen: Women and Sports

I'm not a huge follower of sports, but that doesn't mean I don't understand its importance...especially for women and girls:
I’m not much of a sports fan, but I can certainly appreciate the strength, time and sweat that goes into the training of a top athlete. Also, it’s hard to miss that in the hubbub around March Madness, women’s college basketball, despite its long history of stunning athleticism, is yet again being largely ignored in the media–or, at the very least, not receiving anywhere near the representation that men’s basketball does.


While the passing of Title IX in 1972 did much to encourage and support girls and women who wanted to take part in sports, there are still many prejudices with which women have to contend if they’re interested in sports–from automatic assumptions of weakness or inability to assertions like, “Oh, you’re pretty good for a girl.” These stereotypes, combined with the fact that women’s sports are still often thought of as less interesting/important/worthy/difficult than men’s sports mean that young girls need reassurance that being good at sports has absolutely nothing to do with sex or gender. See the UN’s 2007 report, “Women, gender equality and sport” for more on the benefits and stumbling blocks for women athletes.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Future of Feminism, Day Eighteen: Size Acceptance

On day eighteen, I give a brief overview of the importance of the fat acceptance movement:
While I’ve already spent some time discussing the dangerous ways the media sexualizes women and girls, and how it gives the false impression that to be attractive, popular and interesting you must be skinny and hyper-feminine, today I want to switch things up little and talk about the body acceptance movement (also called “size acceptance” or “fat acceptance”), which attempts to combat the negative stereotypes around women and men who are conventionally considered overweight or obese.

One thing bears mentioning upfront: Fighting for body acceptance does not mean promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, according to Linda Bacon’s landmark book, Health at Every Size, and other recent studies, dieting is often ineffective at handling obesity, and sometimes the extreme measures used to combat obesity–surgery, liposuction, aggressive exercise programs–are more harmful than the extra weight. Not to mention that it’s far from true that all thin people are healthy. The myth that skinny equals healthy is rooted in our cultural obsession with weight and the media’s idolization of rail-thin actors and models.

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