The Disease Plaguing Women's Sport: Sexualisation

The Disease Plaguing Women's Sport: Sexualisation The Disease Plaguing Women's Sport: Sexualisation
Bella Johnson

As an avid sports consumer—of both men and women’s sports—my enjoyment of men’s sports has been boiled down to attraction to the players. 

It’s not typical for you to see a man being ridiculed for watching women’s sports, in fact, they are often praised for it (it should be a norm, but I digress). 

That being said, why is it that when you look up male athletes on YouTube you see interviews and highlights of their best plays, but when you search female athletes, you see videos titled “Cute Moments” or “Most Beautiful Moments?"

There is a YouTube channel I came across while looking for videos that was created to sexualise female athletes and post them online for their 56.6k subscribers to see. 

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The creator of the channel uploads new videos fairly often and seems to have a particular affinity for sports women in athletics, and the thumbnails for this channel alone are extremely alarming with close up shots of the athletes bodies or the women in suggestive positions.

The channel's description, however, is the most perturbing. They describe how their “more beautiful thumbnails” (the more suggestive and invasive thumbnails) are the ones that get taken down by YouTube. The user then acknowledges; “pursuing the beauty of women on Youtube is risky,” which is extremely unsettling. 

Many other channels like this run unchecked by the platforms they are uploaded on, and it is very disturbing.

There are so many facets that contribute to the sexualisation of female athletes, and people argue that one of those is the uniforms different sports require the female athletes to wear. 

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During the 2020 Summer Olympics, the German gymnastics team decided to forego the typical leotards in favour of a more full coverage unitard in hopes to desexualise their athletes—particularly the younger ones—and make them feel more comfortable—especially in light of the decades of abuse that have plagued female gymnasts. 

Although there are no rules against wearing a unitard in the Olympics, high-cut leotards have been the societal norm for so long that it can be hard to choose to divert from that.

Another example of this is in 2021 when the Norwegian women’s beach handball team refused to wear the bikini bottoms to the European Beach Handball Championship that are typically worn during beach handball tournaments. Each member of the team was fined about €150 for breaking the rules despite their pleas to wear less-revealing uniforms.

That is not to say that some female athletes do not prefer the required uniforms of their sport, because some of them do. 

American beach volleyball players, April Ross and Alix Klineman, have publicly praised their uniforms citing them as being the most comfortable and practical for their sport, and for them it is their choice to wear what they do. 

The restrictions in clothing could possibly turn certain people away from participating in the sports that continue to use strictly revealing clothing. Recently, more and more sports have offered options for more modest competition clothing, and I think that in order to make female athletes everywhere more comfortable and feel more safe, they should be given the option to choose what they wear.

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