The Inherent Sexism Behind Female Athletes' Wardrobes

ZipCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2009

Except for perhaps basketball, soccer, and softball, female athletes dress in tight skimpy outfits while playing their respective sports. Now, I am not one to spout feminist dialogue, but I do find it a bit unfair when women are expected to fulfill some sort of preconceived gender role.

Men wear pants or shorts and women wear dresses or skirts, right? Well it is no longer 1950, so let's get with the times.  

In sports it is all about competition, male or female—doesn't matter. Respect your competition or get burned.  

In basketball, soccer, and softball the women dress like athletes. They don't wear tight shorts or cute clothes. They dress for the field of competition.

However, in tennis, volleyball, and lacrosse for example, the female athletes seem to fulfill two roles. One, dressing for competition. Two, dressing to please the crowd.  If the Australian Open were a fashion show, then Jelena Jankovic might have a shot at winning.  

Turns out, the Aussie Open is a tennis competition, one that requires great skill and endurance.  

While there is nothing wrong with looking fashionable, sometimes the skimpy outfits detract from the real purpose of the sport. Female athletics should not be a place to exploit beautiful women.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Then again, if such outfits attract viewers, that is always helpful in grabbing attention for otherwise under the radar sports. 

For instance, thanks to gold medal winners Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, beach volleyball came into the limelight during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The girls wear bikinis as they lay out in the sand. Who wouldn't want to watch?  

Though beach volleyball players could wear shorts and tank tops, it makes sense for them to wear bikinis. The sport is called beach volleyball, and thus, many women wear bikinis at the beach.  

Plus, nothing is taken away from the athletes when wearing their uniforms. The competition respects them, the viewers consider them beasts of the sand, and they look really good. It's a win-win for everyone.

What about women's lacrosse though? Why do they wear skirts? There is no practical purpose. Instead, the skirts seem like an attempt to keep women in their subjugated gender role. Even though they are playing a highly competitive sport, the thought may be "let's keep them in skirts so they can maintain some of their femininity."  

When watching women's tennis I often wonder if the athletes are headed to a cocktail party or the quarterfinals. Granted a lot of the outfits they wear are cute, but why not sport some shorts every once in awhile?

To be honest, I have seen some of the top players wear shorts, but they are so short (literally riding up) that it kind of defeats the purpose.  

The tennis/shorts argument is pretty simple. In tennis, the server needs to hold a ball, and what better place to hold a ball then a pocket?  Ta da! However, for some unknown reason, most female tennis players prefer to shove that extra ball into the spandex underneath the skirt or tennis dress.  Sorry, just isn't practical.  

At least tennis has seen some improvement on the men's side. If the women are going to show some skin, then it is only fair for the men to do the same. Thank you Rafael Nadal. We love your sleeveless shirts and tight shorts! Please spread your fashion sense to the rest of the field.  

The one sport that seems truly equal on the fashion front would be golf. Actually, scratch that. There are a few discrepancies, but in this case, they seem to favor the women. Men have to wear pants while the women can wear pants, shorts, or skirts. The opportunities are endless.  

Golf is also a sport where dressing well should be encouraged. You can look great and swing great without being a distraction. The young guns on the LPGA tour and the European men have a strong sense of style. They wear bright colored polo shirts and lovely form fitting bottoms. It's a treat to watch.  

Here are some final thoughts—if women are expected to play at a high level while also looking great, then men should be held to the same standards. Without such equal treatment, it would seem as if women's sports cannot stand alone. They need extra help from cute outfits and lots of skin to gain attention.  

Moreover, if a female athlete shows up merely dressed to play, but not ready to go out for a night on the town, then you better give her some respect.  She's a beast of an athlete who is beyond fulfilling society's gender roles.  

True greatness comes from the nitty-gritty competition...Now put your right hand in and your right hand out because that's what it's all about.