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Grrrr. Mainstream media coverage of Roller Derby

(8 Posts)
malinois Tue 14-Jun-11 09:57:24

Sometimes I wish I could switch my sexism radar off angry

Why is that every mainstream media article on derby does the following:

1. Always refers to 'Women's Roller Derby'. They don't talk about 'men's cricket' or 'men's football' do they? So why do they have to describe a sport which is almost exclusively played by women this way?

2. It's always covered in the Lifestyle, Art & Culture (thanks for nothing Guardian) or Women's pages. Never in the Sports section.

3. If the article is written by a man, it's generally patronising in the extreme. No surprise there.

4. If the article is written by a woman, it completely downplays the fact that derby is a competitive sport and instead witters on about what a great workout it is and how great it is for weight loss and fitness as if it's just some sort of alternative to fucking zumba.

As I said in the subject: Grrr.

sprogger Tue 14-Jun-11 10:42:54

That's annoying.

I love the idea of Roller Derby. I keep telling myself I'm going to brush up my skating skills and join the absolute-crap-beginners section of a league.

malinois Tue 14-Jun-11 11:38:37

sprogger Do it!!! And lots of women start not having skated at all.

malinois Wed 15-Jun-11 16:44:42

Hopeful bump that I might get some good insights into why women's sport gets such short shrift in the mainstream media, and what could be done about it.

(although slightly scared that derby might get panned for being a bit third-wavey smile )

PurpleStrawberry Wed 15-Jun-11 17:02:51

I absolutely love Roller Derby, I have for a few years, and I'd love to get involved as I'm a good skater.

Think I might be too old now though.

I agree about the coverage of women's sports, especially when something as dull as cricket gets so much coverage, yet Roller Derby is a million times more entertaining!

VivaLeBeaver Wed 15-Jun-11 17:09:49

Could be worse, at least they're not withering on about it's only played by lesbians. And I know it isn't and it wouldn't other me if it was. I used to play and people used to tease me because of the lesbian thing.

malinois - I tear my hair out at the lack of space in sports columns devoted to women's sport. We get the DT on a fairly regular basis and if you get 1 page out of 12 that is solely devoted to women in sport then it is an exceptional day.

My theories are that there are the old tired stereotypes of women aren't interested in sport and if they are they are bound to be happy to read about male sport whereas men obviously could never be interested in women's sport.

Then there is the other old chestnut that women just aren't as competitive as men hmm. That has not been my experience of coaching men and women. Once they are engaged in a competition then both sexes are equally competitive. I think people have preconceived ideas about how men and women behave and it is "unseemly" for women to be agressive or competitive - something taught to both sexes from an early age. There is also the body image problem facing women. Muscles are not necessarily seen as attractive on a woman. I think that a toned/muscly body for a woman generally adds to her self-esteem as does focussing on a competitive goal.

There is also the participation aspect - less women participate in sport than men. Women in sport is on the rise massively as a result of Government grants, the 2012 Olympics. This would improve again if more coverage of inspirational sportswomen were shown and also if it was seen as a realistic choice for younger women and girls.

Coverage of sport is soo male focused though - even for those sports with participation from both sexes e.g. tennis, rowing, canoeing, athletics. The men's 100m is the blue ribbon event, women are judged/derided in tennis for what they wear and what they sound like on court (and in fact have different dress codes from men), rowing and canoeing do not have equal representation in sexes or events at the olympics (rowing has 2 less female events than male - 8 athletes less in total; canoeing is actually run over 500m for women and 1000m for men hmm). This list is endless in terms of sports biased towards men. All this could be changed by the media and the powers that be in those sports. How we get it changed I don't know. Leaning on the governing bodies for that sport could be one way. Write articles for local newspapers - they often want sports news to fill the pages.

I know JessinAvalon has something to do with this in Bristol which I am interested in (as I live there) so I'll try and find out a bit more from her.

malinois Thu 16-Jun-11 09:54:01

Scallops Thanks for your supportive answer. Your suggestion that we write sports reports for local papers (and student papers?) rather than relying on their sports reporters to write them is a really good one.

The participation aspect is a really interesting one. Derby is a sport that really seems to attract the 'freaks and geeks' who were excluded from mainstream competitive sport in school and turned to non-competitive sports (rock climbing in my case) but still craved the teamwork and camaraderie that goes with competitive team sports. I think increasing women's participation in sports is incredibly important, but I think a lot of girls (and boys too probably) feel very excluded by the cliquey and elitist nature of school sports and that puts them off for life.

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