Hegemonic Masculinity in Sports Media

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From the individual level to a national and global scale, certain tasks and activities legitimize the gender and define the identity of men and women. Traditionally, the culturally specific behaviors of men comprise masculinity while those of women constitute femininity (Connell, Masculinities 68-69). In many cultures, masculinity and femininity exist in a hierarchy, with masculinity being superior to femininity. The terms can be even further stratified, as some forms of masculinity and femininity are preferable to others (Moss 2). Sociologists often consider the most lauded masculinity in a particular culture to be hegemonic, or dominant, and this image of maleness becomes the ideal for men in that society (Moss 2). Although the concept of masculinity is constantly evolving, one activity that is often intertwined with the hegemonic form is the practice of sport (Brandt and Carsens 233). Similar to the evolution of masculinity, athletic events have changed greatly over the years. Originally, only males participated in sports, but today a diverse group of individuals can part in a variety of sports from the local to a professional level. However, despite the growing involvement of women in sports, sports media perpetuates a hegemonic masculinity by selectively covering male sports and by emphasizing the bodily performance and sexuality of male athletes. II. Theory and Background A functioning definition of masculinity is crucial to an understanding of hegemonic masculinity in sport. Many people, especially those associated with science, consider masculinity to simply be the product of men acting naturally (Moss 3). They propose that both masculinity and femininity arise from sex differences. Thus, biology can explain the behavio... ... middle of paper ... ... is a muscular physique, which is closely tied to his physical capabilities. In order to win athletic events, one must have a body capable of doing so. The image of the ideal body often portrayed by the media is wide-shouldered with a prominent chest and large, defined arms and moving from the chest to the waist, the body forms a “V’ shape (Denham and Duke 111). These “images of male perfection are reinforced when male athletes use their bodies for hitting, dunking, tackling, and running, receiving millions of dollars, media attention, and fan adoration for their efforts” (Denham and Duke 111). The images and body types depicted in the media then permeate society, creating one form of masculinity that is set apart from the rest. The emphasis on and portrayal of athletes with a specific body type subordinates both men and women that do not possess that physique.
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