Posted on: February 28, 2008 6:14 am
Edited on: February 28, 2008 6:17 am

Sexuality, Sensuality and More - Final Chapter

I know that this whole series has been a rollercoaster ride, with many twists and turns in regards to sexuality, sexual expression and gender differential issues.  The problem is, the topic in itself is a broad one, with many different avenues to go down.  The issues expand further then whether or not cheesecake and beefcake is acceptable.  The issues reach further then what is acceptable to us and acceptable to society and the differences in between that. 

The one thing that I would like to clarify is that there is a difference between genders in sports and sexuality in sports.  There will always be the argument as to whether or not females have the capabilities of being able to perform at the same level as men. Sexuality in sports should never be an argument though.  It exists, it always has and always will be there, basically because we are a species that identifies ourselves and relates to others based on conscience, subconscience and instinctive reactions to our own and others sexuality.

So the issue in itself has never been about gender and sports, though that does come into play.  In a recent discussion about Danica Patrick with a friend, it was asked as to why Danica Patrick being a woman should be an issue.  The answer is, it shouldn’t, but we’ve made it an issue.  It’s the same reason that Sally Ride being female was an issue, the reason that Speaker Pelosi being the first woman speaker in the House of Representatives is an issue, why Hillary Clinton running for President is an issue.  Historically, women have had little opportunity in these arenas and for better or worse, we choose this to focus on (rather then their capabilities) and either applaud or tear them down because of their gender or the image they present with their gender.

I’ve often heard the comments, that we women can’t have it both ways.  We can’t be treated as equals and use our femininity in the process.  Huh?  Why not? Men do it all the time.  Jeff Gordon marketed his good looks to draw a fan base before he started winning in NASCAR.  Troy Polamalu appeared very masculine in a cover shot of SI, dressed in his football gear.  This shot alone oozed testosterone and masculinity.  Instances like these, and many others market the male sexuality.  Yet we “tolerate” female tennis players who play up their femininity on the tennis court?  Yet we “tolerate” only successful female athletes who take the opportunity to appear in swimsuits in a photo shot?  In other words, what I’m understanding is that, in 2008, it is completely acceptable for one gender as a whole to market their sexuality, and we can cherry pick which, from the other gender, who we’ll “tolerate” to do so and what venue.

We respond to an athletes sexuality, both male and female, that’s why “sex” sells so well.  Advertisers know this and they use that sexuality to reach out and seduce us to buy.  That’s why sponsors go after good looking sports figures.  Remember that sexuality goes beyond the capability of being seductive.  When fashion designers use a female tennis player or golf pro to advertise sportswear, they’re using her sexuality to sell their brand to women.  When products like Gillette uses a trio of three male athletes for their razor commercials, they’re using the sexuality of the men to reach out to men.  Neither of these instances are sensual and thus able to reach out to and relate to members of the same gender.  Yet they’re still playing off of the individuals masculinity and femininity.

Think about it, advertising agents for car companies have known this for awhile now.  Why else do they show good looking, masculine, successful men behind the wheel of the sports car?  Think that car commercial with the good looking brunette behind the wheel, equating her driving experience to a sexual episode is meant for the men?  Nope, though it may produce a response from the men, it’s meant to tell the women that you too can be sexy and exciting when you drive this car. 

So we don’t get rapid heartbeats when members of our own gender use their sexuality to sell to us.  It’s not meant to produce a sensual response.  It’s meant for us to relate with them.  You too can have this type of body that makes you irresistible.  You too can have a nice butt when you wear these jeans.  You too can feel like a champion when you drink this beer. 

Of course, advertisers also know how to play upon our sensuality.  Best example on the market today, Victoria’s Secret.  They’re advertising method to reach out to men with the sexuality and sensuality of their models in their products, produces an erotic effect for those who are turned on by the female form.  The SI swimsuit edition does the same thing.  Yet the product they’re selling is meant for women to wear.  Jeans commercials that show bare chested men are meant to play upon the sensuality of women.  It’s still cheesecake and beefcake, regardless of how you wrap it. 

We accept, we embrace these images, especially of the women who pose in them.  They become objects of fantasies and desires, we want to see our own women dressed scantily in this.  As women, we want to evoke these fantasies from our men also.  (Okay, here it comes).  Yes, as a female consumer, I do have lingerie that not only allow me to entice my husband, but also allows me to feel sensual also.  (Trust me, there is a difference when you go from wearing the sexy undergarments to the so called “granny panties”).  We know it adds to the overall affect.  Regardless of our gender, we enjoy what our sensuality produces and we respond to the sensuality of others.

Yet, why is it okay for a male sports figure to pose for beefcake (guess what folks, Tom Brady posed for beefcake pictures and we didn’t hear a word about this in the press).  Why is it okay for a male athlete to market his masculinity for products (regardless of his abilities), yet when a female athlete markets their sexuality, it supposedly makes them less of an athlete?

Sexuality and sensuality, especially off of the field of play should never be an issue that brings about scorn and ridicule, regardless of the athletes ability, or his standings on the field.  It is something that we should accept.  It's common knowledge that when we embrace our own sexuality, we tend to be healthier and happier individuals.  So why should we allow certain sets of individuals to express their sexuality and sensuality and scorn others who do?

Category: General
Tags: Sexuality, Women
Posted on: February 27, 2008 4:29 am
Edited on: February 27, 2008 4:30 am

Sexuality, Sensuality and More - Part IV

Thank you for bearing with me as I got through all the analytical garbage that goes along with this thought process.  It was necessary to lay the stage, set the bricks shall we say.  Needless to say, sexuality goes far beyond what we identify as something that turns us on sexually.  It’s a natural part of our psyche, of our make up.
What happens though, when we’re not allowed to express our own sexuality?  Or we’re forced to conform to an image that we’re not comfortable with?  How do we accept when one gender is allowed to use their sexuality for advancement, while another is scorned for supposedly doing so?

Okay, so the world of sports is primarily considered a man’s field.  Yes, we have women’s tennis, women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, etc.  Yet, according to the BSRI, competitiveness and athleticism is primarily identified as a masculine trait.  As was mentioned in one of the comments in an early blog on this series, there’s less of an outcry when a woman who competes against other women decides to show her sexuality in magazines, commercials, etc.  The outcry and tongue clicking seems to be more apparent when a woman who actively competes against men, like Danica Patrick, decides to do it. 

It’s okay for male sports figures to use their likeness to sell underwear, jeans, clothes and workout gear.  If you don’t think they’re using their sexuality to market these products, think again.  They may not be directly contributing to what many would call the “boing” factor (and if I have to explain that, I suggest you have a talk with your parents about the birds and the bees).  However, think about Bowflex, who would you believe more from getting the result of that product, Brett Favre or Scott Hamilton?  If you’re married, who is it that buys most of your underwear for you?  Yes, male sports figures are being marketed for their bodies and not their brains. 

Indeed, we embrace the very essence of the sexuality of the male athlete.  Men might not find them sexually exciting but they may relate to them.  And before we argue that it’s not their sexuality that we’re drawn to, ask yourselves, why does the “yuck” factor come into play when we talk about the “ten sexiest quarterbacks of all-time”?  Don’t forget, their masculinity is part of their sexuality.

Yet, I’m going to digress again a bit.  The early feminist movement told women that for them to compete in a man’s world, they must be willing to shirk their sense of sexuality so that their male counterparts don’t view them as sexual objects.  Even the fashion in the early 80’s created women’s business wear to emulate their male counterparts.  (Do I need to remind everyone of the NFL style shoulder pads in those suits?).  So we go from one extreme to another.

Yes, I do understand that a lot of desire to suppress the sexuality was not only to find a way to compete as equals in a male society, but also to stop and/or prevent the exploitation of women in sports.  The argument isn’t for allowing the exploitation of women in order to market them, but that if an adult female consensually and with knowledge, chooses to expose her sexuality, why the issue?.  There’s a big difference in these situations.  The exploitation comes in when someone other then the athlete makes the decision on how the athlete, male or female, should portray themselves and grooms them to become as such.  Individuals like Danica Patrick, understand full well what she’s doing.

The confusion comes in when someone else is defining how we should be, what mold we should fit.  I know this confusion from experience.  Although I never played sports (except for the occasional barroom softball league), I do have experience in a predominantly male society.

In 1980, I joined the military, which, at that time, and still is, a male dominated arena.  Unlike today, there was very little recruiting effort made toward the female.  Not saying there weren’t women in the service, because there were.  Yet, still being so close to the end of Vietnam and the military not being so popular of a choice then, especially for women, there were some stereotypes that I had to break through.

At that time, there was a misconception about women in the military.  They were either 1) lesbians, 2) tramps or 3) using the military to find a husband.  For me, I was straight, a virgin and had no desire whatsoever to get married at the age of 19.  The military offered me the opportunity to gain skills, see the world and possibly get an education.  You know, the same opportunities it gave a man. 

However, once in, I learned quickly then that I had two options as a female.  One was to work twice as hard as my male counterpart to be taken seriously or two, use my sex to get what I wanted.  I chose the first option, but there was a price for that also.  I had allowed myself to be molded and conformed to what was believed I should be, which at one point, nearly cost me my femininity.  Internally it led to a lot of conflict and it wasn’t until I broke out of that conformity and identified my own sexuality that the conflict ended.  I had found the delicate balance of combining the masculine and feminine traits and was able to employ the traits in the proper context, at the proper time.  That included my sensuality.  Why is it, that men never seemed to have had these issues?

Today, no one would think twice about a male athlete posing for Playgirl, or appearing in the so-called beefcake shots, regardless of how well (or not so well) they are doing in their athletic endeavors.  They’re still called “athletes”.  Their photo shots wouldn’t even be up for controversy, it would be a non-issue.  Yet, let a woman, who is not at the top of her game, pose for the same and she’s no longer an athlete to be taken seriously, but a wannabe sex symbol.  Why is this?  Why does this become news? 

To be continued…The final chapter, and now, their sensuality

Category: General
Tags: Sexuality, Women
Posted on: February 26, 2008 5:21 am

Sexuality, Sensuality and More - Part III

It’s been often said that there is no place for sex in sports.  That, in reality, is not the case.  Let’s forget the “twins” and that sex sells.  Since sexuality is inherent in all human beings, then it would only be natural that it be identified with athletes also.  Laura Robinson (1), former Canadian national-level cyclist and Nordic skier would agree.  "I think sexuality is a big part of the athlete, whether they are male or female," says Robinson (2).

To understand sexuality beyond that of physical desire and sexual context, it would probably be best to define it.  According the Sexual Health Network, “sexuality spans the biological, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of our lives. Sexuality begins with us and our relationship with ourselves and extends to our relationships with others. Our relationship with ourselves includes how we feel about ourselves as a person, as sexual beings, as men and women, and how we feel about our body and how we feel about sexual activities and behaviors. Our relationships with others may include friendship, emotional intimacy, love, and/or sexual activities.” 

One way we identify or relate to an individuals sexuality, is their masculine/feminine traits.  Physically, we relate to the bulk of a body builder, the strength of a football player or the grace of an Olympic figure skater.  Yet masculine/feminine traits go further then physical appearance and what draws us to an individual sexually.  According to the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI),  feminine and masculine traits (and the combination) make up our roles within ourselves and our genders. These traits, according to the BSRI, include (4):

Masculine. Aggressive, ambitious, analytical, assertive, athletic, competitive, decisive, dominant, forceful, independent, individualistic, self-reliant, and willing to take risks.

Feminine. Affectionate, cheerful, childlike, compassionate, flatterable, gentle, gullible, loyal, sensitive, shy, soft-spoken, sympathetic, tender, understanding, warm and yielding.

Androgynous Means ñman-woman.î Having both masculine and feminine traits. Can be a highly adaptive balance.

Given that what we relate to as individuals and how we relate to those athletes on the field of competition, it is only a natural process to identify with an athletes sexuality and their level of it. 

So now the question comes, why suppress it?

To be continued…..Expressing their sexuality. 


1)"Black Tights: Women, Sports and Sexuality”, Laura Robinson

2)“Sexuality and Sports a Dangerous Mix, Says Presenter”, Danielle Matheusik, The Brock Press

3) Sandra Bem

4) Dimensions of Personality,  <a href="http://www.noteaccess.com/APPR
y.htm”> The Notebook

Category: General
Tags: Sexuality, Women
Posted on: February 22, 2008 8:42 pm

Sexuality, Sensuality and More - Part II

I will save you the boredom and not go into history or background of the various feminist movements.  Nor will I attempt to sway anyone to join that “movement”.   All I will say is that I am involved in it because I am female.  I am involved in it because I want my daughter to have as many opportunities in her life, as possible.

That being said, I also offer this disclaimer.  I am neither an expert in sociology or anthropology.  What I offer up is only from my own experience. This is all that I can share. 

I have pondered quite a bit lately, perhaps it’s because I find myself now on the downside of the hill.  I have often joked about the wrinkles, age spots and the effects that aging has had on my body, not to mention my mind.  I would be lying if I said, that I wasn’t a little bothered with it.  As I approach the big “M”, there is some trepidation on how everything will effect my sexuality. 

Okay, before anyone jumps in with an “I’ll do you”, let me clarify what I mean.  Sexuality is a part of human nature.  It goes far beyond the ability to have sex.  Beyond the ability to enjoy sex.  Whether we wish to admit it or not, our sexuality is an inherent part of our character, part of our identity.  It may be driven by testosterone or estrogen, that I cannot say, however, I believe that it’s something that is natural and not taught, and not based on gender.  It is something that allows us define our levels of masculine and feminine traits and tendencies.  And it is the masculine/feminine aspects that I will allude to when I discuss sexuality.

I like to think of myself as being very feminine, perhaps to a point where I would make those who led the liberation movement in the mid to late 60’s cringe.  I enjoy most aspects of my womanhood, shall we say, both physical and mentally.  Because of this, I do play up my feminine attributes.  The way I dress, the way I relate to individuals (men, women, and children).  My femininity is part of what defines me in my role as wife, mother, lover, sister and daughter.  It is driving factor in my sexual awareness, however, it is not the factor in my sexual orientation. 

As much as I identify with my femininity, I also accept and embrace that I have traits that would be considered masculine, and yes, this also contributes to my sexuality and personality.  It is what drives me in the work force, in my interaction with strangers and sometimes, even within my own family.

Given that sexuality is part of our inherent nature then, how can we argue that there’s no place in sports for sexuality?

To be continued…..sexuality and sports

Category: General
Tags: Sexuality, Women
Posted on: February 22, 2008 8:36 pm
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