One thought on “Week 6 Day 1 – pick a passage

  • March 16, 2022 at 9:40 am
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    I would like to analyze Patricia Hill Collin’s “GET YOUR FREAK ON: Sex, Babies, and Images of Black Femininity,” and discuss Black Femininity as it pertains to Black female athletes. Collins discusses how “because aggressiveness is needed to win, Black female athletes have more leeway in reclaiming assertiveness without enduring the ridicule routinely targeted toward the bitch. Black female athletes provide a range of images that collectively challenge not only representations of the bitch and the bad mother but are also beginning to crack the financial gender gap separating men’s and women’s sports” (134).
    Collins gives the most prominent example of Black female athletes challenging societal standards in every way possible by discussing the Williams sisters. Collins implies that it is usually more accepted to see female athletes in general in sports such as tennis, gymnastics, and figure skating, which could be due to the tight-fitting outfits and sexualization of women in these sports. The Williams sisters, however, have rewritten the narrative for tennis and the beauty standard for female athletes in general, as “black women athletes’ bodies are muscular and athletic, attributes historically reserved for men, yet their body types also represent new forms of femininity” (135). The Williams sisters inspire young girls to break out of the mold and strive to be strong rather than skinny, the typical idealized form of a female athlete.
    Rather than conforming to the societal norms for tennis and trying to fit into a mostly white, upper class sport, the Williams sisters “rebuff tennis ‘whites’ in favor of form-fitting, flashy outfits in all sorts of colors. They play with their hair fixed in beaded, African-influenced cornrows that are occasionally died blond… [and] their working-class origins mean that they don’t fit into the traditional tennis world and they express little desire to mimic their White counterparts” (135). Because the Williams sisters are exceptional athletes and regarded as the best of the best in the tennis world, their influence on Black female sports and women’s sports as a whole has been astronomical.
    Collins also presents the issue that for female athletes in general, but especially Black female athletes, there is danger of being stereotyped as lesbian. Collins writes how the “Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) realized that its profitability might suffer if the league was perceived as dominated by lesbian ballplayers. In order to ensure that the “mannish” label applied to lesbians, female athletes, and Black women as a group would not come to characterize the WNBA, the League” employed several advertising tactics (136). The first of these strategies was standard and expected: the sexualization of their players to appease the male gaze. The second of these tactics was to create advertisements of WNBA players in heterosexual partnerships to showcase their families, thus painting a picture that the female players participate in their idealized role in society as wives to their husbands and mothers to their children. This is not only an inaccurate portrayal of female sexuality in general, but specifically aims to try to pacify the WNBA’s perceived threat of lesbian, “Black female basketball players,” so the sport won’t be labeled as “butch” (137).

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