Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Joined Up Thinking

This article made me giggle. The following paragraph in particular:

The areas that the audit has looked at include leadership (only four out of 35 British National Governing Bodies of sport has a female chief executive), media coverage (there is more than 50 times as much coverage in the media for men's sport than there is for women's, with only two per cent of articles and one per cent of images devoted to elite female athletes and women's sport) and investment in sport, which looks at the split in funding of men's and women's sports.

The concept of equal funding is a good and relevant one. The idea of somehow trying to influence the genders of sports leaders stinks of positive discrimination from the outset, but we'll see. My main problem is with the media point. Linking sexism to media coverage is spurious at best, bollocks at worst. Sport is a business. From the selling of equipment to the screening of matches/exhibitions on television, it's all about the money. Consumerism and shareholders etc.

Now, I could walk down a high street and run a quick survey on how much window space is given to male clothing vs. female clothing. I daresay the ratio would lie quite heavily in the female front. Are men being deprived of opportunities to express themselves through fashion? Perhaps. Why are these shops selling predominantly female clothing? Because it will make them more money. The 16-40 year old demographic probably spend more money on clothes than anyone. That's just capitalist good sense.

Open the back pages of a newspaper and you will probably be greeted with information (depending on the time of year) about football, rugby, cricket. Maybe some horseracing. Different times of the year will mean there is more coverage of certain sports. Cycling during Tour De France. Athletics during the Olympics or other big Championships. These subjects are clearly of interest of sports fans, otherwise they wouldn't get past the editor. Where does the big money lie in sport? Generally, lots of money is bet on horseracing, football and greyhounds. These fans, betting or not, also pay good money to watch their sports. Lots of people watch rubgy and cricket, additionally, and pay for the privilege. Greyhounds aside, the stars of these sports are all male. If the interest is in predominantly male sports, the money will go there, including in the media. This is simple consumerism, and I don't see how it relates directly to sexism in the sense they mean. If it does, then I hope to see a commission set up to tackle the discrepancies between male and female clothing choices on the average high street, too.

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