Today, female athletes are being offered a lot of money to take their clothes off and pose provocatively for the camera. For example, in 2008 Ashley Harkleroad, a pro female tennis player, appeared on the cover of Playboy Magazine half naked, while bent over in a sexually suggestive pose.
In the article “Sex Sells Sex, Not Women’s Sports,” Mary Jo Kane argues that female athletes are highly sexualized and are being used to sell women’s sports. Kane states that “sportswomen are significantly more likely to be portrayed in ways that emphasize their femininity and heterosexuality rather than their athletic prowess.” I agree that the media sexualizes female athletes, but fails to recognize their athletic accomplishments.
Although the media sexualizes female athletes, I don’t believe the media’s goal is to use sex to sell women’s sports. Sports Illustrated and Playboy have no interest in promoting women’s tennis, basketball, or golf. Their goal is to sell their magazine and not sports. So if they decide to use a highly sexualized female athlete to sell their magazine, they should be allowed to do so.
Female athletes are also responsible for the existence of hypersexualized ads, because they continue to pose provocatively for the camera. If female athletes refused to pose half naked, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Although you can “blame” the media, sponsors, and female athletes for hypersexualized ads, a woman is entitled to do what she wants with her body. Therefore, If a female athlete agrees to pose half naked for the cover of Sports Illustrated, Playboy, or ESPN magazine, I don’t see anything wrong with it.
While female athletes should be recognized for more than just their physical appearance, they also should not be looked down upon by society for their decision to show some skin for the camera.They are adults and can make decisions for themselves. If they are obeying the law and not harming anyone, it shouldn’t matter what they do with their bodies.