Sexualizing Women’s Sports

Women are sexualized in every aspect of our lives: In music, movies, books, advertisements, language, anywhere you look. You would think that sports would be the one outlet that women would have to not be sexualized, but unfortunately this isn’t true. Sports have used women in various ways to make money by sexualizing the sport through the actual acts of sports and what the women wear during competition. In women’s wrestling, surfing, and football, women are advertised as things to look at based on their uniform. For example, Total Divas is a show on television that is about women’s wrestling. The girls wear tight, skimpy outfits such as leather shorts and tops, and bikini tops. The entire time that they are wrestling, is for show so that they can attract male viewers because of their looks. This is the only way for the sport to be funded because there may not be as much support if the wrestling was all about skill and not sex. All of the girls are covered in makeup, tans, blown out and perfect hair (even extensions), and their outfits are barely there. Though these women might have athletic abilities, that is not the focus of the sport. They are trained to sexualize their bodies so that they can make money. In the following clip, you can see how the focus has left the sport and focuses on their looks and hooking up with others.

Deborah Tolman in Adolescent Girls’ Sexuality discusses the role of sexualization at an early age. I believe this is important to pay attention to because young girls have access to watch Total Divas or access to see how women are sexualized in sports. They are trained at a young age to believe that if they look “hot” they can get more attention and be more successful. This path makes it seem like they can make their way to the top if they capitalize on their sexuality. Taking away the purpose of sports and using it as a way to make money off of women contributes to this. Deborah Tolman wrote: “Sexual socialization includes learning to find the “right” people desirable, the contexts in which it is “appropriate” -or not- to have or express sexual feeling, and what are acceptable “sexual scripts.”” This is necessary to hear because women should not be trained to think this way from an early age. If young girls idolized these women that are sexualized, these young girls could follow in their footsteps.


This is a picture of Anastasia Ashley, a professional surfer who has posed for Sports Illustrated many times. In this picture, she is basically posing naked. She has a great athletic body but is using her body to sexualize the sport rather than advertising her skills surfing. She is making money off of posing for the magazine rather than promoting her skills in tournaments or other sports related events. Deborah Tolman wrote “It is about the desire to look and be seen as sexy.” I believe this relates to Anastasia Ashley because she is relying on these pictures to make her famous and well known.

The Legends Football League is a football league for women. When first hearing this, you might think “Finally! A league for women!” However, after watching this video, you see that it is entirely sexualized. These women have true athletic abilities and follow the same rules as male football players but the difference is quite obvious. The female football players, like men, wear shoulder pads and helmets, but there is a big difference in uniform. The female players are wearing bikinis to play in. What is the point of wearing bikinis for a football game? I think we all know that it’s not to make the athletes run faster. It is just to sexualize the sport and to make it more desirable for men to watch and support. As a female athlete, it makes me upset that these girls cannot show off their athletic abilities because no one is watching them make great plays. People are only looking at their bodies.

Deborah Tolman said: “…it is on average, normative for girls to start have sexual feelings in early adolescence.” How does this connect? Well, I believe this connects to sexualizing sports because if girls begin sports at a young age and all they see are female athletes using their bodies to become successful, it will train these younger girls to do the same and follow in their footsteps. I think its important to make sure we have athletes that are famous and looked up too because of their athletic abilities, not their sexual appearances. I also believe that a sport should revolve around the hard work and natural talents of an athlete. They should be supported and praised because their work hard has paid off and can out play anyone they are in competition with. The women in wrestling, football, and surfing have talents that not everyone has, so why don’t we focus on that?

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