Marie Hardin and Erin Whiteside
In this essay, we trace the evolution of scholarship on media representations of women's sports. Introspection about our own work in this area has brought us to consider the potential of third-wave/poststructuralist feminism as a theoretical lens for our own critical inquiry into depictions of women's sports. We trace the trajectory of our work by first reviewing second-wave feminist critiques of representations of women in sport and the solutions stemming from those critiques. We then consider the development of our own research and the possibilities of a poststructuralist lens in that work, assessing how such a perspective might offer useful alternatives to standard, Gramscian-oriented critiques of the coverage of women's sports.
When Sports Illustrated presented skier Lindsey Vonn on the cover of its 2010 Olympics preview issue, some feminists roundly critiqued the picture. The photo, which depicted Vonn dressed in ski apparel but sans helmet, hair cascading down around her smiling face as she mimicked a ski crouch, was judged as the latest example of a problematic and ongoing trend of media outlets sexualizing and hyperfeminizing female athletes. Judging Vonn's image as a step backward for women's sports reflected the position of many influential sports feminists, most of whom work from a radical feminist standpoint. Radical ...