Harris+Clayton++Anna+Kournikova

Harris+Clayton++Anna+Kournikova - 02_IRS 37/(3-4) articles...

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FEMININITY, MASCULINITY, PHYSICALITY AND THE ENGLISH TABLOID PRESS The Case of Anna Kournikova John Harris Southampton Institute, UK Ben Clayton Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, UK Abstract This article is an examination of how femininity, masculinity and physicality are created and (re)presented within the English tabloid press. In identifying mechanisms for the construction and maintenance of (hegemonic) femininity and masculinity within sport, a gendered sports formula has been developed to analyse and explain sports coverage within this particular medium. Copies of the Sun and Mirror newspapers were collected and analysed over the course of the summer of 2000. The study highlights that idealized conceptualizations of femininity and masculinity are prevalent within the dominant narratives of both publications, not least through the disproportionate ratio of male/female sports coverage where only 5.9 percent of the sports reporting focused upon women’s sport. Our analysis of this mechanism is explicated through focusing upon one of the most photo- graphed athletes in the world today, the Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova. Kournikova, we posit, is the most powerful symbol of the masculinity/femininity nexus within media sport and accounted for one-third of all articles on women’s sport. She is presented as the masculinists’ tran- scendent image of the idiosyncratic sportswoman, whereby masculinity is maintained through ideo- logical representations of femininity. While the analysis does not focus exclusively on Kournikova, it is argued that she, more than any other athlete, epitomizes the gendered sports formula within the tabloid press. Key words • Anna Kournikova • femininity • masculinity • sexualization • tabloid press The mass media has long been recognized for the role that it plays in shaping opinion and framing attitudes. Research has pointed to the underrepresentation of women in the media, and the fact that when females are (re)presented existing societal norms are highlighted through stereotypical portrayals (Davis, 1990; Luebke, 1989; Vande Berg and Streckfuss, 1992). Many authors have suggested that female athletes are underrepresented in the sports media as a mechanism to preserve sport as a male domain (e.g. Duncan, 1990; Duncan and Messner, 1998; Hilliard, 1984; Kane and Lenskyj, 1998; Messner et al., 1993; Pirinen, 1997; Rinalta and Birrell, 1984). It is also evident that female athletes are subjected to non-task relevant commentary, or portrayed in a non-active role, in order to construct hegemonic masculinity (Chrisholm, INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 37/(3–4)(2002) 397–413 397 © Copyright ISSA and SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA, New Delhi) [1012–6902 (200209) 37:3–4;397–413; 030024]
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1999; Daddario, 1994; Harris, 1999; Tomlinson, 1995; Urquhart and Crossman, 1999). Anna Kournikova is one of the most photographed sporting celebrities in the
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Harris+Clayton++Anna+Kournikova - 02_IRS 37/(3-4) articles...

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