OlympicsFinalpaper - Misner 1 Jillian Misner Communication 315 Dr Kurtz November 5 2013 Decorated Dolls The Nationalist Appropriation of Olympic Womens

OlympicsFinalpaper - Misner 1 Jillian Misner Communication...

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Misner 1 Jillian Misner Communication 315 Dr. Kurtz November 5, 2013 Decorated Dolls: The Nationalist Appropriation of Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Introduction Every four years, the world turns its attention toward a single event. No, it is not the election of the president of the United States (although that is quite an attention- grabber), but rather the Olympic games. During the summer games, a very select group of athletes are able to represent their countries by demonstrating strength, agility and speed in their respective sports in front of an immensely diverse audience. Among these sports, women’s artistic gymnastics has consistently been one of the most highly anticipated and most-watched events in the United States (Chisholm 126). Although it may seem strange, considering the other three years and fifty weeks between the summer Olympic games gymnastics has very little visibility, in the mainstream media images of gold medals are often accompanied by these small teenage athletes wearing them. Not only do discourses of national pride and patriotism increase at the time of the Olympics, the women’s gymnastics team seems to both bear the weight and get the privilege of being very intertwined with those narratives. During the Olympic games, a common trope in regards to women’s gymnastics is the ogling over the athletes’ young ages. Their almost stunted growth and purely muscular bodies call into question what it means to look like a young woman and what an Olympic athlete should look like, and thus the grey area in between. The ways in which media present the gymnasts and the subsequent nationalistic narratives that arise in light of them reveal a link between gender performance in gymnastics and patriotism that
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Misner 2 yields questions about how our cultural values are manifested in constructions of American heroes. Every four years, a great deal of faith is put into this team, often defining the Olympics for many Americans. This is the first theme I plan to address. By looking at three examples of popular news discourses surrounding the 2012 Olympic team, nicknamed the “Fierce Five,” I will explore how the athletes’ femininity is constructed and in what ways it informs the Americans’ trust and pride in their athletic performances. These five girls will be my case study because they were one of the most highly publicized teams, winning a total of five medals for the United States. Gabby Douglas, Aly Raismann, Kyla Ross, McKayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber embody the ways that the complicated femininity of Olympic gymnasts reflects the nuances of the American value system. Lit Review Many scholars have taken various approaches when looking at the women’s Olympic gymnastic teams and the discourses surrounding them. Some have looked solely at gender identity while others explore the specific characteristics of the Olympics that provoke such a strong sense of nationalism. Perhaps the most illusory examination is that of Ann Chisholm in her article “Defending the Nation: National Bodies, U.S. Borders,
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  • Fall '13
  • JeffKurtz
  • Olympic Games, Summer Olympic Games, Women’s Gymnastics, Jillian Misner

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