Reaching out to lesbians is a bold step for the WNBA. Although the American public is more acceptant of
homosexuality today than in past, issues of sexual preference are still hotly debated.
Hopefully the WNBA will be a catalyst for greater recognition of and acceptance of differences in sexual
preference. And women athletes will be accepted purely on the basis of their athleticism and not on the
basis of their femininity or heterosexuality.
***CULearn – Cahn “From the ‘Muscle Moll’ to the ‘Butch’ Ballplayer”
the early twentieth century, a growing number ofwomen were receiving higher educations, entering
professions, or finding other paid work that gave them the ability, should they choose, to live
independently of men. From this point on, prejudice and discrimination against lesbians became a
powerful social force.
As a stereotyped figure in U.S. society, the lesbian athlete forms part of everyday cultural knowledge.
years following World War II, the stereotype ofthe lesbian athlete emerged full blown.
by the turn ofthe century, women had begun to challenge Victorian gender arrangements, breaking down
barriers to female participation in previously male arenas of public work, politics, and urban nightlife.
Some of these "New Women" sought entry into the world ofathletics as well.
1910s and 1920s: Medical experts and exercise specialists disagreed among themselves about the effects of
athletic activity on women's reproductive cycles and organs. Some said it unleashed nonprocreative, erotic
desires identified with male sexuality and unrespectable women, or, conversely, whether invigorating sport
enhanced a woman's feminine charm and sexual appeal, channeling sexual energy into wholesome
Sexual hype, helped to attract customers and mute charges of mannishness.
The most frequently used derogatory term for women athletes was "Muscle Moll." In its only other usages,