Male athletes, female aesthetics: The continued ambivalence toward female athletes in ESPN’s The Body Issue

Gregory A Cranmer, Maria Brann, Nicholas Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Previous studies have suggested that media reify frames that subtly enforce sex differences in a manner that detracts from women athletes’ athleticism. This phenomenon is referred to as ambivalence. To analyze ambivalence, this study introduces a theoretically and empirically supported coding scheme that was used to conduct a quantitative frame analysis of 157 images featured in ESPN’s The Body Issue. These images were coded for frames that de-emphasize athleticism, sexualize athletes, or deny a sporting context. Results suggest that athlete sex is associated with de-emphasized athleticism and sexualized frames, and sport gender is associated with context frames. Results also support longitudinal trends in The Body Issue series, which suggest that the series has become more sexualized and removed from a sports context but has decreased the use of frames that de-emphasize athleticism. In general, The Body Issue continues to reinforce established media trends that trivialize female athl
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145–165
JournalDefault journal
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

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