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"They never do this to men": College women athletes' responses to sexualized images of professional female athletes
Unformatted Document Text:  knew I wasn’t. But I cannot help the reaction I get when I first look at this image. It makes me think that these women are similar in attitude and emotion to men basketball players. And it’s probably the fact that their uniforms are big and their shorts are oversized, just like men basketball players” (Athlete 21, 2010). Others went so far as to say that if a woman poses for such a photo, she is trying to prove she is heterosexual. Some initial reactions to photos of athletes in action included comments such as “dyke” or “man.” However, some respondents reacted to the action photos with positive, supportive comments such as “it shows her intensity in her sport and hard work,” “there’s nothing better than accomplishing your goals on the field after all the time you put into it,” “this athlete is strong, determined and successful,” and “I want to be like this—athletic and driven” (Athlete 3, 2010; Athlete 4, 2010; Athlete 11, 2010; Athlete 24, 2010). The college women also drew attention to and scrutinized the athletes’ physical appearance. For example, one athlete said about Lauren Jackson’s action photo and nude photo: “I had no idea that those two girls were the same. She clearly looks prettier in this photo” (Athlete 22, 2010). Another commented on the nude Serena Williams magazine cover: “She just wants to show that as an athlete she can still be beautiful because people think that women athletes are usually manly or more masculine than regular women” (Athlete 7, 2010). Other college athletes said they saw the women’s decision to pose nude as a negative reflection of their moral values or an attempt for economic gain. In judgment-laced responses, they engaged in a sort of “slut shaming” over the nude photos: It makes me think she is trying to sell sex instead of getting people to watch her play … Gross. She looks slutty … As an athlete, we are role models for young girls, and this is not a very good example for young girls. It is telling them that it is OK for men to look at them naked and gawk over them, it is not telling them to respect their bodies and be confident in who they are on the inside … Women shouldn’t have to show their body off to make people know they are women just because they play sports … WHY DO THEY HAVE TO BE NAKED? It makes me think she’s a tramp, why can’t she just be in a dress? … You see them in their sluttiness and it’s a let-down—anyone can take off their

Authors: Everbach, Tracy. and Mumah, Jenny.
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knew I wasn’t. But I cannot help the reaction I get when I first look at this image. It 
makes me think that these women are similar in attitude and emotion to men basketball 
players. And it’s probably the fact that their uniforms are big and their shorts are 
oversized, just like men basketball players” (Athlete 21, 2010).
Others went so far as to say that if a woman poses for such a photo, she is trying to prove 
she is heterosexual. Some initial reactions to photos of athletes in action included comments such 
as “dyke” or “man.” However, some respondents reacted to the action photos with positive, 
supportive comments such as “it shows her intensity in her sport and hard work,” “there’s 
nothing better than accomplishing your goals on the field after all the time you put into it,” “this 
athlete is strong, determined and successful,” and “I want to be like this—athletic and driven” 
(Athlete 3, 2010; Athlete 4, 2010; Athlete 11, 2010; Athlete 24, 2010).
 The college women also drew attention to and scrutinized the athletes’ physical 
appearance. For example, one athlete said about Lauren Jackson’s action photo and nude photo: 
“I had no idea that those two girls were the same. She clearly looks prettier in this photo” 
(Athlete 22, 2010). Another commented on the nude Serena Williams magazine cover: “She just 
wants to show that as an athlete she can still be beautiful because people think that women 
athletes are usually manly or more masculine than regular women” (Athlete 7, 2010).
Other college athletes said they saw the women’s decision to pose nude as a negative 
reflection of their moral values or an attempt for economic gain. In judgment-laced responses, 
they engaged in a sort of “slut shaming” over the nude photos:
It makes me think she is trying to sell sex instead of getting people to watch her play … 
Gross. She looks slutty … As an athlete, we are role models for young girls, and this is 
not a very good example for young girls. It is telling them that it is OK for men to look at 
them naked and gawk over them, it is not telling them to respect their bodies and be 
confident in who they are on the inside … Women shouldn’t have to show their body off 
to make people know they are women just because they play sports … WHY DO THEY 
HAVE TO BE NAKED? It makes me think she’s a tramp, why can’t she just be in a 
dress? … You see them in their sluttiness and it’s a let-down—anyone can take off their 


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