College Students' Attitudes Toward the Sexualization of Professional Women Athletes

The present research examines whether tawdry sexualizations of women basketball players influence perceptions about the athletes' gender role orientation and their athletic ability. Two experiments examined how tawdry media sexualizations of high and low status women athletes influence the perceived gender-role orientation of athletes. In addition, we examined whether gender stereotyping, perceptions of athlete sexuality, and general attitudes toward the athlete were influenced by tawdry depictions. In each study, college students read one of four bogus newspaper articles that described a professional woman basketball player and they completed several measures. The articles depicted the athlete in a tawdry sexualized manner or a non-sexualized manner. In addition, athlete status was manipulated by either describing the athlete as excelling in her athletic career or struggling in it. In both studies we found that the tawdrily sexualized athlete was more likely to be perceived as having a feminine gender-role orientation, feminine-stereotypic characteristics, and to be heterosexual than was the non-sexualized athlete. In addition, when the athlete was depicted in tawdry sexualized manner, participants disapproved more of the high status athlete, and believed she had less athletic ability than the low status athlete. These findings are examined in relation to tawdry depictions of women athletes.

© Journal of Sport Behavior Dec 2010. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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