Luke Vacca
Tutor - Abbey-Rose Hamilton


The artefact I have chosen to use is a magazine cover for a popular, Australian, male sports magazine. As you can see, it is exhibiting olympic swimmer Libby Trickett (at the time Lenton), draped in an Australian flag in a suggestive pose underneath the words “hot picture special”. Libby is one of Australias most successful female athletes of all time and the fastest Australian female swimmer in history. The magazine that published this photo is Alpha, a sports magazine targeting a specifically male demographic. This particular image was presented in a special issue with the tagline, “The hot 20, Australias most beautiful sports stars”. The cover also features a collection of photos at the bottom of the page with scantily clad female athletes and the name of their sport underneath the photo. The actual written articles inside briefly discuss the sport and the athletes achievement however focuses mainly on the sex appeal of the women. (Daily telegraph, 2011)

Public Health Issue
The public health issue associated with this image is that of how women in sport are represented in the media. It is images such as these which cements the ideology that women are substandard when it comes to sport and can only add value to the visual aspect of whichever game they are competing in. It has taken decades for simple things such as prize money to reach parity between genders. It was only in 2009 that all grand slam tennis championships awarded equal prize money to the mens and womens winners. Whist it can be said that improvement is occurring in the area of womens involvement in sport, there is still a great disparity when it is compared with the male counterparts, which must be overcome. The sexualisation of female athletes by the media seems to have increased in recent years with the introduction of male sporting magazines and television shows aiming to capitalize on the success and looks of these athletes by offering financial incentives to pose in photo shoots and advertisements.

Literature Review
A paper conducted by Allender et al identified negative influences on participation rates in sport. A few of the barriers identified were transitions at key stages in life such as puberty and having to “reorient individual identities”.(Allender et al, 2006) The media contributes a great deal to the participation barriers which prevent female participation in sport. Magazines can run stories on the ideal body shape, thereby discouraging young women to compete in sport for fear of becoming too masculine and unappealing to the opposite sex. Other journal articles and reports, which aim to examine the common barriers affecting participation rates by women in sport, have identified time as the biggest factor preventing involvement. Time spent on work and family was found to be the biggest barrier, with other factors such as cost of joining a sporting team or club also amongst the common reasons. A lot of quality research has been conducted into the area of women in sport however the majority of these studies were conducted pre year 2000.(AWRA, 2007)
In a journal article published in 2009 on social inclusion and sport, Natasha Cortis states that men have more time and money to spend on sport and that women prefer flexible options for exercising such as walking or fitness class rather than organized sporting teams. There have been a number of qualitative studies conducted on the subject of participation rates in sport.

In the book, “Mediasport”, Messner states that since athleticism has become synonymous with masculinity, female participation may be seen as intruding into this male dominated institution. The media has also been slow to recognize female contribution to sport possibly for the same reason of it potentially posing a threat to masculinity.(Messner, 1998)

The graph below, released by the New South Wales department of sport and recreation demonstrates the division of coverage dedicated to men’s and women’s sport and also across which media source. As you can see, men’s coverage accounted for 95% of all radio sports broadcasts, 56% of all television and 79% of all newspaper stories. The other outstanding results from this two week survey of all media coverage of sport was the women’s only reporting. This category accounted for only 1% of radio, 2% of television and 11% of newspaper coverage which is a major concern for those trying to improve the status of women’s sport in this country.

A meta analysis conducted by Grabe et al analysed the popular theory of the media depicting an unnatural ideal body image which creates an unrealistic and in many cases, unattainable ideation for young girls and women to aspire to. It is these idealistic portrayals of the perfect body which can lead to mental illness and eating disorders.
The Australian Womensport and Recreation Association is a not-for-profit organization at the forefront of promotion for women in sport. A survey released by this organization shows that regardless of body image and other factors which may be influenced by the media, the most common barriers to female participation in sport are time factors and the cost of joining a club or sporting team.(Grabe, 2008)

A report by the American Psychological Association into the sexualisation of girls shows that sports media contributes to this negative social issue.(APA, 2007) The report recommended replacing sexualised advertising and sports media with positive depictions of sexuality whether it be realistic and non objectified depictions of healthy body image.(APA, 2003) There have been numerous reports delving into the issue of the media creating negative body image issues amongst young, impressionable girls and women. A hot topic of debate in recent years has been the emergence of the size zero model and the social implications of this. The use of these unnaturally thin models in runway shows and photo shoots, sends the message that these women, who are supposed to be the yardstick for beauty, are worthy of emulation, which of course can trigger the downward spiral into eating disorders and depression.

Cultural and Social Analysis
The numerous factors influencing the portrayal of sportswomen in the media, seem to stem from the social construct of how a woman should act and behave. Sport, which can be considered a masculine endeavour, could be seen as a challenge to this concept.
It is important to achieve parity in the area of sport promotion and development for women and girls if not simply for reaching basic equality.
A quote by former tennis champion, Billie Jean King, who won a phenomenal 39 grand slam titles, typified the state of womens sport in her era. The quote of “I wanted to use sports for social change” referred to her struggle for equality in sports between men and women.1 "Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell and all these great players -- all the men -- had scholarships to college and I didn't. And the only reason I didn't was because of my gender."(Smith, 2011) These quotes illustrate the frustration felt by one of the greatest female athletes of all time at the injustice of inequality when it came to sport. It shows that back in the 60’s and 70’s women weren’t taken seriously as athletes and were
The issue of unequal pay and the discrimination of women in the sporting world would be opposed to feminist theory which suggest equal rights and conditions for men and women. This issue affects not only those women who compete in sport, but also the spectators and fans who are shown that in order to become successful as an athlete you must be prepared to get there clothes off. The sense of belonging which is found in a sporting team or club is also beneficial for mental health.
Marxist feminism aims to bring about social equality and would see capatalism as the enemy of womens rights. In a western capatalist society, which is largely male dominated (however is gradually shifting towards an system of gender equality) it could be said that a Marxism communist theory would benefit women greater as they should hypothetically come off as beneficiaries of a classless society.
In theory, this form of social structure should encourage the equal promotion and funding of mens and womens sport however in reality this would be unlikely to occur.
The required change in social consciousness towards an issue such as how woman are portrayed in the media is incredibly difficult to achieve. It involves breaking down current barriers and overriding previous assumptions and beliefs towards an issue. An example of such a change would be the treatment of mentally ill patients in the western world. It was once believed that these people were either possessed or were simply crazy when now we know there are diagnosable and in some cases treatable illnesses which simply required greater understanding. To shift the current system of exploitation towards female athletes would involve convincing the media to cease pursuing these women for cover shoots and articles which discuss their sexuality and instead focus on their success as an sportsperson. As you can imagine, this will be nigh on impossible for the majority of mens magazines who’s publishing figures thrive on the ability to present these athletic and attractive women to a expectant audience who are most likely about as interested in the sporting capabilities of these athletes as they are about the social implications of their funding such an institution.

Analysis of Artefact
This magazine cover and the issue as a whole is a blatant exploitation of the women involved, and is undermining their success and abilities as athletes. Although it could be argued that it is not exploitation as the women have signed up and agreed to partake in the story, I still believe it is taking advantage of the women as visually appealing individuals rather than incredible athletes. To bring up the quote by Billie Jean King, she stated that she wanted to use sport for social change, while things have perhaps improved slightly, it is magazine stories such as this which serves as a reminder that society is still a long way off accepting women as valuable contributors to sport in their own right without the prerequisite of being a part time model.
Studying this topic for this piece of assessment has really opened my eyes to how far we have left to go before equity is achieved between genders when it comes to participation and how they are represented when it comes to sport. I really thought this issue had been quashed a long time ago however apparently this is not the case. Hopefully with some more funding and awareness, female participation in sport can reach that of men’s and the feminine stereotype preventing active sports participation can be shifted. As well as this, an onus should be put on the media to avoid the exploitation of female athletes as sex symbols and instead portray them as athletes who warrant respect and admiration for their abilities as sportswomen.



"Cultural sensitivity, can health services feel?"
An impotant yet often overlooked skill...
A thought provoking wiki. I completely agree that not enough emphasis is put on developing effective communication skills with non english speaking patients in the health sector. I know as a paramedic student, having recently completed my communications subject, we very briefly touched on cultural differences in regards to communication however felt that there was no where near enough time spent teaching communication skills when dealing with language barrier. This is an increasingly common situation faced by many health care workers however there seems to be a lack of interest when it comes to teaching this skill. Hopefully it doesn't take an adverse patient outcome from lack of communication skills for things to change.

"CAGED WITHIN BODY AND MIND – An observation and discussion of the contrasting challenges faced by each nation in tackling mental health and its associated issues"
An unfortunate reality...
I agree with previous comments that this is an interesting yet sad discussion topic. It is interesting to note the massive discrepancy when it comes to the (social) treatment of mentally ill in Australia when compared with the developing world. I think this is largely due to awareness. It was not that long ago that the western world was confining schizophrenics to straight jackets and shipping them off to 'lunatic asylums'. Unfortunately for the developing countries, the awareness which has brought Australia out of an age of ignorance when it comes to mental health is unlikely to be attainable due to the massive amounts of money that have been required to get the message out. Good presentation and we'll see how this issue develops in coming years.

1. Steven Allender, Gill Cowburn, and Charlie Foster. Understanding participation in sport and physical activity among children and adults: a review of qualitative studies Health Educ. Res. (2006) 21(6): 826-835 first published online July 20, 2006 doi:10.1093/her/cyl063

2. National Womensport and Recreation Survey. (n.d.). Australian Womensport and Recreation Association. Retrieved October 25, 2011, from

3. I wanted to use sports for... at BrainyQuote. (n.d.). Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from

4. Smith, L. (n.d.). Billie Jean King: Using Sports for Social Change | Online Registration & Local Event Directory by | Sports, Running, Classes, Camps, Training Plans, Triathlons, Marathons, Soccer, Drills & Youth Sports. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from

5. Wenner, L. A. (2002). Mediasport(Taylor & Francis e-Library ed.). London: Routledge.

6. Social Inclusion and Sport: Culturally diverse women's perspective. (Closing the Gaps: the National Indigenous Clearinghouse). (n.d.). Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) . Retrieved November 2, 2011, from

7. Alpha girls sporty yet stunning | | Breaking news, videos and pictures from Sydney, NSW, Australia and the world | DailyTelegraph. Retrieved November 5, 2011, from

8. The role of the media in body image concerns among women: A meta-analysis of experimental and correlational studies.
Grabe, Shelly; Ward, L. Monique; Hyde, Janet Shibley
Psychological Bulletin, Vol 134(3), May 2008, 460-476. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.134.3.460

9. Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls . (n.d.). American Psychological Association (APA) . Retrieved November 2, 2011, from