Hope Solo survived her fifth week on Dancing with the Stars. I’m glad: she is a smart, outspoken athlete and the challenge of that program requires that she confront the different ways by which her image, as a woman, is regulated. I, for one, am glad she’s willing to do so publicly.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, some USWNT fans hate the way DWTS treats Solo: Judges complained for weeks about how unfeminine her movements are, and every week they cite her physical strength as a weakness. I’ve explained why I don’t think that is necessarily wrong. (It’s a gendered performance, Solo seems uncomfortable in heels and also unsure of how one executes a routine without powering through it.)
It is worth pausing, however, to remember why fans of women’s sports can get very defensive: we’ve been abused. We’ve been abused by the media blackout on women’s sports, which is interrupted only occasionally by stories of exceptional victories (in lieu of regularly coverage of a season, for example) or by portraits of female monsters.So we flinch when we see the media turn its eye towards us. It’s a conditioned reflex.
Add to that the paternalistic attitude with which administrators and even (sometimes especially) supporters of women’s sports treat women athletes.Leagues have banned players for getting pregnant out of wedlock (imagine doing that to men! in this case, the athlete filed a suit so she could play,