Nike and Gender

The company Nike has been very controversial lately with their progressive advertisements. One of their latest advertisement was called “Dream Crazier” and it shows clips of female athletes. Some are professional and some are just girls partaking in childhood sports. This advertisement focus on the amazing things females have accomplished and how at one point in time these things were seen as “crazy”. Either crazy impossible or crazy that a female could do it. This advertisement perfectly embodies the keyword gender. In Erica Hateley’s Keywords Essay, Gender, she states that “gender has historically been a tool of negotiation between our understandings of bodies, and meanings derived from and attributed to them”. This shows that gender was just a social construct to categorize the different body types and put meanings behind them. Also, Hateley states “specific constructions of gender structure understandings of subjectivity; allow or disallow certain behaviors or experiences on the basis of biological sex”. In this case, the behavior that is disallowed is athletic sports. This quote can be directly related to the advertisement since sports, especially physical sports, still have the connotation that females should not partake in them and if they do they are called crazy.

Additionally, we can even talk about the gendered outfits. One example in particular is tennis. Men and women have the exact same rules and do the exact same thing, yet their outfits are different. Males get to wear comfortable shorts and a loose fitting t-shirt while females have to wear either tight tank tops that show their cleavage or a tight t-shirt that shows off their female figure. Also females have to wear either tight shorts or a skirt. When females go against these gendered uniforms, such as Serena Williams did when she wore a black catsuit to help her blood flow after having complications with her birth, she was called a disgrace to the sport and catsuits were banned. Not only is this seen in tennis, but also football. The only female football league is one wear the women have to play in lingerie. There are clear differences between these genders based on what has been previously socially constructed. Although, females are now allowed to participate in these sports, it comes off as mockery when the “man” tells them they have to wear clothes to show off their bodies so people will watch. These women have to be sexualized because there talent is not enough to make people watch, that is the message it is sending.

Another thing I feel should be addressed is the woman with multiple identities being represented in this advertisement. Although while narrating, Serena never states how woman of color participating is crazy, the examples show all different types of woman. There are white and black women, Muslim women, Asian women, Hispanic women, and women with disabilities. This advertisement is not only a celebratory for the achievements of women general, but also women of color.

In conclusion, this advertisement shows and exploits the social construct of gender in athletics. It does this by showing the amazing accomplishments of these women but also showing how women are treated differently than their male colleagues. Although there has been progress, women are still dealing with less pay and over sexualization in sports. Gender plays a huge role in everyone’s experience in life. All these women can do is continue to play their sport and raise the bar for future men and women. Hopefully, the rise of feminist movements and activists will hopefully lead us to a more equal future.   

1 thought on “Nike and Gender”

  1. Hey Jocelyn!
    These are all really interesting points. The lack of societal regard to female sports is something that has always bothered me. Female athletes work just as hard as their male counterparts, but they aren’t given any attention unless their bodies are being objectified. As you pointed out, this occurs across many sports. Just look at the Women’s Hockey team at UW- Madison. They are national champions, but they received very little attention for their achievements. Or the US soccer teams. The women make substantially less than the men, despite the fact that they have a better record and have more achievements as a team. Hopefully, adds like the nike add will help female athletes progress past this. Good work!

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