I'm reposting a comment I made on Erin's article on jock culture. I'm interested to know what others' experiences have been and whether this is as common as I think it is.
I played two varsity sports throughout 4 years of high school and 4 years in college. I know lots of women who played high school, college, and pro something. Not once have I ever heard a woman mention anything about sexual benefits derived from being good at sports. I also have never seen them get any sexual benefits due to on field performance. ("He's totally getting laid tonight" is such a common phrase in jock vernacular after someone performs well.) In fact, at least on the hetero side (I'm not sure I feel qualified to speculate outside of that bubble), I'd say that I've noticed that the better a girl/woman has been at sport, the harder it was to be viewed as stereotypically "feminine." Of course there were exceptions, but, often, those were the women who would have conversations with me about guys not liking them. Their challenged self-esteem was definitely noticeable, which is ironic, because on the playing field and often in the classroom, many of these women had confidence for days. And rightfully so.
Those same attributes converted into male currency created dudes who completely overshot their worth. Guys with the personality and intelligence of rocks cruising around with the confidence of a president; women throwing themselves at them. We've all seen it, and it's pretty ridiculous. And prevalent.
I've come to see these dynamics as a signal of what we really value in society. A strong, powerful, technically sound, athletic woman isn't something we value sexually. Unless that woman is the type that we'd put on a swimsuit edition. Otherwise, that's not the woman who we fight over. She's threatening. The language we use is a non-sexualizing language. She's basically a man or a lesbian. That's what the language used around them sounds like. It's almost as if we're saying, yeah, that's cool and awesome that you're great at sport, but I really don't want to sleep with you. At least not because of your athletic ability. You're "one of the boys."
Yet, for men, if you want to compensate for shortcomings, one of the big messages is be great at sports. Sure, if you're athletic and intelligent, there will be boatloads of takers. But you certainly won't struggle with the ladies (at least in your prime years) if you are simply blessed with athleticism.
IMO, these are the mindsets that fuel what we celebrate and how we celebrate. It sadly explains the mentality of dudes thinking that they are entitled to anything because they can carry or kick a ball. It also explains why there isn't a culture of entitled, sexually harassing behavior that mirrors female athleticism. We've never projected that a woman being a great athlete entitles her to other people. We don't reinforce the notion that running fast, jumping high, scoring goals or catching things equals anything beyond that for women. Men get things (i.e., ladies) through conquering sport — we have women in short skirts literally jumping around and cheering us on; women, however, aren't capable of improving their stock sexually through action. That part is out of their hands. Men make those decisions. At least that's what our behavior suggests.
At the end of the day, all of this is reflected in attitudes toward pro women's sport. No matter the quality, the male preoccupation seems to always be attached to what women look like rather than their exploits as world-class athletes. You're never more than a few convos or people away from a guy saying something about fucking one of these female athletes. And that really says a lot about our culture and what we value.
This was a response expressing a shared sentiment from tetons:
As a female athlete, I'd say this is pretty spot on. I think the difference is less having to do with women athletes being somehow morally superior and more with the fact that they (we) don't get sexually rewarded for excelling at sports (combined with already existing male entitlement in our society's non sports arenas being compounded by sports). Interestingly, in my personal life since I've become more into the sport I do and started winning stuff, I've had way fewer people interested in dating me except big, muscular, confident, tough jock types....my theory is that these guys are the ones who are SO masculine that they can make even me seem feminine I guess. But those types of guys often come with exactly the type of entitlement issues Erin describes here. It's a weirdly vicious cycle. But the quiet, smart, artsy guys are intimidated by me (their words...I've had this said to me a lot and I'm a pretty laid back person). But yeah I've seen basically no sexual gain from sports except for maybe meeting more guys at the gym.
Basically, as kids, so many of our interactions seem to reinforce the behavior we see as adults. And it extends beyond athletics. So often, excelling for women isn't something seen as a sexually beneficial plus factor. Of course this isn't an absolute, but women seem to have to be considered independently sexy before any plus factor gets applied. Conversely, men seem to be rewarded time after time in the sexual realm for being good at sport, academics, music, art, etc., despite what they look like. It really is a bizarre dynamic: the same attribute — excelling — getting treated in polar opposite ways depending, almost completely, on your genitalia.