If Sports Were Covered Like Women’s Beach Volleyball

In case you missed this… interesting contrast between photos of men’s and women’s beach volleyball. For men you find tough, competitive guys:


And for women:



Oh, and here’s a woman actually playing the sport. In that outfit she stays sexy!

Interestingly, there are a number of pics of women listed under “men’s beach volleyball” but no men on the women’s list.

When Nate Jones, over at Metro.us, innocently searched for pics of women’s Olympic beach volleyball, he was left asking, “What if every Olympic sport was photographed like beach volleyball?” Here’s a sampling of what that would look like (you can see all his pics by clicking here):

As the camera hones in on women’s body parts and ignores men’s, you can see why all of us – men and women – come to think of women as the sex objects in our society. Even the fact that women volleyball players wear such a skimpy outfit doubles down on the whole, “women as sex object” thing.

And so ignored men’s bodies leave us ignoring men-as-sexy while the women’s body-focus makes them all about sex. And actually, that’s not very good for our sex lives – or for well-rounded lives. For more on that, see the posts below.

Popular Posts on BroadBlogs
Does Sexual Objectification Lead to Bad Sex?
Why Aren’t Male Strippers Sexy?
Anything Good About Being A Sex Object?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 13, 2012, in feminism, gender, men, objectification, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Welcome to how my mind watches WWE.
    I feel like this is another case of women just can’t exist, the same attitude that makes people feel like they need make up to get a job, or what makes teacher yell at young girls to not look revealing at school eventhough they’re 10. Women when they exist outside in the world, just get viewed as sexual objects, not as some impressive athletes who deserve to be viewed for their power and knowledge, they’re being looked at as “boooottyyy butt cheeksssss”
    Which is super insulting when you watch something like football and commentators will be like “johnson had a bowl of pasta so he is not at the top of his game, as we all know his birth star is in the right position so he might pull through he’s earned this” they’ll treat is like we all need a textbook of the player’s ever detail and they’ll comment on the game and their training program, but we never get a good butt shot. I think either women’s sports need to be respected more, or men’s sports should stop looking at the game and start focusing on some butts.

  2. I feel like when it comes to any women’s sports it is usually viewed as like a sexy game, and not being viewed as how male sports are. Also, I’ve noticed that most of the uniforms women’s use when it comes to playing any sports they usually tend to be shorter and tighter. They tend to judge them a lot more when it comes to their body posture and sometimes they tend to view how athletic their body looks. When it comes to women playing sports I also feel like they tend to be more judgemental with a lot of their movements when it comes to playing any sports. When women tend to play sports they usually tend to become more striking with all the moves they’ve done. Even when they play their best they usually tend to focus on the negative part of the game and they make that the highlight of their game.

  3. Wow, that entire blog post was cringing, and I am dumbfounded. Both men and women dress like they are at the beach, hence the sport “beach volleyball.” Women wear their sport bikinis, and men wear their swim trunks. Men wear their shirt most of the time because, in case you haven’t partaken in the sport at all, diving on the sand with your arms open and chest out tends to rub your nipples in a way that is not pleasant.


    I included the google image search for “women’s beach volleyball” just in case you needed a true reference.

    Here is the men’s volleyball google image search. If you’ll pay close attention, both searches have results of both celebrating and actually playing the sport. Another observation I made is that you can see up-close pictures of men, not women, shirtless and in a glistening sweat. “And so ignored men’s bodies leave us ignoring men-as-sexy while the women’s body-focus makes them all about sex.” I’m not sure that is the object of this sport at all. In fact, I am pretty sure Kerri Walsh and Misty May were continuously celebrated for their tremendous success at multiple Olympics, and I mean athletic success by the way.

    • I could get your “women’s beach volleyball” to come up but not the “men’s beach volleyball” so I invite readers to Google the latter themselves and compare. (I won’t put links on my blog that don’t come up correctly.)

      I just Googled men’s beach volleyball and:

      * While there are no men in skimpy outfits pictured in women’s beach volleyball you can find pictures of women in men’s beach volleyball.

      * There are no close-ups of men’s butts in men’s beach volleyball pictures.

      Also, you will find few women dressed as skimpily as women’s beach volleyball players on American beaches.

  4. The difference in women’s and men’s sports starts in funding and doesn’t end in coverage. The outfits or uniforms that women wear are constantly critiqued and pointed out, rather than their athletic abilities or performance. I think a lot of female athletes find that their body is a bigger attraction to the “fans” (or perverts) than their sport. Female athletes do not receive the same recognition or equal pay, because the focus is on their looks or making the sport appealing to viewers by being sexualized rather than promoting their amazing athletic abilities. Also, images like this of females bodies, probably makes female viewers more self conscious. If I were a young beach volleyball player, seeing such vulnerable pictures of extremely fit women would make me think twice if I want to play a sport where my body is exposed in that way to the media and the world. Body image issues are huge for men and women and photography that exposes parts of women’s bodies that are often areas of self consciousness does not help create a positive body image, at all.

  5. I found this post to be especially interesting given that I just responded to a question about the portrayal of women in sports in the media in my Women’s Studies Class. Its crazy to me how much women are objectified or only worth ‘seeing’ or ‘listening to’ when they look or act a certain way, and it makes me think of the time that Serena Williams wore a catsuit while playing tennis ( it was designed to prevent blood clots but she still received criticism for wearing it and the french tennis federation said that the fact that she wore that ( so basically a female wearing anything other than a skirt in the sport) was disrespectful.

  6. Women’s sports in general, do not receive the same type of press and coverage in sports between men. Most of the time when there is press about women, it is unfortunately to shame them on something they are doing wrong. It’s never about how women deserve equal pay as men or how they are seen as just “women” playing sports. It is just not the same as men. For women who play beach volleyball, they are shamed on the outfits they are wearing as too “skimpy” or to “exposed” and it is not fair for women to have to be ashamed every time they play the sport they love. For men they don’t wear a shirt on, they are almost wearing the complete same as a woman. So why do women get shamed? Unfortunately, the media coverage women sports do get in this case is that women are looked at as “sex objects” and it just isnt fair. It isn’t fair to women playing this sport and women also all around who have to deal with this on a different scale. Women are not objects and more clarity about this needs to be said to make a difference in the sports industry and as well as globally.

  7. thegreenesteyes

    Looking at these photos next to each other really shows the contrast between how men and women are portrayed in sports. I have always noticed that women are virtually in bikinis when they play, and there are definitely more camera shots that show them as “sexy” rather than the actual athletes they are. This reminds me of when Simone Biles was criticized for having such defined abs, with men suggesting she looked too manly and that they weren’t attracted to her. She was supported by many women, who said: “she’s not got these abs to please you, she has them because she has trained really hard in her sport, and is a very successful athlete.” Serena Williams has also been constantly criticized by the media for also looking too masculine. I wonder why it isn’t okay for men to have a more masculine body, and why men are criticized for being too feminine. The world of sports has always been interesting to me also that women’s soccer is rarely televised compared to men. Is it because they don’t have sexy cheerleaders? Or that the women are also deemed too masculine due to their training when they are excellent at the sport they play? I have watched close friends of mine play volleyball, and they always comment on how members in the audience aren’t necessarily there for the sport, only to look at them. I know their bodies and outfits are fetishized mostly on social media, such as Twitter, and men seem to think it is okay to say “screw the game, I’m just here for the great asses.” To me, that is shocking and really demeaning, especially when these women don’t choose to be eye-candy to men, they are simply playing a sport that they clearly enjoy and are very good at it.

  8. Sarah Yoffe-Sharp

    The photo comparison between men’s and women’s volleyball on this blog posting is disheartening but something that we have all seen before. As a female athlete in an aesthetic sport, I hope to have my athleticism valued over my body. However, I believe that the variation between these men’s and women’s beach volleyball photographs is related to two factors: the audience of the photographs and the photographers themselves. If consumers are willing to pay for sports coverage that offers such a huge disparity between images of male and female athletes, then these images will continue to be produced. On the other hand, a self-respecting female photographer and volleyball enthusiast would have a hard time looking herself in the mirror if her best shots of a match were close up shots of player’s bikini bottoms. This observation leads me to believe that most of the photographers taking these types of photographs are men, or women who value their paycheck more than self-respect.

  9. The sexualization of women’s bodies, especially in sports, has never been as rampant as it was in last summer’s Olympic games. My peers and I were having so many conversations regarding the intersectionality of race and gender and how that hurt our women.

    Though incredible athletes like Simone Biles, Michelle Carter, and Serena Williams are shattering records left and right, we see a few poignant things. Primarily, perfection doesn’t grant any grace from critics. In fact, the opposite tends to be the case: the better a woman (especially a woman of color) does, the harsher the critique of her body (1), ability (2), and “right” to be there (3).

    That all being said, it’s really interesting to look at the flip side of this issue. Over the years, the swimsuit required of men at Olympic games has changed dramatically (4). I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy watching diving with the current men’s uniforms. Which lends me to wonder if I am just another pawn in the sexualization of the athletic body. Questions that need answers!

    (1) http://www.salon.com/2015/07/13/stop_body_shaming_serena_williams_its_time_to_break_this_absurd_and_insulting_habit_once_and_for_all/
    (2) http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/simone-biles-claps-back-at-dancing-with-the-stars-criticism-w481388
    (3) http://www.teenvogue.com/story/alexa-moreno-olympic-gymnast-body-shaming-twitter-fat
    (4) https://www.buzzfeed.com/robstott/so-thirsty-i-could-drink-the-pool?utm_term=.pkgve7aNq#.qbM41lweL

  10. I think it is a shame that in our society women who play sports at the Olympics (and therefore worked very hard to get there) are portrayed as such sex objects. They went there to show their psychical ability and not their toned bodies (because are a result by they hard practice and hard work). I also do not understand why it is a rule in beach volleyball that women need to be almost naked and men can play in shorts and a shirt. Just makes no sense to me. I think we should give men and women an qual opportunity at showing their ability at each sport.

  11. The main reason that women sports are shot from the more sexual or provocative stand point is simply because in our society it very hard to find any thing that aren’t viewed from the male point of view. In a society that would have an equal and open point of view we would probably see more provocative shots of men and not just women. In our society it is more likely that women don’t have a problem looking at other women being objectified for profit for a number of reasons such as: 1.) Is this what my boyfriend needs me to look like for me to be sexy, 2.) I need to be strong and sexy like these women before a man will take me serious, 3.) Simply what does she have that I don’t and 4.) the fact that they just want to watch a great sporting event. Don’t get me me wrong I know that not all women feel this way but when the male point of view skews the prospective of what is being shown on TV we tend to get conditioned. In the same since as a guy who is watching this we tend to learn that objectifying women for profit and pleasure is normal and that a lot of times the women in the lives are suppose to like it just as much

  12. Weter’s comment – “But the bigger thing for me is obviously for little girls to see they can do everything just like little boys can.” So why isn’t the playing field equal – why can’t boys be as free as girls want to be? Everyone gets the girl trying to play on the PGA tour (btw – I would love to be able to hilt like a girl if that meant hitting like Lexi Thompson, and some others!), or the NFL, etc.

    Why can’t boys show emotion, wear color, or silk, have their hair long w/o being called “girly” or “Sissy”. Is that the measure of what we thing of girls – if you show weakness – you are a girl.

    Not so much – but it is the perception!

  13. I have never noticed how women’s beach volleyball pictures all consisted of body shots until this article. I typically hear about how women were the tiniest amount of clothing for beach volleyball while men are practically completely covered! It is rare to see a beach volleyball player wearing a one piece but men can wear a long-sleeved shirt and no one would notice. The work of Nate Jones is very clever and effectively gets the point across! The way women’s beach volleyball pictures are taking is absolutely demeaning, pointless to the sport, and awful. This is yet another prime example of how unfortunately, women are not taken seriously in the sports world (probably the world in general).
    This article reminds me of controversy of women on Sports Illustrated covers. Women featured on the covers are mostly models, not female athletes. Athletes that do appear on the cover are often depicted in a sexualized manner in their sport (Lindsey Vonn for example).

  14. When we are watching women play sports for some odd reason we find it okay to judge their body and appearance. Even though that has nothing to do with how well they are playing the sport Women playing sports is not taken seriously and we lack having women in pro sports. Women are always seen as the cheerleaders for the most part when associating them with sports. Seeing women in pro sports, sports that are televised, is really rare than when dealing with men. With men in sports you have football (Super bowl), baseball (The World Series), etc and they are far less likely to be sexualized like women playing volleyball, gymnastics, tennis, etc. For women it is not about how well they are playing but how they look and how much in shape they are as they play. It tends to come up but why is that exactly? It has nothing to do with her skill and/or talent; it goes to show how we as a society degrade women just because they are women when dealing with athletics/sports.

  15. And the sexualization of the camera shots and context is probably because a majority of camera persons are men. I always found it amusing in games or shows of live comedians performing, there would always be a camera shot to the audience. And there’d always be a camera shot to women who just happen to be hot, or pretty. I call it the hot girl shot ha. And it always made it obvious to me like “yep, the camera holder is definitely a guy” ha. I see that on many tv shows that have an audience, a shot might be of a couple, but its many times a couple which the woman is good looking. It makes me wonder if more women were camera users durinng sporting events or just as many women, if you’d see more camera shots of guy’s bodies in sports or shots of good looking guys in the audience for live comedy shows, etc. Or if women would take objective shots of men and women. It would priobably be more objective shots, but I don’t know for sure.

    • Yeah, and male directors may be having an effect too.

      Because women and men both internalize the culture, female directors and camera operators may still be less likely to zero in on attractive men.

  16. yeah, well men can get seriously hurt. A woman could get killed getting hit by such massive men. There are biological differences and women and men shouldn’t be playing against each other in contact sports. Bowling and nascar is another story, but definitely not contact sports.

  17. Yeah this is semi pro football. It’s nice for women to try men’s sports. I don’t see anything wrong such as bowling, as usually strength isn’t that big a of a factor as accuracy is. And many women seem to score as well as men in bowling. But she’s only 130lbs. It sounds like a publicity stunt and I don’t like the idea, because she’s going to get seriously hurt. Quarterbacks are smaller than defensive lineman and linebackers, but quarterbacks are usually pretty big guys too though. Most qbs range between 6’1-6’6 and like 220lbs to 250lbs depending on the qb. All I know is huge guys get seriously hurt playing football, I don’t want to see a woman get walloped and be crippled. These players tackled her, but they didn’t really lay into like I see football players usually do. I watch football and pretty knowlegable about it and I just think this is a bad idea. A woman can show equality in many different ways, but putting oneself in a very physical game like football amongst men, is asking for her to get kiled and is something I and most people don’t want to happen or see of course.

    • I don’t think that anyone should be denied equal opportunity to try something because of their sex. But I also know that there are biological differences between women and men so that women are better at certain types of sports than men: sports that involve balance, flexibility, and endurance, for instance. Of course, I think that men should be able to have opportunities to do sports that women are better at, on average, too.

      You could be right that she could get seriously hurt. But men, as you say, also get seriously hurt. I know a quarterback at Stanford who had to quit football because it was damaging his brain. And he’s not the only quarterback with that problem. I really don’t think tackle football is good for anyone.

  18. I came upon this on yahoo. Where does trying to equality go too far though? In this instance, regarding sports, I think this is stupid. Has to be a publicity stunt. here’s the link though. http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/men-action/201402/groundbreaking-woman-makes-history-playing-pro-football-game

    • I don’t know enough about the issue to comment. You see huge guys tackling much smaller quarterbacks so I’m not clear on how much of a difference there is with tackling this young woman.

  19. Great post. I hate to see our female athletes sexualized like this, or having the condition of their hair debated. On the other side of the coin, we have the Brit editor who was shocked at the way the female judo competitors were beating the heck out of each other…shame that being born female makes it acceptable to sexualize strength and skill to the point it carries as much competitive weight as watching half-naked women engaged in a pillow fight, or alarms men who want to protect us. Completely insulting.

  20. Randy Splitter

    Hi, Georgia. Yes, but I believe that your first photo is of Misty May-Traynor, Kerry Walsh’s gold medal-winning partner in beach volleyball (not a tough guy image).


  21. Well there are more male camera holders and directors. One has their hand on buttons and the other on their tool

Thoughts? (Comments will appear after moderation)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: