Why gender inequity in sports is everyone’s problem

By Jenna Johnson, columnist

MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – There is a war on, and it’s not in Syria.

In order to be recognized – and fairly compensated – in their respective sports, female athletes must embody all of the competitive, masculine qualities associated with excellence in the particular sport, but somehow at the very same time be perceived by an adoring public as thoroughly feminine.

While I don’t want to minimize the struggles and challenges men face to succeed in their sports, I do want to bring our attention to the fact that the men must embody or project the qualities or characteristics of but one gender; women have to embody and project both. Just ask Serena Williams.

Is this fair?

Shouldn’t all sports fans, who presumably care so much about fairness on the field, care about fairness off the field?

As Abigail Feder points out in her article on figure skating, “A Radiant Smile from the Lovely Lady,” women will always be judged on their physical appearance, especially when it comes to televised, commodified sport. A female athlete’s talent isn’t valued unless she can also be seen as attractive and beautiful. In figure skating, women have to dazzle as skaters, but not at the expense of appearing unattractive while doing it. Note the fake cleavage in the “costumes,” and the differences in rules for the women when compared to the men. In the early years of women’s figure skating, axels (jumps) were even forbidden as being too masculine.

Female athletes who are perceived to be “masculine,” such as those who play basketball or softball, are expected to also be able to assert their femininity, lest they be seen as too masculine or, heaven forbid, lesbian. Note the hair ribbons (softball) and headbands and ponytails (soccer). Female athletes perceived as more “feminine” have to keep up appearances in a different way, always asserting their beauty but simultaneously demonstrating their prowess athletically, as well. Maria Sharapova and Alex Morgan are examples.

It would be natural at this point to begin talking about equal pay. It is a hot topic at the moment. But, it might be more important to consider how we perceive women’s abilities compared to men’s. Our problem is more thinking we can lump them together in the same category in the first place than it is anything else.

Specifically, we stereotype in how we talk about women in sports. We’ve all used the phrase, “like a girl,” to identify a weaker way of doing something, and this is a phrase we see used in sports quite a bit. The image that comes to mind for me is watching a coach yell at young boys on a baseball field: “You throw like a girl!” His implication: Throw harder.

Why do men find it intimidating when women do in fact throw harder? When women like Serena challenge traditional notions of body type and femininity? Why do so many women willingly capitulate to those traditional ideas and “act like a girl?”

We do have female athletes challenging these false notions. Morgan and several members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team have led the charge toward equity in compensating our athletes, a movement that materially helped the U.S. women’s national hockey team even in the last month. This is a soccer team whose accolades, titles and accomplishments far outshine those of their male counterparts.

But what about more fundamental change?

It might take generations to revise these gendered ideas as they relate to sports and, therefore, the rest of society. And they will not be revised until and unless they are seen as more than simply a sports problem. Media bear responsibility on this issue, as well. Sports broadcasters and reporters should be far more sensitive to these fault lines with respect to gender.

So, I ask you to ask yourself, “How do I perceive female athletes? How do I label women in sports?”

Is there room in your answers for revision?


Published on Berry College’s Student-Run Multimedia Platform, vikingfusion.com

Berry College Lecture: “Faith and Science: Friends or Foes?”

ROME, Ga. – A prominent scientist will discuss “Faith and Science: Friends or Foes?” as part of the Berry College Lumen Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25, in the Krannert Ballroom.

Featured speaker Se Kim is the associate director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“I’m most excited that Dr. Kim’s coming to speak because of how helpful it’s been for me to understand that science and faith are not enemies but can actually complement each other,” said senior John Anders. “This has been a huge part of my faith journey, and I’m hoping others will feel the freedom that I have as they learn this from her.”

The Lumen Lecture Series aims to engage relevant topics of intellect and faith in the Rome community. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.


Written by Chaplain’s Office Promotions Manager Jenna Johnson

Berry College is recognized nationally for the quality and value of its educational experience. Located on a magnificent campus encompassing more than 27,000 acres near Rome, Ga., Berry challenges its student body, consisting of more than 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students, to embrace a firsthand education that unites strong academic programs with opportunities for meaningful work experience, spiritual and moral growth, and significant service to others. Visit http://www.berry.edu.

Published on Berry College’s Website

The Gray Havens to come to Berry College

Office of the Chaplain brings artist as part of Worship Concert Series

ROME, Ga. – September 28, 2017 – The Gray Havens are a husband/wife duo based out of Nashville, TN, and they will be coming to Berry College on Sunday, October 29th. The show will be in place of the regularly scheduled College Church chapel service. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m. with an opener. The opener will be the Chattanooga-based band Drakeford.

The Gray Havens are set to perform at 7:45 p.m. Admission is free with a Berry ID, $15 for guests, and there is also special ticketing for youth groups planning to attend. For a flat rate of $20 per group, local youth groups may bring as many students as they like. Seating is general admission.

The Gray Havens is made up of Dave and Licia Radford, who have been touring since the release of their third album, Ghost of a King. The husband/wife duo have been writing music and performing since 2013 and have since spent time touring nationwide. The couple has “a knack for creating a listening experience similar to paging through your favorite book, with richly textured compositions and multi-layered lyrics,” to quote from their website.

The duo is similar to that of artists the Office of the Chaplain has previously hosted, including Jenny & Tyler, Ellie Holcomb, and I Am They.

Berry College’s Office of the Chaplain has been running the Worship Concert Series for multiple years now, bringing in artists like Passion, Rend Collective, and John Mark McMillan, to name a few. This concert series aims to provide an environment for students and the Berry community to come together, worship, and enjoy nights of fellowship.

This event is open to the public.


Written by Berry College Chaplain’s Office Promotions Manager Jenna Johnson

Published on Berry College’s Website

BCFU Press Release Example


Berry College Forensics Union brings home national titles

MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – March 21, 2017 – The Berry College Forensics Union (BCFU) came home with quite a few wins under its belt after a successful weekend at the Novice Nationals at the University of West Florida. These wins included seven finalists, second place in their division, and a champion in extemporaneous.

From March 10 to 12, the team competed in a variety of events. Among the group of competitors was sophomore Nicole Harris, who had no prior experience with forensics before last semester, and who took the championship in the extemporaneous speech event.

“A lot of the things I was talking about were very personal, and I wasn’t sure how well they would be received,” Harris said. “It was really humbling and really exciting. I didn’t expect to break as much as I did, but it was really exciting mostly to see that effort brought into fruition.”

Harris competed in the pentathlon at the tournament, which required her to research and prepare five speeches in a limited time. She came in fourth for the pentathlon as whole, but also placed in the individual events in the pentathlon. These wins included second in public narrative, fourth in impromptu sales, and national champion in extemporaneous.

Also competing in the tournament were freshmen Eugenia Barboza and Anna Claire Tucker. Barboza placed fourth in impromptu and fifth in informative. Tucker placed sixth in persuasion and fourth in public narrative.

Among the students on the trip was senior Jess Bozeman, who has had the privilege to compete with BCFU over the past few years and was also able to accompany the team to Novice Nationals. “It was really such an honor to be able to see the people who started this first year on the team win so much and see the community,” Bozeman said. “That was the most special thing, to see how they interacted together and won together.”


7th Well Press Release Example


Organization combatting sex trafficking in Chattanooga to host benefit on February 23

CHATTANOOGA, TN. – February 20, 2017 – 7th Well, an organization based out of Chattanooga that helps in the fight against sex trafficking, will be hosting its first benefit dinner at The Venue Chattanooga on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

The money raised from the benefit will go directly toward building the restoration home in which the girls can be educated, counseled, and rehabilitated. Each individual, company, or church sponsor who purchases a table will have a memorial brick placed in the walkway at the home.

“This home is not only a safe place for these girls to seek refuge, but this home means that restoration is happening in their souls,” said Tess Brandon, co-founder and CEO of 7th Well. “I can only imagine the feeling of humility and excitement that will come with allowing our girls to walk through the doors of their new home, but until then we will keep working tirelessly to open them.”

You can purchase tickets at 7thwell.com/events/. Tables are $1000 (8 per table). Individual tickets for regular tables are $50. VIP tables are $1500 (8 per table), and include an extra takeaway gift and special seating. Individual tickets for VIP seating are $75. At the benefit, there will also be a chance to individually purchase memorial bricks for the front path of the restoration home. Each brick will be $200 a piece. Tickets, tables, and brick are tax-deductible through The Generosity Trust.

The benefit dinner will include a delicious three-course meal and hearing the story behind 7th Well. The founders of 7th Well will share goals the organization has and plans to accomplish, and how they plan to build a future for young women survivors of sex trafficking in Tennessee.

Zach and Tess Brandon, the founders of 7th Well, will be hosting the first 7th Well benefit to raise funds for a home that will be used to rehabilitate young women after coming out of the sex trafficking industry. This home will be the first, and only, home in Tennessee for child survivors of sex trafficking.

For more information, contact Tess Brandon, co-founder and CEO of 7th Well, at tessbrandon@7thwell.com. To receive more updates about 7th Well, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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About 7th Well

7th Well is an organization that aids and restores young women survivors of sex trafficking in the Chattanooga area. The organization was started by Tess and Zach Brandon in August 2015. 7th Well began out of a partnership with The Generosity Trust, an organization in downtown Chattanooga, TN. The goal of 7th Well is to inform, engage, restore, and educate these women through a project they call the restoration home. For more information, please visit 7th Well’s official website at http://www.7thwell.com. Connect with us @7thWell on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.