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The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football: Sexism and the American Culture of Sports Paperback – August, 1995

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Editorial Reviews Review

This eye-opening book links gender-based pay and scholarship inequity with male violence and male domination in sports and society at large. As this book points out, athletes who rape and male coaches who brag of beating their wives are often dismissed by our culture with a "boys will be boys" attitude. Formerly competitive co-ed sports have been replaced with sex-segregated sports after a woman wins against male competitors. Those dubious signals sent to boys such as "don't throw like a girl" are all designed to glorify masculinity and keep it safe from so-called female interference and contamination. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A former professional basketball player with the New Jersey Gems of the Women's Pro Basketball League, Nelson ( Are We Winning Yet? ) has firsthand knowledge of the ways athletics are used to preserve male dominance in our society. Besides their role in reinforcing sexism, she presents the corollary argument that "manly" sports, particularly football, set the stage for violence against women. The fear of strong females, Nelson contends, is the chief reason that female athletes are unsettling to men and are discriminated against in every area from college athletic budgets to media coverage of their events. She also makes telling points about so-called male bonding on teams as socially acceptable homoeroticism. In closing, she exhorts women to keep fighting for equal treatment, to continue viewing sports as an extension of personal goals and a source of pleasure, not as a road to dominance of men or other women. Nelson argues forcefully, with a fine sense of humor. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books (P) (August 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380725274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380725274
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm a woman who has been puzzled and bemused for a long time by the male fixation on sports. How can a man remember the batting averages of all the players in last year's World Series, but not know the shoe size of the woman he's been married to for 10 years? Why does a man buy a newspaper, read every word of the sports section, and throw away the rest without even glancing at it? Why is a professional basketball player paid a salary that rivals (and often exceeds) that of the CEO of a major corporation, who is responsible for managing a trillion-dollar budget and thousands of employees? And why, when a local writer received a major national award, was she relegated to a few column-inches in the Local section of the paper, while the firing of a high school football coach made the front-page headlines?
Nelson's book confirmed what I'd long suspected: as women have gradually broken through one glass ceiling after another, men have retreated into sports as the last bastion of traditional masculinity. It's a world in which "girl" is used as an insult, where men are permitted to express their affection only by punching each other, and where the only females allowed on the premises are decorative servants. But for those who claim that this is harmless male bonding and dismiss its critics as man-haters, Nelson shows the darker side: high school athletes who rape with impunity, glorification of mindless violence, and perpetuation of a concept of "masculinity" defined by behavior that would make a Neanderthal blush.
While it's possible to pick holes in some of her arguments (I know female sports fans who are as ardently partisan as any man), I think Nelson's analysis is generally well done and convincing.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
I discovered this book only recently and it is a remarkable work. Nelson eloquently describes many of the obstracles of sexism that remain in women's sports today. While much progress has been made, many inequities remain as she clearly reports. While this book was initially published in 1994, it is still very relevant. The disparities in the money made by elite female athletes when compared to elite male athletes remain vast and disturbing. All feminists who also love sports will love this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By little penguin on May 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is truly enlightening. While i know some of her claims are contestable (as all theory is), i still want to sew her thoughts into my brain so they will be available for instant access and referral. I have always been wary of our sports culture; Nelson tells me why. Nelson in no way condemns athletics or sports, but rather the sexism that has evovled around American sports culture, and the possible reasons for this evolution. Unfortunately i know that this book would not be palatable for many sports fans; for that reason it is so utterly poignant.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Simeone on May 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
I had the honor of interviewing Mariah Burton Nelson about this book when it was first published. I still have my signed, heavily dog-eared and annotated copy on the shelf, along with other excellent analyses of masculinity, sports, and violence.

Unfortunately -- though not surprisingly -- nothing has changed since 1994. Athletes of the "manly" sports continue to commit crimes out of all proportion to their representation in the population at large, and continue to get away with them. Their victims, most often of assault and rape, continue to be pilloried. Fans, coaches, parents, and officials continue to ignore or belittle these crimes and their consequences. Alcohol-fueled, testosterone-driven behavior at college parties is still the norm, locker room codes of silence still hold, the wink-wink nudge-nudge tolerance of "boys will be boys" is still accepted.

And those of us who've grown hoarse pointing it out keep plugging away.

Read this book for a comprehensive overview of the American culture of sports and the belligerence it breeds. Remember it especially the next time you hear somebody spouting off about "family values." (Oh, and the evidence of homoeroticism is alone worth the price of admission; that especially raises sports fans' hackles!)

Other excellent books in this vein are: OUR GUYS by the late Bernard Lefkowitz, FRATERNITY GANG RAPE by Peggy Reeves Sanday, PROS AND CONS by Jeff Benedict and Dan Yaeger, BEER AND CIRCUS by Murray Sperber, BOYS WILL BE BOYS by Myriam Miedzian, PUBLIC HEROES PRIVATE FELONS by Jeff Benedict, and MASCULINITIES, GENDER RELATIONS, AND SPORT by Jim McKay, Michael A. Messner, and Donald F. Sabo.
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