Using Sex to Sell:
So, now that we have a little bit of historical context, I can better explain how second-wave feminists differ from many younger women in their response to the decisions by female athletes to pose in ways that emphasise their sexuality over their hard- earned athlete status.
Second-wave feminists typically take offense to the overtly sexualized displays of female athletes. For example, Varda Burstyn, author of multiple books on women’s rights and sport, argued that as the product of “a backlash against women” such images diminish their power, trivialize their strength, and put them in their sexual place”. Donna Lopiano, the executive director of the Women’s Sports Foundation in the US, also argued that, “any exposure in a sports magazine that minimizes athletic achievement and skill and emphasizes the female athlete as a sex object is insulting and degrading”.
In contrast, third-wave feminists recognize that some women are making conscious decisions about the display of their bodies and are not necessarily exploited or manipulated. According to Leslie Heywood and Shari L. Dworkin, authors of Built to Win: The Female Athlete as Cultural Icon, representations of women’s bodies coded as athletic can work to “redeem female sexuality and make it visible as an assertion of