The Graduate Review


The male gaze “construes women subjectively, according to stereotyped cognitions which harmonise with the expectations of the male reader [viewer]” (Brandt 2005, 235). This article examines how the male gaze shapes women’s participation in sport and physical activity. A brief historical retrospective provides examples of how the male voice authored ways in which women were allowed to compete and then offers contemporary examples that show how the male gaze continues to influence women’s sport clothing and behavior, rules, policies, and coaching methods. Despite the improvements in women’s sport participation, men still have the lion’s share of leadership positions with sports authorities in America, which means they can literally author how women compete. Women are still held captive by the male gaze, which creates a dangerous feedback loop forcing some women to conform to the stereotypes supported by the wider culture. In recent years, women have found a voice to talk about their unique athletic needs. Whether it is dark shorts so they can focus on competition during their menstrual cycle or wearing less revealing clothing on the handball court, women want to be seen as competent athletes and not as objectified sexual objects.

Note on the Author

Jennifer LaVoie graduated in May 2023 with her Master of Science in physical education with a coaching concentration from Bridgewater. She earned her MA in English in 2002 from Bridgewater as well. She is a youth soccer coach for the Town of Kingston, MA and a member of the Executive Board. She is a runner, cyclist, swimmer, poet, and a vegan. She works in the IT department at Bridgewater State and Adjuncts at Bristol Community College in the English Department teaching composition. Professor Maura Rosenthal was instrumental in bringing this essay and project to completion as both a professor and mentor.