The objectification of women is a commonly known and widespread phenomenon in our culture and is frequently discussed in forums regarding current social issues. Oftentimes, however, we forget about the double standard of objectification. Males—particularly male athletes—are frequently subject to objectification by female fans.
This issue is relevant and pervasive here at Geneseo, especially in regard to varsity male athletes. At Geneseo, some women tend to act like groupies. Generally, there is not an outrage about this kind of behavior; or, at least not in the same way as there is about men doing the same to women, thus creating a double standard.
The idea of male sexualization cannot be discussed without talking about “Rainbow Lists,” which are lists created by sororities for their members where the goal is to sleep with one guy from each fraternity or organization on the list.
Some of the most highly prized organizations on campus, however, remain the varsity sports teams. Hooking up with a varsity male athlete can carry a certain social weight.
There are numerous reasons for this, one of these being that certain teams—such as the Ice Knights—are the face of the university, akin to football players acting as the face of other big schools. The social aspect of watching a hockey game with friends can contribute to the desire to hook up with someone playing in the rink.
“It’s the biggest sport we have,” communication major senior Caitlin Hamberger said. “It’s the one everyone goes to watch.”
While male objectification is clearly prevalent on college campuses, less backlash exists against it. Part of this is due to the fact that the sexualization of male athletes has no effect on the perceptions of their playing ability, as found in a study done by social scientists at the College of William and Mary. This means that sexualizing a female athlete can cause people to degrade her playing abilities, while sexualizing a male athlete does not have the same effect.
The masculinity of varsity sports also may contribute to teams being sexually desirable and sought after. Varsity male swimmers and divers on Geneseo’s talented Blue Wave are notorious for chiseled physiques, varsity male soccer players maintain lean and muscular builds, and basketball players, well, “all girls love tall guys,” according to junior economics major Julia Chong.
Many times, females will seek out star players that score the most points. Girls will start noticing a player the better he gets, according to an article on alligator.org. The possibility of sleeping with someone who could become a successful professional athlete—and the social prestige that comes with it—is an added attraction.
As for hockey: “It’s an age thing,” junior English major Darby Daly said. “It’s how good they are at their sport, because you usually have to go away for hockey before you come play for Geneseo.”
Maturity certainly plays into it, since most freshman hockey players come in at least a year or two older than the rest of the class.
It is important to consider the double standard behind sexualizing varsity male athletes when analyzing gender relations on the Geneseo campus. The culture behind male sexualization often relates to talent and success—but hooking up with an individual, athlete included, should be based on more than just varsity status. Instead, focus on intellect and charisma.