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Cervantes: Looking up and looking out

BY CHRISTOPHER CERVANTES | JULY 13, 2015 5:00 AM

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One facet of American culture that has persisted throughout generations is the society’s focus on competitive sports. Usually, this involves testosterone-fueled viewings of American football or a rousing nine innings of baseball. Recently, though, it seems that something has changed in the athletics status quo.

Focus has pulled from the popular male-oriented, Western-based sports and instead has shifted to the female counterparts, specifically that of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. While this has called mutterings of rightful female equality, there is a bigger picture to be seen. What this attention on women’s athletics is really doing is reshaping the outlook of young girls and women.

I first noticed this occurrence around the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. At that time, my younger sister was 5 years old. Most girls her age wanted to be princesses, or (bizarrely enough) models. My sister was different. While she was very much a “girly girl,” she would tell people, happy as a clam, that she “want[ed] to be like Hope,” referring to American goalkeeper Hope Solo. Weirdly enough, this is not some random occurrence.

The recent ratings revealed by Fox television reveal that the final game of the Women’s World Cup had roughly 25.4 million viewers. In comparison, the Miss Universe pageant, which was once seen as the height of female perfection both aesthetically and professionally, failed to even reach 5 million viewers at the height of this year’s viewing.

This is some of the best news of domestic childhood development that has been reported in a long time.

When it comes to programming, such as Miss Universe, viewers are presented with a false reality. In order for those contestants to flourish, they must answer questions in a way that makes the public like them. Their entire existence in this specific environment is pleasing other people enough to be deemed the most acceptable.

In contrast, the nature of female athletics is to do what is best for the whole while simultaneously shining as an individual. I am not saying that in order to achieve this type structure one must participate in a sporting event. However, it is the structure itself that should be desired: the means to achieve it that is up to the individual.

Female empowerment has come a long way. The generalized, common thought “place” of the female sex has evolved consistently with that of the widespread status quo. We have gone from keeping them in the kitchen to keeping them as coveted tokens of beauty to finally just seeing them as inspirational icons that anyone can and should look up to.

If this upward trend continues, perhaps subjection of the individual (at least the negative parts of it) will simply be a relic of the past that future generation look back on in a sense of stupefied wonder of how their society used to be. For the sake of future generations, I hope that this is the case.


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