Women in Motorsport Media - Fairly represented?

Fenderman

Rooters Reporter
This I quote from Thursday's issue of Autosport - In Brief on page 23:
"IndyCar poster girl Danica Patrick … has distanced herself from comments by Bob Parsons of GoDaddy.com ...”

It occurs to me that describing a young woman, who at 29 years of age is a competitive IndyCar and NASCAR racing driver and advertising spokeswoman, as a poster girl is somewhat disparaging and disrespectful.

Danica was Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series in 2005, won the Indy Japan 300 in 2008 (the first woman to win an IndyCar race) and came 3rd in the Indy' 500 in 2009 (highest finish by a woman in Indy' 500 history). She also has a financial stake in her team. At Las Vegas, in March this year, she came fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series setting another record for best place finish by a woman in a NASCAR premier race.

In her IndyCar championship campaigns from 2005 to 2010 she finished up 12th, 9th, 7th, 6th, 5th and 10th. Currently she is 15th in the 2011 series. In her Indy' career to date she has one win, six podiums, forty-eight finishes in the top 10.

Now, one might argue that such a racing career may not be on a par with a Vettel or a Hamilton but it is an achievement nevertheless and in fact comparisons with anyone else is totally irrelevant. All her achievements are irrelevant. Should she not be accorded the appropriate respect as a grown up woman anyway?

“poster girl” it's an insult. I'd be interested to hear what others think and in particular how our female compatriots regard that sort of thing.
 

gethinceri

Lance Stroll Fan. Alfa Romeo Fan.
Contributor
Do you mean this Danica Patrick?
 

tooncheese

Hans Heyer
Contributor
Before the war there were quite a few female drivers, but recently female involvement tends to be as a 'grid girl' or 'the wife/girlfriend in the pits who gets way too much airtime'. The commentators should be given a clip round the ear and told times have changed.

Google image search her and you'll see she's not exactly helping herself.
 

Enja

isn't dead.
Valued Member
I'm not a woman, so maybe I am way off mark here, but I don't have any problem with her being called a 'poster girl'. There are two reasons that she's the 'poster girl'. Firstly, she is pretty much the biggest name in IndyCar for a European audience such as Autosport. I'm sure more casual followers of motorsport have heard her name mentioned in relation to IndyCar than almost any other driver. And she is continually profiled in the US - because she is a woman competing at a high level of motorsport, considered a man's sport. She also gets a lot of publicity because of her physical attractiveness. It's cynical but she is a good body to slap on the front of an advert, or as someone to speak publicly about her sport. US media is fascinated by beauty. What's more, she probably does adorn bedroom posters of 15-year old boys. She is a face of IndyCar, I don't see how it's disrespectful to call her the poster girl. Robert Pattinson is the poster boy of the Twilight movies, it's just a term used to describe someone who is noticeable, "face of the franchise."
 

tooncheese

Hans Heyer
Contributor
That's kind of what I meant. But I like the picture.
Yeah your post was after I started typing so I didn't see it.

Nowt wrong with being a model but if you were she would that be all you'd want to be remembered for?
Probably not, but her in an indycar or her wearing very little, which is more likely to be your screensaver? From your post it seems modelling is just an extra few dollars.
 

Fenderman

Rooters Reporter
Yeah your post was after I started typing so I didn't see it.

Probably not, but her in an indycar or her wearing very little, which is more likely to be your screensaver? From your post it seems modelling is just an extra few dollars.

No. My post is asking the question as to whether someone has the right to be recognised as a grown up woman not simply as eye candy.
 

Enja

isn't dead.
Valued Member
Certainly she has the right - and indeed you can argue that she has exercised that right. It's her choice, ultimately, to be portrayed in that way. Unless of course she is under pressure from her team to be like that. Perhaps she feels it's her only way to keep a high-level seat.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
If she wants to be taken seriously, why is she posing semi-nude?

Sure she can do promotional work, advertising, modelling, etc., all the drivers do.
But no-one's forcing her to remove her clothes.
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
If she wants to be taken seriously, why is she posing semi-nude?

Sure she can do promotional work, advertising, modelling, etc., all the drivers do.
But no-one's forcing her to remove her clothes.

And she is not forcing journalists to call her "poster girl" either....
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Other sportsmen get called poster boy - it happens in all sports.

It's a generic term to imply they are the face of that sport.
 

Jen

Here be dragons.
Contributor
I think Danica is not fussed how she is remembered, if remembered at all - she is a stunning lass and good at what she does, so is making the best of both attributes. Come her forties she might be just as gorgeous and just as good a racer, but then maybe not - so, I suspect, she is making hay whilst she can and why not?

She wouldn't do the glamour shots if it bothered her and she has been in a man's world long enough to understand what is what.

At her age, I wasn't overly bothered how the male of the species perceived me and I might even have been quietly pleased with the epithet of 'poster girl'. I'm a feminist, of the right school i.e. equality of opportunity and education - not beating men up, but being allowed to compete on an equal footing (and I pay my round at the pub!)

The thing to remember is that all motorsport is populated predominately by men and that a certain type of male is not fully formed (and there are just as many women who fulfil this category as well) which is why we have this type of journalism

If Danica isn't offended then we shouldn't be on her behalf.
 

Fenderman

Rooters Reporter
The whole piece:

DANICA VAGUE ON FUTURE

IndyCar poster girl Danica Patrick … has distanced herself from comments by Bob Parsons of GoDaddy.com, indicating a move to NASCAR full-time in 2012. “We don't have those conversations,” she said at Texas Motor Speedway. “He doesn't tell me what to do or where to go”.

Autosport June 16, 2011 - In Brief, page 23.

The item is accompanied by a tiny photo of her driving her car on track.
 

Jen

Here be dragons.
Contributor
“He doesn't tell me what to do or where to go”.
I think that about sums up the lady!

Obviously more than capable of ploughing her own furrow and impervious to other's desires, criticisms and thoughts.

It is a shame that we make so much of a woman who has taken on a male dominated sport, quite knowingly and reasonably successfully, and then attempt to turn her into a downtrodden female - it is almost reverse sexism.

Yes, she has achieved quite a lot for a woman, but would her achievement be so lauded were she a man - her fame relies on her gender, not necessarily on what she has accomplished.

Womankind hasn't really made much progress since the days of the suffragettes, despite the rise of the feminists in the 60s - I don't know why but might suggest that, on the whole, it suits the average male and female alike
 

Fenderman

Rooters Reporter
Perhaps I should clarify something. I am not rising to the defence of Danica Patrick as an individual per se. Rather, I was pointing out that in a one-paragraph piece the writer chose to describe her not as "Danica Patrick, racing driver" but as "IndyCar poster girl, Danica Patrick". Now, I'm familiar with some of her exploits as a racing driver and I'm aware of the fact that she's also model, etc. and maybe the item would not have drawn my attention in the way that it did had it been part of a larger piece.

I was and am therefore very interested to see how the reference would be perceived by others, particularly women, in the broader sense of how women are represented in motorsport media (hence the title of the thread).
 

Jen

Here be dragons.
Contributor
I am probably being very obtuse here and again misinterpreting the point of your argument.

Basically women are not well represented in motorsport media because to say they are a rarity would be an understatement. I now know that other women race in various series (having googled it, mind) – but patently less successfully than Danica and the only reason I am aware of Danica is the photos I have seen of her.

It is obvious that the average hack would latch on to the fact that she is a very attractive lady and since his audience is predominately male, exploit that fact.

“My post is asking the question as to whether someone has the right to be recognised as a grown up woman not simply as eye candy”

I’ve always have trouble with this gender thing, I would prefer to be recognised, full stop – but if it has to be as ‘eye candy’ then so be it – at least Danica has raised the profile of other motorsport series and probably banked a few bob in the process.

I actually think she is quite a ‘smart cookie’.
 

Hamberg

FOTA VIP, I've got the avatar to prove it :)
Contributor
I'm with Brogan entirely. She's allowed herself to be a poster girl and I quite frankly believe that she has used her looks and being female to elevate her success in a sport that she wouldn't get half the recognition in if she were a he.

Here's a so called future star that I know about (not the one's that are actually getting the race wins) who is using her gender to her advantage http://www.alice-powell.com/. The amount of pink is blinding and I do not like the opening credits on her page. Would she have the sponsorship if she wasn't a girl?

If as women they use their gender to their advantage then I'm afraid being known as poster girl is par for the course.
 
The amount of pink is blinding and I do not like the opening credits on her page. Would she have the sponsorship if she wasn't a girl?

If as women they use their gender to their advantage then I'm afraid being known as poster girl is par for the course.

What's wrong with her having the colour pink? Lots of females like pink

Should she adopt masculine colours and try and fit in or should she try and be accepted as a female in a so far male sport

I think it's unfair to Danica that she is not able to express her unquestionably attractive assets, lots of men drivers sell themselves in ways that they can, Jensons hair for example

To call her a postergirl is lazy prose, she hasn't asked for it by using what she has to sell herself like men do

She shouldn't be surprised, but shouldn't be sorry for taking control of her own gender image and/or sexuality

Maybe I am a bit biased though
 

Hamberg

FOTA VIP, I've got the avatar to prove it :)
Contributor
They are using their gender to gain an advantage over their male counterparts in my opinion. Jenson's hair advert was after he got success (and an anti dandruff add doesn't really match posing oiled up on a beach with your bits out). If they want to do it then they can. But it shouldn't be a surprise to people if it's something that's continually highlighted throughout their careers if they do.
 
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