Explores the cultural meanings of the swimsuit issue and shows how Sports Illustrated secures a large audience of men by creating a climate of hegemonic masculinity.
This study of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue demonstrates how the magazine encourages individual and institutional practices that create and maintain inequality. Laurel Davis illustrates how the interactions of media production, media texts, media consumption, and social context influence meaning. Individuals' interpretations of and reactions to the magazine are influenced by their views about gender and sexuality, views that have been shaped by their social experiences. Based on extensive interviews with Sports Illustrated producers and consumers, as well as analysis of every swimsuit issue from the first in 1964 to those of the 1990s, the book argues that Sports Illustrated uses the swimsuit issue to secure a large male audience by creating a climate of hegemonic masculinity. This practice produces considerable profit but on the way to the bank tramples women, gays, lesbians, people of color, and residents of the postcolonialized world.
Laurel R. Davis is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Springfield College.
"The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is the cultural keystone of what is worst about male-dominated sport media. This book is the most systematic treatment of the SI swimsuit issue to date, and it reveals some of the ways that sexism, racism, heterosexism, and Western ethnocentrism have been woven into the cultural fabric of men's sports. But it is more than an analysis of SI. Davis unfurls cutting-edge critical analysis of media through this ostensible exercise in the study of a sport magazine issue. The book is a fine example of the explanatory power of feminist analysis that takes other multiple systems of domination into account; i.e., race, ethnicity, nationalism, and sexual orientation." — Don Sabo, coauthor of Sex, Violence, and Power in Sports: Rethinking Masculinity
"The author does something that few others in media studies have done—to look at how producers, texts, and consumers all work together to construct the meanings of a text. Rarely are all three examined as systematically and coherently as they are in this book." — Margaret Carlisle Duncan, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
"Deconstructs an important social issue about sport that is necessarily shaped through the media." — Lawrence A. Wenner, author of Media, Sports, and Society: Foundations for the Communication of Sport and Editor, Journal of Sport and Social Issues