Sports accessories do not have to be defined by gender

Georgi Presecky, Editor-in-Chief

Designer handbag company Dooney & Bourke is celebrating the start of the Major League Baseball season by promoting their line of MLB purses and wristlets. Each product is emblazoned with a professional baseball team’s logo or images of bats, balls and jerseys.

The marketing strategy to appeal to female sports fans is admirable on the surface, but the handbag displays at Carson Pirie Scott department stores also boast the unfortunate tagline: “Yes, girls love sports, too!”

While likely a well-intentioned attempt to make fan-friendly bags that are also fashion-forward, the slogan is archaic and indirectly insulting to female sports fans. It implies that girls feeling pride and passion for a sports team is somehow surprising.

There are multiple stereotypes about not only female athletes, but also sports fans. The idea that women don’t understand the rules of a game or aren’t as knowledgeable as their male counterparts has always been a subject of debate. Most recently, the justnotsports.com’s Peabody Award-winning segment “#MoreThanMean” highlighted the intense Internet criticism that female sportscasters face because of their gender.

At the professional level, the U.S. women’s national hockey team announced March 15 that they would not participate in their world championship without a wage increase that matched the earnings of the men’s team.

It’s true that Dooney & Bourke makes being a fashionable fan easier – their well-made and stylish bags are a much more appealing, eye-catching option than the boxy jerseys or sparkly pink T-shirts female fans sometimes have to resort to. However, the appeal of the product is tarnished by its implicitly sexist implication.

Actress and Los Angeles Dodgers super-fan Alyssa Milano avoided stereotypes when she started her own line of fashionable sports apparel for women in 2006. She realized how difficult it was to show team pride while also wearing something she actually liked.

“When I stepped into the [Dodger Stadium apparel] store and started to look around, I realized that there was really nothing cool and fashionable for me to wear,” she writes on her line’s website. “I was convinced that I could create a new collection of fashion apparel for the female sports fan. Something you can wear to the game and to the party after or just living life everyday. Something I would wear. This collection needed to be created for all of us.”

It’s not a surprise that women love sports, and the argument goes both ways – if a line of kitchenware read, “Y  es, men can cook, too,” it would be just as frustrating.

The Dooney & Bourke website thankfully avoids the condescending “yes!” tagline used in department stores. In fact, dooney.com provides much more fair persuasive appeals to female sports fans, such as “from game day to everyday” and “show off your team pride and passion for fashion this season with one of our new MLB styles.” This language is completely gender-neutral and is proof that women can care about ERAs and RBIs just as much as they care about their clothing.

Georgi Presecky
Georgi Presecky is a senior public relations/advertising major with a minor in social media. She is Editor-in-Chief of The Flyer after spending two years as a layout editor. She aspires to be Rory Gilmore but is actually much more like Paris Geller. She has accepted this.

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