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Avoiding emotive language

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There will be times when the subject matter in Sociology provokes strong feeling. It is important to remember the principles of evidence discussed earlier, and the need to assess the issues objectively.

Question 1

Read the passage below from a student's essay on the media and the representation of women's sport:

...Mikosa found similar results in her study for Womensport Australia, where she found that journalists discussed the female athletes' "elegance" or called women "blonde girl(s)" and a journalist even wrote about one athlete's "domestic routine of cooking" (1998). With this in mind, I was absolutely appalled to hear an Australian television commentator commend the women's Dutch hockey team when they won a bronze medal on the 29/9/2000. When the team got on the dais to receive their medal, the male commentator said "ahh look at the pretty little Dutch girls" without one consideration of their athleticism or sporting ability whatsoever. It was a sad moment for Australian commentating and strengthens the arguments of Philips and Mizoka regarding the language the media uses to portray sports women and women's sport alike.

Which words and expressions are emotive?



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Some emotive words in this passage are highlighted below:

...Mikosa found similar results in her study for Womensport Australia, where she found that journalists discussed the female athletes' "elegance" or called women "blonde girl(s)" and a journalist even wrote about one athlete's "domestic routine of cooking" (1998). With this in mind, I was absolutely appalled to hear an Australian television commentator commend the women's Dutch hockey team when they won a bronze medal on the 29/9/2000. When the team got on the dais to receive their medal, the male commentator said "ahh look at the pretty little Dutch girls" without one consideration of their athleticism or sporting ability whatsoever. It was a sad moment for Australian commentating and strengthens the arguments of Philips and Mizoka regarding the language the media uses to portray sports women and women's sport alike.

The student provides a good example to illustrate the view that sports commentating often expresses gender stereotypes; however, it needs to be presented dispassionately so that the facts speak for themselves. The student is angered by what she has seen and heard. However, in order to be persuasive to others, who may not be as quick to see the commentator's words as problematic, the student needs to present her position as that of an objective researcher.


Question 2

Read the passage on the media and women's sport once more:

. . .Mikosa found similar results in her study for Womensport Australia, where she found that journalists discussed the female athletes' "elegance" or called women "blonde girl(s)" and a journalist even wrote about one athlete's "domestic routine of cooking" (1998). With this in mind, I was absolutely appalled to hear an Australian television commentator commend the women's Dutch hockey team when they won a bronze medal on the 29/9/2000. When the team got on the dais to receive their medal, the male commentator said "ahh look at the pretty little Dutch girls" without one consideration of their athleticism or sporting ability whatsoever. It was a sad moment for Australian commentating and strengthens the arguments of Philips and Mizoka regarding the language the media uses to portray sports women and women's sport alike.

How would you rewrite the emotive language in this text, so that the information is presented more dispassionately?

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A possible rewriting of this passage is as follows:

...Mikosa found similar results in her study for Womensport Australia, where she found that journalists discussed the female athletes' "elegance" or called women "blonde girl(s)" and a journalist even wrote about one athlete's "domestic routine of cooking" (1998). This gender stereotyping in sports reporting is further illustrated by an example from a Australian sports commentator on television: the male commentator in question commended the women's Dutch hockey team when they won a bronze medal on the 29/9/2000; however, when the team got on the dais to receive their medal, the commentator said "ahh look at the pretty little Dutch girls" without remarking on their athleticism or sporting ability. This example strengthens the arguments of Philips and Mizoka regarding the language the media uses to portray sports women and women's sport alike.

The student's original passage emphasised her personal response to the commentator ("I was appalled to hear the commentator"); this version, however, presents the comments as evidence in support of the idea that stereotyping in sports reporting occurs ("...is further illustrated by an example from..."). The emotive comment "It was a sad day in sports reporting" is replaced with a phrase that emphasises the incident as a "fact" or example of stereotyping. This serves to support her argument and those of other theorists, without involving her own personal response to these issues ("This example strengthens the arguments of Philips and Mizoka...").

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