Mafolofolo aim to break Kutlwano jinx, Mmegi

Date: September 1, 2002
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Two contenders for the women?s volleyball tournament discuss their odds of winning the Debswana Independence Volleyball Tournament.
Two contenders for the women?s volleyball tournament discuss their odds of winning the Debswana Independence Volleyball Tournament.

This article may be used to:
  • Provide key learning points on sources.
  • Explore when women speak in news stories.
Trainer’s notes
This story, although about women volleyball players and an upcoming championship they will participate in, is gender blind because it is told through the voices and perspectives only of their male coaches.
Men speaking on behalf of women perpetuate the gender norm that women should be seen and not heard. Although both coaches talk about the strength of their teams, this story would have reflected more balance, diversity and gender awareness if the women players gave their own perspectives on the upcoming tournament and the challenges they would face.
Note the language used to refer to the sportswomen is that of “ladies” which carries the connotation of ‘soft’, ‘delicate’ persons who need to be protected. The use of the term ‘ladies’ does not convey the toughness and spirit required in sports, which again provides a subtle way for the media to devalue the women’s sports ability.
The image with the story depicts a star player mentioned in the story on the Kutlwane team, but again, she is talked about as a passive object, rather than given the chance to express her voice in the story.
This article is an example of the numerous examples in the media where women are the central actors in  a news item, but the media chooses to tell the story through the voices and perspectives of men, and often men who are in a position of authority over the women. This illustrates the media’s gender bias of devaluing what women have to say.
While journalists often give a quick retort that women shy away from the media or do not want to be interviewed, journalists often move towards men first during the newsgathering process because they believe women do not have anything to say. In this article, for example, the message conveyed by only interviewing the coaches is that the men are the strategists and the ones who know the game and are competent to speak, while the women are just the followers, in this case, the players who execute the coaches’ instructions.
Compare this story to ones written about men preparing for championship games. Most often the media not only interviews the coaches, but also the male players. A star player like Nkala, who is even described in the caption as “one of the influential players”, would have been interviewed if she was a man.
The media continues to downplay or ignore the voices and perspectives of women on issues or in fields like sports, which are considered male domain.
Training Area: Sources
Give trainees a copy of the case study and discuss the following:
1.      Who speaks in the story?
2.      Whose voices should be in the story?
3.      Do the missing voices send a message about who is valued as newsworthy? Explain your answer.
4.      Does the image convey the same message as the text of the article? Why or why not?
Summary Session:
1.      Review pointers on sources: When do women speak.
Training tip: Prior to using this case study the trainer should look for newspaper articles in the sports section about upcoming tournaments, championship games involving men. Analyse these stories for the difference in voice when compared to the case study from
Botswana ‘Mafolofolo aim to break Kutlwano jinx.

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