A League of Their Own is based on the real lives of professional women baseball players during World War II. The movies main characters include Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, and Tom Hanks. The movie begins as the sports industry sees Americans longing for their favorite past time, baseball, during WWII. Since the men are at war sport executives decided to recruit women to play baseball professionally to help aid in the depression of Americans and the lost revenues of the baseball empire.
Women however are recruited not only on their athletic ability but their physical appearance. The movie takes you the journey of two sisters who join the Rockford Peaches baseball team. It shows the journey of these women athletes and the struggles they face having husbands at war, sibling rivalry, and overcoming the stereotypes that women face in professional sports.
This film addresses gender in a contradictory manner. They portray these women as athletes with the abilities of men. However, the emphasis placed on physical beauty (for example the recruiter almost turning down an extremely talented player due to his opinion of her lack of beauty) and the ‘skimpy’ uniforms make the gender divide between women and men in baseball apparent.
Women are also represented in a contradictory manner in this film. They are tough and they endure bruises and emotional pain that the game and the war put on them. They are tough, like men are portrayed to be in our patriarchal society. The emphasis placed on physical beauty though almost makes the women seem objectified in a sense. The character Madonna plays makes this most obvious.
Another notable female representation that I find a little disturbing is when Tom Hanks who plays the role of the coach for the Rockford Peaches makes a memorable quote, “There’s not crying in baseball” when one of the women shows a vulnerability. The use I believe is to characterize women being less strong then men. I have seen men baseball players cry though during a loss, victory, and retirement speech. Unfortunately though, in sports, male domination is still very common.
A Feminist Film?
I think in ways it is and in other ways it is not. I do not wish to repeat myself but due to its contradictory nature that I previously discussed the issues that make this both a feminist film and not a feminist film are noted above.
Overall, I feel that this movie was empowering for women for the most part. I used to love watching this movie when I was growing up and participating in softball. It gave me a sense of belonging in a realm that is predominantly male dominated. I own the movie and it has been a favorite of mine and many of my female friends. I think it shows women that they are as capable as any male even in the most male dominated of professions.
To read more about a league of their own and see video clips please visit the following sites: