“Babe” Didrikson

Mildred_DidriksonMildred “Babe” Didrikson (1913-1956) was one of the most celebrated female athletes of the first half of the twentieth century. Competing in the 1930s and 1940s, when conventional attitudes regarding women’s participation in sport dominated North American culture, Babe Didrikson rose to fame by dominating not just one, but a number of sports.

Didrikson flouted conventional notions of femininity and “proper” female activity by excelling in field events such as javelin and shot-put, in addition to traditionally male-dominated sports such as baseball, swimming, and golf. Interestingly, Didrikson would always have to battle popular accounts that attacked or questioned her femininity and sexuality. As a woman with a large, muscular and athletic body, Didrikson was often accused of having an “unfair advantage” over other women, and often regarded as not being a “real woman.”

Born in the state of Texas, Didrikson rose to athletic fame quickly, representing the U.S.A. in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles where she won and set records in the javelin and 80 metre hurdles. Later in her career, Didrikson turned her athletic attention mainly to golf, a sport in which she was immensely successful. Interestingly, however, Didrikson tired of the popular innuendo regarding her “unfeminine” appearance and made a conscious effort to change her image in favour of a more traditionally feminine one: she donned dresses and make-up in place of her sweat pants and makeupless appearance.

Didrikson’s controversial career underwent a twist when she fought the American Athletic Union (AAU), which had stripped her of her amateur sports status after she allowed her image to be used in endorsements for cars. When offered amateur status reinstatement, Didrikson refused, challenging what she believed to be the AAU’s antiquated rules and regulations.

Aside from her incredible athletic accomplishments, Didrikson is an important historical figure because of the challenge she made to the male-dominated institution of sport. Didrikson challenged those within the institution of sport to question gender values at a time when the political environment made it difficult to do so. Didrikson prefigured by several decades the challenges to sport made by other female athletes such as Billie Jean King, Martine Navratilova, and Florence Griffith Joyner. Didrikson forced a re-examination of the meaning of sports, making many aware of the social and political importance of an institution typically not thought of as such.

 

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celebrated

celebrated
famous
a celebrated actress
a celebrated legal case
Venice is celebrated for its beautiful buildings.
Molana is a celebrated poet in the U.S.


conventional

conventional

always following the behaviour and attitudes that most people in a society consider to be normal, right, and socially acceptable, so that you seem slightly boring :
a strong believer in conventional morals
conventional in
He is conventional in his approach to life.


regarding

regarding

1 [ not in progressive ] to think about someone or something in a particular way
regard somebody/something as something
Paul seemed to regard sex as sinful and immoral.
Edith was widely regarded as (= considered by many people to be ) eccentric.
His work is highly regarded (= regarded as very good ) by art experts.

2 formal to look at someone or something, in a particular way :
She stood back and regarded him coldly.


dominate

dominate

to be larger and more noticeable than anything else in a place :
The cathedral dominates the city.


flout

flout
to deliberately disobey a law, rule etc, without trying to hide what you are doing
Some companies flout the rules and employ children as young as seven. deliberately/openly flout something
The union had openly flouted the law.
No one can flout the rules and get away with it.
he flouted the conventions of his society
you can’t flout the laws
he flouted my advice


femininity

femininity
qualities that are considered to be typical of women, especially qualities that are gentle, delicate, and pretty
ᅳsee also masculinity

You don’t have to lose your femininity to be an independent, successful woman.

excel

excel

past tense and past participle excelled present participle excelling

to do something very well, or much better than most people
excel at/in
Rick has always excelled at foreign languages.
the Italians excelled in music and the Dutch in painting
my uncle excelled over everyone else in intelligence
When it comes to singing, she really excels.
He’s never excelled at sports. (=isn’t very good at them)
What a marvelous meal, Jim! You’ve really excelled yourself. (=done even better than usual)


field event

field_event
a sport such as jumping or throwing the javelin in an outdoor competition


javelin

javelin
1
a long stick with a pointed end, thrown as a sport
2
the javelin
a sports event in which competitors throw a javelin


account

account
a written or spoken report; description: Give us your/an account of what happened.
a detailed account of the proceedings.
He is a very good pianist, by all accounts. (=according to what everyone says)


sexuality

the things people do, think, and feel that are related to their sexual desires
male/female sexuality
a study of male sexuality


unfair advantage

unfair_advantage
Companies that receive government subsidies have an unfair advantage .


regard

to consider in the stated way:
I have always regarded him highly/with the greatest admiration.
She is generally regarded as one of the best writers in the country.
We regard these developments with grave concern.

Common Error

He is generally regarded to be one of the world’s finest physicists.
He is generally regarded as one of the world’s finest physicists.

regard a person or thing as (being) something, NOT to be

representing

the 100 metres/400 metres hurdles

hurdles
a race in which the runners have to jump over hurdles


immensely

immensely
very much; to a great degree
ᅳsynonym extremely

Champagne wines became immensely popular in the 18th century.
immensely powerful/strong/important etc
Nationalism is an immensely powerful force.
We enjoyed the play immensely.
I enjoyed it immensely.
immensely rich/popular


innuendo

innuendo
a remark that suggests something unpleasant or disapproving without saying it directly

His writing is full of sexual innuendoes.
a campaign based on rumour, innuendo, and gossip


don

don
past tense and past participle donned present participle donning

opposite doff
to put on a hat, coat etc
I donned my academic robes

in place of somebody/something
also in somebody’s/something’s place

instead of someone or something else
In place of our advertised programme, we will have live coverage of the special memorial service.
The company flag had been taken down and in its place hung the Union Jack.
If I refused to go, they would send someone else in my place.


controversial
controversial
causing a lot of disagreement, because many people have strong opinions about the subject being discussed
the controversial issue of welfare reform
a highly controversial (=very controversial) plan to flood the valley in order to build a dam
He is a controversial figure (=person who does controversial things) in the art world.
controversial speech/decision/politician/book

undergo

undergo
past tense underwent -past participle undergone

to experience (esp. something unpleasant, unwelcome, or difficult):

She’s undergoing treatment at the hospital.
The company has undergone some major changes in the last five years.
The country has undergone massive changes recently.
He has been released from prison to undergo medical treatment in the United States.
She has been undergoing tests since Monday.
Teachers should be expected to undergo mid-career training and development.


twist
an unexpected feature or change in a situation or series of events

a new/cruel/unexpected/strange etc twist
The robbery took a deadly new twist as the robber pulled out a gun.
an unexpected twist in the plot

By an amazing twist of fate , we met again in Madrid five years later.
By a strange twist of fate they both died of the same disease.
There’s an unusual twist at the end of the book — the detective is murdered.

a twist/quirk of fate (=something unexpected that happens)

strip somebody of something phrasal verb

strip_somebody_of
to take away something important from someone as a punishment, for example their title, property, or power :
Captain Evans was found guilty and stripped of his rank.


endorse

endorse
if a famous person endorses a product or service, they say in an advertisement that they use and like it

ᅳendorsement noun

status
status

antiquated

antiquated
old-fashioned and not suitable for modern needs or conditions – used to show disapproval
ᅳsynonym outdatedantiquated laws


regulation

regulation
an official rule or order
There seem to be so many rules and regulations these days.
regulation on
new regulations on imports
regulations governing the safety of toys
building/planning/fire/health regulations
The local authority is introducing new planning regulations.
All companies must comply with the regulations.
under … regulations
Under the new regulations, all staff must have safety training.

Aside
aside from somebody/something

especially American English
a) except for
Aside from Durang’s performance, the actors are ordinary.
b) in addition to
In the poetry competition, aside from Hass, are four other entrants.


incredible

incredible
infml wonderful; so good that it is hard to believe:
She has an incredible house!
extremely good, large, or great
ᅳsynonym unbelievableThe view is just incredible.
There was blood everywhere and the pain was incredible.


question

question

to have or express doubts about:

I would never question his honesty/his ability.
I question whether this policy will be effective.
I question why he did that.


gender

gender
the fact of being male or female

people of the same gender
Discrimination on grounds of race or gender is forbidden.
There may be gender differences in attitudes to paid work.
traditional gender roles
gender biases in books
toys that do not reinforce gender stereotypes
a science fiction story dealing with gender issues


prefigure
to be a sign that something will happen later

examination

examination
the process of looking at something carefully in order to see what it is like

examination of
a detailed examination of population statistics
under examination
The proposals are still under examination.
The issues need further examination .
on examination
On closer examination the vases were seen to be cracked.