Embodied Conflict: Women Athletes Negotiating the Body and Identity [article]

(:Unkn) Unknown, University, My, Kevin Delaney
Breaking out of the traditional expectations of femininity, women participating in sports, particularly physically aggressive sports, challenge the dominant framework of a sex/gender binary. The reading of essential difference between the bodies of men and women has been central to the history of women's involvement in sports. Historically, women's bodies have been considered incommensurable with and even in danger of damage from participation within the male world of sport. In the current
more » ... te of sport, women athletes embody a peculiar dilemma as their participation is often encouraged provided that they maintain an appropriately feminine appearance. Prior research has provided a somewhat limited analysis of the dilemma that women athletes face in embodying femininity and athleticism, often reporting the experiences of a homogenous group of sporting women. To better understand the complex ways that athletes negotiate gender and the body, I focus on the experiences of a diverse group of women athletes. In particular, I pursue the following question: how do women athletes negotiate gender and the body in relation to multiple subject positions, such as those associated with gender, sexuality, race, and type of sport played? To answer this question, I conduct 5 focus group interviews using photo-interviewing and 40 in-depth interviews with athletes in basketball, soccer, and volleyball. The results indicate that women athletes' negotiations of gender and the body are highly influenced by the intersections of race, sexuality, and the type of sport played. Women athletes negotiate gender and the body in complex and ways that both reinscribe and challenge heterosexualized gender norms. While the embodied experiences of these athletes sometimes reinforce assumptions about gendered bodies, they also, at times, present the potential for more fluid and capacious understandings of gendered bodies. As such, these women athletes expose our knowledge about gendered bodies as contested and tenuous. I conclude by presenting a [...]
doi:10.34944/dspace/3778 fatcat:u5wtdue745fdzfeabo6zjcufx4