Answer the following questions with 1-2 pages.
1) What two events are researched by Rodriguez in her article?
2) What are the three progession stages in the reading and why they matter?
3) Indentify and Explain the Four Dimension according to the scholar. How do these dimensions lead to exclusion?
Research in the Sociology of Sport
Series Editors: Joseph Maguire and Kevin Young
Research in the Sociology o f Sport reflects current themes in the sociology of sport and also captures innovative trends as they emerge in the work of scholars across the globe. The series brings together research from experts on established topics whilst also directing attention to themes that are at the ‘cutting-edge’ of this subdiscipline.
This new and exciting series examines the relationships between sport, culture and society. The function, meaning and significance of sport in contemporary societies are critically appraised. Attention is given to both small-scald micro levels of interaction in sport subcultures and also to how these sport subcultures exist within the macro processes reflected in the historical and structural'features of societies.
Each volume of Research in the Sociology o f Sport will have specially commissioned experts examining a common theme. The existing body of knowledge on specific topics will be reviewed, specific aspects will be focussed on and new material highlighted.
Related titles of interest:
Current Perspectives in Social Theory Studies in Symbolic Interaction Studies in Qualitative Methodology
For further details visit the Elsevier Science Catalogue at http://www.elsevier.com
THEORY, SPORT & SOCIETY
E o r r e o BY
JOSEPH MAGUERE Loughborough University, Leicestershire, UK
KEVIN YOUNG Loughborough University, Leicestershire, UK
JAI A n Im print o f E lsevier Science
A m sterdam – Boston – London – N ew York – O xford – Paris San Diego – San Francisco – Singapore – Sydney – Tokyo
Sport, G ender, Fem inism
Shona M. Thom pson
How often have you heard the phrase “I’m not a feminist, b u t . . used in conversations concerning women? Every time it is uttered, it seems to perfectly capture the enormous ambivalence that continues to surround feminism. In making such a statement, the speaker is personally distancing herself from the negative stereotypes surrounding what has been derogatively described as the latest ‘f- w ord’ (Richards & Parker, 1995). At the same time, however, she is acknowledging that feminism is recognised as having been responsible for bringing about some major gains for women.
The ‘but’ in the statement is significant. It is usually followed by a call for some'form of change in gender relations; some desire for a better deal for herself or other women expressed in response to a personally experienced or perceived injustice based on gender. Among sportswomen, for example, it may be anything from having her soccer game relegated to a second-rate field, to recognising the enormous disparity in rewards between*sportsmen and sportswomen. Such situations illustrate what has long been understood by feminists — that in women’s everyday experiences, ‘the personal is political’.
Although feminism remains a much misrepresented and often feared term, it is nevertheless recognised for having helped forge major social and political change in the past century, and for revolutionising the way gender and gender relations are now theorised and understood. Here lies a reason for the negative, sometimes hostile, responses to the word. For women to gain greater opportunities and access to public life, it has often required men to give up some of the privileges they have historically enjoyed. When social and political activism highlights inequalities in the way social life is organised, and advocates for changes that require those in privileged positions to give up some of that status, controversy and resistance seem likely (Coakley, 1994).
So, ‘What is feminism, anyway?’ Chris Beasley’s (1999) recent book of that title explains how, after approximately thirty years of what is known as the ‘second wave’ of feminism, it remains an ill-defined and misunderstood term.
Theory, Sport & Society Copyright © 2002 by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved. ISBN: 0-7623-0742-0
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Furthermore, over that time, feminism has developed into a highly complex and sophisticated mode of understanding, which has tended to add to the confusion. While it is now well recognised that there are many forms and applications of feminism, it is nevertheless still possible to identify some of the key principles that underpin its various approaches.
Fundamentally, feminism champions the belief that women have rights to all the benefits and privileges of social life equally with men. For the purposes of those concerned with sport, this means that girls and women have the right to choose to participate in sport and physical activity without constraint, prejudice or coercion, to expect their participation to be respected and taken seriously, and to be as equally valued and rewarded as sportsmen. These do not seem too much to ask.
Nevertheless, feminist attention to sport has revealed a history of women being denied opportunities, of being restricted and excluded from participation, of having our accomplishments ignored or ridiculed, of hearing our efforts being used as male forms of derision, of having our labour and our bodies exploited in the name of sport, and of being divided against each other by endemic misogyny and homophobia. Sport remains one of the most problematically gender-defined and gender-divided aspects of social life, and our understandings of this have come about largely through the deliberate engagement of feminist perspectives to the study of sport as a social institution.
When feminism is used to study any social institution, it is engaged, by definition, at three interconnected levels. First, feminism critiques traditional forms of knowledge to expose how these may be generated from an androcentric perspective, developed traditionally by men, based largely on male subjects and male experiences. Second, it develops its own knowledge and theories, based on the understanding that society is predominantly patriarchal and structured in ways which give men greater power and privilege. Feminist analysis focuses on what this means to the ways women experience their lives. Third, feminism is a form of activism, /directed by knowledge about the reality of women’s lives that feminist analysis seeks to illuminate. This knowledge provides the motivation and focus for whatever pressure is necessary to bring about social change for women’s equal opportunities, enhanced quality of life and greater safety.
In this chapter, I shall focus on the impact of feminist scholarship on the sociological study of sport. I begin with an overview of the early meeting of sociology of sport and feminism, and introduce some of its ‘foremothers’. Following that, I discuss feminism as being concerned with political advocacy and social change. Then I identify some of the key areas to which feminist scholarship has, over many years, been applied to the study of sport and give examples o f the understandings that have resulted from this scholarship. These
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include women’s experiences of sport, patriarchy and male power in sport, media representations of sportswomen, and issues relating to female sporting bodies.
Sociology of Sport meets Feminism
The application of feminism to studies of sport began in earnest in the late 1970s. While there was a growing academic interest in women’s participation in sport prior to this, it was not characterised by an obvious or consistent feminist focus. Susan Birrell’s (1988) article, ‘Discourses on the Gender/Sport Relationship: From Women in Sport to Gender Relations’, concisely documents the transition in the sociology of sport from a focus on women’s sport to an understanding of the significance of gender in the analyses of all sport, which was clearly informed by feminist scholarship. Birrell dates Ann Hall’s (1978) monograph as the turning point. She described Hall’s work as “the first to attempt a definition of feminism, the first to understand the feminist critique of social science, and the first to briitg feminist paradigms to bear on sport” (Birrell, 1988: 472). At the time, Birrell correctly predicted that a theoretically-based feminist perspective would inform future sociology of sport.
One of the earliest tasks undertaken by feminist scholars was a critique of the androcentric scientific models that had been previously used to address questions regarding women and sport. It was recognised that scientific research questions are derived from sets of assumptions which, in turn, translate into the sorts of explanations that the answers to those questions bring. Feminist scholars saw it necessary to base their inquiries on a new set of assumptions, and therefore asked different questions from those that had informed traditional male-oriented science. For example, as Birrell (1988) explained, when faced with women’s low participation rates in sport, shifting the research question from ‘why aren’t women more interested in sport?’ to ‘why are women excluded from sp o rt? ’, or ‘why is the relationship betw een women and sport problematic?’, reflects vastly different assumptions about the ‘causes’ of women’s low participation rates. The feminist scientific agenda was to ask questions that reflected the social world as perceived and experienced by women.
Much of the early feminist sociology of sport of the 1980s drew on the developing feminist critiques of other academic disciplines, particularly the social sciences, challenging the methodological, theoretical and political practices that had prevailed, and exposing the intellectual sexism in the scientific traditions (Birrell, 1984; Hall, 1984; Theberge, 1985). This exercise did not
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happen without tension. As feminist scholars challenged other theoretical perspectives, there was much debate about the supremacy of various types of analyses, particularly regarding the relative importance of class or gender (e.g., Deem, 1989). Feminists argued, however, that intellectual disciplines that did not adopt a feminist perspective would be left ‘gender-blind’ and therefore grossly inadequate in theoretical terms (Cole, 1994; Deem, 1988; Hall, 1985a).
While much of this work was being done in North America, the influence of feminism was occurring world-wide, albeit with differing emphases. In the UK, for example, the study of women and sport was contextualised in a broader critique of leisure, posing questions about women’s access to leisure time and space. Griffin et al. (1982) highlighted how patriarchy, structuring all levels of society, was based on the sexual divisions of labour and control over women’s sexuality and fertility, which “allocat(ed) women to a primarily reproductive role, through which all their .other roles are mediated (1982: 90, original emphasis). This, they argued, had implications for women’s leisure in that it both structured women’s lives and affected perceptions of what was appropriate behaviour for them. Other feminist scholars identified the constraints and controls on women’s leisure as being related to how they were (or were not) engaged in paid work, their primary responsibility for the care of others, and male control of women’s activities and leisure spaces (Deem, 1986; Green et a l, 1990; Wimbush and Talbot, 1988). Sporting opportunities for women were considered in the context of their access to leisure.
The rapid spread to other parts of the world of feminist concerns about sport and physical activity came about through publications in international journals, such as Hall (1987), and through many, specifically focused conferences where it was common practice for speakers to be deliberately invited to bring a feminist perspective. For example, conferences held in Sydney, Australia (1980) and in Wellington, New Zealand (19S1) featured feminists from other countries who ‘spread the word’, calling for the urgent application of feminist analysis and activism to sport and recreation, to help bring'about the necessary changes for women’s greater participation opportunities and rewards (Darlison, 1981; Hall, 1985b).
Feminism, Advocacy and Change
As mentioned previously, feminism is multi-dimensional. As well as being a theoretical perspective employed to analyse the social world, it encompasses a commitment to changing aspects of that world which disadvantage women and other iharginalised groups. Feminists deliberately strive for that change. There,
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have been, however, vastly differing views about what exactly needs to be changed, and how those changes could or should be brought about. Two of the main views, derived from differing forms of feminism, became known as ‘liberal’ and ‘radical’.
Liberal feminism advocates for women’s greater involvement in social life by enhancing their opportunities to join existing institutions and structures, such as government, paid work or sport. The way to achieve this, for example, is through the development and use of legal and social policies, such as Human Rights and Equal Opportunity legislation, to open up social structures for increased opportunities for girls and women.
Advocates of radical change, on the other hand, are more likely to be critical of those social structures, to want to challenge the practices and ideologies surrounding them that are considered fundamentally sexist, exclusionary or harmful. For example, radical feminists would advocate that it is not good enough to simply add more women (or more from ethnic minority groups, or more people with disabilities) to sports organisations in their existing forms, but that the organisations themselves, and sport as it is practised, needs to be ‘radically’ changed to make it a fairer, safer, more enriching and rewarding possibility for everyone.
In effect, the liberal agenda has been more successful. Hall (1995) compared women’s sport advocacy organisations and provided a thorough overview of advocacy efforts for women and sport to that date. In this, she analysed four feminist organisations: the Women’s Sport Foundation (USA); the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity; the Women’s Sport Foundation (UK); and Womensport Australia. Hall also included a description of the 1994 international conference where The Brighton Declaration on Women and Sport was drawn up and where the organisation, Womensport International, was launched. While women’s participation in sport has increased, she concluded that it has been difficult to ‘p o litic ise ’ sportswomen and women’s sport. Although there have been “significant gains in bringing more girls and women into sport, . . . sport itself remains as male- dominated and as male-oriented as always. This is not meaningful progress’’ (Hall, 1995: 245).
Women in sports advocacy organisations have commonly envisaged radical changes to the institution of sport but have had little success (Hall, 1996). Those who have been critical of sporting structures have noticed how difficult it is to accomplish radical change against the strength of the conservative, patriarchal power controlling sport, and hegemonic values that are increasingly ‘market’ orientated. For example, Jim McKay was funded by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) to investigate why there were so few women in Australian
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sports organisations with the understanding that this would help improve the situation (McKay, 1992). When his interviews with sports administrators turned up unsolicited criticism about how the ASC handled gender equity issues, his research was discredited (by both the ASC and the media), his academic integrity attacked, and he was forced to change aspects of the research report before it was approved for release (McKay, 1993).
Another example; in 1987,1 described how huge numbers of women in New Zealand had protested against the country’s sporting exchanges with what was then Apartheid South Africa; directing that protest at men’s rugby in ways that clearly demonstrated existing fury and frustration at how this sport symbolised and perpetuated white supremacist patriarchal power (Thompson, 1988). At the time I noted the general optimism felt in the aftermath of the protests for a resulting change in gender relations, in which men’s rugby would no longer dominate New Zealand social life or psyche. Instead, we have witnessed what Jackson (1995) succinctly described as the “transformation, reinvention and reassertion’’ oftugby as a full>t professionalised, commercialised and mediated sport. Its dominance in New Zealand culture has arguably surpassed anything previously known, and young New Zealand women are now numbered large amongst its fans (Thompson, 1999a). Such examples have illustrated how difficult it is to achieve radical feminist visions for change and how change that comes about is not always for the better.
The Standpoint of Women and their Experiences of Sport
From the earliest feminist studies of sport, similar stories emerged from many parts of the world about the dismal, inequitable status of women’s sport. It was never suggested that women had not always been active in sport and physical recreation, but that the opportunities for this had been limited, women’s involvement made difficult and their achievements hidden. Margaret Talbot (1988) commented that the, by then, well documented constraints mitigating against women’s participation in sport made depressing reading. Detailed accounts of women’s experiences in sport were rare. Like other areas of human endeavour, sport histories and biographies were mainly written by men, about men, and for men, and thus records of the struggles, joys and richness experienced by sportswomen were conspicuously few (Hargreaves, 1994). Furthermore, there was an emerging preoccupation with issues considered problematic in women’s sport, such as the supposed conflict between athleticism and femininity. To counter this, Talbot (1988) drew on personal accounts of sportswomen to explain the importance and meaning of sport in their lives, illustrating the importance of
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empowerment and “the ability and capacity of women to speak for themselves, to control their own activities, to be taken seriously, and to define elements of their worlds according to their own terms and values” <Talbot, 1988: 88). Knowledge from the standpoint of women was much needed.
Feminist scholars proposed that women’s ‘standpoint’ was the only authentic base from which knowledge about women’s lives could be generated and understood. Some argued that, because women were located in a position of subordination, this allowed them to understand the world both through their own experiences of it and from the knowledge of their oppressors, in a form of ‘double consciousness’ (Smith, 1987). This double vision was not available to the dominant ̂ roup because they had no experience of the world from marginal positions (Reddock, 1998). It was acknowledged that there was, therefore, a distinctive feminist epistemology (Hall, 1985a; Harding, 1990). In other words, feminism informed the production of knowledge by challenging and addressing questions about what is ‘known’, how knowledge is validated, and who is a ‘knower’ (Stanley & Wise, 1990). These questions underpin the principles guiding the ways to ‘do’ feminist research. While the specific methods vary, feminist research is grounded in recognition of women’s standpoints, and is motivated to produce and extend the knowledge about women’s lives and realities to assist change (Roberts, 1981; Stanley & Wise, 1983). Such research has contributed much to the literature about women’s experiences of sport. Not surprisingly, it has shown how these experiences are culturally framed, particularly by gendered definitions of femininity, sexuality, wifehood and motherhood, and are influenced by specific economic and socio-political structures.
For example. Jay Coakley and Anita White (1992) talked with teenagers in England about what influenced their involvement in sport. They found that decisions about integrating sport into these young people’s lives were based on their sense of what was important in their lives, and this had very strong ties with .gender. The young women seldom defined themselves as athletes, having a narrow definition of what this meant and not relating readily to that definition, even those who were active in sport. These young women accepted gender-based constraints on their activities, such as limited family funds for their sport, parental constraints that were more rigid for daughters, and the expectation of ceasing their interests to accommodate those of their boyfriends. The research showed how traditional cultural practices related to gender had been incorporated into these young women’s lives and identities in ways of which they were mostly unaware and did not generally resist.
Scraton et al. (1999) also followed qualitative research procedures to “allow sportswomen to articulate their own feelings about being women who play and
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enjoy sport” (1999: 101), highlighting the necessity to consider these experiences in historical and cultural contexts. Theirs was a multi-national study, based on interviews with sportswomen in England, Germany, Norway and Spain, done by nationals of those countries. Their report on soccer indicated differences between the countries, such as the extent to which the lib e ra l-fe m in ist agenda had in creased w om en’s access to sporting opportunities. These were less developed in England and Spain, where schools are “particularly . . . inscribed by powerful gender ideologies” and do not provide encouragement for young women to play soccer (Scraton et al., 1999: 107). While the researchers acknowledged the need to understand national differences, they considered it important to note similarities in order to recognisd the .gender regimes* experienced by sportswomen across national boundaries. One similarity was the acceptance, encouragement and admiration these soccer players had received .as young girls who challenged conventional standards of femininity by being ‘tomboys’ or ‘like boys’ in playing soccer. As adult women, however, transgressing such gender boundaries became problematic, as distinctions between masculinity and femininity move into the realm of sexuality: “Adult women face tensions between their active physicality as footballers and what is deemed ‘safe’ heterosexual femininity” (Scraton et al., 1999: 108). Similar tensions were expressed by women soccer players in New Zealand (Cox & Thompson, 2000).
In Australia, I interviewed women aged over 40 who had long careers as recreational tennis players (Thompson, 1992). These women were passionate about their sport and had spent decades organising their domestic lives in elaborate ways in order to continue playing. Their participation was facilitated by a regular, large-scale tennis competition established under the assumption that women tennis players were not in full-time paid employment but whose sport needed to be confined to times outside those during which husbands and children demanded care. The conditions under which these women played their sport were in.stark contrast to those experienced by male tennis players, where a husband’s participation could have an immense impact on the lives of his wife and children (Thompson, 1999b).
Furthermore, women’s domestic labour actually facilitated and serviced the participation of their husbands. These women’s experiences of sport were constructed by the gendered relationship to paid work and domestic labour, and ideologies of wifehood and motherhood, which privileged the sport of men and children while women’s remained invisible.
Nancy Theberge’s (1999) analysis of women’s ice hockey in Canada challenges the notion that women’s version of such masculinised sport is somehow different because women are involved, or that women have different
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expectations of sport. She cited “strong evidence of the enjoyment and sense of accomplishment that women hockey players (and all athletes) derive from the physicality of sport” (1999: .155). Theberge focused on images through sport of women’s strength, power and aggression, and engages with the debate about whether women should ‘buy into’ male models of sport including those that are inherently violent. Through a discussion about the prohibition of body-checking in women’s hockey, she raises issues about what are considered ‘real’ versions of sport, and how women’s can be construed as alternative and inferior.
In 1993, Alison Dewar reminded us that, what had to date been universalised as ‘women’s sporting experiences’, were more precisely the experience of white, middle-class, heterosexual, non-disabled women (Dewar, 1993). As feminist researchers, this was a call for us to be explicit about whose experiences we were representing and to recognise that generalisations could not be readily made to other women. Also, we needed to listen to women with backgrounds other than our own and make space for their experiences to be heard. Birrell (1989) had earlier drawn attention to the absence of writing in the sociology of sport by women of colour. These calls highlighted the issue of ‘identity politics’ within feminist scholarship, “the belief that the most radical politics comes directly out of our own identity (as a woman of colour, as a lesbian, as a woman with disabilities, as an old woman)” (Hall, 1996:44). This required re-theorising relations among women, to understand how the oppression of women who did not'identify with the dominant group is qualitatively different because of the layering of other ‘isms’, such as racism, heterosexism, able-bodyism and ageism.
Studies conducted from the standpoint of other marginal identities are emerging in the sociology of sport. Arguably, the largest volume is that concerning lesbian identities, such as Biigit Palzkill’s (1990) accounts of women athletes in Germany, Gill Clarke’s (1997) record of the experiences of lesbian physicaLeducation teachers in Britain, and Caroline Fusco’s (1998) interviews with lesbian team-sport players in North America. Some are informed by ‘queer theory’, such as Eng (1997). All document the impact of heterosexism and homophobia in sport and physical education, and its impact of silencing lesbians and discrediting their achievements, such as has also been addressed by Griffin (1998) and Lenskyj (1991).
There are fewer published reports of the experiences of sport written by women of colour. Recently, Deslea Wrathall in New Zealand, speaking for Maori .women^ reported on the institutionalised racism in sports organisations which, arnong other oppressive practices, failed to recognise the importance to Maori sportswomen of their whanau (extended family), who are ignored in the
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everyday decisions made about the experiences of Maori women as elite sport performers (Thompson, Rewi & Wrathall, 2000). Jennifer Hargreaves (1994) argues that the British sports system (from which New Zealand’s is derived) reflects traditions based in ‘w hite’ culture, and values that include the celebration of individualism and ‘free will’, which are “inappropriate for a modern multi-racial society”. She explains that this “is why the discourse of racism in women’s sport has to a large extent been repressed” (Hargreaves, 1994: 260), highlighting research done in the UK about the experiences of Afro Caribbean women and those in British Asian communities (Carrington, Chivers & Williams, 1987; Lovell, 1991). The intersecting relationship between racial identity and gender relations, framed by colonial relations of power, is also explored by Victoria Paraschak (1999) in reference to Canada’s First Nation’s women.
Exam ining women with disabilities, Jennifer Hoyle recognised the contribution of fem inist theory when she commented, “feminist theory' complements disability research in terms of the advances it has made in bringing the voices of oppressed grolips to the fore” (Hoyle & White, 1999; 255). She challenges the notion that women with disabilities view their experiences in only negative terms, highlighting how their strengths as women with disabilities also become part of their realities. They challenge the norms of sporting experiences for the way “the boundaries between the disabled and the non-disabled are left undisturbed” (1999: 265), being well aware of the need to constitute themselves in a world that values health and beauty from a non-disabled orientation.
As Hargreaves concludes, “the idea that women in sport are a homogeneous group has been resisted” (1994: 288), just as the myth of women’s consensual, shared experience of sport must also be challenged. Feminist concerns for women’s standpoint and identity politics have highlighted how “such factors as age, disability, class, ethnicity and sexuality make women different from one another”, irrespective of their variable and complex relationships with men (Hargreaves, 1994; 288). Fully recognising and giving voice to such differences' remains our challenge.
Sport, Patriarchy and Male Power
A basic assumption of feminist theory is the view that society is patriarchal, in that every avenue of power is male controlled (Millet, 1970) and we live by an ideology of male superiority (Hartman, 1981). In this context, sport is viewed not simply as yet another patriarchal structure, but also one in which patriarchy is symbolised and reconstructed. Feminist-inspired sociology of sport has recognised the power that men hold in and through sport, and how this power is
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both real and symbolic. Men dominate and control sport structures, and sporting ideologies carry messages that connect masculinity, power and superiority.
Aside from the more obvious, international, patriarchal sports organisations, like the IOC, FIFA, and FINA, research from various parts of the world has shown the persistent male control of sport, and the immense obstacles with respect to change (Cameron, 1996; Fasting & Sisjord, 1986; Hall e t a i , 1989
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