Subverting Bodies/Ambivalent Representations: Media Analysis of Paralympian, Hope Lewellen

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Texas Woman’s University
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Socially constructed ideals regarding gender, sexuality, and corporeality often work to constrain efforts by marginalized groups to claim subjectivity through participation in sport. Increased participation in sport by female athletes has generated increased attention by national and international sport media. Though this might be thought of as a positive consequence, some researchers find that mainstream media contribute to dominant ideologies that depict sport as primarily a male (and nondisabled) domain. The purpose of this paper is to explore, through the example of Paralympian Hope Lewellen, how a woman athlete with a disability may claim subjectivity through sport, thereby subverting stereotypic concepts of gender and disability. Further, we analyze how the sport media simultaneously works to repress Lewellen’s subversive potential by portraying her in stereotypical ableist ways.

B.L.A. Schell is with the Department of Kinesiology and S. Rodriguez is with the Women’s Studies Program at Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX 76204.

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