“I Am Not a Cow”: Challenging Narratives of Empowerment in Teen Girls Sports Fiction

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Erin WhitesideUniversity of Tennessee

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Marie HardinPenn State University

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Lauren J. DeCarvalhoUniversity of Arkansas

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Nadia Martinez CarilloIndiana University–Purdue University

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Alexandra Nutter SmithUniversity of Washington–Tacoma

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This research examines two popular teen girls sports fiction series, called “Pretty Tough” and “Dairy Queen.” The books are heavily premised on the idea of empowerment, and are written in ways that invite the reader to see each protagonist’s choices as agentic and even subversive. Our analysis points to the ways the discourse of empowerment obscures how girls are invited to adopt ideology toward sports that undermines their ability to experience sports on their own terms.

Whiteside is with the School of Journalism & Electronic Media, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. Hardin is with the Center for Sports Journalism, Penn State University, University Park, PA. DeCarvalho is with the Department of Communication at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR. Martinez-Carillo is with the Department of Communication at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN. Nutter-Smith is with the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington-Tacoma, Tacoma, WA.

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