Supportive or Hostile? Teasing or Professional? Women Sportswriters Categorize Locker Room Interaction

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal

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Toni BruceSport and Leisure Studies University of Waikato Private Bag 3105 Hamilton, New Zealand

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Although previous researchers have described dimensions of women sportswriters’ locker room experiences or theoretically explored the challenge their presence poses to hegemonic masculinity, they have failed to adequately consider how they give meaning to their locker room encounters. Based on 33 in-depth interviews, participation at five Association for Women in Sports Media conventions and an analysis of published locker room stories, I determined the interpretive frameworks women sportswriters use to understand their experiences. Further, I show how emotional and physical reactions are profoundly influenced by the ways in which these women sportswriters categorize specific interactions. Despite the media and research focus on problematic “incidents”, I demonstrated that many male-female locker room interactions are positive or, at least, unproblematic. However, the continued salience of the locker room as a site supporting hegemonic masculinity is revealed in women sportswriters’ interpretations of the locker room as an always potentially threatening space.

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