Pinned by Gender Construction?: Media Representations of Girls’ Wrestling

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal

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Theresa WaltonKent State University

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To critically investigate mainstream media representations of female high school wrestling within the broader sociocultural and historical context of the 1990s and early 2000s, I employ a critical cultural studies perspective with an eye toward understanding intersecting power relations (Birrell & McDonald, 2000; McDonald & Birrell, 1999). Several reoccurring themes emerged highlighting the gendered tensions surrounding girls wrestling boys: female wrestling not being taken seriously; worries about girls’ safety; questions of how to understand female’s motivations to wrestle; and the effects of female wrestling on male participants and the sport itself The main underlying concern relates to wrestling being a male preserve, which works to define masculinity. Media attention demonstrates the cultural work that the sport of wrestling does in maintaining, and potentially resisting, gender norms and relationships. While girls’ wrestling might offer resistant or transformative potential, mainstream media, in this case, primarily works to support masculine hegemony in wrestling.

Theresa Walton, PhD Kent State University 264G Gym Annex School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport Kent State University Kent, OH 44242 Email: Phone: (330) 672.0234 Fax: (330) 672.4106

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