Female athletes often negotiate their meanings of femininity and athleticism due to restrictive cultural norms, with muscularity at the center of this negotiation. Using a critical feminist interactionist perspective, this study seeks to understand how female collegiate athletes negotiate their meanings of muscularity and femininity within the strength and conditioning environment. Negotiation strategies emerged from the data, including the gendered body and the weight room environment. The findings suggest that while the strength and conditioning coach is responsible for training athletes in power and speed, they must do so within the cultural context that often attempts to limit women’s physicality.
The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.