Italian Socialist Antonio Gramsci introduced the concept of hegemony in the early 1900s to describe how the capitalist elite maintain their dominant status, through a subtle imposition of ideology upon the masses. According to Gramsci, such a ruling class must generate a consensus of acceptance for dominant ideology. This consensus is created not by coercion, but through the influence of intellectuals and civic institutions. Gramsci’s concept may be applied to help explain the present status of American women in sport, by demonstrating the influence of masculinist hegemony over this institution. Women continue to face numerous barriers imposed by male hegemonic ideology, despite their recent attempts to gain equality and respect in sport. As well, some feminists may feel an ethical dilemma in their provision of support for women’s equality within an institution thought to be complicit with male hegemony. The purpose of this paper is to call attention to the difficulties faced by our sporting sisters and to identify proactive strategies that may work toward the elimination of gender-based economic, social, and political stratification in sport.
The Senior author, Dr. Schell, is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Institute for Women’s Health and the Women’s Studies Program at Texas Woman’s University.
The Junior author, Ms. Rodriguez, is a M.A. Candidate in Women’s Studies and Program Coordinator for the Texas Woman’s University McNair Scholars Program.