This article seeks to expand the conceptual boundaries of sport media research by investigating the utility of a postfeminist sensibility for analyzing depictions of women in sport. Rosalind Gill’s (2007) notion of a postfeminist sensibility is situated within UK-led feminist critiques of gendered neoliberalism in popular culture and offers a conceptual lens through which sports scholars might interrogate the complex and contradictory media landscape that often simultaneously marginalizes and empowers sportswomen. In highlighting postfeminism as a sensibility, this article makes visible the ways in which depictions of sportswomen as sexy and strong reorients responsibility for the sexualization of female athletes away from media institutions and toward the female athlete themselves. It also explains how a postfeminist sensibility differs from third wave feminism—a related framework popular among sports feminists seeking to respond to ambivalent and complex renderings of contemporary sporting femininity.
Katariina Rahikainen and Kim Toffoletti
Drawing on data from a qualitative study of sponsored and professional female climbers, this article offers a timely examination of the digital labor undertaken by women seeking to forge identities and livelihoods in sport. Female climbers are increasingly turning to social media to generate visibility and sponsorship opportunities in response to the changing social and commercial imperatives of sport, yet the perspective of participants is lacking in existing academic research. The theoretical framework of “athletic labor of femininity” is deployed to explore sportswomen’s decision making when producing social media content. This study departs from previous investigations by considering the sociotechnical aspects of platform algorithms in female climbers’ efforts to remain visible online, and attempts to avoid controversy that can deter followers.