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Heather Sykes

One of the ways heterosexuality maintains its privileged status is through the discursive figure of “the closet,” where everyday speech normalizes heterosexuality while silencing lesbian sexuality. In this paper, feminist and queer theories are used to explain why the closet has featured so prominently in women’s physical education. The paper also contains a poststructural analysis of how the closet was constructed in the life histories of 6 lesbian and heterosexual physical educators. Excerpts from the life histories illustrate how silences inside the closet acquired meaning only in relation to everyday talk about heterosexuality. Finally, deconstruction is used to suggest how heterosexuality can sometimes find itself inside the closet, thereby undermining the boundaries between inside/outside, silence/speech, and lesbian/heterosexual.

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Heather Sykes

A new form of sporting settler homonationalism emerged in the Pride Houses at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. For the first time ever, Pride Houses were set up where gay and lesbian supporters watched and celebrated the Olympic events. Drawing on poststructuralism, queer and settler colonial studies, the paper analyzes how the Pride Houses were based on settler colonial discourses about participation and displacement. A settler discourse about First Nations and Two-Spirit participation in the Pride Houses allowed gay and lesbian Canadian settlers to both remember and forget the history of settlement. Another settler discourse took for granted the displacement of Two-Spirit youth from their community center and Indigenous people from their traditional territories in order for the Olympics and the Pride Houses to take place. The paper suggests that queering settler politics in sport means confronting, rather than disavowing, colonialism and challenging homonational forms of gay and lesbian inclusion in sport mega- events.

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Heather Sykes

This article examines developments in gender policies in sport in relation to recent changes in transsexual rights legislation and gender identity activism. The Gay Games has developed a gender identity policy about “men, women, transgender and intersex” athletes. In 2004, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced the Stockholm Consensus on sex reassignment surgery to allow “transsexual” athletes to compete at the Olympics. These developments do not indicate an overall increase in the acceptance of gender variance in the world of sport; rather, there has been ongoing resistance to inclusive gender policies in mainstream sport organizations. I argue this resistance is based on anxieties about the instability of the male/female gender binary and the emergence of queer gender subjectivities within women’s, gay, and mainstream sporting communities.

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Heather Sykes and Deborah McPhail

In this article we examine how fat-phobic discourses in physical education both constitute, and are continually negotiated by, “fat” and “overweight” students. This claim is based on qualitative interviews about memories of physical education with 15 adults in Canada and the U.S. who identified as fat or overweight at some time during their lives. The research draws from feminist poststructuralism, queer theory, and feminist fat theory to examine how students negotiate fat subjectivities in fat-phobic educational contexts. The interviews reveal how fat phobia in physical education is oppressive and makes it extremely difficult for most students to develop positive fat subjectivities in physical education; how weighing and measuring practices work to humiliate and discipline fat bodies; and how fat phobia reinforces normalizing constructions of sex and gender. The interviews also illustrate how some students resisted fat phobia in physical education by avoiding, and sometimes excelling in, particular physical activities. Finally, interviewees talk about the importance of having access to fat-positive fitness spaces as adults and suggest ways to improve the teaching of physical education.

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Jane Stangl, Brian Pronger, Michael A. Messner, Heather Sykes, and Eric Anderson