The central question examined in this essay is whether there can be a distinctive feminist epistemology or theory of knowledge. If there can be, then what would it look like? The ensuing discussion focuses on why it is so important to comprehend this feminist challenge to the origin, nature, methods, and limits of knowledge that have shaped our understanding of social life and what implications this has for the social analysis of sport. The paper begins by noting that in order to answer our sociological questions about gender inequality in sport, it makes more sense to view sex/gender as a system of social relations between females and males rather than treat them as dichotomous categories. Our questions therefore become relational rather than distributive. Four theoretical approaches to the sex/gender system (liberal, traditional marxist, radical, and socialist) are outlined with particular attention being paid to the epistemological and methodological assumptions that stem from each variant. The notion of a standpoint, and in particular the standpoint of women, is introduced to show how it is possible for women to demystify their social reality and to begin the necessary reconstruction of the sportsworld so that women’s interests are no longer subordinate to those of men.
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M. Ann Hall
The argument presented here is that the sociological discourse of gender and sport, in other words the way the topic is approached, the assumptions surrounding its investigation, and the ways in which new knowledge is generated has been determined without sufficient recognition of its own ideological foundations. Gender, it is argued, is a major social and theoretical category that, along with social class, race, age, ethnicity, and others, must be incorporated into all theoretically based social analyses of sport. The paper reviews the development of the gender and sport discourse from its origins in social psychological research that focused on the supposed conflict between femininity and athleticism, to the more sophisticated yet functionalist notion of “sex roles” and its application to sport, and finally to the emerging feminist paradigm that is informed by a growing body of feminist social theory. The final section argues for a transformation of the gender and sport discourse toward a truly emancipatory one and provides some concrete suggestions as to how to bring this about.
M. Ann Hall
Using my own experience in sport, I explore two themes in this paper. One is that sport and feminism are often seen as incompatible. This means that sport is often overlooked, or at best underestimated, as a site of cultural struggle where gender relations are reproduced and sometimes resisted. The second is that there is a seemingly impervious border within sport feminism between academics and activists, between theory and practice, between the academy and the community, between researchers and the researched. The “Beckwith Belles” are women’s lived experience in sport and the context in which I examine the implication of these two themes.
M. Ann Hall
M. Ann Hall
M. Ann Hall
M. Ann Hall
During the nineteenth century in North America, a small group of working-class women turned to sport to earn a living. Among them were circus performers, race walkers, wrestlers, boxers, shooters, swimmers, baseball players, and bicycle racers. Through their athleticism, these women contested and challenged the prevailing gender norms, and at the same time expanded notions about Victorian women’s capabilities and appropriate work. This article focuses on one of these professional sports, namely high-wheel bicycle racing. Bicycle historians have mostly dismissed women’s racing during the brief high-wheel era of the 1880s as little more than sensational entertainment, and have not fully understood its importance. I hope to change these perceptions by providing evidence that female high-wheel racers in the United States, who often began as pedestriennes (race walkers), were superb athletes competing in an exciting, well-attended, and profitable sport.
Jackie MacDonald and M. Ann Hall
Certainly for me (Jackie MacDonald), it was far and away the biggest event of any sort that I had been involved in until then. The trip from Toronto was the farthest I had ever travelled: Vancouver was beautiful with the mountains in the background; the local population was bursting with pride and enthusiasm for the Games; I was awed by the sight of so many famous athletes and excited by the opportunity to meet participants from all over the world. There were highs and lows of course: on the final day the “Miracle Mile” lived up to all the tremendous hype, but the horrifying spectacle of marathoner Jim Peters staggering, collapsing, then crawling on the track, and unable to finish was a tragic sight. For me personally, winning the silver medal in the women’s shot put with a personal best was the high point, while being scratched from the discus competition was the low point. I was reminded of how thrilling it was for me to be on the Canadian team in 1954 when my husband, our two sons and I went to Victoria for the 1994 Commonwealth Games. Watching the track and field events I was very touched when my older son said: “Looking at these athletes, I can picture you down there competing forty years ago.”
M. Ann Hall and Bruce Kidd
Eva Dawes Spinks (1912–2009) was an outstanding Canadian high jumper in the 1930s. The present paper traces her early life, successful athletic career, and her decision in 1935 to join a group of athletes on a goodwill tour of the Soviet Union organized by the Workers’ Sports Association of Canada. Upon her return, Dawes was suspended by the Women’s Amateur Athletic Union of Canada. She retired from competition and became involved in the Canadian campaign to boycott the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Much later, Dawes adamantly denied any political involvement. The purpose of this paper is to examine and possibly explain the incongruity between the historical evidence and Dawes’s later denials. More broadly, it is a discussion about the relationship between history and individual memory.