This paper presents our experiences, thoughts, and struggles in working toward understanding, embracing, and implementing feminist perspectives in our scholarship and practice. Mentors, through their encouragement, guidance, and support, have played key roles in our growth as feminist sport and exercise psychology professionals. It is through our work with mentors that we have moved closer toward understanding and identifying with being feminist scholars. In our research, we place women as the central focus of our work, take into account contextual factors, and look toward creating social change. The struggles we have faced as young professionals include countering stereotypes of feminism, integrating feminist methodologies and epistemology into a traditionally logical positivist field, and moving from research findings to creating social change. Looking toward the future, we hope that feminist sport and exercise psychology scholars continue to build a community to share and discuss the issues and struggles of feminist researchers.
Christy Greenleaf and Karen Collins
Cassandra Wells and Simon C. Darnell
The sex testing of South African runner Caster Semenya in 2009 was widely discussed in media, but the most serious and significant sites of debate may have been within the cultures and institutions of track & field itself. In this article, we report findings from an analysis of an online track & field community—TrackNet Listserv—through which the Semenya case, and the politics and ethics of sex testing, were discussed. The results suggest that listserv members recognized the contestability of sex testing policies and identified with feminist struggles, but nevertheless largely argued for sex testing’s necessity in light of understandings of the biologically normative female body and the importance of maintaining fairness in and through sex-segregated sport. The implications for the sport of track & field and for sporting feminisms are discussed.
Susan Lynn, Marie Hardin and Kristie Walsdorf
This study examines the presentation of women in advertising photographs published in four women’s sports and fitness magazines in order to ascertain the presence of sexual difference and differentiate between advertising messages in the magazines. Researchers found strong support for sexual difference in advertisements contained in fitness-oriented magazines, and, at the other end of the spectrum, rejection of sexual difference in magazines that emphasized competitive sport. The advertising images generally provided mixed messages in regard to sexual difference. The authors suggest that the continued use of sexual difference in sport advertising images is a function of commodity feminism, which serves the capitalist hegemony. The authors discuss the need for visual representations that are truly feminist.
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.
Cheryl Cooky and Mary G. McDonald
In this article we explore the narratives that 10 White, middle-class female athletes, ages 11–14, (co)produce around their sport experiences. Through interviews, observation, and participant observation, we argue that, consistent with the advertising rhetoric of such multinational corporations as Nike, these girls all advocate hard work, choice, opportunity, and personal responsibility in playing sport and in challenging gender discrimination. We argue this reflects the girls’ subscription to elements of liberal feminism and to their frequent positioning as “insider-others”—that is, outside the dominant gender norms of sport but simultaneously the beneficiaries of Whiteness and middle-class norms. In contrast to Nike and liberal feminists who frequently argue for equal opportunity in sport, these girls’ insider-other narratives suggest the need for critical interrogation of the multiple meanings and effects of sport experiences.
Lynda M. Nilges
With its diverse coverage of topics from a variety of perspectives, the Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal is a significant resource for those working toward social change and gender empowerment inside and outside the arena of sport and physical activity. This article is a review of the scholarship contained in the Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal over the last five years (1992-1996). Seven broad themes are used to organize this review, (1) The Meaning of Physical Activity, (2) Female Athletes in the Visual and Print Media, (3)Transforming Sport and Physical Activity, (4) Nutrition, Weight, and Body Image, (5) Scientific Foundations of the Active Female, (6) Historical Perspectives of Women in Sport, and (7) “Others.” Suggestions are offered for future research relative to women’s sport and physical activity based on the shift that has occurred in feminism over the last century.
Alexandra J. Rankin-Wright, Kevin Hylton and Leanne Norman
The article examines how UK sport organizations have framed race equality and diversity, in sport coaching. Semistructured interviews were used to gain insight into organizational perspectives toward ‘race’, ethnicity, racial equality, and whiteness. Using Critical Race Theory and Black feminism, color-blind practices were found to reinforce a denial that ‘race’ is a salient factor underpinning inequalities in coaching. The dominant practices employed by key stakeholders are discussed under three themes: equating diversity as inclusion; fore fronting meritocracy and individual agency; and framing whiteness. We argue that these practices sustain the institutional racialised processes and formations that serve to normalize and privilege whiteness. We conclude that for Black and minoritised ethnic coaches to become key actors in sport coaching in the UK ‘race’ and racial equality need to be centered in research, policy and practice.
Athena Yiamouyiannis and Kay Hawes
The 2009–10 Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) data were used to analyze and compare student enrollment, sport participation rates/participants, and scholarship allocation at NCAA Division I, II, and III colleges and their subdivisions from a critical perspective through the lens of feminism. The EADA data included 1,062 NCAA collegiate institutions, with 350 Division I colleges, 209 in Division II, and 420 in Division III. Within Division I, the three subdivisions included I-A (FBS), I-AA (FCS), and I-AAA (without football). For Divisions II and III, findings were reported for colleges with and without football. Of the 6 million students attending NCAA colleges, 54% are female students, while only 43% of sport participants are women, which reflects an 11% gap between female enrollment and sport participation. Scholarship allocation appears to favor women when using the OCR comparison of scholarships to participants; however, the opposite conclusion is drawn based upon additional information.
Joseph Maguire and Louise Mansfield
This paper seeks to synthesize aspects of feminism and figurational (process) sociology. Women’s bodies are viewed as sites for studying interrelationships between power, gender, and identity construction. The behavioral and emotional rituals of women in a specific aerobics class are mapped out and located within the “exercise–body beautiful complex.” We explore the way in which social constraints and individual self-control interweave in the rationalized management of women’s bodies. The embodied experiences of these women are intertwined with long term enabling and constraining features. Covertly disempowering, the “exercise–body beautiful complex” reinforces established standards of femininity. The realignment of dominant images of femininity is advocated in order to extend the liberating features of the figuration in question.
Mary Louise Adams, Michelle T. Helstein, Kyoung-yim Kim, Mary G. McDonald, Judy Davidson, Katherine M. Jamieson, Samantha King and Geneviéve Rail
This collection of commentaries emerged from ongoing conversations among the contributors about our varied understandings of and desires for the sport studies field. One of our initial concerns was with the absence/presence of feminist thought within sport studies. Despite a rich history of feminist scholarship in sport studies, we have questioned the extent to which feminism is currently being engaged or acknowledged as having shaped the field. Our concerns crystallized during the spirited feminist responses to a fiery roundtable debate on Physical Cultural Studies (PCS) at the annual conference of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) in New Orleans in November 2012. At that session, one audience member after another spoke to what they saw as the unacknowledged appropriation by PCS proponents of longstanding feminist—and feminist cultural studies—approaches to scholarship and writing. These critiques focused not just on the intellectual moves that PCS scholars claim to be making but on how they are made, with several audience members and some panelists expressing their concerns about the territorializing effects of some strains of PCS discourse.