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Feminist sports scholars characterize sport as a masculine domain wherein the ideology of male superiority and dominance is structurally and symbolically perpetuated. Researchers similarly identify sports fan communities as exclusionary to women and sites for the reaffirmation of gendered hierarchies. The purpose of this project is to examine the gendered meanings of sports fandom. Using semistructured interviews with eleven women who identify as fans of sports at the institutional center, we find the narratives illustrate the complex ways women define themselves in to, or define themselves out of, dominant discourses of sports fandom. The third wave feminist sensibilities employed in our analysis, and in the narrative experiences of our participants, compel us to recognize and struggle with the seeming contradictions of women sports fans. By giving voice to women sports fans, we offer a feminist intervention into the exclusionary processes that marginalize women’s sports fans.
Esmonde and Andrews are with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD. Cooky is with the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.