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.
The author is with the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia.