Homework help

Answer the following questions with 1-2 pages.
1) What two events are researched by Rodriguez in her article?
2) What are the three progession stages in the reading and why they matter?
3) Indentify and Explain the Four Dimension according to the scholar. How do these dimensions lead to exclusion?
4) EXCr.
Consider the issues on both Apelanz (2020) and Rodriguez (2005): What connections can you find between visibility of women’s futbol and other issues affecting women?
Research in the Sociology of Sport
Series Editors: Joseph Maguire and Kevin Young
Research in the Sociology o f Sport reflects current themes in the sociology of
sport and also captures innovative trends as they emerge in the work of scholars
across the globe. The series brings together research from experts on established
topics whilst also directing attention to themes that are at the ‘cutting-edge’ of
this subdiscipline.
This new and exciting series examines the relationships between sport, culture
and society. The function, meaning and significance of sport in contemporary
societies are critically appraised. Attention is given to both small-scald micro
levels of interaction in sport subcultures and also to how these sport subcultures
exist within the macro processes reflected in the historical and structural’features
of societies.
Each volume of Research in the Sociology o fSport will have specially
commissioned experts examining a common theme. The existing body of
knowledge on specific topics will be reviewed, specific aspects will be focussed
on and new material highlighted.
Related titles of interest:
Current Perspectives in Social Theory
Studies in Symbolic Interaction
Studies in Qualitative Methodology
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Chapter 5
Sport, G ender, Fem inism
Shona M. Thom pson
How often have you heard the phrase “I’m not a feminist, b u t . . used in
conversations concerning women? Every time it is uttered, it seems to perfectly
capture the enormous ambivalence that continues to surround feminism. In making
such a statement, the speaker is personally distancing herself from the negative
stereotypes surrounding what has been derogatively described as the latest ‘f-
w ord’ (Richards & Parker, 1995). At the same time, however, she is
acknowledging that feminism is recognised as having been responsible for
bringing about some major gains for women.
The ‘but’ in the statement is significant. It is usually followed by a call for
some’form of change in gender relations; some desire for a better deal for herself
or other women expressed in response to a personally experienced or perceived
injustice based on gender. Among sportswomen, for example, it may be anything
from having her soccer game relegated to a second-rate field, to recognising
the enormous disparity in rewards between*sportsmen and sportswomen. Such
situations illustrate what has long been understood by feminists — that in
women’s everyday experiences, ‘the personal is political’.
Although feminism remains a much misrepresented and often feared term, it
is nevertheless recognised for having helped forge major social and political
change in the past century, and for revolutionising the way gender and gender
relations are now theorised and understood. Here lies a reason for the negative,
sometimes hostile, responses to the word. For women to gain greater
opportunities and access to public life, it has often required men to give up
some of the privileges they have historically enjoyed. When social and political
activism highlights inequalities in the way social life is organised, and advocates
for changes that require those in privileged positions to give up some of that
status, controversy and resistance seem likely (Coakley, 1994).
So, ‘What is feminism, anyway?’ Chris Beasley’s (1999) recent book of that
title explains how, after approximately thirty years of what is known as the
‘second wave’ of feminism, it remains an ill-defined and misunderstood term.
Theory, Sport & Society
Copyright © 2002 by Elsevier Science Ltd.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
ISBN: 0-7623-0742-0
106 Shona M. Thompson
Furthermore, over that time, feminism has developed into a highly complex and
sophisticated mode of understanding, which has tended to add to the confusion.
While it is now well recognised that there are many forms and applications of
feminism, it is nevertheless still possible to identify some of the key principles
that underpin its various approaches.
Fundamentally, feminism champions the belief that women have rights to all
the benefits and privileges of social life equally with men. For the purposes of
those concerned with sport, this means that girls and women have the right to
choose to participate in sport and physical activity without constraint, prejudice
or coercion, to expect their participation to be respected and taken seriously,
and to be as equally valued and rewarded as sportsmen. These do not seem too
much to ask.
Nevertheless, feminist attention to sport has revealed a history of women
being denied opportunities, of being restricted and excluded from participation,
of having our accomplishments ignored or ridiculed, of hearing our efforts being
used as male forms of derision, of having our labour and our bodies exploited
in the name of sport, and of being divided against each other by endemic
misogyny and homophobia. Sport remains one of the most problematically
gender-defined and gender-divided aspects of social life, and our understandings
of this have come about largely through the deliberate engagement of feminist
perspectives to the study of sport as a social institution.
When feminism is used to study any social institution, it is engaged, by
definition, at three interconnected levels. First, feminism critiques traditional
forms of knowledge to expose how these may be generated from an androcentric
perspective, developed traditionally by men, based largely on male subjects and
male experiences. Second, it develops its own knowledge and theories, based
on the understanding that society is predominantly patriarchal and structured in
ways which give men greater power and privilege. Feminist analysis focuses on
what this means to the ways women experience their lives. Third, feminism is a
form of activism, /directed by knowledge about the reality of women’s lives that
feminist analysis seeks to illuminate. This knowledge provides the motivation
and focus for whatever pressure is necessary to bring about social change for
women’s equal opportunities, enhanced quality of life and greater safety.
In this chapter, I shall focus on the impact of feminist scholarship on the
sociological study of sport. I begin with an overview of the early meeting of
sociology of sport and feminism, and introduce some of its ‘foremothers’.
Following that, I discuss feminism as being concerned with political advocacy
and social change. Then I identify some of the key areas to which feminist
scholarship has, over many years, been applied to the study of sport and give
examples o f the understandings that have resulted from this scholarship. These
Sport, Gender, Feminism 107
include women’s experiences of sport, patriarchy and male power in sport,
media representations of sportswomen, and issues relating to female sporting
Sociology of Sport meets Feminism
The application of feminism to studies of sport began in earnest in the late 1970s.
While there was a growing academic interest in women’s participation in sport
prior to this, it was not characterised by an obvious or consistent feminist focus.
Susan Birrell’s (1988) article, ‘Discourses on the Gender/Sport Relationship:
From Women in Sport to Gender Relations’, concisely documents the transition
in the sociology of sport from a focus on women’s sport to an understanding of
the significance of gender in the analyses of all sport, which was clearly informed
by feminist scholarship. Birrell dates Ann Hall’s (1978) monograph as the turning
point. She described Hall’s work as “the first to attempt a definition of feminism,
the first to understand the feminist critique of social science, and the first to
briitg feminist paradigms to bear on sport” (Birrell, 1988: 472). At the time,
Birrell correctly predicted that a theoretically-based feminist perspective would
inform future sociology of sport.
One of the earliest tasks undertaken by feminist scholars was a critique of
the androcentric scientific models that had been previously used to address
questions regarding women and sport. It was recognised that scientific research
questions are derived from sets of assumptions which, in turn, translate into the
sorts of explanations that the answers to those questions bring. Feminist scholars
saw it necessary to base their inquiries on a new set of assumptions, and
therefore asked different questions from those that had informed traditional
male-oriented science. For example, as Birrell (1988) explained, when faced
with women’s low participation rates in sport, shifting the research question
from ‘why aren’t women more interested in sport?’ to ‘why are women excluded
from sp o rt? ’, or ‘why is the relationship betw een women and sport
problematic?’, reflects vastly different assumptions about the ‘causes’ of
women’s low participation rates. The feminist scientific agenda was to ask
questions that reflected the social world as perceived and experienced by
Much of the early feminist sociology of sport of the 1980s drew on the
developing feminist critiques of other academic disciplines, particularly the
social sciences, challenging the methodological, theoretical and political
practices that had prevailed, and exposing the intellectual sexism in the scientific
traditions (Birrell, 1984; Hall, 1984; Theberge, 1985). This exercise did not
108 Shona M. Thompson
happen without tension. As feminist scholars challenged other theoretical
perspectives, there was much debate about the supremacy of various types of
analyses, particularly regarding the relative importance of class or gender (e.g.,
Deem, 1989). Feminists argued, however, that intellectual disciplines that did
not adopt a feminist perspective would be left ‘gender-blind’ and therefore
grossly inadequate in theoretical terms (Cole, 1994; Deem, 1988; Hall, 1985a).
While much of this work was being done in North America, the influence of
feminism was occurring world-wide, albeit with differing emphases. In the UK,
for example, the study of women and sport was contextualised in a broader
critique of leisure, posing questions about women’s access to leisure time and
space. Griffin et al. (1982) highlighted how patriarchy, structuring all levels of
society, was based on the sexual divisions of labour and control over women’s
sexuality and fertility, which “allocat(ed) women to a primarily reproductive
role, through which all their .other roles are mediated (1982: 90, original
emphasis). This, they argued, had implications for women’s leisure in that it
both structured women’s lives and affected perceptions of what was appropriate
behaviour for them. Other feminist scholars identified the constraints and
controls on women’s leisure as being related to how they were (or were not)
engaged in paid work, their primary responsibility for the care of others, and
male control of women’s activities and leisure spaces (Deem, 1986; Green et
a l, 1990; Wimbush and Talbot, 1988). Sporting opportunities for women were
considered in the context of their access to leisure.
The rapid spread to other parts of the world of feminist concerns about sport
and physical activity came about through publications in international journals,
such as Hall (1987), and through many, specifically focused conferences where
it was common practice for speakers to be deliberately invited to bring a
feminist perspective. For example, conferences held in Sydney, Australia (1980)
and in Wellington, New Zealand (19S1) featured feminists from other countries
who ‘spread the word’, calling for the urgent application of feminist analysis
and activism to sport and recreation, to help bring’about the necessary changes
for women’s greater participation opportunities and rewards (Darlison, 1981;
Hall, 1985b).
Feminism, Advocacy and Change
As mentioned previously, feminism is multi-dimensional. As well as being a
theoretical perspective employed to analyse the social world, it encompasses a
commitment to changing aspects of that world which disadvantage women and
other iharginalised groups. Feminists deliberately strive for that change. There,
Sport, Gender, Feminism 109
have been, however, vastly differing views about what exactly needs to be
changed, and how those changes could or should be brought about. Two of the
main views, derived from differing forms of feminism, became known as ‘liberal’
and ‘radical’.
Liberal feminism advocates for women’s greater involvement in social life
by enhancing their opportunities to join existing institutions and structures, such
as government, paid work or sport. The way to achieve this, for example, is
through the development and use of legal and social policies, such as Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity legislation, to open up social structures for
increased opportunities for girls and women.
Advocates of radical change, on the other hand, are more likely to be critical
of those social structures, to want to challenge the practices and ideologies
surrounding them that are considered fundamentally sexist, exclusionary or
harmful. For example, radical feminists would advocate that it is not good
enough to simply add more women (or more from ethnic minority groups, or
more people with disabilities) to sports organisations in their existing forms,
but that the organisations themselves, and sport as it is practised, needs to be
‘radically’ changed to make it a fairer, safer, more enriching and rewarding
possibility for everyone.
In effect, the liberal agenda has been more successful. Hall (1995) compared
women’s sport advocacy organisations and provided a thorough overview of
advocacy efforts for women and sport to that date. In this, she analysed four
feminist organisations: the Women’s Sport Foundation (USA); the Canadian
Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity;
the Women’s Sport Foundation (UK); and Womensport Australia. Hall also
included a description of the 1994 international conference where The Brighton
Declaration on Women and Sport was drawn up and where the organisation,
Womensport International, was launched. While women’s participation in sport
has increased, she concluded that it has been difficult to ‘p o litic ise ’
sportswomen and women’s sport. Although there have been “significant gains
in bringing more girls and women into sport, . . .sport itself remains as male-
dominated and as male-oriented as always. This is not meaningful progress’’
(Hall, 1995: 245).
Women in sports advocacy organisations have commonly envisaged radical
changes to the institution of sport but have had little success (Hall, 1996). Those
who have been critical of sporting structures have noticed how difficult it is to
accomplish radical change against the strength of the conservative, patriarchal
power controlling sport, and hegemonic values that are increasingly ‘market’
orientated. For example, Jim McKay was funded by the Australian Sports
Commission (ASC) to investigate why there were so few women in Australian
110 Shona M. Thompson
sports organisations with the understanding that this would help improve the
situation (McKay, 1992). When his interviews with sports administrators turned
up unsolicited criticism about how the ASC handled gender equity issues, his
research was discredited (by both the ASC and the media), his academic
integrity attacked, and he was forced to change aspects of the research report
before it was approved for release (McKay, 1993).
Another example; in 1987,1 described how huge numbers of women in New
Zealand had protested against the country’s sporting exchanges with what was
then Apartheid South Africa; directing that protest at men’s rugby in ways that
clearly demonstrated existing fury and frustration at how this sport symbolised
and perpetuated white supremacist patriarchal power (Thompson, 1988). At the
time I noted the general optimism felt in the aftermath of the protests for a
resulting change in gender relations, in which men’s rugby would no longer
dominate New Zealand social life or psyche. Instead, we have witnessed what
Jackson (1995) succinctly described as the “transformation, reinvention and
reassertion’’ oftugby as a full>t professionalised, commercialised and mediated
sport. Its dominance in New Zealand culture has arguably surpassed anything
previously known, and young New Zealand women are now numbered large
amongst its fans (Thompson, 1999a). Such examples have illustrated how
difficult it is to achieve radical feminist visions for change and how change that
comes about is not always for the better.
The Standpoint of Women and their Experiences of Sport
From the earliest feminist studies of sport, similar stories emerged from many
parts of the world about the dismal, inequitable status of women’s sport. It was
never suggested that women had not always been active in sport and physical
recreation, but that the opportunities for this had been limited, women’s
involvement made difficult and their achievements hidden. Margaret Talbot
(1988) commented that the, by then, well documented constraints mitigating
against women’s participation in sport made depressing reading. Detailed accounts
of women’s experiences in sport were rare. Like other areas of human endeavour,
sport histories and biographies were mainly written by men, about men, and for
men, and thus records of the struggles, joys and richness experienced by
sportswomen were conspicuously few (Hargreaves, 1994). Furthermore, there
was an emerging preoccupation with issues considered problematic in women’s
sport, such as the supposed conflict between athleticism and femininity. To counter
this, Talbot (1988) drew on personal accounts of sportswomen to explain the
importance and meaning of sport in their lives, illustrating the importance of
Sport, Gender, Feminism 111
empowerment and “the ability and capacity of women to speak for themselves,
to control their own activities, to be taken seriously, and to define elements of
their worlds according to their own terms and values”

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