Sport and Gender Identities: Masculinities, Femininities and Sexualities

Sport and Gender Identities: Masculinities, Femininities and Sexualities

Sport and Gender Identities: Masculinities, Femininities and Sexualities

Sport and Gender Identities: Masculinities, Femininities and Sexualities


This important new book brings together gender studies and sexuality studies to provide original and critical insights into processes of identity formation in a wide range of sport-related contexts. The authors draw on contemporary debates concerning gender and identity from a range of disciplines including sociology, social and cultural geography, media studies and management studies, to address key issues in masculinity, femininity and sexuality:

  • Part 1: Representing masculinities in sport analyses media representations of men's sports, exploring the variety and complexity of concepts of masculinity.
  • Part 2: Transgressing femininities in sport makes use of case studies to examine the experiences of women in male-dominated sporting arenas.
  • Part 3: Performing sexualities in sport analyses the role of queer theory in sport studies, explores experiences of and responses to homophobia in sport, and examines the significance of the Gay Games.

This book will be of particular interest to students and academics working in sport studies, leisure studies, gender studies, queer and sexuality studies, social and cultural geography, and sociology.


This book explores and explains the complex ways in which both gender and sexuality, as significant aspects of individual identities, identity politics and identity relations, inform and are informed by sport. This dialectic relationship, in which identities are constantly shaped and reshaped, made and remade, presented and represented, engages with sport as a dynamic social and cultural force. The mutable nature of sport, of identity and of the relationship between the two offers possibilities for resistance, contestation and transgression of hegemonic gender and sexual power relations. In this respect, identities that might be marginal in previous sporting times or in contemporary non-sporting spaces might find a place of sanctuary within sport through avenues such as women’s football or the Gay Games, for example. But sport is also an ambiguous site of visible and marked embodied identities where the discourses of power that are dominant within wider society can often be exaggerated to construct sporting arenas as veritable prisons for those marginalised as ‘Other’ in everyday life. Thus sport can be criticised as being the last great bastion of homophobia, racism and nationalism within contemporary western society.

The chapters collected here seek to explore and explain this contradictory nature of sport in relation to the perennially contested, and frequently overlapping, categories of masculinities, femininities and sexualities. The plurality attached to these terms denotes the sense in which many of the chapters draw on contemporary post-structural critiques to examine sport and identity as mutually informing sites in which dominant power relations are constantly ‘in process’ and subject to changing patterns of construction, legitimation, reproduction and reworking (Aitchison 2000, 2003, 2005). Indeed, it is this emphasis on ‘reworking’ that is highlighted in many of the chapters. The contingent nature of identities, as played out in and through sport, is revealed through the mobility in discourses and practices of dominant, residual and emergent cultures within and in relation to sport. Each chapter within the book demonstrates how such discourses and practices serve to inform and, in turn, become informed by the identity relations . . .

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