Crossing Boundaries. an International Anthology of Women's Experiences in Sport

By Bach, Alice Riis | Women's Studies Quarterly, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

Crossing Boundaries. an International Anthology of Women's Experiences in Sport


Bach, Alice Riis, Women's Studies Quarterly


A REVIEW OF SUSAN J. BANDY AND ANNE S. DARDEN, EDS., CROSSING BOUNDARIES. AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF WOMEN'S EXPERIENCES IN SPORT Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers, 1999, 311 pages, $21.95.

SPORT LITERATURE WRITTEN BY WOMEN

According to the editors of Crossing Boundaries, it is the first international collection of sport literature. The literature is quite varied in that it includes poetry, fiction, prose memoirs, journalistic essays, and drama. The editors argue that the principal theme that unites the 122 pieces of literature included in the anthology is the female quest for autonomous self-definition and the significance of women's experiences in exercise, movement, play, and sport in this quest. The anthology has been structured according to the various themes that emerge from the literature and that reveal the quest for self-definition.

Chapter 1 explores women's marginalization in sports and their reactions to being outsiders in sports. According to Bandy and Darden's analysis, women react to the role of being an outsider by "accepting the prescribed role even as they lament their own acquiescence or by rebelling against the status quo and braving the criticism that follows." One of the works that reflects the role of the outsider in sports is a short story by the pilot and horse breeder Beryl Markham, who is among the more well-known contributors to the book.

In Chapter 2, the centrality of the body in women's quest for autonomous self-definition is explored. In the introduction to this chapter, Bandy and Darden argue that through sports women learn that the body is powerful, a pounding source of self-discovery and joy, a point they claim many feminists have faded to recognize. One of the more interesting pieces of literature in this chapter is Monica Wood's short story entitled "Disappearing," which illustrates that literature can be read on many different levels. Wood's protagonist attempts to wrest control of her obese body from her husband through swimming, and in the end the reader is left to wonder if she dies from excessive weight loss or anorexia nervosa.

The works in Chapter 3 describe the relationship of women to nature and give women's views on hunting and the killing of animals. Women's sympathy with the hunted animals rather than with the hunter may be a result of the dualistic views about man/woman and culture/nature. Bandy and Darden offer another interpretation: namely that the hunted animals can also symbolize man-the-hunter as the vulnerable one.

Sport can be seen as offering opportunities and displaying needs for creating contact between people. Chapter 4 explores the way in which sports provide the space where relationships between father and daughter, mother and daughter, sisters and brothers, or lovers who share the interest and enthusiasm for sports can be developed and understood. …

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