July 21, 2008

Quick hit: recommended article on sport, sexuality and gender

Posted in body politics, queer, recommended reading, Sexuality Blogs and Resources, sports at 12:00 pm by LB

Gender and sport is one of my recent key interests lately (I think this happened after the realization that sport is really about the body, and as you know, I’m all about theorizing male and female bodies!)…so check out “Patricia Nell Warren: LGBT Sports Movement Part One of Two,” and article from the Women’s Sport Foundation, via a pretty cool blog I recently found, Rethinking Basketball, providing interesting commentary on the WNBA. Some excerpts:

A lot of the homophobia directed at lesbians comes from an entrenched belief that strenuous sport will “masculinize” women. I will never forget running in the 1969 Boston Marathon, while I was still in the closet, and seeing that some of the spectators were screaming at me, “Dyke! Dyke!” I wondered why those idiots would assume I was a lesbian when they knew nothing about me — after all, I had kept my sexual orientation a deep dark secret. Then I realized that my mere presence out there on the road, in a sport reserved for men, meant that these people saw me as “masculinized”…and “masculine” is a code word for lesbian.

[…] For gay and bi men, homophobia comes from the opposite direction: the illogical and irrational belief that being gay “feminizes” you and makes you unfit for sports, especially for rough physical sports like football and ice hockey. The rhetoric of ridicule that many male coaches and athletes use — for instance, “you throw a ball like a girl” — is aimed at pushing a man to establish his heterosexuality by extreme efforts not to look “feminine.” So, for many men, the sudden discovery that a rugged, masculine teammate of theirs is gay is a horrible shock.

[…] The more I think about sports and study their history, the more I realize that homophobia is as much about gender as it is about sexual orientation. A given sport or sports body can make an attempt to codify a cultural definition of “gender,” all the way from which events are permitted to women to stipulations on what styles of clothing men and women must wear during competition, as they do in figure skating and rodeo.

Read the whole thing here.



  1. CaliSurf said,

    I thought this was a VERY interesting post! I’m glad you posted it. There are a lot of people who feel that way about sports, masculating women, but I found this to be untrue from a video and athlete I saw working for Motorola. Danica Patrick is a champion in a male dominated sport, and is still able to remain beautiful and feminine, just take a look at the spoof video she made on http://www.motodanica.com, where she’s wearing a gorgeous blue dress. I think she embodies a total female powerhouse and positive role model for females everywhere!

  2. habladora said,

    Oh, wow… I can’t wait to show this to Maus (my co-blogger charged with covering all things sports – well, all things sports that belong on a feminist blog…)

  3. lindabeth said,

    Interesting point, thought I think Danica’s-as many other female athletes’-pinup-advertisements rewrite her as safely “feminine.” This is hugely problematic too: that athletes’ feminine is contingent on their being a satisfactory sex object. See other posts in my “sports” category to see more of what I mean.

    As I write this, I noticed in the store the other day that yet another white, blond, petite tennis player graces the cover of Playboy, promising to “bare it all.” Charming.

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