SPORT, PHYSICAL DANGER, AND INJURY: THE EXPERIENCES OF ELITE WOMEN ATHLETES Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Recently, feminist work on sport and gender has begun to understand male tolerance of physical risk and injury as a constituting process that may enhance a particular brand of masculinization. For some men, the cultural meanings of physical danger and living with injury resonate with larger ideological issues of gender legitimacy and power. But how may women's tolerance of the potential for injury in sport be explained using this approach? Based on data from questionnaires and follow-up interviews with elite women athletes in Western Canada, this exploratory study reveals some parallel meanings of violence, pain, and injury for men and women athletes. The findings raise important theoretical questions regarding possible ambiguities in sports-related emancipation for women. On one hand, women are participating in, even colonizing, traditionally male-exclusive spaces in sport. On the other hand, many such spaces are being occupied by women athletes who, rather than participating in a transformation of the meaning of sport, appear to be contributing to a male-defined sports process replete with its violent, macho, and health-compromising aspects. Women's increasing participation in aggressive sport is interpreted as a dialectic, in which resistance to male dominance in sport is tempered by a degree of hegemonic incorporation.

publication date

  • February 1995