Gender assimilation in the name of performance: Three adolescent female athletes’ experiences in a sporting culture
McMahon, JA, Gender assimilation in the name of performance: Three adolescent female athletes' experiences in a sporting culture, QRSE2014 Conference Programme, 01 September 2014, Loughborough University, UK, pp. 33. (2014) [Conference Extract]
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This paper contributes to sport, sociology and body literature by exploring three athletes’ gendered experiences within a sporting culture. Specific attention will be focused on the cultural positioning of the adolescent female body by investigating if and how gendered body practices were enacted within a sporting culture. Utilizing narrative accounts, the three adolescent female athletes articulate specific body practices that they were exposed to and/or engaged with in relation to their gender and in the name of performance. Their individual experiences reveal how they were encouraged to transform their female body to a masculine shape considered ideal all for the sake of competitive performance. Growing breasts, having a bum or menstruating were deemed unacceptable for these three female adolescents and they were subsequently disciplined if their bodies did not resemble that of a male athlete. Coaches and team managers exercised disciplinary power (Foucault, 1977) by ‘normalising’ ‘regulating,’ ‘classifying’ and ‘surveilling’ the adolescent female body for the sake of performance goals. While this research is only limited to three adolescent accounts, it may not represent nor resonate with the experiences of all of the other athletes immersed in this sporting culture. It does, however reveal an essential awareness to the ways in which gender is acted upon within a sporting culture, in terms of understanding the social underpinnings including conversations, pedagogy and practice and their subsequent effects.
gender; narrative; autoethnography; performance; swimming; qualitative research