Sport, media, and the gender-based insult

Authored by: David Rowe

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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Since the institutional establishment of sport as a regulated, professionalized form of physical activity in the nineteenth century, sport has been a major focus of sex/gender division and hierarchy. For example, in few other pursuits is highly invasive sex testing conducted in very public circumstances, as occurred recently in the case of the South African runner Caster Semenya (Cooky et al. 2012). Sex-based classification is integral to many, if not most, forms of sport, which in turn is the foundation of constructions of gender that, in the main, privilege dominant forms of masculinity over those of femininity (see Scraton and Flintoff 2002). This is not to argue that sport is entirely a male preserve. Many women are skilled participants and enthusiastic spectators. But sport’s historical legacy as a sociocultural domain where men place themselves at the center and marginalize women remains resilient in its constructions of celebrated, exclusivist masculinity that both overtly and covertly tends to position femininity as subordinate, peripheral, sexualized, and even contemptible (McKay et al. 2000).

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