WSTA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Hegemonic Masculinity

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Published on 20 Apr 2013
Women's and Gender Studies
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CHAPTER 9: 'It's Part of the Game': Physicality and the Production of Gender in Women's Hockey
professional sport remains largely a male preserve in which the majority of opportunities and rewards go to men
in other contexts, including school and university sport and international competitions, including most notably the Olympics, opportunities for women are
expanding, performances are improving, and public interest is rising
these developments pose a challenge to ideologies of gender and to the historical association between gender, physicality, and power
a particularly significant challenge to gender ideologies is the increased involvement of women in sports that Bryson calls 'flag carriers' of masculinity
these are sports that 'quintessentially promote hegemonic masculinity and to which a majority of people are regularly exposed'
in the North American context, the best examples are football and ice hockey
in these sports, which celebrate force and toughness and involve direct confrontation between competitors, it is 'dominate or lose'
Playing the Game: The Construction of Women's Hockey
the rules of play in men's and women's ice hockey are substantially the same, with one major difference: the rules on women's hockey prohibit intentional body
checking – that is, intentional effort to hit, or 'take out', an opposing player
to be sure, there is still considerable use of the body and body contact in women's hockey, both intentional and unintentional
to watch a game is to see players constantly try to outmanoeuvre and outmuscle one another
at the same time, women's games are noticeably different from the full-contact game played at the higher levels of the men's sport
Conclusion: Women’s Hockey and the Challenge to Masculine Hegemony
- suggestions that a ‘problem’ with body checking is that girls are not taught this skills complement the observation that eliminating checking improves the game by
making it easier to officiate
- both imply that the ‘problem’ with checking is not the practice, per se, but limitations in the organization of the sport regarding training and skill development of
athletes and officials
- gender equality has received increased attention in many sports, including hockey, in recent years
- women’s hockey is played in a cultural context in which men’s sport is hegemonic
- targets of criticism in boys’ hockey are the style of play, which emphasizes intimidation and domination, and the competitive and elitist system that eliminates boys
by early adolescence, boys who are unable to perform by these standards
- the dominance of men’s hockey provides the background for much of the debate over the construction of the women’s game
- against the background, to argue that women’s hockey need not to be the same as men’s is to position the women’s game as not only different from but inferior to
the ‘real’ game
- the prohibition of body checking is central to a strategy to promote women’s hockey by emphasizing its differences from the men’s game
- while the game clearly is different from men’s hockey in the absence of body checking, evidence of troubling similarities is provided in the discussion of pain and
injury in women’s hockey
- the challenge to masculine hegemony is weakened by the location of the debate about the practice of women’s hockey within a framework that positions men’s
hockey as the ‘real’ game
- while women’s hockey provides clear and compelling refutation of the myth of female frailty, the potential of the sport to challenge traditional ideologies of gender is
diminished by its construction as a milder version of the sport that ‘really counts’
- the cultural struggle in women’s hockey is conditioned by its relation to the dominant male model