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Record Type: Review   ID: 180

Feminism and Sporting Bodies: Essays on Theory and Practice

Hall, M. Ann

 This is a very rewarding book that requires close reading. To fully explicate it could be the subject of a dissertation! It is dense, not in the sense of being murky, but in the sense of being multileveled. Several entire discourses or domains are implicated, so one reading (by me, anyway) cannot possibly "reveal all." In essence it offers a scholarly overview of the process of how one individual’s consciousness has become raised (and deepened) as regards the engagement of women in sport—the simple topic with which she began. I applaud her first person approach, evident from chapter 1, in which she describes her "research odyssey" as a feminist, from positivism to feminism. In chapter 2, she moves from the biological approach to a psychology of sport that recognizes the need for a "politicized feminism." Moving further, in the third chapter, "The Potential of Feminist Cultural Studies," the need for theory is recognized as well as radical critiques of sport and class and a discussion of whether feminist cultural studies would be fruitful, that is, she considers "the possibilities and dangers of the liaison, and ... the implications for our theorizing and politicizing about gender and sport. Next she takes up "The Significance of the Body," which calls for "a fully embodied sociology of sport," including "how feminists have sought to theorize the sexualized or gendered body" (p. 50), using women’s participation in aerobics and bodybuilding as examples. The next chapter focuses on debates "over feminist research principles and expounds the complex connections between feminist epistemologies and research methods," (p. 70), applying this to women’s sport. In chapter 6 she turns "From Liberal Activism to Radical Cultural Struggle," as from the viewpoint of "feminist activists in sport" (p. 90). Here the engender emphasizes the aim not of equality, or equal opportunity for women in sport, but equity, which is aimed at "providing everyone with the same finish line" (question from Brude Kidd, p. 90). She envisions cyberspace, not the playing field, as the optimum site in which "a global feminist praxis in sport" could be worked out (p. 105). With my special interest in exceptional human experiences in women athletes, I have longed for the resolution of problems of equality in sport so women could have a base from which to communicate their EHEs, but Hall makes it clear that there is still another mountain to cross: that of equity in sport, before women, as well as men, can simply be human beings engaged in sport and able to communicate their dreams and visions into exceptional human performance—and be able to tell the tale of how it transpired. There is a crying need for women’s wonder tales of engagement in sports.
Publisher Information:Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1996. Bibl: 109-126; Ind: 127-134
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