The female bodybuilder as a gender outlaw

Shilling, Chris and Bunsell, Tanya (2009) The female bodybuilder as a gender outlaw. Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 1 (2). pp. 141-159. ISSN 0252-9203

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19398440902909009

Abstract

This paper is a sociological exploration of the female bodybuilder as a 'gender outlaw', a figure who is stigmatised not because she has broken a formal law, but because she has disregarded so flagrantly dominant understandings of what is aesthetically, kinaesthetically and phenomenologically acceptable within the gendered order of social interaction. Illustrating our argument with reference to a two-year ethnographic study of British female bodybuilders, we begin by explicating the contours of this deviance - associating it with multiple transgressions manifest in terms of choice, aesthetics, action/experience and consumption - and explore the costs accruing to these stigmatised women. In the second half of the paper, we attend to the motivations and experiences of female bodybuilders themselves in explaining why they remain engaged in an activity rendered perverse by dominant gendered norms. Exploring their commitment to an interaction order based upon muscle rather than gender, our conclusion suggests these women offend the most fundamental 'collective sentiments', possessing no authorised place in the cultural consciousness of society.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 306 Culture & institutions
700 The arts; fine & decorative arts; recreation > 796 Athletic & outdoor sports & games
School/Department: School of Sport, Health and Applied Science
Depositing User: Tanya Bunsell
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2014 08:08
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2014 08:08
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/719

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