48 Scopus citations


The community of sport is a powerful site for the construction of masculinity, male identities, and heterosexuality. Consequently, the increased entry of women into the sporting arena has been actively resisted, with women athletes either excluded or framed within traditional, sexualized discourses of femininity and heterosexuality. Yet Title IX and increased female participation have been used to suggest that women have achieved sporting empowerment. Thus, elite, professional female athletes provide an interesting position from which to explore the discourses available for women's construction of athletic identities. Using critical discourse analysis with an emphasis on rhetorical and discursive analysis (Potter, 1996), we analyzed 20 interviews with professional female athletes with a particular interest in exploring the problematic nature of performing female identities given the limited hegemonic forms and resources offered by a predominant and powerful male discourse. Analysis revealed limited ways to construct female athleticism that involved complex and contradictory gender work, including the problematic construction of female athleticism through the deployment of hegemonic discourses that framed ordinary women as nonsporting. Our findings suggest that women athletes remain at the peripheries of the community of sport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-144
Number of pages19
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008


  • Discourses
  • Femininity
  • Gender
  • Hegemony
  • Heterosexuality
  • Social Construction
  • Sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication

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