Negotiating sexuality within a university’s women’s football team: a qualitative study

Pay, S. (2017) Negotiating sexuality within a university’s women’s football team: a qualitative study. M.A. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Women’s football has been known as a space that provides significant context for the exploration of discursive practises, specifically relating to sexuality and gender (Caudwell, 2013). Illuminating homophobic and heteronormative discourses provides valuable insight towards how these discourses can be challenged, resisted and reproduced within a women’s football team, as represented in this research. Historically, football has acted as the bastion of male power that imbues hegemonic masculinity (Drury, 2011). At times, this may have caused controversies for female footballers because they can be labelled as lesbian (Magrath, 2016). This assumption is fallacious through the social construction of gendered assumptions that football is perpetuated as a ‘man’s game.’ Homophobia in women’s football however, is reduced through the gradual visibility of lesbian players and their interactions with heterosexual team players (Cox and Thompson, 2001). This research project provides an account of how sexuality is contested and negotiated within a university’s women’s football team. The project was produced over a year, following a university’s women’s football team over the 2016-17 season. Participant observations were produced during training sessions, and followed the team through their Varsity game, which is one of the most important games in the season against another rival university football team. Six participants who were considered to have built rapport with the researcher, were then selected to conduct a semi-structured interview. These were produced to gain further insights into how various sexualities were produced and maintained within the sporting space, and how identity construction was negotiated through sexuality and gender discourses. Through the application of queer theory, as well as Foucault’s discussions of power and discourse, the findings suggest that women’s football at university, is a space for the negotiation of sexuality. However, personal subjectivity means that football is considered a ‘safe’ space dependent on personal experience and how one identifies their sense of sexuality and gendered practises.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Women's football; gender; identity; higher education
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV0706.5 Sports sociology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Faculty of Education > School of Childhood and Education Sciences
Depositing User: Mrs Michaela Loos-Page
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2018 12:35
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2019 10:00

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00