DISRUPTION TO THE GENDER ORDER: A QUALITATIVE EXPLORATION OF THE EXPERIENCES OF ELITE WOMEN RUGBY PLAYERS
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Recent sociological studies of women’s sport have suggested that sports-women no longer feel 'apologetic' for playing a traditionally male sport. Rugby, however, is a deeply ingrained male practice. As a result, women’s progress is more complex. The purpose of this study was to gain an in depth insight into the lives of university elite female rugby players. Over an extended period data was collected via semi-structured interviews with four women players. The concept of resistance narratives, the culture, stereotypes, sexuality, confidence, aggression and ability to push their bodies to the limit were all considered in detail. Drawing upon the analytic concept outlined by Connell (1987) of the gender order the author found that these women resisted normative conceptions of femininity. Moreover, their varied expressions of femininity were accepted by their team mates and others outside of the rugby culture. However, despite the fact that women are playing more traditionally masculine sports, the gender order has not symbolically changed.
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