Unapologetic on the flat track: gender conformity, cooptation & subversion in a local grassroots roller derby league
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This article expands the discussion of alternative femininities and gender resistance through long-term experiential ethnographic study of Women's Flat Track Roller Derby. Gender identities are fluid and multiple, each performance mediated by the complex social context in which it occurs. Flat Track Roller Derby provides a social context that simultaneously complies with and resists hegemonic gender norms. The sport of Flat Track Roller Derby calls on women to be empowered by and empower one another, to form communities, to make decisions as 'owners' of their own bodies and productive capacities and in many ways that subvert gender norms. As a cultural scene it empowers women to redefine their understandings of their spaces, their bodies, their time and labor; all areas of women's lives that have been historically controlled and dominated by male interests. This study aims to expand our understanding of the relationship between systems of gender, as constructed in a hegemonic heteronormative culture, and women's lived experiences within the male gendered and gendering institution of sport as it is interpreted by women. These entangled relationships are explored through an experiential ethnography that is interpretive in its investigation of the ways women have negotiated cultural constructions of gender and sexuality in relation to their own practices and their understandings of themselves as athletes and as women within this particular sporting context.
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