Femininity and the Physically Active Woman
Routledge – 2000 – 128 pages
Series: Women and Psychology
The fitness boom of the last two decades has led to many people incorporating exercise into their lifestyles through activities such as jogging and aerobics. However, whilst many physical and psychological health benefits have been documented, far too few people actually take part in enough exercise to glean significant improvements, and this is much more a problem for women than men.
Femininity and the Physically Active Woman explores one reason many women offer for their lack of involvement in sport and exercise - that they are not the 'sporty' type. Precilla Y.L. Choi argues that the 'sporty' type is masculine, and to determine how this notion might affect women's self-perceptions, she critically examines the experiences of women athletes, bodybuilders, recreational exercisers and girls' physical education. What emerges is the importance of visible differences between women and men, in terms of muscularity, strength and agility in order to maintain the gender order. Thus, if a girl or woman wishes to play the masculine game of sport she must do so in conformity with a number of patriarchal rules which ensure she is first and foremost recognised as a heterosexual feminine being.
Contributing to a psychology of the physically active woman by examining women's experiences from critical feminist and gendered perspectives, Femininity and the Physically Active Woman will be of great interest to students, researchers, practitioners and teachers from a range of disciplines.
Precilla Y.L. Choi is the British Association for the Advancement of Science's Joseph Lister Lecturer for 2000. She has co-edited, with Paula Nicolson, Female Sexuality (Prentice Hall).
'An interesting book, which, for an academic text, is easily readable; and it would sit comfortably on the bookshelf of any woman with an active interest in sport.' - Diva
'Precilla Choi not only provides an excellent review of the importance and benefits of sport and physical activity for women, but also explores why low levels of physical activity exist among women more so than men … Choi's work is an excellent example of a blending of disciplines - psychology, women's studies, sociology, popular culture, and in media studies - and how we as a field need to continue to expand and intersect our work with that of scholars in other disciplines' - The Sports Psychologist
Part 1: The Gendered Nature of Sport and Exercise. How Much Physical Activity do People Participate in? Why are Fewer Women than Men Physically Active? The 'Sporty' Type. Hegemonic Femininity. Towards a Psychology of the Physically Active Woman. Part 2: A Herstory of Sport. Biology as Destiny. Protecting Women as Mothers. Questioning Biological Femaleness. Feminine Appropriate Sports. Fighting Women. Questioning Femininity. The 'Masculine' Girl. Part 3: The Sporting Woman. Sportswomen as Girls, Wives and Mothers. Accommodation and Resistance. Women's Magazines. The Threat of the Lesbian Label. Lesbian Athletes. Performing Femininity. Part 4: The Muscular Woman. The Sport of Bodybuilding. The Female Bodybuilding Competition. Resistance or Compliance. Flex Appeal. Sex Appeal. The Beauty and the Beast. Part 5: The Exercising Woman. Pursuing Beauty Through Exercise. Beauty Equals Health. Women's Imperfect Bodies. Reducing the Body. Body Dissatisfaction. Self-objectification. Feminine Appropriate Exercise. Empowering Women. Part 6: The Influence of the Sporty Type. School Experiences. Perceptions of Ability. Negotiating Femininity and Physicality. Predicting Exercise Behaviour. A Theoretical Model of Activity Choice. Part 7: Future Directions. Alternative Sport Forms. Redefining Health and Physical Activity. Rethinking Gender. Bibliography. Index.