Sexualisation of the fighter's body: some reflections on women's mixed martial arts

Channon, A.G., Quinney, A., Khomutova, A. and Matthews, C.R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8561-2863, 2017. Sexualisation of the fighter's body: some reflections on women's mixed martial arts. Corps. ISSN 1954-1228

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Abstract

This short paper offers an exploration of the ways in which a long-standing phenomenon in sport media portrayals of female athletes manifests in the newly-emerging field of women’s mixed martial arts (WMMA). Widely critiqued by scholars of sport media (e.g., Bruce, 2013; Kane, 2011), the sexual objectification of women in sport has long been held out as an example of the resilience of patriarchal logic within the world of sport. In brief, this argument rests on the notion that women’s entry into (specifically ‘masculine’) sports threatens orthodox gender hierarchies, because it provides women with opportunities to embody characteristics historically associated with men. Relative to discourses of gender which prioritise men’s ‘natural’ physical superiority, and take this as symbolic justification of men’s power elsewhere, female athleticism carries potentially radical connotations (Messner, 1988; Roth & Basow, 2004). However, sexualising female athletes undermines the challenge they might pose to dominant gender ideals, as it deflects attention away from the athletic capacities of women’s bodies whilst repositioning them as passive objects of the male gaze. Validating and rewarding female athletes on the basis of their heterosexual attractiveness reasserts hierarchal gender relations both within sport (sport is ‘by’ and ‘for’ heterosexual men), as well as without (women are only valuable when they become objects of men’s desire).

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Corps
Creators: Channon, A.G., Quinney, A., Khomutova, A. and Matthews, C.R.
Publisher: CNRS Editions
Date: 5 September 2017
ISSN: 1954-1228
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Depositing User: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 29 Sep 2017 09:36
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2017 09:36
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/31747

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