19 thoughts on “Reader query: women and sport

  1. There’s a good book by Paul Davis and Charlene Weaving on this:

    Paul Davis and Charlene Weaving, eds. Philosophical Perspectives on Gender in Sport and Physical Activity. London; New York: Routledge, 2010.

    Covers lots of interesting and relevant issues.

    There are also three excellent papers in Tamburrini and Tannsjo’s Values in Sport (Routledge). My favourite is Tannsjo’s ‘Against Sexual Discrimination in Sport’ which proposes a very radical thesis, and one which I use with students since it challenges all their assumptions about separating male and female sport:

    Tannsjo, T. (2000) Against sexual discrimination in sports. In T. Tannsjo & C. Tamburrini (eds.) Values in Sport. Chapter 7.

    Hope this helps.

  2. I like Peterson’s “Grrrl in a Gi” in Martial Arts and Philosophy by Priest and Young. Gillian Russell, an exceelnt philosopher, also has a piece in there which might also be appropriate.

  3. It’s been around for a while, but you might check out Betsy Postow’s “Women, Philosophy and Sport: A Collection of New Essays” (1983).

  4. this is a great article possibly for somewhat advanced students on the new policy of testosterone testing created in the wake of the Caster Semenya debate:

    Katrina Karkazis, Rebecca Jordan-Young, Georgiann Davis & Silvia Camporesi (2012): Out of Bounds? A Critique of the New Policies on Hyperandrogenism in Elite Female Athletes, The American Journal of Bioethics, 12:7, 3-16

    I also use this as an introduction:

  5. This may be too obvious to bother saying but Iris Young’s Throwing Like a Girl seems like necessary recent history.

  6. One recent & two classics from sociology:
    Michael Messner, 2009, Its All for the Kids: Gender, Families, and Youth Sports (UC Press)
    Barrie Thorne, 1993, Gender Play (not about organized sports, necessarily)
    Gary Alan Fine, 1987, With the Boys (ethnographic study about the microinteractions in little league that teach boys to be “men”). Not about women, per se, but it’d be a great contrast. Plus, it’s a fascinating read, and something that undergraduates can relate to.

  7. Melina Bell at Washington & Lee’s philosophy department has some good work on body-building, among other things. I’m in a rush so can’t link, but if you google her you’ll get it.

  8. Karkazis et al (2012). Out of Bounds? A Critique of New Policies on Hyperandrogenism in Elite Female Athletes. American Journal of Bioethics, 12(17), pp. 3-16.

    I use this to teach the new (stupid) gender policies of the IOC and the IAAF, and I tie it into talking about transgender athletes.

  9. Also, here’s a page with some great resources (articles and reports) on transgender athletes.


    I’ve used both “Promising Practices: Working with Transitioning-Transitioned Athletes in Sport,” and “Do Transitioned Athletes Compete at an Advantage or Disadvantage as Compared with Physically Born Men and Women: A Review of the Scientific Literature.”

  10. On a related note, I don’t know if anyone was at the ICESMIS conference in June earlier this year and listened to IAAF head Huw Roberts give a presentation on how since testosterone wasn’t a good test of sex determination, they were proposing to go back to the old ways of mandatory examination of genitalia for ‘female’ athletes. Needless to say the audience’s jaws dropped in a mixture of disbelief and outrage.

  11. I am a big fan of Leslie Howe’s work
    “On Competing Against Oneself, or ‘I need to get a different voice in my head’”, Sport, Ethics, and Philosophy, vol. 2, no. 3 (December 2008): 353-366.

    “Remote Sport: Risk and Self-Knowledge in Wilder Spaces”, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 35, no. 1: 1-16.

    “Play, Performance, and the Docile Athlete”, Sport, Ethics, and Philosophy, vol. 1 no. 1 (April 2007): 47-57.

  12. ‘The Stronger Women Get, The More Men Love Football: Sexism and the American Culture of Sports’ by Mariah Burton Nelson and ‘The Frailty Myth: Redefining the Physical Potential of Women and Girls’ by Colette Dowling are both excellent. (Thanks for giving me an excuse to pull these books off the shelves!)

  13. John McClendon has a very recent book out on sports and race. it might provide some interesting insights.
    I went to look for it at Amazon.com and they said something like it would ship in 2 or 3 weeks. I think that meant it is just coming out.

  14. Tamburrini and Tannsjo have a book on Genetic Technology and Sport, and the 5th section addresses gender issues and Genetic Technology. Their paper in that section argues that we should use genetic technologies on female athletes to design “Bio-Amazons” that can compete equally with male athletes.

    This paper is followed by two responses, one by Susan Sherwin and Meredith Schwartz “Resisting the Emergence of Bio-Amazons” and one by Ruth Chadwick and Sarah Wilson “Bio-Amazons–A Comment.”

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