Sport, the media and the construction of compulsory heterosexuality

Year: 1997

Author: Wright, Jan, Clarke, Gill

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Media representations of sport are particularly powerful in naturalising and normalising hegemonic meanings about the body and social relations. While there is currently considerable research which analyses the ways in which gender differences are constructed in the print and visual media coverage of sport, much of this research until recently failed to question the hegemony of heterosexual relations. This paper will extend this research by drawing on feminist and poststructuralist perspectives to explore how print media representations of sport contribute to the denial of lesbian sexuality and social relations. Specifically the paper will demonstrate, through a detailed analysis of a media article on an international women's rugby union match in the UK, how choices in language and visual representations work to engage in a process of normalisation whereby these female rugby union players playing a 'man's game' are constituted in terms of hegemonic versions of heterosexual femininity. It will also be argued that such media analyses are important sources for physical education when teaching about the social and cultural context of physical activity.