Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Fighting gender stereotypes: women’s participation in the martial arts, physical feminism and social change

Maor, Maya 2019. Fighting gender stereotypes: women’s participation in the martial arts, physical feminism and social change. Martial Arts Studies 7 , pp. 36-48. 10.18573/mas.56

PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (236kB) | Preview


In the past, some scholars have assumed that women’s empowerment through participation in sports, particularly male-identified sports, would result in a decrease in gender differences and performances of femininity. Recently, however, scholars have suggested that performances of femininity are not necessarily detrimental to gender empowerment, and furthermore that strategic use of them may be subversive. On the basis of my auto-ethnography and interviews with men and women who practice martial arts, I explicate the unique social conditions that make full-contact martial arts a fertile ground for gender subversive appropriation in terms of: 1. close and reciprocal bodily contact between men and women, 2. the need to learn new regimes of embodiment, and 3. the paradoxical effects of male dominance in the field. I then describe two specific mechanisms through which subversive appropriation takes place: formation of queer identities and male embodied nurturance. While the first mechanism relies on women’s appropriation of performances of masculinity, the second relies on men’s appropriation of performances of femininity.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Publisher: Cardiff University Press
ISSN: 2057-5696
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 February 2019
Date of Acceptance: 30 December 2018
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 12:32

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics