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A Locker Room of Her Own

A Locker Room of Her Own: Celebrity, Sexuality, and Female Athletes

David C. Ogden
Joel Nathan Rosen
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    A Locker Room of Her Own
    Book Description:

    Female athletes are too often perceived as interlopers in the historically male-dominated world of sports. Obstacles specific to women are of particular focus inA Locker Room of Her Own. Race, sexual orientation, and the similar qualities ancillary to gender bear special exploration in how they impact an athlete's story. Central to this volume is the contention that women in their role as inherent outsiders are placed in a unique position even more complicated than the usual experiences of inequality and discord associated with race and sports. The contributors explore and critique the notion that in order to be considered among the pantheon of athletic heroes one cannot deviate from the traditional demographic profile, that of the white male.

    These essays look specifically and critically at the nature of gender and sexuality within the contested nexus of race, reputation, and sport. The collection explores the reputations of iconic and pioneering sports figures and the cultural and social forces that helped to forge their unique and often problematic legacies. Women athletes discussed in this volume include Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the women of the AAGPBL, Billie Jean King, Venus and Serena Williams, Marion Jones, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, Sheryl Swoopes, Florence Griffith Joyner, Roberta Gibb and Kathrine Switzer, and Danica Patrick.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-961-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword: A Locker Room of One’s Own
    (pp. vii-xiv)

    Referring specifically to the needs of potential female novelists in her landmark essay “A Room of One’s Own” (1929), Virginia Woolf observes that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of women and the true nature of fiction unsolved.”¹ Woolf’s assertion that a woman writer requires space and funding to produce effectively may be applied in equal measure to the female athlete, especially the professional female athlete, the performer whose success depends not just on talent...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Engaging Contested Terrain
    (pp. xvii-2)

    Throughout the first two volumes of our comprehensive examinations of sport and the nature of celebrity reputations,¹ we have explored what can best be called thecontested terrainof sport. By contested terrain, we point critically to an arena in which society defines and projects what it means to occupy a specific corner of the sociocultural environment, and how the meanings heaped upon such space are then contextualized within the greater landscape.

    We see this volume, which looks specifically and critically at the nature of gender within these contested sporting terrains, as a logical extension of those first two efforts....

  6. FOLKLORE AND FAIRY TALES: Babe Didrikson Zaharias Revealed
    (pp. 3-22)

    The purpose of this essay is not to rehearse a life, but rather to examine different genres of storytelling employed by a born storyteller throughout and at distinct periods of her life, specifically three types: folklore, fairy tales, and myth. The language of folklore was Babe Didrikson Zaharias’s native tongue, the form she heard and mimicked in her childhood and used consciously or unconsciously to promote her early (and incredibly eclectic) athletic career between 1928 and 1938. She continued to fuse such language spontaneously and frequently until her death in 1956. Between 1938 and 1953, however, she drew heavily on...

  7. “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BELLEGAME”: How the AAGPBL Gained and Maintained Its Highly Respected Reputation
    (pp. 23-42)

    Walking through the exhibits of the Baseball Hall of Fame, amidst Babe Ruth’s uniform, Ty Cobb’s bat, and Sammy Sosa’s home run balls, a visitor can find another section of smaller tattered gloves, bats, and balls, adorned not with pinstripe pants, but brightly colored skirts. To the amazement of the average baseball fan, the most popular exhibit in the Baseball Hall of Fame has nothing to do with the men in baseball, but rather with the women. Surprising not only because of its deviation from the traditionally masculine conception of baseball, this exhibit’s success is remarkable because the existence of...

  8. THE WOMAN WHO SHOULD BE KING: The Simplification of the Life and Career of Billie Jean King
    (pp. 43-71)

    In her 1982 autobiography, tennis star Billie Jean King candidly expressed concern for her reputation. Written in the aftermath of the palimony suit filed against her by Marilyn Barnett, King claimed that unlike other tennis champions, including Björn Borg and Chris Evert, she had never much concerned herself with the way she would be remembered. Faced with the waning days of her professional career, however, King was worried that her name would forever be associated with a lesbian love affair and not her pioneering days as a women’s tennis champion.¹

    The autobiography was part of a larger press tour King...

  9. VENUS AND SERENA WILLIAMS: Traversing the Barriers of the Country Club World
    (pp. 72-91)

    In a 2009 interview, Richard Williams, father of tennis champions Venus and Serena, was exceedingly candid when asked what his daughters mean to the world of women’s professional tennis:

    Q: So now, after all the titles and the millions earned, have Venus and Serena exceeded your expectations?

    A: Venus reached my expectations when she went to Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif. She made A’s in mathematics, in trigonometry, and set a record that stood for a long time. I pushed education. I wanted them to understand that you can be the greatest athlete in the world, but without the...

  10. MARION JONES: Equity through Infamy
    (pp. 92-106)

    Unlike how it is with other African-American female athletes, there is no shortage of material when it comes to erstwhile track and field star Marion Jones. Newspaper and academic articles, books, both for children and adults, blogs, documentaries, and her many appearances on daytime and nighttime television all chronicle Marion Jones’s life and athletic prowess to one degree or another. They span her childhood, from her abandonment by her biological father through her adolescent tomboy tendencies that would become, according to her, the training ground for her development into a world-class athlete who just happened to be a woman, and...

  11. PAIRED HEROINES: Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on the Global Stage
    (pp. 107-123)

    The reputations of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova are forever joined together in the minds and hearts of tennis fans and still celebrated the world over. The pair will also be forever celebrated in the record books. Arguably, they shared the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought three times; Björn Borg and John McEnroe competed in fourteen finals. On the other hand, Evert and Navratilova played eighty matches over sixteen years, sixty of which were finals.

    In the best of these historic rivalries the athletes differ dramatically both on and off the athletic field,...

  12. “RAINDROPS ON A WINDOW”: Race and Sex and the Framing of the Sheryl Swoopes Narrative
    (pp. 124-145)

    In 2002 when aNew York Postarticle erroneously hinted that New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza was gay, one sportswriter wrote that his coming out “would have only been the biggest sports story of the year, probably the biggest in many years.”¹ Subsequently, sportswriters spent a lot of time and column inches speculating about the consequences of a high-profile team–sport athlete coming out of the closet during his or her career. It was assumed that there would be a media frenzy followed by fans’ rejection, loss of sponsors, and a relatively quick end to said athlete’s career. Given...

  13. FLORENCE GRIFFITH JOYNER: Sexual Politician in a Unitard
    (pp. 146-161)

    In her all-too-brief career, Florence Griffith Joyner, or Flo Jo, as she came to be known, marked the embodiment of the sport-celebrity that has come to dominate the more contemporary sport landscape. Her tragic and sudden death from a seizure in 1998 may have ended her life prematurely at the age of thirty-eight, and perhaps well before the whiff of the steroid scandals that would befall many of her contemporaries would taint her as well. Then again, with a public career that in all would span a mere ten years, the sports world nevertheless would embrace her. Flo Jo’s flair...

  14. RACING INTO THE STORM: Roberta Gibb, Kathrine Switzer, and Women’s Marathoning
    (pp. 162-174)

    It was 1964—Freedom Summer. The nation was in turmoil. The civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and social unrest spawned upheaval and conflict. It seemed the country was experiencing an internal temper tantrum of opposing forces and against all of the pent-up inequalities that had existed far too long.

    The unrest cut deep into the jugular of the country, and did not seem to leave any facet of life unscathed, including sports. Against this backdrop, two female runners, Roberta Gibb and Kathrine Switzer, emerged as the symbols of equal access for women in the world of marathon competition, and...

  15. GO MAMA! BRANDED BY BEAUTY: How Danica Patrick Swooned Her Way into Sponsorship
    (pp. 175-190)

    The photos featured in the April 2003 issue of the popular British male magazine,FHM, are typical of their kind: young, attractive broad, scantily clad, poses suggestively for the camera with a seductive look in her eyes. The twenty-year-old in the pictures, though, is not so typical. At the time of the photo shoot, the young woman was neither a top fashion model nor an aspiring actress; she was neither in the more blatantly self-conscious entertainment business, thinking of herself solely as an athlete, nor on a quest to become another playmate of Hugh Hefner.¹ Her name is Danica Patrick,...

  16. Afterword: The Goddess Dethroned
    (pp. 191-198)

    Agricultural societies, quite naturally, placed a high value on fertility. The very lives of the people depended upon the ability of the earth to give and sustain life. These societies came to worship one god above all—a mother goddess who would bequeath and assure fertility. In early Greece, for example, the mother goddess was Gaia, or Earth. Sumerians gave supreme tribute to their mother goddess, Ninhursag. We see remnants of these gods in our own references to Mother Earth.

    In time, however, agricultural life was subjugated to the dominion of kingdoms and empires. Invasion, imperialism, war, and domination transformed...

  17. List of Contributors
    (pp. 199-204)
  18. Index
    (pp. 205-209)