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Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Sports Studies | Women's Studies


This essay examines how young girls who participate in combat sports such as wrestling, a traditionally male stronghold, perform continually shifting gender identities that interweave physical traits and behaviors typically coded as masculine or feminine. Drawing upon auto-ethnographic and ethnographic methodologies, I demonstrate how a study of actual lived body experience grounded in a fluid conception of gender is able to remain sensitive to the unique performative gender work being done while providing a critical interrogation of the moments in which the performance of gender is inscribed as nonconformative. I suggest that if we wish to understand the gender dynamics involved in athletic competition, it is necessary to approach gender as a fluid, rather than solid, concept.