Sexual diversity : inclusiveness in women's club level sport

Litchfield, Chelsea (2011) Sexual diversity : inclusiveness in women's club level sport. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Safe and supportive spaces are important for women as they explore and affirm diverse and non-conventional discourses and practices of gender and sexuality. Sport, however, does not readily provide such spaces. Historically, many women athletes and women‘s team sports have been stigmatised by a lesbian label and by the discrimination that regularly accompanies this label. Also, there are many sporting teams and club environments where lesbians are invisible and silent. This research examined the lived experiences of women hockey players from three clubs in suburban Melbourne, in relation to their understandings of gender and sexuality, and policy and practice in the club context. This research project utilised a qualitative multiple case study approach and employed interview and content analysis methods. It was found that all three hockey clubs had not implemented a member protection or anti-discrimination policy at the club level. Additionally, the two clubs that had a mixed-gender membership had a culture where males dominated the governance of the club and adhered more readily to traditional ideas about gender and sexuality resulting in a culture of male domination and heterosexism. In such clubs, women often played a subordinate role and sexual diversity in general, and visibility of lesbians in particular, was minimal. In contrast, the club which was established by lesbian feminists, and had an exclusively female membership, had developed by necessity and design, a culture of governance of women by women, a more open attitude to the sexuality of members and a highly visible lesbian presence. This research concluded that the current communication processes in place between the state sporting association and the hockey clubs was inadequate, as evidenced by the invisibility of policy at each of the hockey clubs. In addition, irrespective of politics, gender and sexuality diversity, the lesbian label, in all cases, had a negative impact on the research participants by defining, controlling and constricting their self identity and self image.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1605 Policy and Administration
Historical > FOR Classification > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society
Historical > FOR Classification > 1801 Law
Historical > FOR Classification > 2201 Applied Ethics
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Keywords lesbianism, lesbians, gender, female athletes, sexuality, homosexuality, homosexuals, sporting clubs, Australia, Australian, anti-discrimination laws, homosexual rights, homophobia, women's hockey, Melbourne
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