This book explores strength sports as a site of political contestation and a platform for insurgent gender practices. It contributes to our understanding of key themes in the study of sport, such as feminism, power, the body and identity.
Drawing together interdisciplinary work spanning political science, sociology, gender studies, and biological and cultural anthropology, the book argues that in the face of ongoing embodied precarity, strength sports have become a complex form of both resistance to, and reproduction of, patriarchy. This argument also challenges traditional understandings and definitions of “strength.” Covering recreational-level participation and elite athletics, across experiential/individual, local, national, transnational, and global scales, the book explores diverse topics such as the pregnant strength athlete, the status of trans women in strength sports, and the gendered dimensions of online fitness communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In so doing, it traces power dynamics and the interplay among multiple oppressions.
Showcasing important empirical and activist research, this book is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in women’s sport, women’s studies, gender studies, the sociology of sport, strength and conditioning, feminist politics, or cultural studies.
Introduction - Strong A(s) F(eminist)
Noelle Brigden, Katie Rose Hejtmanek and Melissa M. Forbis
Interlude: Bulky Is Not the Worst Thing a Woman Can Be
Part I: The Public Body
1 Strength Over Gender? Discussing and Presenting the Ambivalent Female Strength in the CrossFit Games 2019
Riikka Turtiainen and Usva Friman
2 Lingering Muscles, Latent “Threats”: Contesting the Exceptional and Threatening Status of Trans Women in Strength Sports
3 Fit to Mother: Risk and Self-Care in the Pregnant Strength Athlete
Interlude: Deep Analogies and the Power of Heavy Lifting
Part II: The Disciplined Body
4 Women’s Empowerment through Strength Sports—and Its Limits: The Case of the German American Turners, 1880s–1920s
Alison Clark Efford
5 On Death and Fitness: Hero Workouts, US Militarism, and the Necrosociality of CrossFit
Katie Rose Hejtmanek
Interlude: “Be Careful, If You Lift Too Heavy Your Boobs Will Shrink”
Part III: The Social Body
6 Transformative Writing and Naming: Gimnasio Elba y Celina
Elsy Aracely Argueta and Noelle Brigden
7 Between My Breaths: CrossFit as a Depathologizing Healing Strategy for Sexual Trauma Survivors
8 ‘I Exercise with Others in About 6-7 Online Fitness Communities’: Women’s Exercise Routine and Resilience During COVID-19 Stay-at-home Orders
Cara Ocobock and Katie Rose Hejtmanek
Epilogue - Judging the Lift: Are Strength Sports Insurgent or Reactionary Practices?
Noelle Brigden, Melissa M. Forbis and Katie Rose Hejtmanek