Out of Bounds:
Women, Sport, and Sexuality

by Helen Lenskyj
179 pages,
ISBN: 088961105X

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Sports and Leisure

This book's combination of historical information and feminist analysis makes it a useful text for students of sport history or physical education. It details some of the history of women's athletic participation and some of the sexist nonsense, from medical science as well as the popular press, that women athletes have had to endure. For example, the myth of female frailty, long supported by "experts," has kept women from testing their physical and competitive limits and continues in the sexual bias of some Olympic events. Lenakyj also discusses obsessive worries about the effects of sport on women's reproductive capabilities and the notion that competition is not part of female nature - so it "naturally" follows that women who excel at sport are not womanly or feminine.
Although she raises a few interesting questions about the nature of femininity and female sexuality, Lenakyj fails to forge any new links. Much of what she documents is not new information, nor is it analyzed within a unique framework. What's new in the politics, physiology, psychology, and sociology of women in sport? Are sex-segregated sports at all advantageous to women? How can we increase female participation in sport? Are there women's sports - sports far which women's adult bodies are best equipped? Why do such large numbers of women participate in noncompetitive, unskilled physical activity, such as aerobics classes? is this physical activity at all empowering? What can we learn from new research on women, body image and anorexia? None of these questions are satisfactorily answered here.

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