Cronan, Megan Kelly (2005-12). More than a pretty girl: resistance, community and group identity among female triathletes. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • This study examines women's use of leisure as politics, especially as related to leisure as resistance, leisure and social worlds, and women's body image. Interviews were conducted with fifteen participants and coaches in two all-women's triathlon training groups in Austin, Texas. Both training groups prepared women for participation in the Austin Danskin Triathlon. Qualitative methods, grounded theory and constant comparison guided the interviewing and data analysis process. It was determined that Danskin trainees formed a social world which allowed them to redefine their bodies and redefine the tenets of organized sport. This finding centered around three major areas: initial involvement, community building and resistance. Most participants became involved initially for social reasons even though they often were out of shape or had not previously participated in athletics. Several participants experienced barriers to involvement commonly discussed in gender leisure studies including weight issues, "ethic of care" concerns and fear of not deserving leisure time. During participation in their training programs, the majority of trainees formed a community with their fellow participants which provided them with a safe place and a support structure. As a result, many Austin Danskin triathlon trainees were able to communally resist cultural and societal norms surrounding women's bodies and competitive athletics. As a group, trainees redefined the way women should look and placed function above form. Furthermore, they reclaimed sport from the male norm and instead demanded that it go beyond bigger, better, faster or stronger and instead focus on community, support and teamwork. The results of this study urge leisure providers to create programs that appeal to the whole person - not just the physical. As a result of the data, several hypotheses may be suggested for future study: Do women's only recreation programs provide a crucial link between social world formation and leisure as resistance? What other programs may produce similar results and why?
  • This study examines women's use of leisure as politics, especially as related to
    leisure as resistance, leisure and social worlds, and women's body image. Interviews
    were conducted with fifteen participants and coaches in two all-women's triathlon
    training groups in Austin, Texas. Both training groups prepared women for participation
    in the Austin Danskin Triathlon. Qualitative methods, grounded theory and constant
    comparison guided the interviewing and data analysis process. It was determined that
    Danskin trainees formed a social world which allowed them to redefine their bodies and
    redefine the tenets of organized sport. This finding centered around three major areas:
    initial involvement, community building and resistance. Most participants became
    involved initially for social reasons even though they often were out of shape or had not
    previously participated in athletics. Several participants experienced barriers to
    involvement commonly discussed in gender leisure studies including weight issues,
    "ethic of care" concerns and fear of not deserving leisure time. During participation in
    their training programs, the majority of trainees formed a community with their fellow
    participants which provided them with a safe place and a support structure. As a result, many Austin Danskin triathlon trainees were able to communally resist cultural and
    societal norms surrounding women's bodies and competitive athletics. As a group,
    trainees redefined the way women should look and placed function above form.
    Furthermore, they reclaimed sport from the male norm and instead demanded that it go
    beyond bigger, better, faster or stronger and instead focus on community, support and
    teamwork. The results of this study urge leisure providers to create programs that appeal
    to the whole person - not just the physical.
    As a result of the data, several hypotheses may be suggested for future study:
    Do women's only recreation programs provide a crucial link between social world
    formation and leisure as resistance? What other programs may produce similar results
    and why?

publication date

  • December 2005