Feminism in the Philosophy of Sport

Authored by: Leslie A. Howe

Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Sport

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415829809
eBook ISBN: 9780203466261
Adobe ISBN: 9781134119141


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A generous observer of the philosophy of sport might conclude that the effect of feminist theory on the field has been subtle rather than pervasive. In terms of published journal pages, the philosophy of sport lags significantly behind its sister fields of the sociology of sport and social philosophy in general. Nevertheless, the influence of feminist thought and political action here as elsewhere has been to press profound reconfigurings of the central values and conceptions of sport and of how these values may be best realised in a just society. I do not in this chapter offer an historical survey of either feminist theory or its appearance in the philosophy of sport; there are a number of these already extant. 1 Rather, I offer an outline of the major theoretical concepts and problems that have been pursued by feminist philosophers of sport, explore their philosophical underpinnings and attempt to make evident connections between issues. In particular, feminist philosophers of sport have been concerned with equality of access to sport and its personal and social goods, the relative values of difference and separation in addressing equality issues, autonomy and the definition of gender in and through sport and sexuality. These are by no means the only issues in sport that are open to feminist philosophical questioning but they are the ones that have taken up the most attention in the philosophical literature. Of these, by far the greatest share of attention, at least up to the mid 1990s, has been equality and so we begin at the beginning.

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