Dress like a woman, paddle like a man: Exploring gendered subjectivities in whitewater kayaking

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rowan Hawkins Stuart (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/
Callie Schultz

Abstract: Like many areas in the field of Experiential and Outdoor Education, the paddlesport industry is male dominated and struggles with misogyny, sexual harassment, and inequity (LaFortune, 2020; Langolis, 2018; Shilton, 2016). Whitewater kayaking is the most male-dominated paddlesport with men representing between 63% and 65% of all participants between 2013 and 2019 (Outdoor Foundation, 2019). Although that number remains high, male participation over all paddlesports is declining at about one percent per year as female participation increases by the same amount (Outdoor Foundation, 2019). Sport is a leading definer of masculinity in Western societies (Kerns & Whiteside, 2020). In particular, action sports like whitewater kayaking are often considered as a way to challenge or change cultural beliefs about gender (Comley, 2016, p. 2). I used narrative inquiry to explore how professional women kayakers perform their gender in the spaces surrounding whitewater kayaking. To do this, I conducted ten semi-structured interviews with professional women kayakers who started paddling before the age of 15. Using Polkinghorne’s analysis of narratives (1995) and Lather’s (1993) paralogical validity, I “restoryed” the participant narratives to create a four-part audio podcast. This podcast is one method of Creative Analytic Practice. My results and discussion are combined with the theories of gender performativity (Butler, 1988) and discipline (Foucault, 1977) throughout the podcast.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Education, Experiential, Outdoor
Outdoor education
Male domination (Social structure)
Women athletes
Gender expression

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