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156 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 industries that surround physical fitness in our technological world. (M. ANN HALL) M. Ann Hall. The Girl and the Game: A History of Women=s Sport in Canada Broadview Press. xii, 284. $27.95 As with Canadian social history more broadly, issues related to gender and women=s history have been a dominant theme in recent Canadian sport history. Beginning with Helen Lenskyj=s Out of Bounds: Women, Sport and Sexuality (1986), the last two decades have seen a wide-ranging exploration of women=s and girls= physical activity. Patricia Vertinsky has explored important issues related to the control of women=s bodies in the nineteenth century, Bruce Kidd has detailed the organizational efforts of Canadian female athletes in the inter-war years, while other more specific studies (such as examinations of Toronto=s Margaret Eaton School by both John Byl and Anna Lathrop) have also been undertaken. Ann Hall=s The Girl and the Game is the latest addition to this impressive literature, and Hall is well qualified for such an undertaking. Her scholarship extends beyond the historical to include issues both sociological and political. Indeed, Hall has taken a leadership role in feminist activism in Canada around issues of girls= and women=s health and access to physical activity. In The Girl and the Game, Hall sets out >to trace how male hegemony in Canadian sport was (and still is) resisted by women and how their efforts have been supported and opposed both by men and other women.= To this end, Hall compiles in one (basically chronological and predominantly narrative) volume the important developments and struggles in the history of women=s sport in Canada since the late nineteenth century. While the early history of women=s sport has received treatment elsewhere, one of Hall=s most important contributions is her focus on more recent developments (in which Hall herself has been involved). As a result, Hall=s history of the formation and work of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport (CAAWS) is one of the significant contributions of The Girl and the Game. Yet, as with many surveys that take on such a broad subject, there is much to both praise and critique. In methodological terms, Hall makes an important contribution through innovative use of the newspaper columns of early female sportswriters, such as Bobbie Rosenfeld and Alexandrine Gibb. There is room, however, to problematize these columns as sources. One is left to ask if there were more critical ways in which these could have been used. Were they examined to see not only how they exposed the heretofore untold stories of women in organized sport, but also how they in other regards reflect the biases of their authors, some of whom may well have written prescriptively and humanities 157 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 reinforced traditional gender stereotypes as a way of promoting women=s sport? Do these columns reflect lived experience or the experiences their authors wanted to share with the public? What about alternative practices (e.g., homosexuality) that were not revealed? In Feminism and Sporting Bodies (1996), Hall outlines her theoretical stance as an advocate of feminist cultural studies and the importance of praxis, incorporating activism into academe. She notes that feminist scholarship should include women of colour and ethnicity and workingclass women, and also study categories such as disability, religion and sexual orientation. However, for all the talk that feminist cultural studies recognizes and incorporates diversity, this new book does little of this and Hall is left to observe that her political agenda >has not been easy to follow in this particular historical project.= The Girl and the Game is predominantly the story of white, middle-class women in organized sport. While there is some recognition of workingclass women, the evidence presented is also geographically skewed in favour of central Canada, particularly Toronto. And instead of opening new ground on areas of ethnic and immigrant sport, or perhaps acknowledging that neither women nor men are homogenous and that men may have suffered under the patriarchy she...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 156-157
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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