restricted access Choose Your Battles: Agonism and Identity in Narratives of Feminist Fitnesses


In this essay, I examine the question of whether one can ascribe to ideologies of fitness and feminism as a rhetorical problem of identification. Using Burkean notions of consubstantiality to illustrate conflicted identity frameworks within narratives of feminism, femininity, and fitness, I turn to the intertwined ancient Greek roots of athletic and rhetorical instruction through the application of agonism, a term denoting struggle inherent in transformation. I then provide textual examination of three contemporary fitness campaigns aimed at promoting women’s participation as illustrative examples of antagonistic, cooperative, and agonistic rhetoric in action to demonstrate the productivity of an agonistic approach to feminist fitness narratives.