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A Locker Room of Her Own

Celebrity, Sexuality, and Female Athletes

David C. Ogden

Publication Year: 2013

Female athletes are too often perceived as interlopers in the historically male-dominated world of sports. Obstacles specific to women are of particular focus in A Locker Room of Her Own. Race, sexual orientation, and the similar qualities ancillary to gender bear special exploration in how they impact an athlete's story. Central to this volume is the contention that women in their role as inherent outsiders are placed in a unique position even more complicated than the usual experiences of inequality and discord associated with race and sports. The contributors explore and critique the notion that in order to be considered among the pantheon of athletic heroes one cannot deviate from the traditional demographic profile, that of the white male.

These essays look specifically and critically at the nature of gender and sexuality within the contested nexus of race, reputation, and sport. The collection explores the reputations of iconic and pioneering sports figures and the cultural and social forces that helped to forge their unique and often problematic legacies. Women athletes discussed in this volume include Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the women of the AAGPBL, Billie Jean King, Venus and Serena Williams, Marion Jones, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, Sheryl Swoopes, Florence Griffith Joyner, Roberta Gibb and Kathrine Switzer, and Danica Patrick.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-vi

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Foreword: A Locker Room of One’s Own

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pp. vii-xiv

Referring specifically to the needs of potential female novelists in her land-mark essay “A Room of One’s Own” (1929), Virginia Woolf observes that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of women and the true nature of fiction unsolved.”1 Woolf’s assertion that a woman writer ...

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pp. xv-xvi

The editors would like to thank the many people whose contributions helped make this volume a reality. First, the contributors deserve our deepest gratitude for sharing their insights and knowledge about female athletes who broke barriers for the women who would follow their paths. The essays are testaments to the contributors’ extensive research and their understanding of ...

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Introduction: Engaging Contested Terrain

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pp. xvii-27

Throughout the first two volumes of our comprehensive examinations of sport and the nature of celebrity reputations,1 we have explored what can best be called the contested terrain of sport. By contested terrain, we point critically to an arena in which society defines and projects what it means to occupy a specific corner of the sociocultural environment, and how the ...

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Folklore and Fairy Tales: Babe Didrikson Zaharias Revealed

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pp. 3-22

The purpose of this essay is not to rehearse a life, but rather to examine different genres of storytelling employed by a born storyteller throughout and at distinct periods of her life, specifically three types: folklore, fairy tales, and myth. The language of folklore was Babe Didrikson Zaharias’s native tongue, the form she heard and mimicked in her childhood and used consciously or ...

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“Take Me Out to the Bellegame”: How the AAGPBL Gained and Maintained Its Highly Respected Reputation

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pp. 23-42

How the AAGPBL Gained and Maintained Its Highly Respected ReputationWalking through the exhibits of the Baseball Hall of Fame, amidst Babe Ruth’s uniform, Ty Cobb’s bat, and Sammy Sosa’s home run balls, a visitor can find another section of smaller tattered gloves, bats, and balls, adorned not with pinstripe pants, but brightly colored skirts. To the amazement of the average ...

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The Woman Who Should Be King: The Simplification of the Life and Career of Billie Jean King

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pp. 43-71

In her 1982 autobiography, tennis star Billie Jean King candidly expressed concern for her reputation. Written in the aftermath of the palimony suit filed against her by Marilyn Barnett, King claimed that unlike other tennis champions, including Björn Borg and Chris Evert, she had never much concerned herself with the way she would be remembered. Faced with the wan-...

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Venus and Serena Williams: Traversing the Barriers of the Country Club World

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pp. 72-91

In a 2009 interview, Richard Williams, father of tennis champions Venus and Serena, was exceedingly candid when asked what his daughters mean to the Q: So now, after all the titles and the millions earned, have Venus and A: Venus reached my expectations when she went to Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif. She made A’s in mathematics, in trigonom-...

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Marion Jones: Equity through Infamy

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pp. 92-106

Unlike how it is with other African-American female athletes, there is no shortage of material when it comes to erstwhile track and field star Marion Jones. Newspaper and academic articles, books, both for children and adults, blogs, documentaries, and her many appearances on daytime and nighttime television all chronicle Marion Jones’s life and athletic prowess to one degree ...

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Paired Heroines: Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on the Global Stage

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pp. 107-123

The reputations of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova are forever joined together in the minds and hearts of tennis fans and still celebrated the world over. The pair will also be forever celebrated in the record books. Arguably, they shared the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought three times; Björn Borg and John McEnroe competed in fourteen ...

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“Raindrops on a Window”: Race and Sex and the Framing of the Sheryl Swoopes Narrative

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pp. 124-145

In 2002 when a New York Postarticle erroneously hinted that New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza was gay, one sportswriter wrote that his coming out “would have only been the biggest sports story of the year, probably the biggest in many years.”1 Subsequently, sportswriters spent a lot of time and column inches speculating about the consequences of a high-profile team–sport ...

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Florence Griffith Joyner: Sexual Politician in a Unitard

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pp. 146-161

In her all-too-brief career, Florence Griffith Joyner, or Flo Jo, as she came to be known, marked the embodiment of the sport-celebrity that has come to dominate the more contemporary sport landscape. Her tragic and sudden death from a seizure in 1998 may have ended her life prematurely at the age of thirty-eight, and perhaps well before the whiff of the steroid scandals that ...

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Racing into the Storm: Roberta Gibb, Kathrine Switzer, and Women’s Marathoning

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pp. 162-174

It was 1964—Freedom Summer. The nation was in turmoil. The civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and social unrest spawned upheaval and con-flict. It seemed the country was experiencing an internal temper tantrum of opposing forces and against all of the pent-up inequalities that had existed The unrest cut deep into the jugular of the country, and did not seem to ...

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Go Mama! Branded by Beauty: How Danica Patrick Swooned Her Way into Sponsorship

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pp. 175-190

The photos featured in the April 2003 issue of the popular British male magazine, FHM, are typical of their kind: young, attractive broad, scantily clad, poses suggestively for the camera with a seductive look in her eyes. The twenty-year-old in the pictures, though, is not so typical. At the time of the photo shoot, the young woman was neither a top fashion model nor an ...

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Afterword: The Goddess Dethroned

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pp. 191-198

Agricultural societies, quite naturally, placed a high value on fertility. The very lives of the people depended upon the ability of the earth to give and sustain life. These societies came to worship one god above all—a mother goddess who would bequeath and assure fertility. In early Greece, for example, the mother goddess was Gaia, or Earth. Sumerians gave supreme tribute ...

List of Contributors

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pp. 199-204


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pp. 205-209

E-ISBN-13: 9781621039617
E-ISBN-10: 161703813X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617038136

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women athletes -- United States -- Biography.
  • Lesbian athletes -- United States -- Biography.
  • Women athletes -- United States -- Sexual behavior.
  • Women athletes -- United States -- Public opinion.
  • Public opinion -- United States.
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