Abstract

In August 2012 the National Football League (nfl ) announced that a female referee would be officiating for the first time in the league’s history. Shannon Eastin took the field as a replacement referee, as she gained this opportunity amid a labor dispute between the nfl and the referees’ union. This paper examines new-media discourse surrounding Eastin’s debut in the nfl as a pioneer woman. Conducting the analysis from a feminist perspective, I found that the journalists, bloggers, and fans celebrated Eastin’s accomplishment and hailed the moment as an important milestone for women in sports. Sexist and paternalistic comments remained concealed on the message boards. Present in the discourse, but barely visible, were critical analyses on the institutional issues that prevent women from breaking the barrier of male hegemony. I recommend that feminist scholars continue to engage with the ways in which gendered power relations manifest in the online environment, particularly in the sphere of sports, which, despite the growing participation of women, remains a male domain in US society.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5073
Print ISSN
1558-4313
Pages
pp. 45-71
Launched on MUSE
2014-08-30
Open Access
No
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