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Dilemmas of Gender and Global Sports Governance: An Invitation to Southern Theory



Most research on global sports policy either negates or underappreciate perspectives from the Global South. This article incorporates Southern Theory to examine how Northern worldviews profoundly shape gender-specific sports policy. It highlights two dilemmas that emerge, using illustrative case studies. First, it considers questions of gender and regulation, as evidenced in the gender verification regimes of track-and-field. Then, it addresses the limits of gender and empowerment in relation to sport for development and peace initiatives' engagement with the diverse experiences and perspectives in non-Western contexts, considering them in relation to programming for women in Pacific Island countries. The article concludes with a reflection on possible contributions of Southern theory to sport sociological scholarship.
Dilemmas of Gender and Global Sports Governance:
An Invitation to Southern Theory
Kathryn Henne
University of Waterloo and Australian National University
Madeleine Pape
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Most research on global sports policy either negates or underappreciate perspectives from the Global South. This article
incorporates Southern Theory to examine how Northern worldviews profoundly shape gender-specic sports policy. It highlights
two dilemmas that emerge, using illustrative case studies. First, it considers questions of gender and regulation, as evidenced
in the gender verication regimes of track-and-eld. Then, it addresses the limits of gender and empowerment in relation to sport
for development and peace initiativesengagement with the diverse experiences and perspectives in non-Western contexts,
considering them in relation to programming for women in Pacic Island countries. The article concludes with a reection on
possible contributions of Southern theory to sport sociological scholarship.
While research on gender and sports governance is not new
(e.g., Adriaanese & Schoeld, 2013;Claringbould & Knoppers,
2008), recent studies point to new avenues for feminist inquiry.
Work by Palmer (2013, p. 15) underscores how sports policy takes
shape amid governance relations in which interconnected organiza-
tions and agencies”—many of them governmental, nonstate, private,
and hybrid entitiesinteract across local, national, and global levels
(p. 14). Since policy is createdbysomeandimplementedby
others,its study requires careful consideration of who is involved,
how, where, when, and why,as well as the globalized conditions
that inform them (p. 40). In drawing attention to these issues, Palmer
(2013) points to growing scholarly interest in sports and policy in the
Global South,
while acknowledging there is little research that
draws upon Southern knowledges. Postcolonial feminist scholarship
on sport demonstrates many of the challenges that come with this
kind of engagement, as well as the value of grappling with the
inuence of colonial dynamics, past and present (e.g., Carney &
Chawansky, 2016;Hayhurst, MacNeill, & Frisby, 2011;Sykes,
2017). Here, we reect on how these feminist insights canand
shouldinform scholarship on sports policy and governance.
In this article, we examine gender-specic sports policies as a
lens through which to highlight how Northern worldviews are
embedded in contemporary global sports governance, thereby
limiting opportunities for perspectives from the Global South to
inform policy and its analysis. We focus on dilemmas that emerge
during sports policymaking and implementation. While feminist
scholars acknowledge a range of possible dilemmas (Avishai,
Gerber, & Randles, 2012;Scott, 1988), most relevant for our
purposes is the dilemma posed by Spivak (1988): that is, despite
attempts by Northern actorsin this case, those involved in
governance or researchto support progressive agendas, (post)
colonial discourse undermines the representation of subaltern
experiences and perspectives, often foreclosing the possibility of
such voices being heard or understood.
We look to Southern
theory, to date underutilized in sport studies, as a way to illuminate
this dilemma in sports policy.
Southern theory draws critical attention to global periphery-
center relations, with a focus on the power relationships underpin-
ning knowledge. It aids in unveiling how the epistemologies of the
Global North profoundly shape global knowledge production; the
structures and institutions supporting academic research often
ignore, subordinate, and discredit epistemologies from other parts
of the world, including those of Indigenous peoples living along-
side and within settler colonial states (Connell, 2009). Connell
(2009) contends that Northern theory often posits universal claims
even though it evokes distinctly Eurocentric worldviews, values,
and biases. In doing so, it negates theories from the global
periphery that offer alternative conceptualizations and explana-
tions, thus perpetuating the colonial structures from which con-
temporary knowledge relations derive.
Consider sociology: the birth of discipline took place in the
centers of the major imperial powers at the high tide of modern
imperialism. They were the metropole::: to the larger colonial
world(Connell, 2009, p. 9). Canonical social theories may seek to
explain global change but do so from the position of the metropole,
yielding a skewed vision of the world. As Connell (2011, p. 288)
explains, Much of current sociological thought is based on a great
fantasythat the world of the metropole is all there is, or all that
matters, so that theories developed from the social experience of the
metropole are all that sociology needs.Claims buttressed by
Northern beliefs are thus likely to serve hegemonic rather than
liberatory agendas (p. x). Southern theory, as a counter-hegemonic
project, challenges the supremacy of the Northern intellectual
thought by revealing how knowledge from the metropole reects
Henne is with the Dept. of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and also with the School of Regulation and Global Governance,
Australian National University, Canberra, ACT. Pape is with the Dept. of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI. Address author correspondence to
Kathryn Henne at
Sociology of Sport Journal, 2018, 35, 216-225
© 2018 Human Kinetics, Inc. ARTICLE
a position of privilege and by drawing on knowledges from other
parts of the world.
The relegation of knowledges from the global periphery poses
a problem for governance (Basu, 2016). Reecting on global sports
policy, Palmer (2013) acknowledges the lack of Southern theory
informing practice and research, a shortcoming that may have far-
reaching implications for the diverse peoples living in the global
South. Without their perspectives, we have a limited understanding
of what they are or might be. This article is an initial step in
promoting a larger sport-specic agenda that takes seriously the
tenets of Southern theory, using two illustrative case studies. First,
we analyze the relationship of women from the Global South to the
gender verication regimes of track-and-eld. We then interrogate
assumptions of gender empowerment within sport for development
and peace (SDP) initiatives for women in Pacic Island nations.
Although distinctly different case studies, both are instances in
which Northern entities and actors exercise gendered forms of
biopower in the global Souththat is, techniques of power lever-
aged through the coercive and productive management of Southern
womens bodies (Foucault, 2007).
In illuminating dilemmas that emerge in each case, this paper
does not aim to provide a comprehensive picture of gender-specic
sports policy, nor does it offer a model for a Southern theoretical
agenda. Since we, as two Northern, White feminist researchers, are
arguably incapable of such an analysis, we offer what we can:
grounded analyses of the Northern assumptions embedded within
the universalist claims asserted through governance practices, and
reections on the challenges of overcoming them. We conclude with
a discussion of how sport sociologists might embrace tenets of
Southern theory by taking steps outlined by Santos (2012) to support
and learn from epistemologies of the South. Our analysis is therefore
an invitation to consider how Southern theory might regure analy-
ses of gender in sports governance, as well as the limits of such
endeavors when carried out by researchers from the Global North.
This analysis is based on two separate qualitative projects addres-
sing questions of gender and global sports policy through an
intersectional lens, using subsets of data from each. In each
case, we independently collected different forms of qualitative
data as we sought to capture the different sides and angles of the
issues at hand (Richardson & St. Pierre, 2008). As each author had
previously completed open coding and ne-grained analyses inde-
pendently, the analysis for this paper builds upon our earlier
immersion in the data and benets from our in-depth knowledge
of each case study.
The rst empirical section draws upon interview and textual
materials to analyze the regulation of eligibility in elite womens
track-and-eld. Our analysis stems from two key moments: rst, a
2015 appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which saw
the suspension of the most recent International Olympic Commit-
tee (IOC) and International Association of Athletics Federations
(IAAF) policies aimed at prohibiting the participation of women
with so-called unfairbiological advantages; and second, the
reaction of the elite track-and-eld community to this suspension,
particularly in light of results at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de
Janeiro. We excavate the knowledge politics embedded in the
content and context of these regulations, as revealed in the CAS
assessment of their scientic legitimacy, procedures for informed
consent, and semi-structured interviews with 42 stakeholders in
elite track-and-eld.
The second empirical section relies on ethnographic ndings
on the development and implementation of gender-specic SDP
programming in Oceania.
In addition to 26 interviews with SDP
practitioners and policymakers, the data are distinct from the rst
case study in that they come from micro-ethnographies,which
offer in-depth insights when combined with other data (Silk, 2005).
They entailed participant observation of individual workshops
dedicated to SDP programming in the region, policy meetings
and stakeholder outreach, work conducted in development orga-
nizations, as well as analysis of relevant SDP policy documents and
program evaluations. Existing collaborations with Pacic scholars
who are experts in transnational migration, health, and community
change (since 2010), and work with SDP programs serving Pacic
peoples (20122015), helped in capturing the nuances of these
perspectives during the research. The process revealed dilemmas
that emerged when considering Southern perspectives in both the
design and delivery of programs.
To build the analysis, we revisited our existing thematic codes
and focused specically on the gendered dimensions of policy
practices in each case. We isolated relevant data by considering the
following: when and how Northern perspectives contributed to
policy, instances where Southern voices had limited to no oppor-
tunity to weigh in on policy issues, and challenges or tensions
arising from their inclusion. This approach enabled us to system-
atically tease out dilemmas of regulation and empowerment, in-
forming the structure and argument of the article.
Dilemmas of Regulation
The fraught regulation of female athletes with intersex character-
istics is a high-prole dilemma in Olympic sports, particularly
track-and-eld. Sometimes described as gender verication or
sex testing, such practices aim to ensure that female athletes
with differences of sexual development do not benet from a
male-like(thus unfair) athletic advantage. Feminist scholars
have critiqued these practices for policing womens bodies and
imposing binary sex categories in ways that deny human biological
complexity (Henne, 2014;Pieper, 2016). In the wake of several
recent high-prole cases in track-and-eld, featuring exclusively
women of Color from the Global South, many more scholars have
asked how the politics of race and imperialism intersect with these
gender dynamics (Bohoun, 2015;Cooky, Dycus, & Dworkin,
2013;Nyongo, 2010). Such concerns, combined with the central-
ity of scientic and clinical knowledge in justications for these
regulations, render this issue a productive site to illustrate Palmers
assertion that policy is not a neutral or value-free exercise
(2013, p. 82).
To briey summarize recent events,
the Hyperandrogenism
Regulations of the IAAF and IOC were introduced in 2011 to
regulate the participation of women whose testosterone levels were
considered higher than normaldue to differences of sexual
In 2015, the CAS suspended these Regulations
following an appeal by Indian sprinter Dutee Chand, citing incon-
clusive evidence that women with elevated testosterone gain a
male-like advantage over their competitors (CAS, 2015). Caster
Semenya, a South African athlete whose gender was questioned in
2009, subsequently returned to world-leading form leading up to
the Rio Olympic Games, prompting a renewed international debate
that escalated when two other leading 800 m athletes (both women
of Color from African nations) were accused of having similar
biological advantages. The three athletes went on to become the
Olympic medallists in the womens 800 m. In April 2018, the IAAF
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announced new Eligibility Regulations to be applied only to
specic womens middle-distance events, including the 800 m.
As articulated by Rebecca Jordan-Young and Katrina (2012;
see also Karkazis & Jordan-Young, 2018), a key claim among
feminist scholars is that the Hyperandrogenism Regulations dis-
proportionately target women of color from the Global South.
Historical analyses suggest that there is a longstanding preoccupa-
tion with the transgressive bodies of non-Western Others
(Henne, 2014;Pieper, 2016), which has focused on muscular
women athletes from the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, turning
more recently to a racialized North/South antagonism(Bohuon,
2015). In this section, we introduce new empirical material to
consider how contemporary Hyperandrogenism Regulations are
racialized and imperialist. We focus our analysis on two dimen-
sions that sports governing bodies claim as objective and value-
free: the expert and procedural content of the regulations them-
selves and the context within which they are implemented. Both
contribute to constructing the bodies of women of Color from the
Global South as deviant and suspect.
Content: Value-Free Experts and Informed
The Hyperandrogenism Regulations stipulate only the selective
testing of female athletes. In the case of the IAAF, an athlete may be
investigated if the Medical Manager has reasonable groundsfor
suspecting hyperandrogenism, with sources described as including
any information received by IAAF medical ofcials (IAAF, 2011,
p. 3). Similarly vague, the IOC states that only certain ofcials can
request an investigation but without specifying how they might
come to suspect a case of hyperandrogenism. The considerable
room for subjective interpretation goes unproblematized by gov-
erning bodies, evoking the tacit assumption that the clinical gaze is
impartial with respect to race and nation. The projection of this
knowledge as universal conceals its role in Northern projects of
Whiteness and the association of deviance with the bodies of
women of Color.
In addition to denitions of intersex being context specic
(Dreger & Herndon, 2009, p. 200), the history of intersex as an
object of clinical and scientic knowledge is tied to the colonial
production of racial difference. As Magubane (2014) demonstrates,
the emergence of intersex as a clinical condition entailed its
construction as a predominantly non-Western defect (see also
Fausto-Sterling, 1995). For example, medical texts from the
19th century to the 1980s alleged the over-representation of
sex-based abnormalities among people of Color in non-Western
contexts and the absence or rarity of intersex characteristics among
White populations (Magubane, 2014). Thus, expert knowledge of
intersex variation has long cast Black women as suspect in their
embodiment of femininity.
Experts from these and other presumed impartial scientic
elds were centrally involved in drafting the Hyperandrogenism
Regulations and justifying them before the CAS (see Pape, 2017).
While Chands appeal emphasized the partiality of clinical exper-
tise, including its geopolitical dimensions, the adjudicating CAS
Panel dismissed such claims as sociological opinion(CAS, 2015,
p. 134). The limited diversity of expert voices involved in the
development of the IAAFs Hyperandrogenism Regulations was
also not considered a cause for concern.
As stated, the CAS
adjudicators were satised that the IAAF has diligently sought to
create a system of rules that are fair, objective and founded on the
best available science(p. 145). Although favorable to Chand in
the short term, the CAS decision endorsed the objectivity of the
IAAF and its experts, dening hyperandrogenism in sport as a
scientic matter and scienceas the basis of this sports policyas
neutral with respect to race and geopolitics. As warned by Palmer
(2013), we see the paradoxical embrace of evidence as value-free at
the same time that Northern actors in this sphere of sports gover-
nance are actively constructing what counts as evidence. It takes
Chanda Southern actor with alternative expertsto reveal this
interpretive power, subsequently denied by the CAS.
A second problematic aspect of the Hyperandrogenism Reg-
ulations is the consent process for initial diagnosis and subsequent
medical interventions, which states that an athlete must give
informed consent before undergoing any diagnosis or treatment.
The alleged neutrality of informed consent deserves scrutiny, as the
gendered worldviews of physicians can inuence the preferences
of patients (or their guardians), encouraging patients with intersex
characteristics to consent to unnecessary procedures (Hester,
2004). During the Chand appeal, a witness cited examples of
athletes being forced to undergo surgery without clear information
about what the treatment involved(CAS, 2015, p. 110). An IAAF
witness conceded that it was questionable at bestwhether young
women in that position can give informed consent for medical
interventions within the current procedures(p. 97).
Such concerns are exacerbated in the case of athletes from the
Global South. For instance, there are only six IAAF Approved
Specialist Reference Centreswhere athletes can undergo diagno-
sis and plan any subsequent course of action. With the exception of
Rio de Janeiro, these centers are located in OECD countries and
primarily the home countries of key individuals involved in draft-
ing the Regulations.
This raises questions of independence both
professional and cultural with respect to the treatmentoptions
presented to athletes. Consequences of these arrangements are
captured in an article written by IAAF experts, which details
the treatment of four women athletes diagnosed with hyperandro-
genism, all aged 21 or younger and from rural or mountainous
regions of developing countries(Fenichel et al., 2013, p. 2). They
consented to a gonadectomy, clitoral surgery, and a feminizing
vaginoplasty(pp. 34), none of which are required under the
Regulations for an athlete to return to competition. In the absence
of health-related risks, these actions reect the heteronormative
panic over ambiguous genitalia undergirding the accepted North-
ern clinical management of intersex bodies (Chase, 1998), which
prioritizes a so-called normalappearance and the capacity to
engage in heterosexual sex over the life-long discomfort that such
surgeries can cause (Chase, 1998;Grabham, 2012).
We know little about what information these women received or
how they came to make these so-called choices. The power dynam-
ics underpinning consent reect longstanding concerns of postcolo-
nial scholars about the possibility of subaltern resistanceof being
able to speak and be heardin the context of Northern imperialist
interventions (Spivak, 1988;Swartz, 2005). The guise of informed
consent conceals the severely constrained choices facing athletes in
this situation, which are between complying with a treatment plan,
never competing again, or attempting an appeal with limited re-
sources, which risks revealing ones identity to the world. Witnesses
for Chand described risks faced by outedfemale athletes in
countrieslike India with a culture of misogyny and violence against
women(CAS, 2015, p. 111). The CAS panel dened these as
peripheralconcerns, with the key question being whether the IAAFs
Hyperandrogenism Regulations were scientically supported (Pape,
2017). Amidst these complications, an appeal to informed consent
serves to protect international sports governing bodies from liability
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218 Henne and Pape
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while legitimizing clinical interventions on the bodies of women
with limited ability to pursue other courses of action.
Context: Constructing SuspectAthletes and
Beyond the politics of expertise and consent, it is important to
consider the social context within which an athlete may be distin-
guished as suspect.According to the IAAF, the community of
athletessupports the Hyperandrogenism Regulations and should
be allowed to determine the boundaries of fairness in their own
sport (CAS, 2015, p. 27). Thus, the justication of the Regulations
is directly linked to views within the broader track-and-eld
community on this issue, which have rarely been addressed within
academic research (Wells & Darnell, 2014). Our interview data,
collected following the 2016 Olympic Games, suggest that mem-
bers of the international track-and-eld community do view certain
women from the Global South as suspect, a nding that not only
reects the gaze of the Regulations but is also constitutively linked
to colonial histories and contemporary policy.
Echoing the historical association of intersex with Black
African women found in medical texts and practices, interviewees
conveyed that White female athletes are less likely to be sus-
pectedof being intersex. For example, as a media commentator
and administrator stated, If theres a [white] female athlete whos
very muscular and has a strong jaw, its not about her gender as a
man, its more that shes butch. Whereas, I feel when people talk
about Caster [Semenya] or [Margaret] Wambui or [Maria] Mu-
its more that she is a man,so she is deceiving someone
[and] has internal testes at the very least.Although not using the
language of suspicion, a female athlete similarly suggested that the
athletics community would be more sympatheticto a woman
from London, who was Whitethan a Black woman from a
remote faraway placein rural Africa where people just think they
live in villages and dont have electricity.Indeed, across the
interviews, we identied a racialized discourse in which African
nations were depicted as tribal,more prone to the illnessof
intersex variation, economically impoverished, and more likely to
exploit their athletes, rendering them less morally upright than
countries in the Global North.
Two rumors were particularly revealing. First, several inter-
viewees referred to women with intersex characteristics being over-
represented within African tribalcontexts, such as a female 800m
athlete who spoke of certain tribes in Africa where there are larger
populations of hyperandrogenous women.The second rumor,
which arose frequently in interviews, was that coaches and man-
agers were going off [to Africa] looking for people with [intersex]
conditions specically to make money out of them [female ath-
letes].A team administrator had heard of talent scouts that go to
Africa looking for girls who have gender discrepancies.One
athlete described a manager as saying, theyre coming from
everywhere, theres going to be one on every African team.
Such rumors were accompanied by descriptions that such women
were vulnerable to exploitation because of their impoverished
living conditions and limited life experience (according to one
athlete, some probably have never left their town). A more
general view of African nations as morally corrupt was evident
in comments that the developed worldwould be more con-
cerned with protecting a girl than with winning medals ::: more
concerned with the social impact or consequences.
Our interviews evidence a racialized moral discourse circulat-
ing in the track-and-eld community that constructs women of
Colorand from African nations in particularas suspect not only
in terms of the perceived greater likelihood of intersex variation,
but also in terms of their desperation to escape poverty, their
vulnerability to exploitation by corrupt national coaches or greedy
managers from the Global North, and the greater willingness of
African nations and their athletics federations to pursue winning at
any cost. Although these women are imagined as exploited, they
are still considered individually suspect and culpable for their
transgressions. Given the relationship between the context and
content of regulation, as well as the vague process by which an
athlete may be singled out for investigation, the presence of this
discourse further challenges the alleged geopolitical neutrality of
the Hyperandrogenism Regulations.
What remains unexplored here and in other research is how
perspectives of sex difference and fairness from outside the metro-
pole might inform these debates. For example, an interviewee
suggested that Black female athletes in one African nation sup-
ported the Hyperandrogenism Regulations and lobbied their
national federation to prevent certain athletes from competing.
Similarly, Chand allegedly came to the attention of Indian authori-
ties via the complaints of her domestic competitors (CAS, 2015).
Such insights add complexity to the view that gender verication is
a contemporary form of Northern imperialism, highlighting how
colonialism may still inform notions of gender and sex(uality) in
the Global South. McClintock (1995), for example, illustrates how
imperialism did not simply shape race and racial difference, but
also actively recruited Northern ideologies of sex and gender in its
service, the vicissitudes of which are still present. Understanding
how and why competitors in the Global South might subscribe to
these beliefsas well as how others have refuted themis part of a
larger agenda to which Southern theorists would be integral.
Dilemmas of Empowerment
Feminist scholars have critically examined gender empowerment
as a development objective, expressing concern about how ideol-
ogies and institutions can undermine its pursuit (Kabeer, 2005).
Neoliberal development models popular in Oceania offer a case in
point in that they fail to address the concerns of women in the
region (Underhill-Sem, 2012). They can reiterate tacit assumptions
that women in the Global South need Northern modernizingto
become empoweredwhat J.K. Gibson-Graham (2006, p. 177)
refers to as the metaphorical ladder of evolutionary development.
As such, many women in Pacic Island nations must navigate the
legacy of colonial conquest and hyper-commodication,both of
which contribute to their misrepresentation in policy (Hall, 2009,
p. 16). Here, we examine the impact of tensions manifest in SDP
policy targeting Pacic women, pointing to Northern misrepre-
sentations of Southern perspectives and experiences. Since formal
policy-level decisions often take place outside the local context of
service delivery, we account for perspectives of policymakers,
many of whom are White men of European descent, as well as
participants of Pacic heritage, only some of whom were involved
in consultation and policymaking processes.
SDP initiatives intended to empower women and promote
better health outcomes in the Pacict within broader development
agendas. A notable portion of SDP funding in Oceania comes from
the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT),
which supports other gender and development initiatives in the
Pacic. For instance, government funding backs Pacic Women
Shaping Pacic Development (Pacic Women), a ten-year, $320-
million program that works with the governments of 14 Pacic
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countries, United Nations (UN) and regional agencies, civil soci-
ety, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private-sector
actors to promote objectives laid out in the 2012 Pacic Island
Forum LeadersGender Equality Declaration. They include aims to
enhance womens leadership and decision-making at different
levels of governance, encourage economic participation, reduce
gender violence, advance educational access for marginalized
women, improve health outcomes, and commit to regular moni-
toring and evaluation.
Here the hope, as stated in an interview
with an Australian policymaker, is that SDP programs targeting
Pacic women would support our [DFATs] development targets
in the region.
Sport, according to DFAT, has the capacity to support several
development aims, including womens leadership, non-communi-
cable disease (NCD) prevention, community cohesion, and life
skillsfor children, such as teamwork, respecting rules, discipline,
and perseverance(Australian Government, 2015, p. 5). Although
formal agendas endorse the transformative potential of SDP, their
embedded assumptions of individuality, autonomy, and choice are
not necessarily congruent with Pacic worldviews (Lepani, 2012).
Northern notions that value the individuated personare often at
odds with how many Pacic peoples see themselvesthat is, as
part of a network bound together by kinship, spiritual, ethnic, and
communal ties (Jolly, 1996, p. 18). Thus, well-intended programs
can uphold Eurocentric values and biases, which can have long-
standing consequences for communities. Pacic scholars, for
instance, make compelling critiques that foreign aid and develop-
ment contribute to the undermining and erasure of Pacic histories
and values (Hauofa, 1983). They warn that efforts to empower
Pacic women often fail to address the cultural norms underpin-
ning gender roles and inequality (Chattier, 2013). Our analysis
considers how Northern ideologies inform the design and the
delivery of SDP policy, sometimes negating Pacic perspectives
even after actively soliciting them. One outcome of these dynamics
is an incompleteand sometimes misguidedconstruction of the
challenges facing Pacic communities.
Design: Policy Development and Politics of
When developing guidelines for SDP programs targeting women in
the Pacic, policymakers navigate a range of institutionalized
governance demands. Key among them is the need to demonstrate
clear and measurable results. The strategic choices made against
this backdrop yield policies that tend to reect governmental
priorities and accountability metrics (see Henne, 2017), not nec-
essarily the lived conditions that SDP participants navigate on the
ground. The problems targeted by policy are thus largely framed by
Northern worldviews, as are the mechanisms to ensure compliance
with policy objectives.
During the research, value judgments and tacit assumptions
surfaced in how policymakers presented women in the Pacicasa
target population during discussions around the use of sport to
support development objectives. Womens empowerment was a
central concern, as was their health. Recognizing that NCDs
contribute to most deaths in the Pacic(Friel et al., 2011,
p. 248), they pursued policies to support programs that would
contribute to reducing womens NCD risk, framing their SDP as an
anti-obesity intervention that could make Pacic women more
active and t.In meetings and interviews, policymakers recounted
how weight loss measures were necessary to counteract pressing
health threats. As exemplied by one interviewees statement, there
are troubling and unacceptable statistics, which show the vast
majority of these women are physically not healthy.Those
lobbying for SDP would often emphasize this point, citing popu-
lation statistics about womenfor example, that 93 percent of
Tongan women are overweight or obese (Scanlon, 2014)along-
side particular claims about their bodies, such as the oft-repeated
assertion that the average weight of a Tongan woman is 97
kilogramsor that [Pacic] women should not be so large.Their
statements about female bodies emerged as self-evidently alarm-
ing, a tendency observed by others writing on the gendered
dimensions of the obesity epidemic(Murray, 2008). When
probed for more information, however, the same participants
provided little, if any, detail about why the issue was particularly
distressing in relation to women.
Despite the individuated focus on the body, there was an
absence of disaggregated data on specic groups of women,
negating the diversity of women who live in the region. The
gap often became lled by ideological assumptions, particularly
around gendered relations in Pacic contexts, and presumptions
that the pursuit of tness promotes health and female empower-
ment. In explaining how and why women become less physically
active through the life course, most interviewees acknowledged
that women have more household and familial responsibilitiesa
point that resonates well beyond the Pacic. Careful not to blame
women for the high rates of obesity, many policymakers explicitly
acknowledged patriarchal traditions as the reason why women
were sedentary. As observed in other contexts (Eskes, Duncan, &
Miller, 1998), participants co-opted female empowerment rhetoric
to encourage physical activity. While some stated that SDP would
give women opportunities to do something together on their own
without the men,others were more forthright, with one even
saying it would get the women out of the house and away from
controlling families.Some also saw the strong role of religion in
many Pacic Island nations as an obstacle, claiming that it en-
courages norms that undermine both physical activity and female
independence by encouraging women to attend to familial obliga-
tions over their (individual) selves.
The supposition that Pacic women are inactiveand pre-
sumably obese as a resultoverlooks the fact that many women
have disproportionate household and care-giving obligations,
which require signicant labor and time and also extend well
beyond Eurocentric notions of the nuclear family. Preoccupied
with the goal of promoting change by making women more active
through sport, policymakers often lost sight of the issue that many
women negotiate communal dynamics and responsibilities. They
also negated how families, communities, and Church provide
forms of social protection that weaker state institutions often cannot
(Jolly et al., 2015). These connections are also central to many
Pacic peoplesrelational sense of self and their wellbeing
(Manuela & Sibley, 2012). As one female participant of Pacic
heritage explained in an interview, We dont see things like you.
We are part of something bigger ::: We all have a place and have
obligations that are part of it. My family, Church, community, they
are part who I am and what I do. It wouldnt make sense another
way.While policymakers acknowledged womens demanding
responsibilities, they did not consider the more complicated point:
that womens roles might be integral to their and their communi-
tieswellbeing, not simply sources of female marginalization or
Disconnects between policymakersunderstandings of Pacic
communities and lived experiences on the ground shaped SDP
agenda setting, becoming manifest in the commitment to
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220 Henne and Pape
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evidencewithin policy development and evaluation (Henne,
2017). Although policymakers spoke of the importance of con-
sulting Pacic peoples, they usually did so after identifying desired
and usually measurableoutcomes. Northern priorities thus
informed the core elements of policy, with engagement serving
to demonstrate that interventions were not imposed top-down (or
North-South). However, as one Pacic respondent conveyed, at
least its something.But, as scholars have observed in other
contexts (Reardon, 2006), consultation can serve to legitimize
Northern projects rather than ensure marginalized or underrepre-
sented groups are genuinely enabled to shape the process or redress
embedded Northern biases. Consultation in the context of SDP
policy design did not always go smoothly. For instance, to secure
support for a program targeting women in Tonga, policymakers
consulted male leaders since few women hold political positions,
even though they are inuential in family networks (Jolly et al.,
2015, p. 21). In recounting the meeting, policymakers expressed
frustration over their Tongan counterpartsinitial resistance to
programs that would benet women, even though its clear they
[women] need their own spaces.When Tongan leaders stated
concerns about disrupting familial and communal networks, pol-
icymakers doubted the potential negative consequences, describing
some of their language as clearly patriarchaland citing the
absence of women in attendance as evidence that women had
been excluded from consultation.
Follow-up discussions with two Pacic female interlocutors
yielded alternative interpretations. When asked about securing
local support for SDP targeting women, they highlighted (North-
ern) policymakersfailure to take seriously the relational aspects of
personhood, something they explained was essential for getting
community members on board.
They acknowledged the stigma around adult women partici-
pating in sport, saying it was essential to work on getting support
from community members and institutions, including the Church,
because they will affect whether women actually participate [in
programs].Rather than condemn menspatriarchal talk,their
primary concern was that policymakerscharacterizations would
be used to keep local stakeholders out of planning discussions
rather than to ensure the inclusion of women. As one stated, So
now these [White] men are worried about Tongan women being
disrespected?She continued, Do they realize we how long Tonga
has been a matriarchal society and that its colonialism that
changed that?While there was still a ways to goin terms of
gender equity, she pointed to Tongan womensinuential roles as
sisters and the additional responsibilities that come with men
migrating overseas for work. Her words pointed to the multiple
ways that European beliefs about gender have inuenced different
areas of the Pacic, including through engagement with Christian
missionaries, traders, and other settlers (Jolly & Macintyre, 1989),
as have ongoing changes linked to the globalized movements of
people and ideas across the region (Teaiwa, 2008). Thus, any effort
to encourage womens empowerment must attend to these com-
plexities, which instrumentalized outcome measures fail to address.
Delivery: Unintended Consequences of
Although women from the region were not present in many SDP
policymaking contexts, it did not mean that programs planning and
implementation failed to involve Pacic women. In fact, Pacic
interlocutors suggested that discussions between leaders and
women likely occurred through alternative modes of engagement.
As observed during SDP planning meetings, a Pacic man of high
status might, for example, make an authoritative statement that
would go unchallenged by other Pacic men or women in the room.
In follow-up interviews, though, it became clear that the other
participants had conveyed different sentiments. As one woman
said, That wasnt the place [in front of White policymakers] to
challenge [him]. There are other ways to handle them [the matters
discussed].Another reiterated that the priority was to ensure
funding for local programs, as women will decide how its
implementedin communities. In contrast, policymakers made
judgements and decisions based on what they could observe in
public spaces, and, as revealed through interviews, their perceived
absence of womens voices increased the likelihood that they
would dismiss Pacic viewpoints on grounds they were not fully
representative. However, many Pacicwomens conversations and
modes of engagement, for various reasons, remained beyond the
observation of a pa¯lagi (here, a Northern policymaker or
Nearly all interviewees, irrespective of background, contended
that the strongest SDP programs relied on women and their
understanding of distinct Pacic values and contexts. One program
that policymakers referred to as best practicereceived praise for
its promotion of womens health and empowerment, because its
organizers, including women of Pacic heritage, worked closely
with local groups to identify barriers to participation among women
ages 15 to 45 and to develop outreach strategies to assuage
community concerns and counteract social stigma around adult,
particularly married, womens participation (Australian
Government, 2011). Media campaigns included participants,
church representatives, and doctors to reinforce messages about
the benets of sport activity. Community Mobilizersat the
grassroots level encouraged participation, and the program sup-
ported tournaments, coaching training, and equipment provisions.
Pursuing the policy objective of promoting weight loss, the pro-
gram requires women to be weighed at annual tournaments,
offering prizes to participants who lose the most weight (Sherry,
Schulenkorf, Nicholson, & Hoyle, 2014). Formal evaluations
maintain a focus on individual change, providing no insight into
community-level change or the broader effects of disciplinary
messages focused on weight loss, such as possible lower self-
esteem or negative body image perceptions.
Other funded programs, such as the Pacic Volleyball Part-
nership in Fiji, received positive endorsements from a variety of
interviewees for empowering women and conducting outreach
with village headmen to encourage local support for womens
physical activity. Additionally, the Pacic Womens Sport Lead-
ership Forum, a weeklong program held in Papua New Guinea,
involved 20 women from across the region. Supporting the goal of
gender empowerment, it encouraged Pacic womens participation
in sport governance by facilitating new professional opportunities,
networks, and presumably adjoining forms of social capital.
Although the overwhelming majority of participants framed the
Forum in positive terms, two interviewees questioned whether the
umbrella Pacic womennegated the diversity of women and
gender ideologies across the Pacic. Moreover, analyses of educa-
tional outreach suggest that access to such training does not
necessarily ensure empowerment, especially if broader inequalities
are not addressed (Chattier, 2013). However, to dismiss such
programs as merely essentialist and thus not productive fails to
consider how the subjectivity of different actors in development
can be uid, contradictory and multiple,partnering in ways
that can yield alternatives to hegemonic neoliberal policy and
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Dilemmas of Gender and Global Sport Governance 221
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practice(Underhill-Sem, 2012, p. 1110). For example, as Yvonne
Underhill-Sem (2012) acknowledges, feminist activists in the
Pacic, despite being few in numbers, have made notable in-roads
in political domains where women are rare, with some leading UN
agencies and prominent NGOs.
Despite the diversity of women in the Pacic, intersections
between ethnicity, gender, and sexuality often remain outside the
discourse and formal SDP agendas in the region. Women, includ-
ing, but not limited to, those participating in traditionally male-
dominated sports (e.g., rugby in Fiji), occupy and navigate a double
bind. Their participation can require them to navigate, transgress,
and sometimes actively resist not only gendered inequalities, but
also the broader norms that sport traditionally reinforces
(Kanemasu & Molnar, 2017). Consider Fiji, where there is signi-
cant racial diversity and inequality and where homosexual activity
was criminalized until 2010. Can sport provide a space to express
and protect non-normative gender and sexual identities? How
might SDP better address the benets and risks posed by sport
Instead of being formally attentive to intersectional subjectiv-
ities, the SDP discourse analyzed here tends to reify static notions
of Pacic women struggling under forms of patriarchy rooted in
traditional local norms. Such characterizations minimize the im-
plications of colonialism and global capitalism and render Pacic
cultures as homogenous and static. They persist even though all
Pacic participants interviewed for this study expressed strong
feelings about colonialisms enduring effects, the vitality of Pacic
cultures, and the complexities of promoting traditional agendas,
especially when simplistic narrations and rhetoric might marginal-
ize women. Also rendered invisible in discourse is the gender
diversity across Pacic Island countries, which exceeds Northern
constructions of binary sex (male/female), such as Tongan fakaleiti
and Samoan faafane (both of which are considered male at birth
but have masculine and feminine traits). Work concerned with
gender and development often fails to attend to their experiences
and needs, even though Pacic communities have long recognized
these identities and their shifting contours under colonial condi-
tions. Northern categories of binary gender, even with good
intentions, tend to either negate or misunderstand them. In doing
so, the development objective of womens empowerment threatens
to become a mechanism for buttressing heteronormative beliefs,
continuing the longer history of colonial and neoliberal economic
interventions that misrecognizeyet still try to intervene inthe
Pacic Island nations and communities.
Discussion and Concluding Considerations
Southern theory is an important reminder that hegemonic forces
can prevent the inclusion of knowledges from outside the metro-
pole. The case studies presented here offer only partial accounts of
such barriers in sports governance; however, they illuminate two
distinct dilemmas for consideration: (1) the problematic nature of
rules reliant upon universalist claims around womens bodies, even
those that purport to be scientically informed and therefore value-
free, and (2) the impossibility of Northern perspectives being able
to fully grasp the postcolonial dynamics that contribute to the
development and reception of policy. Because Northern values
are embedded in governance practices, they are difcult to identify
at rst. Concealed within allegedly universal, rational, and objec-
tive structures of global sports governance, they are dynamics
that Southern theory can bring to the surface. Santosnotion of a
sociology of absencesis therefore particularly relevant, dened
as research that aims to show that what does not exist is actually
actively produced as non-existent ::: as an unbelievable alternative
to what exists(2012, p. 52). If Southern critiques of Northern bias
within systems of sports governance appear incredible, it is because
Northern systems actively produce them as irrelevanteven invis-
ible. This practice of obscuring is part of Northern politics, whether
intentional or not. A situated approach to Southern theory offers a
corrective lens that aids in illuminating them, as seen in both cases
presented here.
In the case of the Hyperandrogenism Regulations, race and
nation are actively produced as irrelevant to the regulatory practices
of sports governing bodies. Consistent with a broader push towards
evidence-based policy in international sport (Palmer, 2013), the
IAAF (and CAS) claim to be deferent to the best available
science.Despite the expertise that underpins these regulations
projecting objectivity and universality, women from the Global
South are disproportionately cast as suspect. Applying the insights
of Santos, the apparent absence of an association between the
IAAFs regulatory regime and Northern imperialism relies on
institutional arrangements that shore up and conceal the hegemony
of the metropole as a site for the production and application of
gendered knowledge.
In the SDP case, dilemmas emerge in relation to Northern
inuences on policymaking and perceptions of Pacic contexts.
Although governance arrangements create spaces for consulting
Pacic communities, they limit the scope of engagement, present-
ing seemingly self-evident solutions that fail to fully hear or value
Pacic perspectives. Coincidentally, initiatives echo shortcomings
of colonial interventions; that is, as in the case of gender verica-
tion, there are no meaningful mechanisms for including Southern
knowledges. In another parallel, the governance of SDPand
arguably aid and development more generallyreinforces certain
kinds of absences, erasing the historical and contemporary role of
the Global North in shaping conditions in the Pacic(Hauofa,
1983). While Northern researchers may understand these dynamics
in a general sense, the depth of knowledge necessary to fully
engage them can exceed Western feminist sensibilitiesa limita-
tion that even the most reexive practices may not account for.
Connell (2009,2011) encourages the inclusion of Southern
perspectives in academic knowledge, but Santos provides clear
advice on how to do so. Fostering Southern epistemologies,
according to Santos (2012), demands moving beyond the excava-
tion of absencesthat is, locating the invisible, discredited, and
non-intelligible. It requires recognizing the capacities and possi-
bilities of the South, the plurality of these knowledges, and the need
for horizontal translations of experience and ideas between South
and North. This approach poses a challenge for Northern gover-
nance systems, which often institutionalize hierarchies that pre-
serve metropolitan worldviews. As gender inequality pervades
structures of sport governance beyond questions of policy, fem-
inists from the Global North cannot fully deconstruct or develop
strategies for reguring sport as a gendered institution without
Southern partners. Although there is important sociological schol-
arship on sport that embraces feminist postcolonial thought and
critically engages the privileges afforded to stakeholders in the
Global North (e.g., Hayhurst, 2011;Hayhurst & Giles, 2013;
Kanemasu & Molnar, 2017;Magubane, 2014;Sykes, 2017),
most work in the eld does not query how these dynamics are
rooted in unequal global knowledge owsa core prescriptive
consideration of Southern theory.
This article contributes to what Santos (2012, p. 58) calls the
deconstructive challengeof identifying where and how Northern
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222 Henne and Pape
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biases persist within two areas of sports policy. The reconstructive
challengeis in large part the task of Southern scholars, since it
involves revitalizing subaltern knowledges that have been inter-
rupted and discredited by the metropolitan worldviews. As Connell
(2009) reminds us, Northern scholars can be critical allies in
facilitating the dissemination of these much-needed knowledges.
We thus invite fellow scholars of sport to not only more deeply
engage with the tenets of Southern theory in their research, but to
also strategically consider how their positionality can be used to
promote knowledge produced outside the metropole.
1. We acknowledge that many scholars prefer Two-Thirds Worldor
Three-Fourths World, because it rejects binary constructs and their
ideological assumptions (Hayhurst & Giles, 2013). Since we are engaging
with Southern theory, we use Global Southto avoid confusion.
2. The subaltern, according to Spivak (1988), occupies a subject position
in which discourse prevents the accurate representation of their experience
or expressions.
3. Interviews for this rst study were conducted in late 2016 and early
2017. 28 interviewees were directly connected to the Rio Olympic Games.
The remaining 14 participated in other Olympic Games, World Champion-
ships, or Commonwealth Games. The sample includes 26 athletes, 12
coaches, 4 media personnel, and 3 team staff, representing nine, primarily
English-speaking countries. The sensitivity of the topic at the time of
interviewing prohibited a broadly representative sample; however, a
combination of purposive and snowball sampling ensured various per-
spectives and arguments were reected, with follow-up questions used to
elicit them as fully as possible. Interviewing continued until reaching
saturation, which became evident when no new information or distinct
thematic codes were emerging in the data.
4. Keeping with an ethnographic approach, interviews for the second
study were unstructured to generate more information about the parti-
cipantsexperiences and perspectives (Briggs, 1986). Doing so required
establishing rapportwhich was especially important when interview-
ing participants of Pacic heritage and usually required introductions
from one of their trusted colleagues. Collected between late 2012 and
2015, the data come from a sample that includes 9 SDP advocates and
practitioners, 6 development workers in the Pacic, 7 Pacic community
representatives, and 4 policy-makers. Interviews sought an in-depth
understanding of observed contexts and conditions, thus requiring
purposive sampling to ensure that the sample reected different gendered
perspectives and did not over-represent the accounts of close
5. For an extended historical account of gender verication, see Pieper
6. Regulations stipulate that any female athlete found to have functional
testosterone levels above 10nmol/Ldened as the beginning of the
male range”—must undergo normalizingtreatment before returning
to competition (IAAF, 2011).
7. Similarly, an IAAF ofcial claimed that the Hyperandrogenism
Regulations were ensnaring athletes from developing countries with
little ::: means to contest the rules(Leicester, 2016).
8. Fourteen experts, including ten from Western Europe, North America,
and Australia, developed the IAAFs Hyperandrogenism Regulations. A
2015 review of the IOC Hyperandrogenism Regulations and Transgender
Guidelines involved 20 experts, with 16 from Western Europe and North
9. Centres are in Melbourne (Australia), Nice (France), Stockholm
(Sweden), Hershey (USA), Tokyo (Japan), and Sao Paolo (Brazil).
10. It was reported that the IAAF cancelled a press conference promoting
this research because of concerns regarding legal action (Bouchez, 2016).
11. Multiple interviewees identied Mutola, a retired Black female
800m runner from Mozambique whose successes spanned the 1990s
and 2000s, as suspect. Other successful competitors from this same period
were not. One such British athlete, also a woman of Color, was described
by a coach as not as identiable as a Black athlete as Semenya or
12. Karkazis and Jordan-Young (forthcoming) have identied similar
rumors circulating among policy-makers and elected ofcials of the IAAF
and IOC (see also Pieper, 2016).
13. More information is available via the Pacic Women website: http://
14. Examples include the head of UNIFEM Pacic (2005 to 2011), Fiji
Womens Rights Movement and Punanga Tauturu in the Cook Islands
(Underhill-Sem, 2012, p. 1111).
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... As a challenge to the gradual situations of Northern supremacy, Southern theory provides critical attention to how the Global North forms global knowledge and ignores global knowledge from other parts of the world. From this viewpoint, Henne and Pape explained how the Northern worldview profoundly shapes gender-related sport policy and chronically ignore that Northern ideologies may negatively influence Pacific communities [35]. Furthermore, some macro-scale theories were only adopted once in this study but offered different entry points for more thorough analyses [28,34,39,43]. ...
... Similar to the situation in Australia, Park, Lim, and Bretherton probed into the elite sporting success in South Korea, which has suffered lasting colonial effects from Japan [35]. Such historical background to build national pride urged elite sporting success instead of academic progress. ...
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Since the 1990s, sport policy research has gradually attracted increasing academic attention as a reflection of contemporary society at a particular time. This study adopted four types of theory proposed by Houlihan (2014) to analyze the research development of sport policy. It conducted a systematic review and yielded 100 policy articles related to elite sports, physical education, and sport for all. The scope of the research data was identified from 2000 to 2020 with collation from 24 international Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) journals, which specialized in policy and sport–related studies of social science to look forward to a comprehensive report. The four major findings were as follows: first, this study pointed to evidence that nearly half the research on the topic aimed at meso–level analyses of organizations; second, it demonstrated governance theory, the Sports Policy Factors Leading to International Sporting Success (SPLISS) model, the advocacy coalition Framework (ACF), and network-related theories played a pivotal role in focusing on policy backgrounds and dynamic relationships within organizations; third, it identified some studies highlighted in the policy texts themselves, or discourse about them, and, thereby, were grouped into the fifth type; finally, the paper suggested that attention has been brought to policy formation and implementation rather than policy evaluation, which has made a contribution to the development of their own operating mechanisms.
... In April 2018, World Athletics (WA; the international governing body for track-and-field) released its female eligibility policy, which limited blood testosterone levels to five nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) for women athletes with X,Y chromosomes competing in event distances between 400-meters and a mile. While arguing that the policy was necessary for protecting 'fair and meaningful competition' for women's sport and encouraging 'genderaffirming' treatment for women with undiagnosed differences of sex development (see WA, 2019a), critics highlighted the dubitability of scientific 'evidence' associating testosterone with performative excellence (Jordan-Young and Karkazis, 2019;Karkazis et al., 2012), restrictive definitions of femininity (Cooky and Dworkin, 2013;Pieper, 2016;Schultz, 2011), imposition of Western ideals (Henne and Pape, 2018;Karkazis and Jordan-Young, 2018;Magubane, 2014), and scientification of gender/sex (Karkazis and Jordan-Young, 2018;Pape, 2019;Wells, 2020). Despite challenges from Caster Semenya and Athletics South Africa (ASA), in May 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)-sport's highest ethical court-ruled that the policy was discriminatory, but of "necessary, reasonable and proportionate means" (CAS, 2019: 160). ...
... In this vein, a growing body of work has demonstrated how sexism and racism intersect in the science informing protective policies (namely, female eligibility policies) to most significantly impact Black and brown women from the Global South (Henne and Pape, 2018;Karkazis and Jordan-Young, 2018;Magubane, 2014). While race itself is not a biological category, the health disparities and embodied experiences in persons of colour reflect the internalization and biological response to situations of extreme stress (Gravlee, 2009). ...
Women's sport remains a contested realm that frequently features standards and regulations premised on women's inferiority and physiological distinctions from men. In response to these purported sex-based differences, a range of protective policies have been implemented to ostensibly ensure women's safety and health, defend “fair competition” in women's sport, and/or prevent the violation of social and medical boundaries that define who is a “woman.” Yet, protective policies encompass a multitude of rationales and strategies, demonstrating the malleability of “protection” in terms of who is protected and why. In this article, I draw from Michel Foucault's theory of “governmentality” to investigate the nuances of protective policies, especially their placed importance on sex differences. To do so, I examine three case studies: World Athletics’ (WA) 2019 female eligibility policy, WA's 2019 transgender eligibility policy, and the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) consensus statement on relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). Using document texts and semi-structured interviews with eight scientists involved with developing the case studies, I find that protective policies are developed through messy and often contentious processes that selectively draw from varying knowledges and discourses. This then culminates in contrasting methods of defining, protecting, and governing women athletes and their bodies.
... Such practices result in academic research being carried out exclusively within the frameworks that the North determines or curriculum material being developed that suit Northern models. The point here is that the Northern born epistemological positions remain the main drivers of producing acceptable knowledge globally [25]. This dominance results in HE across countries in the South being modelled after principles and ideologies that evolved in the North for different reasons. ...
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The idea of 'quality of graduates' as understood in the Higher Education (HE) sector is central to this conceptual piece. HE systems across the world have seen unprecedented levels of transformation as part of their effort to adapt to the conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that most institutions have gone back to contact format in instruction, questions are being posed as to how the vulnerabilities of HE systems that the pandemic helped expose will be addressed. Unfair practices, social injustices and perpetuation of inequalities have been pointed out within the sector. In this context, this article puts forward the idea of 'social justice higher education' that should foreground conceptuali-sations of social justice within the higher education sector. The authors rely on the notion of 'quality of graduates' as a measurable construct across institutions to elucidate 'social justice higher education'. Southern Theory as a theoretical stand point is also used to consolidate this discussion. Southern Theory provides a convenient lens to view educational disparities that students experience across national boundaries in the context of the pandemic. 'Quality of graduates' and 'social justice higher education' thus form a solid conceptual alliance with which southern theory gets linked as a connecting thread. Conclusions of the piece point towards the need to reinvigorate the ideological affirmations in support of defining 'quality of graduates' along the lines of a socially just higher education system.
... al, 2018;Betzer-Tayar et. al, 2015;Henne & Pape, 2018), questões relacionadas ao financiamento sejam desiguais(Gregg & Fielding, 2016;Yanus & O'Connor, 2016; Druckerman, Rothschild & Sharrow, 2018;McDowell et. al, 2016), diminuam o número de mulheres técnicas ...
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In recent years, there has been a pronounced debate about the presence of women in different realms of social life, including sports. The discussion of women in sport has been part of the political agenda in several countries. However, in the Brazilian scope, it is possible to say that women's sport has not become a social problem recognized by political actors and, therefore, it has not entered the country's governmental agenda. Thus, this work aimed to analyze why sport for women is not on the Brazilian government agenda. For this, it was interviewed six women considered to be stakeholders in the sports, that is, women who influence or are influenced by sport. The interviews were based on a semi-structured script and carried out in the year 2022. Due to the difficulties of commuting and of the schedule of the interviewees, some interviews were carried out in person, others by video call or telephone and others by whatsapp. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using Bardin's Content Analysis (2011). As a result, from the stakeholders' perception, it was ascertained that women's sport is not considered a political problem because both sport and politics are considered masculinized fields, making it difficult for women to be present in both spaces. Besides, not only sport of women, but sport in general is seen as just a marketing tool and a way of getting financial return for companies, being neglected in government plans. Due to this fact, private institutions, corporative means, federations and confederations have been mobilized in the creation of policies that seek changes in the current scenario. Despite this, two PL (PL 6263/2019 and PL 5297/2020) have been in the process since 2019, but have not been approved yet due to the failure to submit amendments within the established deadline. In order to change this reality, the ones surveyed suggested that there should be not only different types of women represented on the most varied fronts of sports, but also more visibility of the issue of women in this field. Furthermore, they mentioned the importance of the creation of specific plans and policies that guarantee a safe place for women and that are consolidated as State policies. In addition, the need for more women in political decision-making positions was also mentioned. It was concluded that women's sport appears on the agenda in a secondary level, since it is included on the legislative political agenda, but not in the executive branch. In addition, there is not enough movement and mobilization in favor of women's sport for it to become a discussion in the field of politics. Regarding the Multiple Streams Model, women's sport is present only in the ideas stream, as there are solutions and ideas for improvements in this field. Finally, it was pointed that there is still a strong dependence on the State for the creation of policies that seek improvements in the participation of girls and women in sport, hence, being necessary the creation of multicentric policies, including non-governmental agents in the process of elaborating policies.
... Sport management also reflects these barriers (Koca and others, 2011;Megheirkouni and others, 2020;Thornton & Etxebarria, 2021). Although research has shown the emergence of complex and alternative gender sport identities (Henne & Pape, 2018), governing sports boards continue to be defined by a hegemonic heterosexual embodied and psychological masculinity that is rarely questioned (Elling and others, 2018;Koca & Öztürk, 2015;Walker & Bopp, 2011). The few women who occupy leadership sport positions do not conform to their gender norms (Burton & Parker, 2010;Claringbould & Knoppers, 2008). ...
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This study explores the impact of board size, board gender diversity and organization age on the likelihood of having a female chair in National Sports Federations. We adopted a quantitative methodology to compare 297 federations in five countries (Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom), and collected the data from the official websites of the federations. The findings show that the board size, the proportion and the total number of women on the sports board, and the federation age have no significant impact on having a woman as a board chair when we include the countries' under study in the model. When the model does not differ by country, the odds of there being a female chair are higher as the total number of female members on the board increases, which could mean that national cultures have impacted women's representation as chairs in sports boards. The study also provides evidence on the impact of the board size and the total number of female directors on the gender of the chairperson, and the results show that chairwomen tend to preside on smaller boards. This study contributes to cumulative knowledge by presenting an international comparison of women's access to the top positions of sports governing boards of federations in Europe. Also, 3 Address correspondence to María Luisa Esteban 3 the study evidences the likelihood that the chairperson is a woman according to the size of the board.
... Some characterise testosterone regulations as a Western-centred scientific measure given that regulating the hormone in female athletes directs 'a prurient European gaze on black women's bodies' (Karkazis and Jordan-Young 2018, 6). The result is the discursive framing of sex as a clean dimorphism and gender as a racialised aesthetic that appears 'normal' and biological (Henne and Pape 2018;Hoad 2010;Magubane 2014;Munro 2010;Pape 2019). ...
The popular media coverage of South African track and field star Caster Semenya showcases how colonialist discourses shaped the sexed, gendered, and racialised meaning of her public biography. Yet, when researchers study Semenya as their research ‘object’, does this act of inquiry reproduce the knowledge constructs of Western coloniality as well? In this article, we consider both issues by conducting and reflecting on our poststructuralist analysis of popular media coverages of Semenya’s athletic career, with specific attention to her dealings with genderverification testing. We examine the discursive construction of Semenya’s public biography by popular newspaper outlets in the United States and South Africa from 2009 to 2019, arguing that both geopolitical locales maintained Western social binaries and scientific discourses concerning Semenya’s sexual identity in similar, yet distinct ways. Drawing from the poststructuralist methodology of intertextuality, we reflect on its capacity to deconstruct the colonial discourses shaping the cultural meaning of a non-Western athlete of colour such as Semenya, as well as its relation, as a method of knowledge production, to the epistemological legacies of Western coloniality. We also contend that by approaching Semenya as the ‘object’ of our poststructuralist framework, our analysis implicitly reproduced, rather than challenged, the Eurocentric subject/ object framework of modern (Western) epistemology. Thus, our purposes are empirical, methodological, and reflexive as we seek to contribute to critical analyses of the constructed cultural meaning of celebrity athletes while subjecting our own research assumptions and frameworks to poststructuralist and decolonial deconstruction.
This commentary develops the concept of gender inclusive sport: sport that is inclusive and affirming of––and safe for––all women and sex and gender minoritized people, regardless of whether their bodies, gender expression, and/or identity align neatly with normative notions of the female/male binary. Debates about the sports participation of transgender (trans) athletes and athletes with natural sex variations often assume a choice between inclusion on one side and fairness on the other, particularly in the context of women’s sport. In this commentary, we instead demonstrate the value of approaching equity and inclusion as allied causes. We offer four principles of Gender Inclusive Sport as an alternative policy and research paradigm: lead with inclusion; de-centre regulatory science; increase access to community and youth sport; and double down on gender equity. Whereas sports studies scholars have often focused on the important work of critiquing the existing regulatory and epistemic practices of sports governing bodies, we call on scholars to also engage in research that expands the knowledge base needed to build change. From the grassroots to the elite level, increasingly, there are opportunities to learn about the best practices and interventions that can support the realisation of Gender Inclusive Sport in practice.
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Athlete health and wellbeing requires a holistic, multidimensional approach to understanding, supporting, and treating individual athletes. Building more supportive, inclusive, and equitable environments for the health and wellbeing of women and gender expansive people further requires gender-responsive approaches that promote broader cultural change. Feminist sport and exercise medicine practitioners, sports scientists, and social science researchers are increasingly coming together in their efforts to do this work. However, working across disciplines inevitably includes an array of ontological, epistemological, and political challenges. In this paper, we offer a curated ‘dialogue’ with a group of feminist scholars engaged in research and practice across disciplines, bringing them together to discuss some of the most pressing gendered issues in sport today (i.e., ACL injury, concussion, menstruation in sport, mental health, gender categories). In so doing, we amplify the voices of those working (empirically and clinically) at the disciplinary intersections of gender, sport and health, and learn about some of the current and future possibilities for transdisciplinary innovations and strategies for building (responsiveness to) cultural change.
This progressive and broad-ranging handbook offers a comprehensive overview of the complex intersections between politics, gender, sport and physical activity, shining new light on the significance of gender, sport and physical activity in wider society. Featuring contributions from leading and emerging researchers from around the world, the book makes the case that gender studies and critical thinking around gender are of particular importance in an era of increasingly intolerant populist politics. It examines important long-term as well as emerging themes, such as recent generational shifts in attitudes to gender identity in sport and the socio-cultural expectations on men and women that have traditionally influenced and often disrupted their engagement with sport and physical activity, and explores a wide range of current issues in contemporary sport, from debates around the contested gender binary and sex verification, to the role of the media and social media, and the significance of gender in sport leadership, policy and decision-making. This book is an authoritative survey of the current state of play in research connecting gender, sport, physical activity and politics, and is an important contribution to both sport studies and gender studies. It is fascinating reading for any student, researcher, policy-maker or professional with an interest in sport, physical activity, social studies, public health or political science.
World Athletics policy narrowly defines female athletes, creating contested bodies in elite sport. Framed by feminist cultural studies and transfeminism, we discuss the eligibility rules and their real-life impact. Women with naturally elevated endogenous testosterone (hyperandrogenism) are being treated as if they are cheating. That high testosterone in female bodies has been deemed an unfair competitive advantage is consistent with dominant cultural narratives rather than the research about testosterone and sport performance. Applying an intersectional lens, it becomes clear that race, region, class, and nation intersect so that women athletes from the Global South are disproportionately affected by the eligibility regulations. This creation of contested bodies has led to critical mental and physical health outcomes. Cherry-picking one biological component of a body as the cause of exceptional performance in elite sport is irresponsible. Instead, we need education, compassion, and to follow sound science grounded in moral and ethical research.
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This article analyses sport for development and peace (SDP) governance, focusing specifically on the role of indicator culture. It examines how different actors inform SDP governance, drawing upon data collected as part of a larger, multi-sited ethnographic research project. It utilises actor–network theory as its analytical guide, which enables deeper consideration of how bureaucratic mechanisms, measurement and evaluation practices, political and funding mandates, and postcolonial ideologies converge in the development of SDP initiatives in the Pacific. Findings point to tensions within the broader embrace of indicator culture and how SDP is uniquely positioned to illuminate the dilemmas that result.
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Using strategies from critical race studies and feminist studies of science, medicine and the body, we examine the covert operation of race and region in a regulation restricting the natural levels of testosterone in women athletes. Sport organizations claim the rule promotes fair competition and benefits the health of women athletes. Intersectional and postcolonial analyses have shown that “gender challenges” of specific women athletes engage racialized judgments about sex atypicality that emerged in the context of Western colonialism and are at the heart of Western modernity. Here, we introduce the concept of “T talk” to refer to the web of direct claims and indirect associations that circulate around testosterone as a material substance and a multi-valent cultural symbol. In the case we discuss, T talk naturalizes the idea of sport as a masculine domain while deflecting attention from the racial politics of intra-sex competition. Using regulation documents, scientific publications, media coverage, in-depth interviews, and sport officials’ public presentations we show how this supposedly neutral and scientific regulation targets women of color from the Global South. Contrary to claims that the rule is beneficent, both racialization and medically-authorized harms are inherent to the regulation.
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If all goes as expected, new sex testing rules for female athletes will be in place for the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer. The change came in response to the case of Caster Semenya, a young South African runner whose muscular body and spectacular win at the Berlin World Championships in 2009 in the 800m sparked an international debate over whether she was " really " female and thus eligible for women's competitions. The process for determining her eligibility, which included a detailed and protracted examination of her body to determine her " true " sex, left her shamed and humiliated. Amid ensuing debates about how to determine sex and whether universal sex testing is necessary in elite sports, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) released new policies for determining eligibility to compete as a female; the IOC is expected to pass a similar policy in the time for the summer Olympic Games. These policies engage a labyrinth of contemporary political and scientific struggles concerning the boundaries between male and female. Earlier modes of sex testing aimed to distinguish males from females, which might seem the easiest of tasks. Yet with at least six biological markers of sex, and none present in all people labeled " female, " each attempt to identify " biological women " failed, inappropriately excluding people that experts and lay people alike would consider women, and failing to exclude others whom most would consider men. For the new policies officials sought to identify " masculine advantage " rather than sex itself based on the notion that observed differences between male and female athleticism are due to differences in testosterone levels. Female athletes whose endogenous (ie, non-doping) levels are above the typical female range, which includes many women with intersex traits, are presumed to have an advantage over women with lower levels of testosterone. Females athletes known or suspected to have hyperandrogenism will be allowed to compete only if they agree to medical intervention, or if they are found to be " insensitive " to androgens. Earlier modes of sex testing aimed to distinguish males from females, which might seem the easiest of tasks. Yet … each attempt to identify " biological women " failed, inappropriately excluding people that experts and lay people alike would consider women, and failing to exclude others whom most would consider men. Like with earlier sex testing policies, there is an unquestioned assumption that " science " and " experts " can resolve what seems confusing about sex, and these policies once again draw a line between male and female. What is the perceived urgency to have such a line? And what are the proposed methods for producing it? What cultural work is performed by a return to an official, medico-scientific process of " gender verification " ? How is the task accomplished especially given that the scientific basis for the new policies is so weak? Three core elements bolster the story of " scientific gender verification " : the " sex hormone " concept; tensions between discursive and material " modes " of sex; and erasure of the contexts in which an athlete's sex is " doubted. " OUR HORMONES, OUR SELVES For a century, so-called sex hormones have been called on to do a lot of heavy lifting for explaining what makes us men and women. As Nelly Oudshoorn notes, however, the cultural idea of " sex hormones " as " essences of masculinity and femininity " doesn't map well onto what these steroids actually do in bodies, which extends far beyond producing sex traits. These hormones influence cell, tissue, organ, and functions in the brain, breast, bone, and the cardiovascular system. The labeling of testosterone and estrogen as " sex hormones " then persistently discounts data that doesn't fit this paradigm, distorting research, theory, and even medical practice owing to a persistent faith that so called sex hormones are responsible only and primarily for most physical and behavioral differences between men and women. What useful facts are supposedly revealed by testosterone levels in female bodies? Women's bodies make testosterone, and our bodies vary greatly in terms of the amounts we produce and the way we use it (the distribution and sensitivity of hormone receptors also varies within individuals, as well as between people). Testosterone levels then not only can't tell the fully story of someone's sex (or gender, for that matter), but they also can't predict an individual's athletic performance relative to other people, even those with dramatically different testosterone levels. Although it's common wisdom that " off the charts " testosterone levels will propel women into male-level performance, it's doesn't bear out. None of the women who have been suspended because of questions about their sex (and who likely have hyperandrogenism) have been world record holders; they aren't " outliers " among their elite athletic peers. A great athletic performance doesn't allow you to infer that someone has high testosterone, but then, a great athletic performance isn't what brings women athletes under scrutiny (at least
Purpose: In this chapter, I analyze proceedings from 2015 when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was asked to determine whether Dutee Chand, an Indian sprinter, could compete as a female athlete. Excluded on the basis that her naturally high testosterone levels conferred an unfair athletic advantage, Chand argued that existing policies in international sport were scientifically flawed. The purpose of the analysis is to examine whether the case led to a shift in the gender politics of sport, law, and science. Methodology/Approach: I present a textual analysis of the arbitral award document, drawing on feminist methodology to identify where and how the adjudicating panel's assessment of the case was gendered. Findings: The CAS decision defined the right to compete as primarily a matter for science to decide, in the process obscuring the gendered and tilted playing field upon which scientific knowledge production takes place. Furthermore, the right to unconditional recognition as a woman was reduced to science alone. Social Implications: My analysis reveals that Chand's victory is a precarious one, with binary and biologized models of sex and gender prevailing when the institutions of sport, law, and science determine the policy boundaries of "fair play" for female athletes. Originality/Value of Study: This chapter shows how the institutions of sport, law, and science work together to determine gender. As a consequence, even feminist versions of the biology of sex difference risk reifying the authority of science as the dominant knowledge form within the institutional spaces of sport and law.
In 1968, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) implemented sex testing for female athletes at that year’s Games. When it became clear that testing regimes failed to delineate a sex divide, the IOC began to test for gender --a shift that allowed the organization to control the very idea of womanhood. Lindsay Parks Pieper explores sex testing in sport from the 1930s to the early 2000s. Focusing on assumptions and goals as well as means, Pieper examines how the IOC in particular insisted on a misguided binary notion of gender that privileged Western norms. Testing evolved into a tool to identify--and eliminate--athletes the IOC deemed too strong, too fast, or too successful. Pieper shows how this system punished gifted women while hindering the development of women’s athletics for decades. She also reveals how the flawed notions behind testing--ideas often sexist, racist, or ridiculous--degraded the very idea of female athleticism. © 2016 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. All rights reserved.
Investigating the current interest in obesity and fatness, this book explores the problems and ambiguities that form the lived experience of 'fat' women in contemporary Western society. Engaging with dominant ideas about 'fatness', and analysing the assumptions that inform anti-fat attitudes in the West, The 'Fat' Female Body explores the moral panic over the 'obesity epidemic', and the intersection of medicine and morality in pathologising 'fat' bodies. It contributes to the emerging field of fat studies by offering not only alternative understandings of subjectivity, the (re)production of public knowledge(s) of 'fatness', and politics of embodiment, but also the possibility of (re)reading 'fat' bodies to foster more productive social relations.