Exploring The Gender-Constructed Body Across Time in UK Physical Education Through A Feminist Framework
Physical education has the potential to be an empowering arena for young women in that they have the opportunity to resist many of the dominant discourses in relation to femininity and gender. However, many girls and young women choose not to pursue physical activity beyond the school context, since they feel alienated by the pedagogy and practice within physical education. Using a feminist framework that draws on four key perspectives, this paper explores ways in which the body has been and continues to be gender-constructed in UK physical education. By revisiting various historical happenings and issues it exposes the prevalence of discourses in relation to the body and gender, illuminating how they persist even in contemporary physical education. Indeed, the paper proposes that gender discourses remain entrenched in much of the pedagogy and practice of the discipline. This is due to societal structures that have a vested interest in maintaining divisions between gender and sex, and promoting notions of normativity in relation to what constitutes female or male, and their respective roles. Reconceptualisation of longstanding gendered practice in this school subject is proposed by drawing on the postructuralist feminist perspective in which the notion of gender as performativity is paramount. Utilising such a theoretical framework can help to challenge orthodox gender constructions of the body both within and beyond the physical education context.
Key words- Physical education, discourse, gender, govern, body, corporeal, feminist, feminine, normativity.