"We are not products": Stereotyping women athletes in karate through demands on femininity and sensual bodies




Palabras clave:

gender, martial arts, combat sports, stereotypes, embodiment


In this paper, we are focusing on the conceptions of femininity, female bodies, and beauty in sport that women high-level karate fighters and their coaches developed in order to perform in a traditionally male-oriented sport. With so much higher public profile for women in sports (e.g., soccer, rugby, cricket, traditionally male sports), has anything changed in the traditional order of the male preserve? Thus, our aim here is to reflect on the set of shown conceptions and assumptions in order to add to the produced literature on women's sports studies and hopefully contribute to sought advancements, claiming change. We interviewed the 14 women athletes and their four men coaches composing the women's Spanish Olympic karate squad in preparation for the 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympic Games. Two open-ended semi-structured interviews were carried out with each of the participants. We conclude that the sportive-martial environment is still strongly male-oriented, even though female participation has been increasing; nevertheless, girls and women still face several challenges to achieve belonging. They enter the environment and reach the status of black belts, or elite athletes. Notwithstanding, we argue that the amount of power they truly exercise is limited and submitted to the male hierarchy.


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Cómo citar

Turelli, F. C. ., Fernandez Vaz, A. ., & Kirk, D. . (2023). "We are not products": Stereotyping women athletes in karate through demands on femininity and sensual bodies. Mujer Y Políticas Públicas, 2(1), 207–227. https://doi.org/10.31381/mpp.v2i1.5861