Denied: Women, Sports, and the Contradictions of Identity
Published by: NYU Press
Imprint: New York University Press
Sales Date: 2023-09-19
Published: September 2023
Imprint: New York University Press
Page Count: 240 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
240 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.75 in
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A courtside view of how women athletes? identities are policed, on and off the court
Women?s college basketball is big business?top teams bring in millions of dollars in revenue for their schools. Women?s NCAA games are broadcast regularly on sports networks, and many of the top players and coaches are household names. Yet these athletes face immense pressure to be more than successful at their sport. They must also conform to expectations about gender, sexuality, and race?expectations that are often in direct contrast to success in the game. They are not supposed to have muscles that are too big, they are not supposed to be too tough, they are not supposed to be too masculine or ?look like men,? and they are not supposed to be queer.
A former college athlete herself, Michelle J. Manno spent a full season with a highly competitive NCAA Division I women?s basketball program as one of the team?s managers. In vivid detail, she takes us on the court, on the team bus, into the locker room, and to championship games to show the intense dedication that these women give to the game. She found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that these extremely talented women were strictly policed around the presentation of their gender and sexuality, especially the athletes who were Black. They were routinely monitored, banned from engaging in certain activities, and often punished for behavior that put their queerness, Blackness, and masculinity on display. Convincingly conforming to conventional expectations of gender and sexuality?from the clothes they wore to the people they dated?was yet another challenge at which they needed to excel. Importantly, Manno also highlights several well-known contemporary professional athletes?Brittney Griner, Serena Williams, Gabby Douglas, and Caster Semenya, among others?to show that fame and performing at the highest levels in sport does not protect women athletes from having to navigate the conflicting and often contradictory expectations of identity.
A riveting portrait of an elite basketball program, Denied will forever change our understanding of
women athletes and the sports they play.
"Anyone who seems ready to run a victory lap in celebration of girls and women having achieved equality in U.S. sport will find a powerful cautionary tale in Denied. Through a rare and very welcome ethnographic immersion with an elite college women?s basketball team, Michelle J. Manno shows how women athletes?especially those who are Black, queer, and/or masculine-presenting?are constrained by strict policing of gender and sexuality. Manno paints a rich picture of women?s sports as a microcosm of intersectional struggles for dignity, equality, and social justice." Michael A. Messner, author of Taking the Field: Women, Men, and Sports
"Manno?s ? thoughtful analysis and compassionate storytelling point the reader to what it is that all of us seeking our place in sport strive for - to bring one?s full self to the world of competition, to find our own authentic belonging there, and ultimately create a sense of ?home? for ourselves and others among teammates and competitors alike." Lauren Holtkamp-Sterling, NBA Referee
"Denied blends vivid story-telling with incisive theoretical analysis to highlight the persistent racism and sexism that limit women athletes of all races, sexualities, and gender identities." Pat Griffin, author of Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Women’s Sports.
"Denied convincingly argues women athletes, specifically Black/ queer/ and gender non-conforming athletes, are subject to racialized and gendered strategies of containment and control which ultimately impose constraints on who they can be and what they can achieve." Cheryl Cooky, co-author of Serving Equality: Feminism, Media, and Women’s Sports
"As a former college athlete, Michelle J. Manno evocatively lays bare the challenges women athletes face both on and off the court as they balance the many competing demands placed on them. Their personal approach and deep empathy for this topic offer a necessary lens through which we can understand how women athletes? identities are policed along the lines of race, gender, and sexuality." Chamique Holdsclaw, WNBA All-star and Olympic Gold Medalist