“My Biggest Disability I’m a Male!”

The role of sport in negotiating the dilemma of disabled masculinity

Authored by: Nikki Wedgwood

Routledge Handbook of Sport, Gender and Sexuality

Print publication date:  February  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415522533
eBook ISBN: 9780203121375
Adobe ISBN: 9781136326967


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By providing training in the embodiment of masculine ideals, sport is one of the primary practices in which young men construct their gender identities. The particular importance of sport in masculinity construction is that “[w]hat it means to be masculine is, quite literally, to embody force, to embody competence” (Connell, 1983: 27). Sport thus ritually celebrates physical abilities as well as male superiority. Yet not all men are able-bodied. Those with impairments embody a contradiction between dominant forms of masculinity (skilful, powerful) and impairment (reduced physical abilities/power). The participation in sport by men with impairments highlights this contradiction, and thus can provide important insights into how this “dilemma of disabled masculinity” (Shuttleworth, Wedgwood and Wilson, 2012) is negotiated.

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