Polygendered and Ponytailed
The Dilemma of Femininity and the Female Athlete
Since the 1970s North American women and girls have engaged in every sport that interests them and have become champions in their fields. One of the consequences of this success is ongoing criticism, not of how they perform, but of how they look.
In Polygendered and Ponytailed, Dayna Daniels argues that the femininity-masculinity divide prevents women athletes from being taken seriously in their sports. As long as sports remains a male domain, girls and women who participate will be viewed as either masculine to begin with or masculine through their involvement. By embracing a polygendered way of being, which emphasizes the similarities between women and men, female athletes will be given the chance to achieve their full sporting potential and be judged for their performance, rather than their appearance.
“This highly accessible book provides strong evidence for the argument that sport could be organized and perceived differently – instead of upholding outdated gender norms, it could help bring them down. Daniels suggests that sport, with the prominence it gives to bodies, is uniquely positioned to help us see beyond the rigid gender binary to a less restrictive polygenderism.”
Mary Louise Adams, Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies and Department of Sociology, Queen's University
“The reason why girls and women so often shy away from sport is the fear of inappropriate labels. Challenging these labels and getting people to think differently about gender will create a space in sport where all girls and women can feel comfortable being involved just as they are.”
Karin Lofstrom, Executive Director, Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS)
“I believe Dayna Daniels has found a way forward: accepting that the polygendered state might well enrich our lives. Better yet, it might well make sporting women the new normal.”