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Abstract

In what ways do sports make a difference in the lives of the people who play them? In this paper, we employ a sporting feminist perspective to answer this question and detail how women benefit from the sport of roller derby. Our analyses are structured around the themes of the body (exploring examples of bodily empowerment and reconceptualization); the team (highlighting feminist themes of loyalty and team as family); and the crowd (identifying the ways in which derby is “sold” to the crowd, as well as the ways in which athletes use derby to challenge conceptions of beauty, desirability, and femininity). In the end, this work comments on the multiple examples of feminist expression and positive sporting participation found in derby, including the use of sport to reject notions of weakness and fragility, and a greater willingness to critically assess gender inequities beyond the world of sport.

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