Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Cox, B.D., Pringle, R.
‘Muscles for Motherhood’: A Genealogical Analysis of Medicalised Ways of Knowing Female Footballers in New Zealand, 1921 and 1973–1975
(2015) International Journal of the History of Sport, 15 p. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1080/09523367.2014.989497

Michel Foucault argued that females gradually became integrated into the sphere of medical practices through a process which he termed as a ‘hysterization of women’s bodies’ (Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume One: An Introduction, New York: Pantheon Books, 1978, 104). In this article, we draw on Foucault to examine how women’s bodies, exercise and motherhood impacted on the historical development of female football in New Zealand within two time periods (1921 and 1973–1975). Employing his genealogical framework, we analyse newspaper reports, historical documents and conducted in-depth interviews to demonstrate how medical/scientific discourses both constrained and enabled the participation of women in football. We conclude that while medical knowledge was used to publicly disqualify the legitimacy of the female footballer in 1921, and hence her abrupt disappearance from the sporting realm, the absence of such medical knowledge in the early 1970s, combined with societal changes associated with second wave feminism, paved the way for the eventual ‘normalization’ of female football in New Zealand.

Author Keywords
Foucault; genealogy; health; medicalization of bodies; women’s football

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