A soft gynocentric critique of the practice of modern sport

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 1 (3):346 – 366 (2007)
Abstract
In this article we propose a philosophical critique of two general, but not exhaustive, approaches to gender studies in sport, namely gynocentric feminism and humanist feminism. We argue that both approaches are problematic because they fail clearly to distinguish or articulate their epistemological and ideological commitments. In particular, humanist feminists articulate the human condition using the sex/gender dichotomy, which fails to account adequately for gendered subjectivity. For them gender difference is a contingent feature of humanity developed through socialisation. As a result, it seems that what humanist feminists regard as women in their natural ?state? is in itself ideological. The generic ?human? condition is by no means a neutral condition but rather an idea tarnished by gender history characterised by the masculine. Consequently, humanist feminists uncritically argue for inclusion in sport, with access to an equal share of the human goods available, without carefully problematising the ideological nature of the practice. Gynocentric feminists also subscribe to the sex/gender dichotomy, suggesting however, that gender subjectivity is the result of a biological imperative. For gynocentric feminists, sexual difference provides authority for adjudicating between a separate and different male and female epistemology. Accordingly, gynocentric feminists commit the genetic fallacy by condemning sport to a masculine activity and therefore incompatible with feminine value in light of its male ancestry. ?Soft? gynocentrism does not fully sanction a conception of sport which allows only traditionally female values to flourish, or at least the reason for celebrating such sports would focus upon the goods and values therein. In other words, the value of the practice for either men or women is to be found, following MacIntyre (1985), in the internal goods that characterise the particular practice. Such internal goods are, as MacIntyre argues, goods of the practice and do not belong to any particular gender or group
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References found in this work BETA
Nicholas Dixon (1999). On Winning and Athletic Superiority. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 26 (1):10-26.

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