'Jumping like a girl': Discursive silences, exclusionary practices, and the controversy over women's ski jumping

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Laurendeau, Jason
Adams, Carly
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Taylor and Francis
This paper considers the recent International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision to deny women the opportunity to compete in ski jumping at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Drawing on a feminist Foucauldian framework, we suggest that the Olympics is a discourse that constructs excellence and fairness as “within the true,” with the IOC protesting that this recent decision is not about gender, but about the upholding of Olympic ideals. We interrogate three conspicuous absences in this discourse, each of which trouble the IOC’s claim that this decision is not evidence of gender discrimination. In particular, we contextualize this decision within the risk discourses upon which the IOC has historically drawn on denying women’s participation in particular Olympic events, arguing that the discursive silence around the issue of risk points to “old wine in new bottles” as the IOC dresses up the same paternalistic practices in new garb. We conclude with a consideration of these discursive structures as more than simply oppressive of women. Instead, they may also be understood as indicative of the ‘problem’ posed by women, especially those who threaten the gender binary that pervades many sporting structures. Finally, these structures signal opportunities for resistance and subversion as women act to shed light on the discursive silences upon which structures of domination rest.
Sherpa Romeo green journal. Permission to archive accepted author manuscript
Ski jumping , Women's ski jumping , International Olympic Committee
Laurendeau, J. and C. Adams. (2010). 'Jumping like a girl’: Discursive silences, exclusionary practices and the controversy over women’s ski jumping. Sport in Society, 13(3), 431-447. DOI: 10.1080/17430431003588051