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The sports woman as a cultural challenge: Swedish popular press coverage of the olympic games during the 1950s and 1960s
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.
2012 (English)In: International Journal of the History of Sport, ISSN 0952-3367, E-ISSN 1743-9035, Vol. 29, no 2, 302-317 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, popular press coverage of summer and winter Olympic Games in Swedish popular and illustrated magazines during the 1950s and 1960s is analysed as part of a process of everyday affirmation of national and gender identity. First, it is shown how Swedish male athletes are represented in the media as active and forceful male bodies, competing for national honour. The article then moves on to an analysis of representation of female Olympians, and how ‘our’ Swedish girls are discursively linked to a Western, attractive and modern womanhood. In the Cold War context of the 1950s and 1960s, female athletes from Communist states were held out as contrasting examples. Media representation focusing on the good looks and attractiveness of female athletes is read as cultural negotiations of the challenge of women's sport. It is argued that female Olympians were visually and textually represented as women rather than as athletes. This is related to the Swedish historical context, where the female body was a crucial site and symbol for the separation of gendered spheres. The article concludes that the configuration of femininity does not, as in the decades around 1900, refer to biology but rather to social and cultural necessities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Cass , 2012. Vol. 29, no 2, 302-317 p.
Keyword [en]
women, media, history, Sweden, sport
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-118446DOI: 10.1080/09523367.2012.641248OAI: diva2:823188
Available from: 2015-06-17 Created: 2015-06-17 Last updated: 2015-12-16Bibliographically approved

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Tolvhed, Helena
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