Paralympic masculinities: Media and self-representation of athletes at the 2008 Paralympic Summer Games

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Stevenson, Dale A
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This study uses content analysis of newspaper articles and athlete biographical/autobiographical sources to examine the constructions of masculinity of male and female athletes at the 2008 Paralympic Summer Games in Beijing, China. Based on the socially constructed tension between disability and masculinity and the connections between sport and masculinity, this study sought examples that support or challenge the portrayal of Paralympic athletes in hegemonic masculine terms. This study finds that in the majority of cases, both sets of data sources reflects and/or reinforces the association between sport and hegemonic masculinity. This public display of masculinity indicates the athletes’ attempt to attain mainstream acceptance and legitimacy as “real” athletes as much as it does a rejection of a collective disability identity. The few instances of rejection and reformulation of masculinity come from examples in which the realities of living with impairments are insurmountable barriers to attaining hegemonic masculinity.
Disability, Gender, Masculinity, Sport, Paralympics, Transhumanism, Hegemonic masculinity, Media representation