Teaching Empowerment Through Sport: An Analysis of Fast and Female
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This project is about Fast and Female, a community-based girls’ sport organization, that focuses on empowering girls through sport. In this thesis I produce a discourse analysis from interviews with six expert sportswomen and a textual analysis of the organization’s online content – including its social media pages. I ground my analysis in poststructural theory as explained by Chris Weedon (1997) and in literature that helps contextualize and better define empowerment (Collins, 2000; Cruikshank, 1999; Hains, 2012; Sharma, 2008; Simon, 1994) and neoliberalism (Silk & Andrews, 2012). My analysis in this project suggests that Fast and Female develops a community through online and in-person interaction. This community is focused on girls’ sport and empowerment, but, as the organization is situated in a neoliberal context, organizers must take extra consideration in order for the organization to develop a girls’ sport culture that is truly representative of the desires and needs of the participants rather than implicit neoliberal values. It is important to note that Fast and Female does not identify as a feminist organization. Through this thesis I argue that Fast and Female teaches girls that sport is empowering – but, while the organization draws on “empowerment,” a term often used by feminists, it promotes a notion of empowerment that teaches female athletes how to exist within current mainstream and sporting cultures, rather than encouraging them to be empowered female citizens who learn to question and challenge social inequity. I conclude my thesis with suggestions for Fast and Female to encourage empowerment in spite of the current neoliberal situation. I also offer a goal-setting workbook that I developed to encourage girls to set goals while thinking about their communities rather than just themselves.