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Title:Babes, Balls, and Babies: A Working Ethnography of Motherhood
Author(s):Metz, Jennifer Lynn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cole, C.L.
Department / Program:Kinesiology and Community Health
Discipline:Kinesiology and Community Health
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Abstract:Women's professional athletics in America---part business venture, part self-help group, part sociological movement---has become an intriguing site for exploring the relationship of women to the global socio-cultural matrix. In American women's sports, particularly team sports, women's bodies and their representations operate as shorthand for the shifting gendered landscape of America. At this junction, we find that even as Chaka Kahn sings, "I'm every woman" all women regardless of race, class or sexual orientation struggled with the supermom/super-person mythos that has become implicated in working motherhood. The Super Mother myth has been is reinforced and even celebrated in the media representations of female athletes. From Sheryl Swoopes to the mothers of the Women's World Cup team motherhood and professional athletics are not only seen as possible but perhaps as natural as shooting a basket or defending the goal. Yet, despite all the media attention we still find that women of all ages, races and sexualities are locked in emotional and psychological battle around the motherhood and reproduction. This dissertation is a critical ethnographic study of motherhood and sports in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The purpose of this project is two-fold. First, to record and highlight working mothers experiences as mothers and as workers with a focus on the role of sport/work in shaping women's emotional, physical and psychological responses to work and motherhood. It explores the cross-section of women's reproductive lives and experiences through interviews with mothers of the Women's National Basketball League (WNBA) and the Women's United Soccer Association (W*USA). Using these interviews as a grounding point this study goes on to explore the often difficult and tense relationship between women, motherhood and work regardless of whether one is a mother or not by including experiences and commentary from women who are not professional athletes but also working mothers and women who desire to be mothers. Second, the purpose is to analyze the methodology of interviewing. It explores the processes of interviewing and the subsequent "writing-up" of interviews by authors. In the tradition of Behar (2003), it advocates for visible presence and vulnerability of the author as both interviewer and writer.
Issue Date:2005
Description:275 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3202142
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2005

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