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Moving and Belonging: dance, sport and sexuality

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In this paper I explore the notion of gendered 'investments' in particular forms of physical activity; what is at stake when people choose one way of using their body rather than others? First, I present data from a life history interview with, Ralph, an Australian professional male dancer. In this interview, Ralph talks about the way he has experienced dance throughout his life and how his investments in being a particular kind of male (straight identifying, 'cool') have shaped these experiences. That is, rather than experience being a shaper of identity, I suggest the reverse. Second, I relate the contextually specific nature and constructedness of these investments to physical edu cation. Why does physical education take the form it does and why, given its often-stated goal to expand the movement repertoires of children, is it so closely identified with sport? I conclude by critiquing the view of mainstream physical educators which sees sport as a 'natural' pleasure, as an expression of 'normal' child development and as the 'common sense' subject matter for physical education. I argue that these appeals to the 'natural' obscure physical education's location within heteronormative regimes of bodily practice. Instead, sport and dance can justifiably be seen as politically 'erotic'. In short, I argue that physical education is one site amongst many others in which the bodily and sexual conformity of citizens is pursued.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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