by Chané Jones and The Feminist Press
An exploration about sports soon reveals that it is about much more than athletic competitions — law, society, self-image and cultural mores. These eight books selected by the staff of The Feminist Press expand the topics in this edition with rich writing and varied explorations.
Two of the writers below — Rachel Toor and Susan J. Bandy — have articles in this edition of On The Issues Magazine. In addition, several other writers in this edition have authored important books on the subject, and their articles are linked at the Book List’s conclusion.
“Streb: How to Become an Action Hero” by Elizabeth Streb (The Feminist Press)
Elizabeth Streb is an American choreographer, performer and teacher who, in her book Streb: How to Become an Action Hero provides a new philosophy that will motivate dancers and athletes. Streb uses the art of dance to push the human body to new possibilities. Her choreography contains movements that appear to defy gravity and break conventional understandings of dance. With fascinating photographs, Streb provides a memoir and analysis of movement and the body.
“Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running” by Rachel Toor (University of Nebraska Press)
Rachel Toor went from racing to catch the bus to becoming an ultra-marathon runner. This book chronicles her transformation from couch potato to a healthy long distance runner. With a look into the clothing, the food and the mindset of a runner, Personal Record is an inspiring reflection on the joys of running and how it changes Toor’s life.
“Run Like a Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives” by Mina Samuels (Avalon Publishing)
Described as a “manifesto,” Run Like a Girl is a collection of personal stories from women and girls that details the impact of sports on women. It shows how sports can help women overcome obstacles, deal with life-changing events and cope with daily stresses. Scholarly research included in Run Like a Girl highlights the connection between sports and the political, psychological and social position of women. Samuels inspires women to become active through a new look at sports.
“The Queen of the Ring” by Jeff Leen (Groove/Atlantic Inc.)
Mildred Burke was the longest-reigning champion in a sport considered highly masculine: wrestling. Under the management of her husband, Billy Wolfe, Burke held the Women’s World Wrestling title for 20 years, defeating many odds. This book chronicles the story of the 5′ 2″ stunning and muscular woman who pioneered a new chapter in athletic history. The Queen of the Ring is an intriguing biography of beauty and brawn.
“Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women’s Sports Revolution” by Deborah L. Brake (New York University)
In this book, Brake gives a legal analysis of the Title IX legislation, evaluating the legislation, along with its benefits and failures. The book provides a thorough understanding of Title IX and its influence on women’s sports. Getting in the Game reminds readers of the important role that women in sports play in society.
Crossing Boundaries, a collection of creative writings by more than 120 women, dives into a range of topics on body image, the self in sport, nature and women’s experiences, examining the evolution of female identity over time. Filled with poetry, short stories, articles and memoirs, the works of many well-known writers are represented, including Muriel Rukeyser, Sonia Sanchez, Carson McCullers, Barbara Smith, Anne Sexton, Kay Ryan, May Sarton, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates, Louise Erdrich, Margaret Atwood, Sharon Olds, Adrienne Rich, Jewell Gomez, Marge Piercy, Wislawa Szymborska and more. Drawing upon the deeper understandings and new discoveries that literature provides, this book connects women of all generations.
Hey Shorty! takes a look at sexual harassment in school and other settings, including a particular focus on school athletics and the enactment of Title IX. Developed by Girls for Gender Equity, a nonprofit organization in New York City, the book encompasses the narratives and testimonies of young women, provides clarification on what sexual harassment is, and describes methods for addressing it. This book is a brilliant way to spark awareness and bring about change.
Robin Kietlinski presents a new perspective of gender in Japanese culture with a focus on females in sports. She discusses the powerfully confining image of the “delicate Japanese woman” and its negative influence on the perception of East Asian women. Kietlinski examines the socio-economic and historical conditions of Japan while putting into context the progression of participation in sports by Japanese women. Japanese Women and Sport provides new insight into portrayals of East Asian women.