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Gender constructions and negotiations of female football fans. A case study in Denmark

Author(s)

Gertrud Pfister

Abstract

While both the media and the academic literature focus primarily on male fans, in particular on violence and the prevention of hooliganism, little is known about female football supporters. This is also true of Denmark, a country that is known for its high degree of gender equality. This article aims to give insight into gender constructions and negotiations of female football fans in the stands. Drawing on a social constructivist perspective to gender and Bourdieu’s (1984) approaches to fi eld, capital and habitus, we explored the experiences and opinions of female fans. The methods employed were stadium observations as well as qualitative, guideline-based interviews with female supporters of three different clubs. The observations and interviews reveal that traditional gender norms, prejudices and sexism are widespread in the fan stands, and are often accepted and trivialised by the female fans themselves. Female fans have to comply with specifi c rules of conduct in the stadium, where “masculine” behaviour or both male and female supporters is regarded as ideal fan behaviour. However, there is also space for gender negotiations as long as female supporters display neither “hypermasculinity” nor “emphasised femininity” in their gender performances. Female fans do not only comply with and reproduce the rules of conduct in the stadium but also apply different forms of resistance against sexism and the domination of men in the stadium – both on the fi eld and in the stands. The founding of a women’s fan group can be interpreted as means of opposition to the dominance of men.
Keywords: football, female fans, gender, sexism, Denmark


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