On the blog of Cultural Anthropology a really great post by our colleague Jasman Rana: Sports: Provocation – Feminizing Fighting Sports? She participated in Thai-/kickboxing sessions with young Moroccan-Dutch girls:
The phenomenon of “Ladies-Only” training contests the masculine practice of Thai-/kickboxing by challenging the aggressive, competitive and painful nature of the sport. Participation of girls and women in this sport is often initiated as a form of ‘empowerment,’ both by local governments and the gyms, and incited by national policies. The wider public tends to view kickboxing negatively as an overly aggressive sport. Yet in the case of women, kickboxing is perceived as emancipatory enskillment and as a form of self-defense. My research on female kickboxing practices in the Netherlands demonstrates how ideas of masculinity and femininity are contested and reproduced in sports.
Rana, Jasmijn. “Sports: Provocation.” Fieldsights – Field Notes, Cultural Anthropology Online, February 10, 2014, http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/489-sports-provocation