Football, it's a man's game: Insult and gendered discourse in The Gender Bowl

Jacqueline McDowell, Spencer Schaffner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Women's participation as athletes in American football precipitates gendered conflict, in that the routine reproduction of masculine discourse and identity is challenged. As such, the purpose of this study was to explore how the creation of discourses of masculinity and femininity undermine most women's access and acceptance into American football. Utilizing critical discourse analysis, an analysis of The Gender Bowl (Jordan et al., 2005), a reality TV program featuring a full-contact football game between women and men, revealed how men sought to preserve the social relations of football and how women sought to contest this masculine domain in part by adopting typically masculine linguistic practices of insult. Results of the analysis revealed interdiscursivity of two discourses of gender relations: discourses of conservative gender relations iterated by the men, discourses of conflict from both men and women, and discourses of egalitarian gender relations iterated by the women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-564
Number of pages18
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Gender Bowl
  • battle of the sexes
  • football
  • gender
  • insult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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