Beautifully violent: the gender dynamic of Scottish karate

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Within what has been called ‘the crisis of masculinity’, sport has been cited by many scholars as a key domain for men to construct a masculine identity which reproduces and legitimises (hierarchical) distinction from women (Burstyn, 1999; Connell, 1990; Hargreaves, 1994; Whitson, 1990). With commonplace socio-historical beliefs suggesting violence as a ‘natural’ and essential part of what it is to ‘be’ a man (Bourdieu, 2001, p. 53), combat sports have become a growing field of interest for many sport scholars exploring constructions of gender (Hirose and Pih, 2010; Spencer, 2012; Wacquant, 2004; Woodward, 2006) with growing attention being paid to women’s experiences, gender constructions and potential gender subversions, in such socio-historically ‘masculine’ sports (McNaughton, 2012; Mennesson, 2000; Velija et al., 2013). Yet with a few notable exceptions (Channon, 2013a; Channon and Jennings, 2013; Guérandel and Mennesson, 2007) there remain very few academic studies which take a direct focus on the phenomenon of sex integration in combat sports, and what impact violent intercorporeal interactions between men and women have on ideas, negotiations and performances of gender.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Perspective on Women in Combat Sports
Subtitle of host publicationWomen Warriors Around the World
EditorsAlex Channon, Christopher Matthews
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9781137439369
ISBN (Print)9781349562039
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2015

Publication series

NameGlobal culture and sport



  • Karate
  • gender relations
  • femininity
  • sex-integrated sport

Cite this

Maclean, C. (2015). Beautifully violent: the gender dynamic of Scottish karate. In A. Channon, & C. Matthews (Eds.), Global Perspective on Women in Combat Sports: Women Warriors Around the World (pp. 155-171). (Global culture and sport). Palgrave Macmillan.