The politics of minority ethnic women’s leisure time and physical activity in Denmark

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportBidrag til bog/antologiForskningfagfællebedømt

Politicisation of leisure time physical activity (LTPA) has increased in many European countries. In Denmark, for example, the relationship between ‘Muslim culture’ and a majority ‘Danish’ culture in LTPA has been debated, leading to the introduction of progressively more restrictive policies. Such debates are presented in binary terms, where constructions of an indivisible, monadic, legitimate and liberal majority culture are frequently presented in opposition to an antagonistic, patriarchal, oppressive and illiberal caricature of Islamic culture. Such debates have also racialized space, labelling neighbourhoods with ethnic-minority communities ‘ghettoes’ within which parallel societies are presumed to exist. Consequently, activities which are considered to transgress ‘Danish’ practices, such as gender-segregated swimming, have seen negative political attention. For example, in Aarhus, women-only swimming has been described as a religious practice and incompatible with ‘Danish’ values such as gender equity and liberal democracy, albeit only when Muslim women are present. Debates about the legitimacy of women-only swimming in Aarhus characterise participants as oppressed by their husbands, and to reside in racialized areas of which the women only swimming sessions are an extension. Such debates have led to increased regulation (and subsequent closure) of gender-segregated swimming in municipal pools during public hours, despite permitting nude outdoor swimming in wealthier areas of the city attended by predominantly ‘ethnic Danish’ women. Such assumptions were contradicted by participants, however, who were rarely heard in the debates. Here, we contrast the lived experiences of participants with descriptions in the political debates, and describe their feelings of belonging both within and outside gender-segregated swimming spaces. For participants, such spaces were considered ‘safe,’ not from oppression from within their own community, but from the gendering and racializing majority gaze in wider public spaces. Such findings highlight a complex interplay between politics and embodied experiences of LTPA in relation to both gender and ethnicity.
TitelThe Routledge Handbook of Gender Politics in Sport and Physical Activity
RedaktørerGyőző Molnár, Rachael Bullingham
Antal sider11
ISBN (Trykt)9780367555221
ISBN (Elektronisk)9781003093862
StatusUdgivet - 2022

Bibliografisk note

CURIS 2022 NEXS 234

ID: 305799606