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Women Athletes as Falsely Accused Deviants: Managing the Lesbian Stigma

Elaine M. Blinde and Diane E. Taub
The Sociological Quarterly
Vol. 33, No. 4 (Winter, 1992), pp. 521-533
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Midwest Sociological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4121394
Page Count: 13
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Women Athletes as Falsely Accused Deviants: Managing the Lesbian Stigma
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Abstract

As the behavior of women athletes is often interpreted to violate gender norms, women athletes are frequently devalued and stigmatized. The present study examines the manner in which such devaluation and stigmatization impact on women athletes and how these athletes manage the lesbian label attached to their sport participation. In-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 24 intercollegiate athletes from three Division I universities. Processes underlying athletes' responses parallel Decker's construction of the "falsely accused deviant" and Goffman's conceptualization of "stigma management." Factors leading to false accusation of lesbianism are discussed, as well as the various mechanisms utilized by athletes to manage the lesbian label.

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