Freedom for expression or a space of oppression? Social media and the female @thlete

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Social media provides a space for female athletes to create their own media (and advertising) in order to share their lives through stories presented online – a phenomenon, that to date has been ignored in traditional media spaces. Research suggests that athletes more broadly can take a more active role in their public presentation across a wide variety of platforms (Lebel & Danylchuk, 2012) and share more aspects of their identity than typically portrayed in mainstream media coverage (Sanderson, 2013; Sanderson, 2014). More specifically, virtual worlds have created platforms through which female athletes can share content and present themselves to fans or followers of sport in their own way and with relative freedom (Litchfield & Kavanagh, 2018). While it is acknowledged that social media can empower the female user, simultaneously, these spaces have proven to be hostile and can serve to oppress or marginalise individuals and groups (Kavanagh, Jones & Sheppard-Marks, 2016; Litchfield, Kavanagh, Osborne & Jones, 2018). An intersectional, third wave feminist lens will be adopted in this chapter in order to examine such a dichotomy (Bruce, 2016). This approach will analyse the disjunction between the rise of the female ‘@thlete’ and their adoption of contemporary digital sporting spaces and the presence of a darker narrative permeating digital environments through highlighting the presence of online vitriol and intersectional abuse (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.) that athletes may face while navigating lives online.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe professionalisation of Women's Sport
Subtitle of host publicationIssues and debates
EditorsAli Bowes, Alex Culvin
Place of PublicationBingley UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781800431966
ISBN (Print)9781800431973
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameEmerald studies in Sport and Gender


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