‘Strange Borrowing’: Affective Neuroscience, Neoliberalism and the ‘Cruelly Optimistic’ Gendered Bodies of CrossFit
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The history of representation of the female athlete has been cyclic, from the ‘babes’ and ‘muscle molls’ of the early twentieth century to the ‘hotnesss’ quotients assigned in the twenty-first (Heywood and Dworkin, 2000). What has remained fairly consistent is that traditionally feminine athletes are idealized, and more ‘masculine’ athletes denigrated, with a few notable exceptions in the 1940s, 1990s, and within a specific athletic culture in the present — that of CrossFit, a 10,000-plus global network of affiliated gyms or ‘boxes’ as they are called within the subculture to mark their back-to-basics, low-tech approach to fitness. CrossFit as a training methodology is a multidisciplinary physical practice where men and women train together in a high-intensity programme run by a coach who takes a small group (anywhere from 5 to 20 people depending on location) through a prescribed set of exercises that includes running, gymnastics, Olympic lifting and powerlifting, rope climbing, tyre flipping, plyometrics, and pretty much anything else that can be imagined. The current representational demographic, though somewhat varied, has become more conservative since the 1990s, but CrossFit marks one emergent cultural site that creates an alternative reality where body expectations and ideals tend to be non-normative, and ‘real’, functional bodies are idealized.
KeywordsFemale Athlete Affective Balance Historical Present Affective System Beauty Ideal
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