Friday, January 3, 2014

Review of "Qualifying Times"

For the first review of 2014, I decided to make good on one of my New Year's resolutions for this blog.   When I reviewed the list of posts in 2013, I saw that I reviewed only one book on any woman or women's sport.  Therefore, I resolved to seek out more books on women's sports or athletes.  Lo and behold, I found this book on the progress made by women in sports.   So far, so good on one resolution!    Enjoy this review of "Qualifying Times."

“Qualifying Times: Points of Change in U.S. Women’s Sport” by Jaime Schultz

Sports, gender issues, politics, society

Publish Date:
March 31, 2014

351 pages

4 of 5 stars (Very good)

The role of women in sports has increased exponentially within the last few decades, and this insightful book by an assistant professor of women’s studies and kinesiology is a very good look into whether all these changes have really improved the status of women in both sport and society.  

It does so by examining the role of certain items in women’s sports that one would not think of researching for this topic.  The first chapter was my favorite of these – it was the role that the ponytail has played in women’s sports.  The premise was that the athletes who would wear their hair longer and in a ponytail were portraying their femininity and heterosexuality.  This was written in a nice style that was part academia, complete with references, and part anecdotal. 

This first chapter would set the tone for the rest of the book as Schultz explores the role of tampons, fashion, sports bras and the “New Ideal of Beauty” in women’s sports.   They are written in the same manner as the first chapter.  There are also discussions about Title IX, the emergence of competitive cheer (or cheerleading) as a sport and gender testing.  While Schultz does raise valid arguments about whether these developments have truly shown progress for the role of women in sport, the gender testing chapter is one that the reader will really want to absorb.  Why this is done for women and not for men is a valid question that Schultz raises and makes for great reading.

Overall, I thought that this was a very good work of research that raised serious questions about just how far the female athlete has come.  While not dismissing the advances that have been made, Schultz raises many excellent points that many of the changes have been for the sake of sex appeal (read male interests and desires) instead of truly athletic advancements.  This book will make the reader stop and think about this issue.  It isn’t written in a manner to criticize any one person or organization, nor does it criticize males.  It simply questions just how far women athletes have truly progressed.  Anyone interested in sports or women’s studies will enjoy this book.

I wish to thank NetGalley for providing an advance review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I skim?
I did skim through one section – the history of the tampon.  I did read all the parts of that chapter when its role in women’s sports was included, but for just the discovery and mass production I skimmed. 

Pace of the book: 
For a scholarly book, I felt that it read very well.   While it wasn’t like reading a fictional story or a history book, it still moved along well and didn’t drag, even if the reader

Do I recommend? 
Yes. This is a very well researched look into women’s sports and how topics like gender equality and sexuality have played an important role in this area.

Book Format Read:
E-Book (Kindle)

Buying Links:
None at the time of this review. 

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