Gender trouble on the German soccer field: can the growth of women’s soccer challenge hegemonic masculinity?


Soccer in Germany represents a social sphere for the expression of masculinity and features significant ideological battles over gender roles. This paper discusses whether the growth of women’s soccer can challenge the prevailing hegemonic masculinity in an area that represents an important economic aspect of consumer culture and social identity. Does women’s soccer have the potential to subvert existing gender norms and challenge dominant understandings of gender? While women’s soccer has seen some important areas of growth in Germany, there are reasons to remain sceptical about the subversive potential of women’s soccer. This article argues that the unholy trinity of the sports-media-business alliance is the root cause for the limitations women’s soccer faces in challenging hegemonic masculinity. This sports-media-business alliance has served as the structural framework that has shaped societal discourses about women’s soccer in Germany. This paper discusses three of those discourses: the evolution of the macro-historical discourse over the societal role of women’s soccer in post-World War II Germany; the discourse comparing men’s and women’s soccer and asserting the superiority of men’s soccer; and the discourse on the role of femininity in women’s soccer and the sexualization of the players.

Publication Title

Journal of Gender Studies