Gender Discourses

Female, migrant and queer football supporters are a crucial and visible part of football fan cultures in Europe, yet they are still often considered an extraordinary phenomenon in a white-heterosexual-male-dominated domain. This not only refers to the fact that men often still come in larger numbers to football stadia but also to the fact that fan practices are strongly interwoven with the (re)production of masculinity. One of the recent most comprehensive and critical studies in anthropological football fan research in Germany is Almut Sulzle’s Fufiball, Frauen, Mannlichkeiten (Football, Women, Masculinities, 2011).

Sulzle makes it clear that fan cultures follow a ‘male grammar’ (man- nliche Grammatik) in which masculinity is (re) produced by men and women likewise (2011, p. 349). One of the most important tradition- alised myths that enforces the reproduction of this male grammar is that football culture has always been a proletarian and male culture. This masculinity is created by othering everything that is perceived as female or as homosexual (Sulzle 2011, p. 349). Nevertheless, in football fan culture a variety of gender constructions and gender roles apply. Sulzle underlines that due to the fact that the construction of masculinities is overemphasised in many football fan cultures, it consequently leaves a chance of agency in gender role constructions for women. This is because there is a lack of definition of what might be considered ‘true femininity’ whereas there is a definition of ‘true masculinity’ (Sulzle 2011, p. 352).

Both Gabriele Dietze (2012, p. 55) and Almut Sulzle (2011, pp. 349-50) use Bourdieu’s concept of ‘serious games’ from his book Masculine Domination (2002) to explain how hegemonic masculinity is created in football fan cultures. Thereby, ‘male community’ and ‘male honour’ are produced to playfully learn the male habitus (Sulzle 2011, pp. 349-50). It is crucial that women can be a part of these ‘male games’. They are only excluded when violence becomes part of the game because only ‘men of honour’ are allowed to take part in violence (Sulzle 2011, pp. 349-50). Michael Meuser makes it clear that these performances of masculinities are particularly visible in football. He calls football a ‘paradigmatic practice of masculinity’ (paradigmatische Mannlichkeitspraxis) (Meuser 2008, p. 116). The same applies to the concept of ‘fan honour’.

Sulzle argues that women can be part of the common othering practice to degrade opposite fans in insulting their male honour, for example by singing sexist or homophobic chants. Women can take part in the games but can never become ‘men of honour’ (2011, pp. 232-233). Women thus are recognised and are an accepted part in a male-dominated environment and do likewise accept the male-dominance within the environment (Sulzle 2011, p. 298).

Next to Almut Sulzle’s book (2011), research on femininities and masculinities and on sexual identities in football fandom is becoming increasingly relevant (for example Heissenberger 2016), although it is still often at the margins of football fan research interests. Eva Kreisky and Georg Spitaler (2006) coedited a broad inventory of football and gender research discussing male hegemony in football culture. The contributions include a variety of interdisciplinary theoretical, geographical and methodological approaches such as from the Cultural Studies perspective (Marschik 2006), from ethnography (Selmer and Sulzle 2006), media analysis (Spitaler 2006) and a thematic focus on masculinities in Japan (Manzenreiter 2006).

Particularly relevant for this book because of its focus on Turkey and because of its critical analytical approach to the intersection of football fan cultures and gender performances are Yagmur Nuhrat’s research (2013a) and Itir Erhart’s research (2011). Both researchers raise issues of gender discrimination in football stadia in Turkey. These include especially the use of sexist and homophobic language. Their work informs different chapters of this book because many football discourses and practices of fans of the Turkish league are not specific to Turkey but a transnational phenomenon (for example fan chants).

An important task for researchers is also to reflect on the circumstances under which studies are generated. Almut Sulzle pays special attention to the problems and shortcomings in past football fan research. One of Sulzle’s main concerns is the negligence of gender aspects in academic studies. She highlights that the fan practices of female fans need to be considered a regular part of football fan culture. When she emphasises that researchers should therefore not only focus on gender when it is most obvious, but instead they need to include it in every research, she makes clear how research itself is always part of gender hierarchies as well

(Sulzle 2011, p. 353). Accordingly, this book does not only focus on migration and football fandom but also includes gender performances explicitly in the analysis. Questions of gender are important and decisive to many practices and strategies among Galatasaray and Fenerbahqe fans in Vienna. This not only refers to the performance of masculinitnies but also particularly to the performance of femininities.

The question of the research context also includes an analysis of diversity in the academic arena. In this case, it is particularly striking that not only are most fan cultures male-dominated but that this hegemony is also reflected by those that research football fan cultures. The sociologists Richard Giulianotti (for example 1999, 2002) and Gary Armstrong (for example 2003) have published extensively on football fan cultures following an ethnographic approach. In their co-edited book Entering the Field. New Perspectives on World Football (1997) Armstrong and Giulianotti collected an impressive geographical diversity of football research and researchers. The collection, however, does not pay much attention to the question of gender. It is not surprising then that only two of the 18 contributing authors were women. Until today women are to a great extent underrepresented in football fan research. However, recent football research shows that the number of female football researchers is increasing. Some classically deal with questions of gender (for example Dietze 2012; Erhart 2011; Sulzle 2005; Selmer and Sulzle 2010). Others study also topics that do not (directly) focus on gender research (for example Kowalska 2016; Hofmann 2016; Schwell 2015).

 
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