"A Lame Person Is the One Who Has Balls": Motor Disability, Adaptive Sports, and Hegemonic Masculinity in Buenos Aires

Carolina Ferrante, Jimena Silva


In this article, we analyze the role of hegemonic masculinity in adaptive sports for persons with motor disabilities in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Hegemonic masculinity represents an ideal of manhood in which men construct their gender identity. In order to understand how masculinity influences adaptive sports, we analyzed the content of magazines produced by the first club for people with motor disabilities in Buenos Aires and conducted in-depth interviews with 26 experts in adaptive sports and rehabilitation, and 21 male athletes who are physically challenged. We found that hegemonic masculinity plays a pivotal role in the philosophy of adaptive sports that instils a particular way of understanding disability, associated with the native "lame" category, and that promotes a "champion's culture" of the able bodied and the values associated with that model of masculinity. Those physically challenged individuals who developed adaptive sports in Buenos Aires created the category "lame" to refer to themselves. Through sports a "champion's culture" is promoted that imposes imperatives of normalization and constantly overcoming obstacles. While the "champion's culture" questions the stigmatizing nature of disability (the presumed sexual incapacity, non-productivity and dependence), it imposes an ideology of capacity that reproduces oppressive social structures.


disability; social models; hegemonic masculinity; adaptive sports; ideology of capacity; able bodied; qualitative research; in-depth interviews; content analysis

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-18.3.2442

Copyright (c) 2017 Carolina Ferrante, Jimena Silva Segovia

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