Hypersexuality, misogyny, and possibility in women's rugby

Rugby is the only organized sport women play that has the same rules and equipment as the men’s version of the game. Previous scholars have used this idea to present rugby women as exceptional, liberated, and different from other women’s sports and pursuits. I argue for a more complicated understanding of women’s rugby culture. Echoing ideas presented in Matthew Ezzell’s study of rugby playing “Barbie dolls” and Ariel Levy’s investigation into “raunch culture,” I argue, like my predecessors, that the liberatory potential of this team emerges in a context of hypersexuality and misogyny. What this criticism fails to recognize and what I explore in this paper are the promises and pleasures that also characterize players’ experiences. Rugby is response to players’ frustration with aspects of society and feminism. Moving beyond declaring women’s rugby as either a site of liberation or misogyny, players’ experiences can be thought of as part of an intergenerational feminist dialogue and an argument for misbehavior.