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Teaching bodies, learning desires : feminist-poststructural life histories of heterosexual and lesbian… Sykes, Heather 1998

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T E A C H I N G BODIES, L E A R N I N G DESIRES: FEMINIST-POSTSTRUCTURAL  L I F E HISTORIES  OF HETEROSEXUAL A N D LESBIAN PHYSICAL E D U C A T I O N T E A C H E R S IN W E S T E R N C A N A D A by H E A T H E R SYKES B.Sc. (Hons), Loughborough University of Technology, 1983 M . E d . , The University of Regina, 1992  A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E DEGREE O F D O C T O R O F PHILOSOPHY in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of Educational Studies) W e accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  T H E UNIVERSITY O F ^ R I T I S H C O L U M B I A October 1998 © Heather Sykes, 1998  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or by his or her representatives.  It is  understood  that copying or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of  & W * f c > UvgJ  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date  DE-6 (2/88)  >tf  Oct  (97%  SsKAieX  Abstract  Physical education is a profession where heterosexuality has historically been regarded as normal, if not compulsory. The location of female physical education (PE) teachers at the nexus of discourses about masculinist sport, women's physical education and pedagogies of the body has exerted unique historical pressures o n their sexualities. In N o r t h America and Western Europe, female PE teachers have frequently been suspected of being lesbian. This suspicion has enveloped lesbian teachers i n a shroud of oppressive silence, tolerated only as an 'open secret' (Cahn, 1994). This study examined the life histories of six w o m e n from three generations who had taught physical education i n western Canada. Previous life history research has focused exclusively on lesbian PE teachers (Clarke, 1996; Sparkes, 1992, 1994a, 1994b; Squires & Sparkes, 1996; Sparkes & T e m p l i n , 1992) w h i c h risks reinforcing a hierarchical relationship between 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual'. Accordingly, three w o m e n who identified as 'lesbian' and three as 'married' or 'heterosexual'  were  involved i n this study w h i c h incorporated poststructural, psychoanalytic and queer theories about sexual subjectivity into a feminist approach to life history. T h e notions of 'understanding' and 'overstanding' were used to analyze data w h i c h meant interpreting not only had been said during the interviews but also what was left unsaid. The women's  life histories revealed  h o w lesbian sexualities  have  been  marginalized and silenced, especially w i t h i n the physical education profession. A l l the w o m e n grew up i n families where heterosexuality was normalized, and a l l except one experienced pressure to date boys during their high school education i n Canada. A s teachers, identifying as a 'feminist' had a greater affect on their personal politics and approaches to teaching than their sexual identities. The life histories  ii  also provided limited support to the notion that PE teacher's participation i n various women's sports accentuated the suspicion of lesbianism. For two of the 'lesbian' women, team sports continued to provide valuable lesbian c o m m u n i t i e s from the 1950s to the present day. In contrast, one 'lesbian' w o m e n established her lesbian social network through i n d i v i d u a l sports and urban feminist groups. The 'heterosexual'  w o m e n had all participated i n gender-neutral sports. Overall  sporting backgrounds  of these teachers d i d little  to dispel the  the  long-standing  association between women's sports and lesbianism which, i n turn, has  affected  female P E teachers. Drawing  on  queer  theory  and  the  notion  of  'overstanding'  data,  deconstructive interpretations suggested how heterosexuality had been n o r m a l i z e d in several  institutional discourses  within  women's  physical education.  These  interpretations undermined the boundaries of 'the closet', sought out an absent lesbian gaze and suggested that homophobia has been, i n part, rooted i n the social unconscious of the physical education profession.  iii  Table of Contents  Abstract  ii  Acknowledgment  vi  Chapter 1  1  M o v i n g Bodies, Silent Desires  1  Chapter 2  12  Literature Review  12  Lesbian Studies i n Educational Research  12  Life History Research  18  Theories of Sexuality  20  Female Sexualities i n Physical Education  32  Summary  36  Chapter 3  37  Spoken Lives, Written Lines  37  A Case for Life History  39  Interviewing  43  Sampling  46  Transcription  53  Discourse Analysis  56  Understanding and Overstanding  63  Lesbian Encounters  68  Feminist-Poststructural A p p r o a c h to Discourse Analysis  81  Chapter 4  103  Social Locations, Narrated Selves  103  Straight Families  103  Dating Lessons  109  Feminist Generations  120  Chapter 5  138  Social Locations  138  Narrated through Other(s)  138  Re-Living Sexisms  139  iv  Silences of Straightness  145  Shadows of Whiteness  150  Chapter 6  162  Queer Dis/Locations  162  The Lesbian Closet  163  Gazing at a Lesbian Icon  170  Teaching Desire  177  In/Conclusion  193  References  202  Appendix 1  223  Initial Letter of Contact  223  Appendix 2  224  Example of Narrative Analysis  224  v  Acknowledgment  M y first thanks go to the w o m e n w h o shared their stories w i t h me.  Bethany,  Connie, Denise, Jenny, Lisa and M a r i o n — y o u k n o w w h o y o u are -- thank y o u for your time, trust and teachings. I am grateful to the K i l l a m Foundation and T h e Social Sciences and Humanities Research C o u n c i l of Canada for p r o v i d i n g f u n d i n g and therefore time i n a different sense. To my P h D Thesis Committee, Dr. Patricia Vertinsky, Dr. Leslie Roman and Dr. Becki Ross, thank y o u for achieving that fine balance between risk and rigor, freedom and constraint. Finally, I'd like to find a w a y to thank two w o m e n w h o have provided unconditional support throughout this project — my mother across vast distances and Jan i n the vast spaces we share.  vi  Chapter 1 M o v i n g Bodies, Silent Desires  The cranial  cavity contains  the brain,  its boundaries  are formed  by the bones of the  skull. Let me penetrate you. I am the archeologist your passageways,  the entrances  and exits  of tombs. I would devote my life to of that impressive  mausoleum,  your  marking body.  From Jeanette Winterson's (1993) Written on the Body  Only i n my dreams do I manage to emulate the somatic imagery of Jeanette Winterson; all the same, this thesis is concerned w i t h bodies, boundaries, tombs and writing. It is a thesis written on the body, not just any Body, but written onto the body of the Female Physical Educator. M y concern is w i t h female bodies i n physical education — how genders and sexualities have been written on to these bodies. Like Winterson, I am concerned w i t h boundaries — not the impenetrable boundaries formed by the bones of the skull, but the boundaries between lesbian/heterosexual, silence/speech, and marginal/normal. A s for tombs and mausoleums, the professional body of physical education has long been haunted by the 'specter' of the lesbian. A 'lesbian specter' In Physical Education? This study emerged from two truisms w h i c h have circulated w i t h i n women's physical education, within some lesbian communities and more recently w i t h i n feminist sport sociology. Firstly, w o m e n w h o teach physical education have frequently been suspected of being lesbian. Secondly, many of them were! I wanted to explore what is at stake i n these popular myths, w h y have they been such an  l  enduring part of the 'common knowedge' about physical education i n N o r t h America and Europe, and how have they affected teachers' lives i n empowering and homophobic ways. What are the particular social and historical forces which gave rise to a unique 'lesbian specter' which has haunted physical education? For much of this century, suspicions about lesbianism have enveloped lesbian physical educators i n a shroud of oppressive silence — tolerated only as an open secret, an absent presence. The suspicion of lesbianism, explained Susan C a h n (1994a), has functioned both as a homophobic repellent and as a magnetic sexual field of force i n physical education and women's sport. I suggest this is due to the peculiar (some might say queer) location of women's physical education at the nexus of masculinist sport, gendered education, and pedagogies of the body. Thus the sexualities of female physical education (PE) teachers have been subject to unique pressures, more intense perhaps than w o m e n i n other areas of teaching and yet slightly different from those facing w o m e n i n sport. The sexualities of teachers have always been placed under intense normalizing pressures due to teacher's pedagogical relationship with children. Equally, PE teachers have experienced more homophobic scrutiny than women i n other areas of teaching because of the associations between physical education, sport and masculinity. While the dynamics of heterosexism experienced by female P E teachers and female athletes are not synonymous, the dynamics of recruitment into PE teaching has meant that large numbers of teachers have also been actively involved i n sport. Moreover, women's physical education has provided, until recently, a unique female-only context w i t h i n education due to the historical separation of men's and women's physical education. It is this unique position, at the nexus of sport and education, w h i c h has driven the particularly intense surveillance of lesbian desire in women's physical education.  2  Physical education is a profession where heterosexuality has been regarded as normal, if not compulsory. This 'compulsory heterosexuality' (Rich, 1980) has affected female and male P E teachers quite differently. Throughout N o r t h American and Europe prior to W.W.II, the women's and men's professions developed somewhat independently and, although co-education has since become predominant i n most of western Canada, this gendered history continues to have a different impact on women's sexualities than men's. This is largely due to the unequal gender relations w h i c h structure sport 1 . Westernized sport is an important social institution which has valorized certain aspects of masculinity such as competitiveness, strength, speed and aggression. Consequently, women's entry into sports during this century has always upset the normative 'gender order' (Messner & Sabo, 1990) that assumed that sport was 'masculine' and w o m e n were 'feminine'. This gender order relies upon a logic of sexuality which can be traced back to turn-ofthe-century legal and scientific discourses. The notion of lesbians as 'congenital inverts', proposed by sexologists i n the late 1880s, posited that lesbians had "a male soul trapped i n a female body". Moreover, the supposedly 'masculine trait' of athleticism was frequently used as evidence of sexual inversion. The beginning of this long-standing association between sport and lesbianism (then conceptualized as uranism) can be traced back to sexologist Richard v o n Krafft-Ebing's 1889 Psychopathia  Uranism  may nearly always  be suspected  dress in the fashion  of men, or pursue  acquaintances...The  masculine  in females  Sexualis:  wearing  their hair short,  or who  the sports and pastimes of their male  soul, heaving  in the female  bosom, finds  pleasure  in the  ^This is not to imply that physical education and sport are synonymous. Nontheless, the physical education profession has been significantly influenced by the institution of westernized sport in ways that other areas of schooling obviously have not.  3  pursuit  of manly  sports, and  cited in Smith-Rosenberg,  in manifestations  1989a:  of courage and  bravado.  (Krafft-Ebing  269)  These associations reappeared i n Havelock Ellis' w o r k on sexuality i n 1915. Depicting the female sexual invert, Ellis claimed:  The  brusque,  and  sometimes  energetic  movements,  incapacity  for  the attitudes  needlework  is often some capacity for athletics  (Ellis  and  of the arms...There other domestic  cited in Chauncey,  is also a  occupations, 1989:  dislike  while  there  91)  This idea gave rise to the suspicion that women i n sport might be lesbian, popularized i n the late 1920s (Cahn, 1994a), w h i c h lingers on i n similar suspicions about women i n physical education. The logic worked i n two ways. O n one hand, something 'masculine' made certain w o m e n want to play sports or, on the other, playing sports risked developing 'masculinity' i n women. Either way, w o m e n who played sport were not properly 'feminine' and therefore were suspected of being lesbians — women's sports somehow required a 'male soul' i n a 'female body'. Of course the more masculine the sport, the stronger the suspicion. Hence, w o m e n w h o played sports requiring speed, strength, aggression or body contact (e.g. rugby, soccer, shot put) have been subjected to greater suspicion than those i n sports valorizing grace, choreography or aesthetic expression (e.g. ice skating, synchronized swimming). While the notion of 'congenital invert' also shaped assumptions about male homosexuality, this logic d i d not affect men i n sport or physical education i n the same way. By the very nature of sport, men's participation has been used to reinforce their masculinity and thereby dispel any suspicion of homosexuality. 2 This  ^Ironically these assumptions about male heterosexuality i n sport and physical education p r e v a i l despite the intense homosociality of sport. W h i l e this might seem surprising, the active use of  4  also explains w h y men's physical education has had much less contested relationship w i t h sport than the women's profession. A s a result, male P E teachers have typically been assumed to personify normative masculinity and heterosexuality, pushing the 'specter' of male homosexuality far beyond the concerns of the profession. Purpose of the Study Broadly speaking, this study examined the social construction of sexual identities across three generations of w o m e n w h o taught physical education i n western Canada. The study centered around the life histories of six physical education teachers — three who self-identified as 'lesbian' and three as 'heterosexual'. The study was motivated b y long-standing suspicions about lesbianism i n women's physical education, alongside a series of contemporary developments i n sport and education. Institutionalized spaces w i t h i n women's sport where lesbian desire could be openly expressed began to emerge i n the 1980s. Since then, lesbian and gay sports have become increasingly visible and organized i n urban Canada, evidenced by events such as the 1990 Gay Games i n Vancouver. In the academy, feminist scholarship was producing increasingly sophisticated research about lesbianism while poststructural and queer theories were expanding h o w sexualities might be conceptualized. By the late 1990s, the public school system i n British Columbia was beginning to acknowledge the harmful effects of homophobia on students, and to seek ways to eliminate heterosexism from K-12 curricula. It was within this context that I searched for a way to research what C a h n (1994a) so aptly described as the 'homophobic repellent and magnetic sexual field of force' i n women's physical education. Naturally, I had to make a decision about the most appropriate methodology — what type of research could penetrate the  sport to prove men's heterosexuality, virility and masculinity only testifies to the need to disavow the presence of homoeroticism in men's sport.  5  passageways and tombs of a profession which had historically required lesbians to remain hidden and silent? One way was to ask lesbian teachers to talk about their experiences. So m u c h of the compelling research about lesbians I had read used oral histories; indeed, reading stories about lesbian lives such as The W e l l of Loneliness, Oranges A r e N o t The O n l y Fruit and Z a m i 3 had a profound impact on m y understanding of what it could mean to be lesbian i n my time and place. A d d e d to this, at the time I was formulating this study, existing research about lesbians i n physical education had either focused on teacher's life histories or the identity management techniques used by lesbian teachers (Clarke, 1996; Griffin, 1991, 1992b; Sparkes, 1994b; Squires & Sparkes; 1996; Woods & Harbeck, 1992). W i t h i n this context, I settled on the methodology of teacher's life history. 4 The life histories within this study illustrate the specific ways six P E teachers accepted and resisted identities such as 'feminist', lesbian' and 'married' throughout their lives. The histories also suggest what social norms and material practices influenced how these identities were accepted and resisted at various points i n the women's lives. This was primarily, but not exclusively, a study about heteronormativity — the central question being how heterosexual identities have been privileged over lesbian identities. It is also true to say that the political intent of this research has been to disturb the taken-for-granted workings of this heteronormativity. A l s o , this inquiry has been confronted w i t h an intriguing methodological paradox — the use of 'spoken' accounts to investigate issues of 'silence'.  These books have been so influential for me on a deeply personal level that I have chosen to cite them informally rather than formally in the main text. For readers who would like to locate these books, the respective authors are Radclyffe Hall (1928), Jeanette Winterson (1985) and Audre Lourde (1982). 3  See Chapters 2 and 3 for more detailed accounts of factors influencing my choice of methodology. 4  6  Theoretical Framework for a Poststructuralist A p p r o a c h to Life History Existing life history studies about lesbian PE teachers have been informed by humanist and feminist assumptions which, I think, has limited the analysis of w h y lesbian sexuality has been effectively silenced for so long i n physical education. Firstly, the theorization of 'the subject' is problematic due to the prevailing assumption that sexuality identity is coherent, unitary and, i n some way, transparent to the attentive life historian. Secondly, the research focus on the lives of lesbians has theoretical and political limitations. 5 Recent advances i n poststructural-feminism and queer theory have challenged these approaches. Accordingly, I have incorporated poststructuralist and queer notions about subjectivity and sexuality into a feminist approach to life history. N o t surprisingly, this hybrid framework created a new set of thorny theoretical issues. Research about w o m e n who have lived w i t h the 'open secret' and silences 6 of lesbianism on a day to day basis requires a methodology w h i c h can approach these  ^ I agree that a pragmatic politics of identity can be beneficial in the short-term but have argued that it should not be the only focus of research into sexualities (Sykes, 1996). A re-mediating focus on lesbian experiences articulated through the specificity of race, class, dis/ability and age can be strategically effective within physical education. Undoubtedly, existing life history research based on feminist standpoint theory has made important political and theoretical advances within sports sociology and physical education. 'Secrets' and 'silence' emerged as increasingly salient concepts as this study unfolded. Initially I used the concept of 'secret' as Susan Cahn (1994) had, referring to the 'open secret' that lesbianism existed in PE and sport but was not explicitly discussed (see Cahn, 1994). Indeed, the importance of analyzing this 'open secret' in understanding heterosexism and lesbian desire can be discerned in Foucault's (1978) History of Sexuality: 6  ...secrecy is not in the nature of an abuse; it is indispensable to its [power] operation. Not only because power imposes secrecy on those ivhom it dominates, but because it is perhaps just as indispensible to the latter: would they accept it if they did not see it as a mere limit placed on their desire, leaving a measure of freedom — however slight — intact? (p. 86)  Later on, in the discussion of transgenerational secrets (see Chapter 3 'Lesbian Encounters'), I began to explore Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torek's (1994) psychoanalytic concept of 'secret'. As Nicholas Rand (1994) pointed out, Abraham and Torok's conception of a secret does not coincide with customary definitions of the term:  7  issues seriously. It is not beyond the scope of interview-based research such as life history to do so; yet, I think it is fair to say that traditional humanist and some feminist approaches to life history have yet to recognize the importance of what is k n o w n but kept secret and what is left unsaid. This potential to explore 'silence' and the 'Other' i n life history has been, for me, the strongest argument for using a poststructural approach — a version I hoped w o u l d be especially appropriate for inquiring into the lives of women who have been surrounded by lesbophobic silences on personal, professional and inter-generational levels. The liberal humanist notion of a coherent, stable 'subject' has been persuasively critiqued by scholars from several intellectual traditions, including some feminist materialists and post-colonial theorists. This study has taken up questions about subjectivity raised mainly by poststructuralist and psychoanalytic theorists. The idea of a sovereign subject has been troubled, on the one hand, by psychoanalytic theories about the 'unsaid'. O n the other, poststructural theories about discourses w h i c h limit the subject positions available to an individual have  a secret is not primarily a hushed-up fact, a covert plot, a private feeling, or a confidential knowledge hidden from others...the secret is a trauma whose very occurance and devastating emotional consequences are entombed and thereby consigned to internal silence, albeit unwittingly, (p. 99)  While I think this latter conception of a 'secret' has potential for suggesting the complex formation of sexual subjectivities, considerable caution is required when translating psychoanalytic concepts from clinic settings to other interpretative contexts. M y use of Abraham and Torok's concept of 'secret' is no more than a tentative speculation which does not pretend to capture many details of their work on encrypted secrets. Similarly, I think their characterization of 'silence' has much to offer future work about marginalized sexualities, and homophobia in particular, but the analysis of silence in this study does little more than gesture towards their detailed psychic theorization. For Abraham and Torok, silence: whether untold  it characterizes or unsayable  individuals,  families,  secret, the feeling  concealed  in the shame of famUies,  disregard  of painful  historical  unfelt,  social  the cover-up  realities  — may  groups  the pain  of political  disrupt  or entire  denied, lives.  the  crimes, (Rand,  nations  — the  unspeakable the 1994:  collective 21)  For more detail about the term 'silence' refer to the theme "The Lesbian Closet" in Chapter 6.  8  led to deep questions about agency and sovereignty of the subject. These fundamental challenges give rise to the notion of a split or fragmented subject. The cautious use of a poststructural approach to subjectivity takes seriously the Other within the subject(s) of life history — allows life history to focus not only what is said but on what is not said. Increasingly these intangible aspects of gendered sexualities are attracting scholarly attention (Britzman, 1998; Butler, 1997b; T o d d , 1997). It was l u d i t h Butler (1997b) w h o recently observed that "clearly, there are workings of gender that do not 'show' i n what is performed as gender, and to reduce the psychic workings of gender to the literal performance of gender w o u l d be a mistake" (p. 144). While this life history study d i d not intend to focus on psychoanalytic aspects of subjectivity at the outset, vexing questions about the constitutive role of the unconscious gradually crept into the analysis. It seems to me that challenging the 'open secret' of lesbians i n physical education may mean shifting from giving lesbians 'voice' to asking h o w heterocentrism has silenced those voices. A continuing research focus upon lesbian identity risks sustaining the hierarchical relation between lesbianism and heterosexism (Namaste, 1994; Seidman, 1993), and at best leads to the subject positions of 'tolerant normal' and 'tolerated subaltern' (Britzman, 1995). Seidman (1993) suggests that poststructuralists aim to destabilize identity as a grounds for politics i n order to open up alternative political possibilities, and that this may involve a shift from the resisting gay subject to an analysis of the homo/hetero codes that structure Western thought:  Repudiating  views of identity  the identity  of an object or person  'Heterosexuality' former  has meaning  is built on the exclusion,  as essence or its effect, poststructuralists is always  implicated  only in relation repression,  9  and  in its  that  opposite.  to 'homosexuality'; repudiation  propose  of the  the coherence latter....If  of  the  homosexuality  and  heterosexuality  other, each being present assumes gay  hierarchical  in the invocation  forms,  subject reinforces  are a coupling  and  then the reproduces  in which  of the other, and  epistemic  and  this hierarchical  political figure,  each presupposes in which project (p.  this  the coupling  of identifying  a  130)  Heterocentism is let off the theoretical hook, as it were. Hence, the task facing queer theory is:  not  to stop studying  identity  but rather to maintain notions  of identity  vigUant  against  and  formation,  identity identity  reification.  or even abandon  and difference politics  (Epstein,  for  1994:  all forms  in productive their strategic  tension, utility  of identity and while  politics,  to rely  upon  remaining  197)  This means asking h o w the categories 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual' have come to acquire their status as coherent and core elements of subjectivity and as political realities through modern discourses such as sexuality, sport and physical education. It can also mean examining, if we draw on Judith Butler's (1990) earlier work, h o w heterosexual identities have been performed i n ways that marginalize lesbian sexualities i n order to maintain their privileged position. In this study, "remaining vigilant against reification" has meant thinking about normative ideas contained within the life histories i n different ways. To some extent the study has attempted to deconstruct, or negotiate the limits (Namaste, 1994) of the hetero/homosexual binary category. Part of the analysis expanded more obvious understandings to produce alternative interpretations about the normalization of heterosexualities and the marginalization of lesbian sexualities. A thorough understanding of sexual subjectivity necessitates an analysis that takes into account the historical and social contexts, or what I refer to as  10  'institutional discourses'. Pragmatic poststructural and feminist theorists (Davies, 1991; Phelan, 1993) suggested that research should focus upon the w a y i n w h i c h institutional discourses intersect w i t h personal discourses to construct sexualities, rather than the construction of sexual identities per se. Davies (1991) argues that a poststructural perspective understands the i n d i v i d u a l and collective as both discursively constructed in interlocking ways. Accordingly, discourses i n physical education, women's sport, feminism, families, and schooling p r o v i d e d the larger context i n w h i c h the life histories were interpreted.  11  Chapter 2 Literature R e v i e w Lesbian Studies i n Educational Research Lesbian sexuality has only emerged as a topic of research i n physical education during the past decade. This line of inquiry has arisen i n large part because an increasing amount of research has been conducted into feminist, lesbian and queer issues i n education. A n overview of the literature shows the increasingly diverse and sophisticated scope of Gay and Lesbian Studies i n education (for example, Britzman, 1998; de Castell & Bryson, 1997; Epstein, 1994; Harbeck, 1992; U n k s , 1995; Woog, 1995). There have been several personal accounts of silence and homophobia experienced by lesbian teachers specifically (for example, Anonymous, 1989; Doe, 1991; Jeffs, 1995; Powell, 1993). Equally, a number of books have focused exclusively on the experiences of lesbian and gay teachers (Harbeck, 1992; Jennings, 1994; Khayatt, 1992; Kissan, 1996). M u c h of this research i n the U K and N o r t h America has been influenced by liberal feminist notions of lesbianism. For example, Squirrell (1989) linked the role of homosexuals i n education w i t h an area of equal opportunities. She alluded to heterosexism as the underlying cause of oppression against lesbian teachers, but concentrated more on silence, fear and job security at the i n d i v i d u a l level. In contrast, O r a m (1989) presented a socialist-feminist analysis of 'spinster' teachers i n inter-war Britain, a climate profoundly influenced by the marriage ban for w o m e n teachers. D i d i Khayatt's (1992, 1994) research into lesbian teachers broke new ground i n Canadian educational research by challenging the heterocentric conception of female sexuality as reproductive labor, particularly i n Dorothy Smith's analysis of everyday realities of women's experience, w h i c h was dominant at the time. H e r 12  analysis of heterosexism within capitalist patriarchy, and the position of lesbian teachers therein, greatly extended existing feminist and Marxist analyses of gender in schooling. She analyzed how ideological practices controlled w h o is allowed to teach and administer state schooling, and consequently who implements male privilege and compels heterosexuality. In turn, she outlined how this ideology constructed lesbian teachers as "inadmissible, incomprehensible, a contradiction i n terms" (p. 71). U s i n g this theoretical framework, she developed detailed accounts of how lesbian teachers managed their sexual identities within the context of the school, the classroom and the community. Khayatt identified the degree of involvement i n feminist politics and the size of school board as the two most influential factors affecting how lesbians approached their teaching. She identified the dilemma facing lesbian teachers as follows:  a teacher who  is a lesbian  of the more obvious basis...No. the  inconsistencies  with  with  which  of her  life. It is the  denials  the defenses she feels compelled  she  to put  is not  simply  one has to deal on a  The issue is more the small zuays in which  invisibility  manages,  lives a life filled  a lesbian  articulates, up.  (p.  a  question  day-to-day  teacher is silent.  the deflections  It is  she  239)  This astute interpretation of the dilemma facing lesbian teachers is one that proved to be central to this study, although this resonance became apparent only w i t h the benefit of hindsight. N o research about the lives of lesbian teachers i n British C o l u m b i a has been published to date, although issues of sexual orientation affecting teachers and students began to appear i n the early 1990s. A s early as 1992, the Vancouver School Board (1992) supported the equal treatment of all individuals regardless of "race, culture, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation,  13  or physical or  mental ability". A n advocacy group of lesbian and gay teachers ( G A L E BC) has become increasingly organized during the 1990s. In 1990, Reis put forward several reasons w h y sexual orientation should be taught i n public schools throughout British C o l u m b i a . Wicks (1991) and M c C u e (1991) also discussed the difficulties facing lesbian and gay youth i n British C o l u m b i a schools. In 1995, G A L E BC published and distributed a manual called Counseling G a y and Lesbian Youth ( G A L E B C , 1995) p r o v i d i n g information to school counselors throughout the province. Since the mid-1990s, the provincial government and teacher's federation i n British Columbia have actively supported measures to combat homophobia i n public schools and heterosexism i n curriculum materials. Extending from a Canadian Teacher's Federation (undated) policy w h i c h stated that "sexuality education should include information and discussion about sexual orientation, homophobia and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation", the British Columbia Teacher's Federation adopted a resolution to create a program, funded from members' dues, to eliminate homophobia and heterosexism from the public schools system. In 1997-1998, a seven-member ad hoc committee was given the task of making recommendations about teacher education, curriculum and resource materials to begin this process (British C o l u m b i a Teacher's Federation, 1998). These measures have provoked considerable opposition from various rightw i n g and fundamentalist groups i n the province. The most publicized responses have involved the trustees of the Surrey School Board of w h o m several represent conservative, religious views. The connections between members of the Board of Trustees and right-wing religious organizations such as the Citizen's Research Institute are less publicly known, but appear to have influenced positions adopted by this particular school board. For instance, i n A p r i l 1996 the trustees forced the  14  deletion of a number of protections from a draft policy on sexual harassment, including the sentence " A n y form of expression of bias on the basis of sex or sexual orientation including derogatory comments" w h i c h made the policy inconsistent w i t h the B C T F collective agreement (Bigots Ban Books, 1998). The following year, the same school board banned three children's books w h i c h referred to same-sex families from use i n primary classrooms. They also voted to ban the use of "any resources from gay and lesbian groups such as G A L E B C " thereby effectively preventing counselors from using the Counseling Gay and Lesbian Youth handbook. These events led two teachers, a student, a parent and an author to challenge the banning of these materials i n the B C Supreme Court. The case was heard i n 1998 and, at the time of writing, the decision is still pending. Studies i n Physical Education Due to the impact of feminist scholarship, researchers i n physical education have gradually turned their attention toward issues of lesbian sexuality and homophobia. M u c h of this research examined gendered relations i n teacher preparation programs. For instance, A l i s o n Dewar (1990) analyzed ways i n which physical education students constructed athletic and gender identities i n a Canadian program. Her study referred to compulsory heterosexuality and lesbophobia, although the primary theme was how students assimilated scientistic, biodeterminist rather than social constructivist notions of sex from the PE undergraduate curriculum. A n n Flintoff (1994) also studied the ways i n w h i c h British teacher education constructed gendered identities, but d i d not consider sexual identities. A n autobiographical account by Skelton (1993) suggested how the informal student culture of physical education students reproduced a hegemonic masculinity — including compulsory heterosexuality — that undermined the humanist, formal curriculum of the teacher education program. In the U.S.A., Williamson and Williams (1990) documented how a mandatory 'Equity Awareness'  15  course at the University of Massachusetts helped physical education students reflect upon racism, sexism, homophobia and motor elitism i n the profession. Studies of Lesbian PE Teachers The first studies about lesbian PE teachers appeared i n the early 1990s using life history research (Clarke, 1996; Sparkes, 1994a, 1994b, 1995; Squires & Sparkes, 1996; Sparkes & Templin, 1992), historical research (Cahn, 1994a), participatory action research (Griffin, 1992b) and what I shall refer to as identity management research (Griffin, 1991, 1992b, 1992c; Woods, 1992; Woods & Harbeck, 1992). A n d r e w Sparkes has published several articles about life histories of lesbians in physical education. H i s w o r k draws primarily u p o n Griffin's (1991, 1992a, 1992c) liberal feminist and Lenskyj's (1986, 1990, 1991) more radical feminist analyses of homophobia and lesbianism i n sport. H i s theoretical framework acknowledged that schools, as patriarchal institutions, are ideologically and culturally heterosexual. H e has counterpoised the public realm of the school against the private life of the lesbian teacher, inquiring h o w the school 'controls' the teacher's private life. Thus, the hegemony of heterosexuality is acknowledged as being institutional and Sparkes examined how lesbian teachers resisted this hegemony. This framework does not, however, focus on how the marginalization of the lesbian teacher is actually fundamental to institutional heterocentrism. This is one area where this thesis, incorporating queer theory, builds on the theoretical framework used by Sparkes. Other than these life history studies, most research about lesbian P E teachers has examined h o w teachers have 'managed' their sexual identities i n the homophobic milieu of schooling. Woods and Harbeck's (1992) phenomenological study asked "how lesbian physical educators cope w i t h some unique occupational stresses relating to society's perspectives on homosexuality and w o m e n i n sports" (p. 142). Pat Griffin (1991,1992a, 1992b, 1992c) has been one of the most prolific authors about homophobia i n sport. M u c h of her w o r k is based on liberal feminist  16  principles, focusing on identity management strategies used by lesbian physical educators. In an action research study (Griffin, 1992b), she identified a continuum of management strategies lesbians used to separate or integrate their personal and professional identities. These ranged from 'passing' as heterosexual, 'covering' w h i c h involved censoring rather than deceiving, 'being implicitly out' to 'being explicitly out'. Cahn's (1994a) historical research into the construction of gender and sexuality in women's sport i n the U S is the most comprehensive study to date. She traced the changing material conditions that constructed notions about lesbianism in American physical education from the late 1920s. A s such, her w o r k contributes to a historical materialist theory of lesbianism. In this inquiry, physical educators were juxtaposed with w o m e n athletes and sport promoters while medical, sexological, and education discourses were analyzed alongside those i n the popular media. It is worth detailing Cahn's findings as they are directly related to the issues of silence and invisibility at the heart of this thesis. Between 1870 and 1920 lesbians were constructed as 'sexual inverts' by the medical profession and sexologists, two of w h o m , P. M . Wise and Havelock Ellis, connected lesbianism to female athletes. She described how fears about female heterosexuality becoming out of control were increasingly popular from 1900 to 1930. D u r i n g the 1930s, this fear of 'uncontrollable' heterosexuality coexisted w i t h a developing awareness and fear of lesbianism, until the stereotype of the mannish lesbian gained primacy i n the m i d 19308. The post-war gender conservatism of the 1940-50s forced many female athletes to 'prove' their heterosexuality through reference to family and motherhood. C a h n insightfully noted that this tactic of p r o v i n g the heterosexuality of female athletes failed to dispel the stigma of lesbianism i n athletics; paradoxically, it added to the fear of homosexuality, thereby strengthening the stigma. The 1960s  17  became the era of the 'open secret' i n w h i c h the presence of lesbians i n sport, especially softball, was k n o w n but not discussed. This 'open secret' of lesbian athletes operated within heterosexual norms, rather than challenging them. A t the same time, Cahn suggested, sport provided friendship networks and sufficient social freedom to reconstruct traditional femininity. This study provided m u c h needed documentation of the historical account of lesbian sexuality i n N o r t h American sport. Cahn's conceptualization of sexual identity acknowledged, but d i d not seriously engage, debates about identity and subjectivity which were emerging at the time. While she acknowledged the potential of poststructural theories about fragmented, non-unified identities, she noted that the oral histories of w o m e n she interviewed strongly suggested that "a sense of authentic self is both real and necessary to people l i v i n g w i t h i n a given context" (Cahn, 1994: 332). This tension between this 'sense of authentic self and theories of fragmented identities has also been a central issue w i t h i n this thesis. M o r e broadly, this thesis continues this nascent line of inquiry into lesbian PE teachers, building on the life history studies of A n d r e w Sparkes i n particular. Life History Research This section outlines the most relevant life history literature. Research methodologies and epistemologies that draw upon personal experience have a long, varied and interdisciplinary tradition. Goodson and Walker (1988) claimed that life histories i n anthropology and sociology were numerous i n the 1920s and 1930s, w i t h a resurgence i n the 1970s. They also noted that use of oral history by social historians has been increasingly recognized as a legitimate source of data. The use of personal accounts, specifically autobiographies and life stories, by historians and sociologists in the early 1900s is noted by Purvis (1987), who also commented on a resurgence i n the 1980s. Life history research may diverge "on the one hand towards historical biography i n the humanistic tradition, and on the other towards studies of  18  collectivities i n the social science tradition," according to M i l b u r n (1989, p. 161). There are considerable similarities between sociological and educational research uses of life history research; most differences arise from the varied interpretive, critical, feminist and poststructural challenges to positivist social science. Life history then, according to Sparkes (1993), "is an umbrella term that includes as sources of data, autobiographies, personal documents, human documents, life records, case histories, interviews, life stories etc." (p. 110). Collaborative autobiography has been used i n teacher education and educational research (Butt, 1988; Butt & Raymond, 1987; Butt, M c C u e , Townsend & Raymond, 1989; Goodson, 1989; Knowles, 1991). In the late 1980s, feminist theories began to inform the use of autobiography and personal narrative i n educational research. Life history research relating to teachers has dealt w i t h issues facing student teachers (Sikes & Tronya, 1991) and teachers' careers (Sikes, Measor & Woods, 1985). Two important studies used life history to explore the lives of feminist teachers i n N e w Zealand (Middleton, 1993) and w o m e n teachers w h o were social activists i n the United States (Casey, 1993). These studies are more relevant to the research being proposed because of their feminist perspectives, which influenced both their content and methodologies. Life history research i n physical education has delved into the profession's status as a marginal subject (Sparkes, Templin & Schempp, 1990; Sparkes & Templin, 1992), teachers' careers (Templin, 1988) and, more recently, the experiences of a lesbian teacher (Squires & Sparkes, 1996; Sparkes, 1994a, 1994b). Life histories have been an important source of knowledge as lesbian and gay studies have developed over the past decade (Gay Men's Oral History G r o u p , 1989; Lesbian History Group, 1989; Lesbian Oral History Group, 1989; Sullivan, 1990). Cross-generational life histories have the potential to reveal both continuities and dis-continuities. Changes of this sort have been demonstrated i n terms of midlife changes i n sexual identities (Fleishman, 1993); malleability of life courses i n  19  general (Gubrium & Holstein, 1995); and bisexual identities (Creet, 1995). Similarly, Smith-Rosenberg (1989b) deployed the trope of the 'New Woman' i n early twentieth century America, to show h o w cross-generational feminisms and feminists have been fractured. A s she put it, "how the language and victories of one generation of w o m e n can radically reposition the w o m e n w h o follow, m a k i n g them speak different languages, avow different goals" (p. 120). Interestingly, she drew a parallel between the conflicts between successive generations of N e w W o m e n and the challenges of poststructuralism facing feminists today. The importance of a relational analysis i n oral histories was stressed by Kathleen Casey (1993) i n her life histories of women teachers. She was referring to the relation between past and present; dominant memory and commonplace understandings; personal and largescale changes. Furthermore she claimed that analysis of these relations may reveal discontinuities or 'factual disparities' (p. 12) w h i c h may provide valuable insight rather than problems of distortion. Theories of Sexuality Poststructural theories of the subject critique the notion of identity as a coherent and stable sense of personhood, proposing instead that subjectivity consist of fragmented, split subject positions. These different assumptions can be traced through the debates about essentialism versus social constructionism. For instance, the tension between individual perceptions that lesbian identity is based u p o n an essential sexual orientation and social constructionist theories of sexual identity has been discussed by Rust (1993). Rust cites social psychological studies from the 1970s that claim that individuals experience their sexual identities as stable and essential, and that changes i n their sexual identities are part of a process of discovering their 'essential' sexual orientation. These claims are clearly problematic given the poststructural/social constructivist assumptions of the thesis; however, I assert that they have been commonly held perceptions. Rust pointed out that even the goal of  20  discovering an essential sexual identity is, i n fact, defined by available social constructs. Weeks (1991) tackled the paradox that while sexual identities seem to change and be i n flux, there is a strong personal and political need to fix and stabilize sexual identity. H e suggested that sexual identity "is provisional, precarious, dependent on, and incessantly challenged by, social contingencies and psychic demands — but apparently necessary, the foundation stone of our sexual beliefs and behaviors" (p. 69). This paradox between the psychic, personal need for a degree of stability and coherence i n one's identity and poststructural theories of instability and fragmentation remains a contested issue. This issue was broached by Julia Creet (1995) when she discussed the anxieties of coming 'out' and coming 'undone'. She based her argument on the notion of identity as a repetitive discursive performance, w i t h lesbian identity predicated specifically on the speech act of 'coming out'. C o m i n g undone referred to the loss of identity, of slipping into a non-identity, illustrated through an account of a long standing lesbian falling i n love w i t h a man. She articulated the paradox — if the repetitive performance of 'coming out' constitutes and maintains a lesbian identity, how does this retelling work within and against the notion that identities are unstable? Creet d i d not resolve the paradox for us. She leaves us w i t h the thought that her lesbian identity "is psychically entrenched play, as Butler points out, but, one must insist, physically and historically entrenched play also" (p. 196). The following literature is used to review h o w 'identity' has been conceptualized i n life history research. Casey (1993) differentiated her approach to life history from others that focus upon a 'fictive composite individual'. Her study of female teachers was structured around common identities such as 'catholic', 'nun', 'black', 'political activist'. Casey was dismissive of poststructural theories of identity. For her, the subject is more than a creation of discourse:  21  Unlike  the alienated  fragments;  person of post-modern  she can articulate  by the other, she nevertheless  her own  discourse,  coherence.  this self is not a jumble  Acting  has some choice, and  within  limitations  she has some power,  of constructed  (p.  25)  In contrast, Smith (1993) recounted how personal narratives have recently started to challenge "the certitudes of bourgeois i n d i v i d u a l i s m — for instance, the certitude of stable, unified selfhood" (p. 395). H e r biographical study illustrated h o w an individual, L i n d a N i e m a n , was situated within multiple discourses of identity, critiquing the m y t h of unified selfhood. The traditional framing of biographical subject, she argued, can be countered by weaving institutional discourses into the text alongside the narrative. However, such historicized and contexualized representations of the subject may require alternative forms of life writing. For example she suggested organizing a narrative around topics — such as the body, the voice, minds, gardens, education and so forth — rather than a chronology of a person's life. The suggestion that narrative structure i n autobiography precludes awareness of the complexities, fragments, silences and changes of the 'self is rejected by Stanley (1993). She argues that autobiographical writing can "take a clear 'this then that' narrative form i n which the life of the self, and thus the writing self also, is constructed by means of strong referential claims. But this can include an awareness of the 'inner' fragmentations of self " (p. 207). Poststructural Theories of Sexuality Poststructural theories of homosexual identity have proliferated largely as a result of debate about essentialism and social constructionism i n lesbian and gay studies (DeCecco & Elia, 1993). It is fair to say that, certainly as we enter the late 1990s, much of the theorizing about identity, the subject and subjectivity has yet to have a significant impact on research i n sport sociology and physical education. Poststructural, queer theories of sexuality attempt — among other things -- to  22  counter the problems arising from overly essentialist assumptions about sexual identities. Before exploring this more deeply, a w o r d of caution about the term social constructionism is needed because the term has different meanings i n various disciplines. In social psychology for instance, Burr (1995) suggested that social constructionism refers to any approach w h i c h takes a critical stance towards takenfor-granted knowledge; is historically and culturally specific, anti-essentialist or antirealist. Within sociology, according to Epstein (1994), social constructionism provided continuity between sociological labeling and deviance theories about sexuality and more recent queer, gay and lesbian theories about sexuality. A helpful genealogy of social constructionism i n sociological research into sexuality can be found i n N a r d i and Schneider's (1998) anthology. Broadly speaking, I use the term 'social construction' primarily to refer to theoretical approaches that challenge essentialist notions of identity. Back to poststructural and queer theories about sexual identities. A n important historical approach to the social construction of sexual identities is to be found i n the work of Weeks (1991). In his words, identities "are not necessary attributes of particular sexual drives or desires, and [they] are not, i n fact, essential — that is naturally pre-given — aspects of our personality" (p. 68). H e also claimed that identities are selected from a range of possibilities; however, the range of possibilities is historically contingent and constrained rather than endless. Rather than interpreting the w o r k of M a r x and Freud reductively, Weeks noted how their work challenged the possibility of a coherent, unitary identity. Marx's view that an individual is an ensemble of social relations, Freud's notion that unconscious forces beyond rational control subvert the conscious i n d i v i d u a l , and subsequent feminist rethinking of the relations between the psyche and male power are used by Weeks to support the following conclusions:  23  First,  that subjectivity  second, that identity negotiated,  and  Moreover, hidden  is always fractured, is not inborn,  achieved,  pregiven,  or 'natural'.  often in struggles  experiences  ambiguous,  act of will,  against  destiny,  (p.  bequeathed  disrupted; contested,  the  or discovered  together in circumstances  as much as by individual  and  It is striven for,  of the subordinated  it is not achieved just by an individual  recesses of the soul. It is put  collective  contradictory,  dominant. in  the  by history,  in  94)  Social constructionist views about sexuality have rarely been articulated so clearly and w i t h such detailed historical background as i n the w o r k of Weeks. H e suggested two lines of inquiry for historical research into sexuality w h i c h proved to be important to this thesis. Firstly, the conditions that d i s / a l l o w the emergence of sexual categories and, secondly, the factors that affect individual acceptance or rejection of those sexual categories. H e differentiated between emotional/sexual propensities — desires that are shaped at the psychoanalytic level — and sexual identities that are shaped during a lifelong series of social interactions, calling for historical research into both:  ...we  must see [them] as aspects of the same process. Social processes  subjectivities  not just as 'categories'  than the search for and  historical  epistemological  studies  but at the level of desires. purity,  of 'homosexuality'  should and  be the starting  indeed of 'sexuality'  construct  This perception,  rather  point for future in general,  (p.  social 45)  These dual lines of inquiry are evident i n this study, particularly i n the focus on institutional discourses and the social unconscious i n the data analysis. Nonetheless, Champagne (1995) argued that Weeks' version of social construction theory yields choices about identity available to a humanist subject, rather than a range of subject-effects. I found his critique somewhat reductive:  24  Weeks' casting subject who,  of identity  while purged  capable of choosing an identity  not as discursive of an essentialist  his or her identity  — while still,  from  but as 'historical' sexual  necessarily  identity,  the supermarket  in some sense, being homosexual,  ushers in a  is nonetheless of history (p.  sovereign,  or rejecting  such  65)  H e also suggested that attempts to historicize the construction of sexual identities eventually and unavoidably result i n a "kind of essentialism" (p. 65). This paradox — that a degree of essentialism exists within social constructionism — remains unresolved i n most social constructionist and poststructuralist theories. Grosz (1994) pointed out that constructionism "needs to make explicit what are the raw materials for its process of construction and these cannot themselves be constructed without the assumption of infinite regress. The b u i l d i n g blocks or raw materials must i n some sense be essentialist" (p. 213). Thus, it seems that social constructionist research into identity w i l l necessarily entail a degree of essentialism, and this is, i n my view, w h y the essentialism/social constructionism debate is so persistent. Poststructural theories of sexual identity have a legacy i n the debate about essentialism and social constructionism and all but the most skeptical poststructuralist theories of identity contain elements of social constructionism. A s part of a movement towards social postmodernism i n social theory, Seidman offered a comprehensive account of the increasing complexity and ambivalence of social constructionism i n sexual politics (Seidman, 1993; Nicholson & Seidman, 1995).7 H e argued that the ambivalence of social constructionism i n identity politics  7 The social constructivist assumptions of gay liberation, Seidman (1993) contends, evolved into two separate movements based on what he calls an ethnic model of identity. He describes "...a movement away from a liberationist framework toward an ethnic/ethnic minority model, with an emphasis on cultural difference, community building, and identity-based interest-group politics" (p. 117). A gay men's movement focused upon winning civil rights developed at the same time but distinct from a lesbian separatist movement based upon female values and lifestyle choices. Both these  25  arises from on the one hand, its challenge to a unitary lesbian identity yet, on the other hand, its focus upon the historical construction of identities. Queer Theories of Sexuality The next section reviews the impact of 'queer theory' on the reconceptualization of sexual identity. 'Queer theory' necessarily resists any straightforward definition, yet it is possible to trace the emergence of central queer theories and theorists during the past decade. Queer theory arose i n the context of sex debates between anti-pornography and sex-radical feminists, critiques of feminism, the rise of postmodern and poststructural theory, and the right w i n g backlash against homosexuality i n the A I D S crisis (Seidman, 1994; Walters, 1996). While the theoretical and political genealogy of queer theory stretches back into the early poststructural/modern w o r k of Foucault and Derrida of the 1970s (Namaste, 1994) 8 and has been heavily influenced b y French poststructuralism and Lacanian psychoanalysis (Seidman, 1994), the term 'queer theory' began to gain currency i n 1991. The political movement 'Queer Nation' was born i n 1990 at a small meeting of gay men interested i n direct action around lesbian and gay issues according to queer historian Donna Penn (1995), while Teresa de Lauretis has been attributed w i t h coining the term 'Queer Theory' i n 1991 (Walters, 1996). Since then articles exploring queer theory have begun to appear i n sociological, feminist and educational journals w i t h special editions 9 and anthologies 1 0 devoted to the topic.  political movements, although aiming towards different ends, assumed a unitary gay or lesbian identity, and it was this essentialism that solicited critique. Following Seidman's account, constructionist scholars critiqued the ethnic identity model as obscuring the diversity of same-sex desires. 8 Ki Namaste (1994) insightfully assessed the contributions made to queer theory by Michel Foucault's analysis of the discursive production of the category homosexual and Jacques Derrida's concept of supplementarity. Queer Theory was the subject of special editions in differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies (vol. 3 #2, Summer 1991), Radical History Review (62, Spring 1995), Sociological Theory (12 #3, July 1994), and most recently in the Harvard Educational Review (1996). See also Penn and Irving's 9  26  A n y list of queer theorists w i l l oversimplify, exclude and misrepresent the diverse theoretical backgrounds of individual scholars, but key players include Eve Sedgwick (1990), Diana Fuss (1995), Judith Butler (1990, 1993a), Teresa de Lauretis (1991, 1994) with Canadians such as M a r y Bryson and Suzanne de Castell (1994) and Deborah Britzman (1995) publishing queer articles concerning education specifically. Work appearing under the rubric of queer theory generated a number of critiques from material feminists (Hennessy, 1995; Ingraham, 1994), lesbian feminists (Jeffreys, 1994; Kitzinger & Wilkinson, 1994; Martin, 1994; Walters, 1996), mainstream sociologists (Oakes, 1994; Norton, 1996) and even from w i t h i n queer theory itself (Butler, 1994; Seidman, 1995). The following section outlines several central themes within queer theory alongside the critiques which have been generated as a result. Briefly, current queer theorizing is concerned w i t h deconstructing normalcy, particularly heteronormativity; interrogating the intersections between racial and sexual identities; distinguishing between the study of gender (feminism) and sexuality (queer studies); and the role of discourse i n (de)constructing sexualities. It has been argued that queer theories assume: that identity politics mute internal differences along racial, class, gender and other lines; that identities are always multiple; and that any categorization is inherently suspicious (Epstein, 1994). These assumptions have influenced the direction of research into sexualities to varying degrees, claiming to offer the following routes for inquiry. Queer theory, some w o u l d argue, no longer focuses only u p o n lesbian (and gay male) sexuality but brings into view the workings of heterosexuality b y  (1995) review of emergent literature in gay and lesbian studies. 10 Notably, an introductory anthology of early queer theorizing in the Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader (Abelove, Baral & Halperin, 1993) and a Marxist critique of postmodern trends in queer theory called Material Queer (Norton, 1996)  27  interrogating the hierarchical relations between homo/hetero, inside/outside, self/Other and normal/transgression. It could be said that heterosexuality represents the inside, the center, the natural. Heterosexuality is surrounded by marginal sexualities w h i c h are less privileged — homo, b i , trans, celibate sexualities exist as/at the margins of heterosexuality. Certainly this hierarchy permeates m u c h physical education discourse. But i n order to maintain this opposition, a boundary between inside and outside is required and it is the "production and management" (Namaste, 1994: 224) of this boundary that queer theory interrogates. A n d yet, while queer theory introduces heterosexuality as a central category of inquiry, Michael Warner (1993) notes that "'queer' gets a critical edge by defining itself against the normal rather than heterosexual" (p. xxvi). Thus, queer theory takes aim at the de/construction of heteronormativity rather than heterosexuality per se (Hennessy, 1995). One aspect of this interrogation has been the deconstruction of sexual identities beyond the limits of homo/hetero i n favor of "the plurality and irreducibility (irreducible to gender, to the body, to social construction) of sexual desire and sexual play" (Walters, 1996: 836). The trope inside/outside, first explicated by Diana Fuss (1995), has been fertile ground for queer theorizing. The antagonistic yet mutually dependent relation between inside/outside — sometimes but not exclusively read as homo/hetero — leads to the realization that "we cannot assert ourselves to be completely outside heterosexuality, nor entirely inside, because each of these terms achieves its meaning i n relation to the other. What we can do, queer theorists suggest, is "negotiate these limits" (Namaste, 1994: 224). A number of feminists have voiced serious concerns about the content and institutional location of 'queer' theory. For example, queer theory raised problems for radical feminists Celia Kitzinger and Sue W i l k i n s o n (1994), because they fear that "as the meanings of heterosexuality and homosexuality become blurred w i t h i n a fantasy w o r l d of ambiguity, indeterminacy and charade, the material realities of  28  oppression and feminist politics are forgotten" (p. 456). Their critique centered u p o n the notion of queer heterosexuality whereby "people w h o , while doing what is conventionally defined as 'heterosexuality', nonetheless do so i n ways w h i c h are transgressive of 'normality'" (p. 451). While their discomfort w i t h this particular queer style may be justified, it glosses over more compelling reasons for inquiring into the workings of normative (rather than queer) heterosexuality given by Fuss (1995), Namaste (1994) and Warner (1993) among others. Tensions between feminist and queer theories are far from resolved. A n excellent entry point into the debates can be found i n the edited volume Feminism Meets Queer Theory (Weed, 1997). In part, 'queer' emerged as a corrective to the exclusions of other marginal sexualities and of people of color by the lesbian and gay movements and theories w h i c h developed i n the 1980s (Seidman, 1994). One of the foci of queer theory has been the "differential formation of homosexuality across racial boundaries, including the question of how racial and reproductive injunctions are articulated through one another" (Butler, 1993b: 21). The overlap between post-colonial studies and queer theory is producing some of the most astute accounts of the construction of racialized sexualities (Moraga, 1996; Nelson, 1993; Somerville, 1994). Despite the claim that queer politics and to a lesser extent queer theory emerged as a corrective to the exclusion of people of color, Walters (1996) cautions that there is little inherent within queer theory to prevent a similar cycle of deracination. She forewarned the risk that "queer can 'de-race' the homosexual of color i n m u c h the same way 'old-time' gay studies often has, effectively erasing the specificity of 'raced' gay existence under a queer rubric i n w h i c h whiteness is not problematized" (p. 842). Thus the challenge facing queer studies i n physical education is not to overlook the intersections between racial identities and sexual identities. Or to put it more proactively, the heterocentric and Eurocentric history of the physical education  29  profession makes queer studies into the construction of white, heterosexual identities a particularly urgent project. It is important to note that the issues of white privilege and racism arising within this thesis emerged largely because of the feminist framework w h i c h foregrounded the everyday memories of the teachers. The analysis of these recollections was informed as much by critical race theory (Dei, 1996; Frankenburg, 1993) as queer theory. Queer theory's focus on the 'normal' d i d , however, direct analyses onto ways absence, othering and silence were central to 'normal' ways of talking about racial identity for white women. Another related theme i n queer theory has been a rupture i n the taken-forgranted links between sex (male/female), gender (masculine/feminine) and sexuality (homo/hetero) — a theme w h i c h permeates the w o r k of Eve Sedgwick and Judith Butler particularly (Walters, 1996). Differences between the centrality of lesbianism and relevance of feminism i n the queer theorizing of Judith Butler, Teresa de Lauretis and Eve Kosofosky Sedgwick have been suggested by Kathleen Martindale (1995). Greatly abbreviating, she suggested that Sedgwick focused more on sexuality than gender, describing her w o r k as anti-homophobic and not always coextensive w i t h f e m i n i s m . 1 1 Judith Butler's earlier w o r k emphasized the performative nature of gender and sexual identities, thereby p r o v i d i n g a theoretical framework for anti-essentialist feminist and queer theorizing of both gender and sexuality. In comparison, Teresa de Lauretis, invoked the term "queer theory" to remedy masking of gay male privilege i n the purportedly equitable phrase "lesbian and gay" — a move indicative of her other w o r k w h i c h retains a stronger feminist impulse than Butler or Sedgwick.  For Sedgwick's own discussion of the unpredictable relation between feminist and queer inquiry see Axiom 2 in Epistemology of the Closet (1990). 1 1  30  There is a perceived danger i n some feminist circles that queer theory's claim to be concerned w i t h sexuality as distinct from gender discounts and overshadows earlier feminist theories w h i c h reworked the links between gender, sex and sexuality. The most notable example of this is Gayle Rubin's (1984) groundbreaking article "Thinking sex" i n w h i c h she argued forcefully for the analytical separation of gender and sexuality " i n order to speak more freely about 'transgressive' variations of sexuality" (Flax, 1992: 287). A queer sounding project if ever there was one, but one made almost a decade before the arrival of queer theory. The second problematic raised by some feminist theorists is that gender runs the risk of disappearing i n queer theory. They have warned that vigilance is needed to prevent the privileging of gay men at the expense of lesbians, and slide into "implicit and explicit marginalization and demonization of feminism and lesbianfeminism" (Walters, 1996: 837). 1 2 By far the most stringent criticism that queer theory has the potential to exclude and disavow the contribution (even the material existence) of lesbians and lesbian feminism has been voiced b y Sheila Jeffreys (1994). Writing from a lesbian feminist perspective i n w h i c h "lesbians and gay men are i n many respects different because lesbians are members of the political class of women" (p. 459), she is extremely concerned that queer theory's fascination w i t h gay male cultural forms such as camp and drag, particularly b y Judith Butler and Eve Sedgwick, w i l l "subsume lesbians into a variety of gay men" (p. 471). This concern has been taken up i n more nuanced ways by other lesbian feminists w h o , at the same time, are more curious about the possibilities of developing a feminist queer theory. Judith Butler (1994) herself is extremely wary of the separation between feminist and queer theory, if queer theory defines itself (as the study of sexuality)  Walters (1996) also makes the analogy between feminist critiques of queer theory's elision of lesbians and critiques of postmodernism's elision of the subject and the category 'Woman'. i Z  31  against feminism (as the study of gender). She also forewarned of the anti-feminism accompanying the rise of conservative gay men within the queer movement. The theoretical framework of this study has been heavily influenced by a long history of feminist research; however, queer theories have undoubtedly shifted the focus onto 'normality', specifically heterosexual, white norms. The theoretical framework is also indebted to Eve Sedgwick and Judith Butler's w o r k on gendered sexualities which, some w o u l d argue, warrants the term 'queer'. Female Sexualities i n Physical Education Physical education is a discourse of the body, unlike other areas of curriculum in formal schooling. Indeed, discourses of physical education are indelibly and especially written on the body, just as discourses of gender are etched into the body. In the words of Elizabeth Grosz (1990):  Masculinity arbitrarily  and femininity imposed  to the structure critique  on the subject's  simply sex.  and the lived experience  of the sex/gender  things according bodies, (p.  are not  distinction  to whether  social categories  Masculine  and feminine  and meaning  (1983),  they are lived  as it were externally  of bodies. As  masculinity  out on and  are necessarily  related  Gatens argues in  and femininity experienced  or  mean  her  different  by male or female  73-74)  In women's physical education, athletic masculinity has been etched into the female body. This disrupts the normal links between female/femininity and male/masculinity, disturbing what Messner and Sabo (1990) refered to as the "gender order" i n sport. Discourses of physical education, especially those derived from sport, more often than not valorize hegemonic masculinity while denigrating homo-masculinity and most femininities (Dewar, 1990; Messner & Sabo, 1990; Scraton, 1986; Whitson, 1994). Female physical education teachers are unavoidably  32  implicated i n and associated w i t h these discourses of masculinization. A s a result, the heterosexuality of women w h o participate i n sport and physical education has long been under suspicion due to these masculinizing effects of sport. This association between sport, masculinity and 'fragile' heterosexuality began i n the 1920s and 1930s, as Susan Cahn (1994b) documented:  Mannislmess, connotation; women's  once a sign of gender crossing, and  athletics  the strong ripe for  cultural emerging  assumed  association lesbian  a specifically  lesbian-sexual  between sport and masculinity  stereotypes,  (p.  made  335)  Additionally, gender separation saturates many other aspects of physical education from student grouping, activity selection, hiring practices, and administrative duties. This means that female teachers have often w o r k e d i n allfemale contexts, be they physical education classes, sporting teams, social or professional associations. Thus, the construction of sexuality i n women's physical .education is peculiar, due to the negotiation of stereotypical notions of athletic masculinity i n frequently all-female contexts. This peculiar (some w o u l d say, perverse) context warrants comparison w i t h Teresa de Lauretis' (1994) analysis of lesbian desire which, she claims, is directed towards both masculinity and femaledirected femininity. Conceptualizing women's physical education as a sociocultural context where masculinity is negotiated i n female-only spaces requires a theoretical openness to what Eve Sedgwick (1990) 1 3 called 'gender inversion' and 'gender separation'. Most  Eve Sedgwick (1990) pointed out that all discourses about homo/sexuality follow two main tropes of gender which shape our understanding of same-sex desire - the trope of inversion (transitivitybetween genders) and the trope of sameness (separatism between genders). The trope of inversion works when homosexuality refers to masculine sexual desire i n w o m e n and vice-versa — the stereotypes of the mannish lesbian and congenital invert, for example. Conversely, the trope of sameness works when homosexuality is viewed as sexual desire between the same gender as i n 'womanL d  33  frequently, lesbian sexuality 1 4 i n sport is conceptualized as 'gender inversion' whereby the 'unnatural' masculinity of w o m e n participating i n sport is linked to lesbian sexuality. A heterosexual desire (male-female) continues to w o r k , but the desire has transferred via masculinity into the female body. This trope of (hetero)sexual desire underpins such homophobic cliches as 'she looks like a man', 'he throws like a girl', 'the sissy boy' and 'the mannish lesbian'. 'Gender separatism' is less frequently invoked i n sporting discourses, but nevertheless permeates the experiences of many women. The trope of separatism invokes suspicion about lesbian desire w i t h i n women-only sports; indeed, this suspicion of lesbianism i n women's sports functioned both as a homophobic repellent and as a magnetic sexual field of force (Cahn, 1994a). The framework above denaturalizes the gendered links between male/masculinity and female/femininity and, as such, owes more to feminist theories about gender than to queer theory. The shift from feminist to queer occurs when the implication of heterosexuality is considered. Judith Butler's (1990) contention that all genders are imitations does just that. Butler stated that gender is not the rightful property of a particular sex, that masculine does not properly belong to male nor feminine to female. This insight (which circulated w i t h i n feminism for at least two decades) is supported through the example of male drag, whereby Butler suggests that "drag constitutes the mundane way i n which genders are appropriated, theatricalized, worn, and done; it implies that all gendering is a k i n d of impersonation" (p. 185). Butler's theory of gender as imitation turns on the n o t i o n 1 5  identified w o m a n ' notions of lesbianism or gay men's desire for hypermasculinity. Both tropes of transitive and separatist lesbian desire can be discerned i n de Lauretis' theory of lesbian desire — the masculine fetish representing the transitivity of masculine desire onto women's bodies, and the femme fetish representing the separatist trope. 1 4 The tropes of inversion and sameness w o r k quite differently for gay men i n sport because of the discourses of masculinity upon which many sporting practices are contingent.  34  that there is no primary gender which drag imitates. In other words, drag is not an imitation of 'real' femininity by males; rather, "all gender is a k i n d of imitation for w h i c h there is no original" (p. 185). She goes on to suggest that the very idea of a real, proper gender is actually an 'effect' of the imitation — what has been naturalized as correct gender for particular sexes is no more than a "phantasmic ideal of heterosexual identity" (p. 185). A p p l y i n g this logic to women i n physical education, it follows that butch women are not trying to emulate a form of masculinity w h i c h is 'naturally' male, nor are lesbians trying to imitate a masculine form of sexuality by copying 'natural' heterosexuality; rather, the genders performed by butch lesbians, butch straight women, femme lesbians and other gendered sexualities of w o m e n i n physical education are all imitations. The important difference is that feminine heterosexuality presents itself as more than that — presents itself as the real, the natural, the genuine article. Normative femininity is not a gender that is natural or originary even though it sets itself up as such or i n Butler's o w n words, "compulsory heterosexual identities, those ontologically .consolidated phantasms ;of 'man' and 'woman' are theatrically produced effects that posture as grounds, origins, the normative measure of the real" (p. 185). Butler goes on to argue that if compulsory heterosexuality is only an imitation but sets itself up as the original, it is bound to fail and "precisely because it is bound to fail, and yet endeavors to succeed, the project of heterosexual identity is propelled into an endless repetition of itself" (p. 185). This is a crucial, queer insight which requires a different analysis of lesbian desire than that required by (liberal, radical, lesbian) feminist theories — the construction of normative heterosexuality forms a crucial part of understanding of lesbian desire, lesbian stereotypes, and the secrets of the lesbian closet. Research into  ^ Drawn from Derrida's argument that the mime does not copy some prior original, but rather the phantasm of the original.  35  lesbian lives, the isolation of the closet, and the violence of homophobias 1 6 requires analyses of the relations, boundaries and overlaps between hetero- and lesbian sexualities. The feminist work of Pat Griffin (1991, 1992a) and Helen Lenskyj (1986, 1990, 1991,1994) pre-empted this queer focus u p o n heterosexuality to an extent, describing the negative impact of the homophobic 'lesbian specter' o n straight women i n physical education. Prior to this study, however, normative heterosexualities have not been the focus of life history research w i t h i n physical education research. Summary  In summary, this chapter has reviewed literature which directly supports the methodology and theoretical framework of this thesis; specifically, studies of lesbians i n education and physical education; life history research; poststructural and queer theories of sexual identity. H o w this literature was interpreted throughout this study is discussed i n the next chapter, 'Spoken Lives, Written Lines'.  l b From a psychoanalytic vantage point, Elizabeth Young-Bruehl (1996) makes the case that there are obsessional, hysterical and narcissistic homophobias which variously intersect with specific racisms and sexisms.  36  Chapter 3 Spoken Lives, Written Lines Methodological Tensions within Feminist-Poststructural Life History  While  life writing  used to appear the most transparent  because of the seductions (Smith,  of factuality,  kind  it now seems almost  of writing,  perhaps  too complicated  for  words.  1993: 393)  Surveying feminist responses to the crisis of representation, L i z Stanley (1996) mapped four major feminist positions ranging from the foundationalist belief i n a one-to-one connection between reality and representation to the view that eschewing any representation of others is the only adequate feminist response. In between these responses, some feminists recognized and built upon the (often unacknowledged) power of the researcher to represent women's lives. Accordingly, Stanley argued that:  representational feminist  research  ways which  claims  must be surrendered  accounts  can be critically  which  display  engaged with  in favour their  of analytically  argumentative  by readers,  processes  accountable in  detailed  (p. 45)  Textual appropriation of the Other is inevitable i n qualitative research, argued Opie (1992), and can be countered but never eliminated by making the strategic location of the researcher explicit. Ironically the more qualitative researchers attempt to give up, give back, collaborate or undermine their o w n authority of their accounts, the more they must engage w i t h their authority because  37  "to critique authority is always itself an authoritative gesture" (Biriotti, 1993: 15). Similarly the claim, frequently made by critical theorists, that identifying the goals of one's research may disrupt the researcher's authority is, according to Stanley Fish (1997), itself a claim to authority which signifies mastery and control even as they are disowned. Accepting that the interpretive process necessarily appropriates the experience, stories and texts of people being researched, and that the researcher's authority can never be fully undermined is a starting point. Michelle Fine (1994) stressed that the problem is not that researchers edit, interpret and tailor data but that so few researchers reveal how they do this. This chapter begins by recounting issues about sampling, interviewing and transcribing which emerged i n the early stages of the study. From the outset I had to confront epistemological implications of analyzing life history data from a feministpoststructuralist framework. The synthesis of issues put forward by Steinar Kvale (1995) was invaluable to me at this time, and his book Interviews  could usually be  seen cluttering up my table at the local coffee shop. I reflect on the intricate maneuvers involved i n developing interview relationships w i t h each of the women — how we cautiously revealed our sexual identities to one another, how we evaded the importance of our shared identities as educated white women, and what forms the insider-outsider relation took. Next, I outlined the u-turns I made during the early stages of analyzing the interview data. Initially I explored coding and narrative approaches to data analysis, neither of which proved satisfactory. Subsequently, it was Kvale's work that introduced the possibility that poststructural analysis could not only 'understand' but also 'overstand' interview data — this dual approach was what I had been searching for. It provided an oeuvre to accommodate speech and silence, to interpret not only what had been said but also what was left unsaid, and to begin thinking about how the 'specter' of lesbian haunted physical education discourses. A major  38  theme i n the study, Lesbian Encounters, illustrates how different types of discourse analysis produced 'understandings' and 'overstandings'. The chapter concludes w i t h a theoretical discussion of the methodological tensions arising from the use of speech act theory, deconstruction, psychoanalytic and positioning theories i n discourse analysis. A Case for Life History The terrain of life writing is diverse, spanning literature and more recently some areas of social science. Biography, as a literary genre, is perhaps the oldest form of life writing. Since the 1800s traditional, empiricist biographers have been concerned w i t h writing about the triumph and failures of great people, giving rise to what Sidone Smith (1993) called the myth of bourgeois individualism. Life writing within the social sciences has a long-standing, if somewhat chequered, history i n anthropology, sociology and, to a lesser extent, psychology. A t the turn of the century sociologist W i l h e l m Dilthey railed against positivist sociology of the time, calling for human studies w h i c h arose from lived experience by way of -autobiography, biography and history. Campbell (1988) traced h o w language emerged as central to biographical knowledge through Husserl's phenomenology, Garfinkel's ethnomethodology and Charles Sanders Pierce's semiotics. Life history has undergone a renaissance within sociology since the early days of the Chicago school during the 1930s (Smith, 1994) alongside its emergence w i t h i n qualitative educational research, feminist and lesbian circles. In the field of educational research, the term 'life history' encompasses personal narratives (Knowles, 1991), individual and collaborative autobiography (Sikes & Tronya, 1991; Butt & Raymond, 1987), ethnographic biography (Goodson, 1989) and personal experience methods (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994). Early life history research i n education was informed by traditional empiricism. Increasingly life history research has relied on a 'weak' form of standpoint epistemology (Harding, 1991; Stanley & Wise, 1990; Smith, 1993).  39  The common justification for life history research, eruditely proposed by Ivor Goodson and Jean Clandinin, is to provide teachers with a voice as an empowering means of professional development. The value of educational biography and autobiography rests on the assumption that the understandings gained from writing about individual lives can be empowering to those individuals. A 'stronger', explicitly feminist, form of standpoint epistemology influenced the feminist life histories of Sue Middleton (1993) and Kathleen Casey's (1993). Rather than positioning all teachers as oppressed by virtue of top-down curriculum and professional development compounded by deskilling and depersonalized positivist educational research, Middleton and Casey chose to focus on particular groups of teachers who were marginalized by virtue of gendered, racialized and sexual power relations. Their life history research has more i n common, politically and methodologically, w i t h oral history projects published by grassroots lesbian groups, particularly i n Britain during the 1980s. The 'strong' version of feminist life history influenced my initial decision to do life history research, although m y approach sought to integrate poststructuralist rather than standpoint assumptions about experience and subjectivity. H a v i n g said this, I chose life history research not only for methodological reasons but as a result of my o w n personal history i n teacher education and action research. D u r i n g the early 1990s, I had been drawn to the emancipatory promises of critical theory to use critical action research i n my master's degree, but several intellectual critiques collided at the end of that research. One, I was concerned that the promise of 'emancipation through participatory research' was itself becoming a 'grand narrative' i n critical theory. Secondly, I was increasingly troubled by the absence of feminist theory i n the educational action research literature. Thirdly, as I moved to British Columbia for my doctoral program, I was aware of the dangers of 'imposing' participatory research i n an unfamiliar context — a reality of m y doctoral  40  study which could not be ignored. These three factors combined to make me wary of the emancipatory promise of action research. Goodson and Walker (1988) suggested that life history research, compared to action research which increasingly held sway in Britain i n the late 1980s, provided a less radical way of building teachers' concerns into educational research although it might overcome some of the problem of sustaining projects encountered in action research. A t the beginning of this study I hoped that life history could "give flesh and breath", to use M i n n i e Bruce Pratt's (1995) phrase, to abstract theories about sexuality. I still hold that view but i n a rather more complex, ambivalent way than before. M a n y social scientists now argue that biography should move beyond narrating the particular into more abstract interpretations (Smith, 1994). O n the one hand, an important strength in life history work is the distinctiveness and detail i n w h i c h an individual's stories can be studied; yet on the other hand, this focus on the individual may unnecessarily downplay the importance of broader social structures. A s A n d r e w Sparkes and Thomas Templin (1992) framed the dilemma, focusing too intently on the individual can divorce personal experience from the w i d e r socioeconomic and political forces w h i c h shape them. Resolving the ever-present risk of methodological individualism requires a delicate balance w h i c h respects the narrator's personal truths while pursuing broader socio-historical analyses. This balance can become more tenuous if, as Ivor Goodson (1988) warned, the theoretical analyses "are not part of the consciousness of the i n d i v i d u a l " (p. 80). A partial response has been 'group biographies' which, at its best, gives insight into social structures beyond the limits of any one individual biography (Smith, 1994) by exploring commonalties across many life histories (Sparkes & Templin, 1992). The location of individual experience within wider social relations, w i t h i n historical and political constraints, occurred to a limited extent i n the early life history w o r k by Faraday and Plummer (1979) and in more recent w o r k on lesbian physical education  41  teachers by Andrew Sparkes (Sparkes, 1994a, 1994b, 1995; Sparkes & Templin, 1992; Squires & Sparkes, 1996). While acknowledging the influence of this work, my approach to life history is more closely aligned with the 'socially theorized life history' used by Connell (1992) to study the construction of masculinity in gay men, an approach which extends beyond the unstructured narratives of individuals into a theoretical analysis of broader social structures. My approach was also based upon poststructural assumptions about experience, subjectivity and discourse rather than empiricist or standpoint epistemologies which have informed much lesbian (Lapovsky Kennedy, 1995; Lesbian Oral History Group, 1989; Sparkes, 1994a, 1994b, 1995; Squires & Sparkes, 1996; Sparkes & Templin, 1992) and educational (Middleton, 1993; Casey, 1993; Goodson & Walker, 1988; Knowles, 1991) life history research. Traditionally, life history research has relied upon an individualistic humanism which valorized the 'reality' of personal experience and the transparency of oral accounts, but some feminist and poststructuralist notions of language and subjectivity have begun to .challenge such assumptions. Several poststructural theorists (Clough, 1993; Davies, 1990, 1991 1992; Scott, 1992; Weedon, 1987, 1997) have developed different accounts of subjectivity and identity which are, of course, fundamental to all forms of oral research including life history. For instance, Chris Weedon (1987) sketched the poststructural relation between experience and language in the following way:  As we acquire language, we learn to give voice - meaning - to our experience and to understand it according to particidar  ways of thinking, particular discourses, which  pre-date our entry into language, (p. 33)  Thus the ways the women described their sexual identities was profoundly affected by the discourses about sexuality, such as 'dating' and 'the lesbian closet',  42  w h i c h were always already circulating within their families, schools and communities, and the poststructural task was to attend to how each w o m a n took up or resisted these discourses. Similarly, Joan Scott (1992) detailed h o w poststructuralism has altered the way historical research conceptualizes 'experience' as evidence:  from  one bent on 'naturalizing'  relationship analysis  between words and  experience things  — such as class, race, gender,  subjectivity,  agency, experience,  through  to ... how relations  even culture  a belief in the have categories  of production,  — achieved  unmediated of representation  biology,  their foundational  and  identity, status?  (p.  796)  Hence, one of the main purposes of this feminist postructuralist approach to life history is to represent the changing, hierarchical relations between 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual' within and between the lives of these six teachers. Interviewing Interviewing, as a method i n qualitative and feminist research, has traditionally been rooted i n a humanist notion of the individual — a sovereign subject who possesses knowledge which, if skillfully solicited, can be uncovered by the interviewer. In these approaches to interview research, the literal translation of talk has been equated with lived experience and its representation (Denzin, 1994). Methodological issues have focused on h o w to accurately represent the lived experience or 'reality'; how best to uncover the intended meanings of researched. Poststructuralism, firstly within literary theory, has started to challenge the humanist logic that separated author, text and reader. In literary theory, Roland Barthes' pronouncement that "the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author" (cited i n Biriotti, 1993: 3) marked a shift away from the  43  intentions of the author towards the response of the reader. M a n y have been skeptical of the poststructuralist hope that "the death of the author, an attack on the humanist subject, w i t h his implications i n racism, sexism and imperialism, can therefore be seen as part of a strategy of political liberation" (Biriotti, 1993: 4). Feminists such as Somir Brodribb (1992), Teresa Ebert (1996) and L i n d a Hutcheon (1989) raised concerns that the poststructuralist death of the author has been championed at a time when the voices of marginalized groups were just beginning to gain authority. The political fall-out they claim, has not been liberation of subjects experiencing racism, sexism and imperialism but, paradoxically, a well-disguised mechanism to re-silence and de-legitimize their claims to voice and authority. Feminist researchers have been concerned that turning away from the interviewee as sovereign subject and women's testimonies of experience has the potential to disempower women, and jeopardizes the political bite of the research. Biriotti (1993) pointed out that increasingly poststructuralism has directed attention neither at the intentions of the authors or readers, nor interviewees or ...interviewers but to the workings of texts themselves. Crudely translated into interviewing methodology, this indicated a shift from interpreting what interviewees meant to communicate, as authors of their o w n life histories, to representing the multiple interpretations available to the researcher and other readers. This has, i n turn, required the reconsideration of the humanist relations between individuals, experience and empowerment i n terms of subjectivity, texts and agency. Thus Chris Weedon asked, what if subjectivity is regarded i n terms of agency rather than sovereignty (cited i n Lather, 1992)? In the same discussion, Patti Lather framed the dilemma i n the following way:  44  While we are not the authors of the ways we understand things, while we are subjected to realms of meaning, we are involved in discursive  self-production where we attempt  to produce some coherence and continuity, (p. 102)  Janet Ransom (1993) responds i n a similar vein by suggesting that:  social and historical constitution of the subject is not a limit on women's agency but the precondition of loomen taking action. It is because, not in spite of, our embeddedness in discursive  practices that political action is possible, (p. 135)  What does this mean i n terms of life history methodology? For me the issue turns away from the discovery and representation of the women's experience to the ways i n which their experiences, and m y inquiry into their lives, have been constituted within social discourses. This, of course, includes our interviews and m y interpretations. The challenge,moves from accurately re-presenting the 'real' experiences of sexuality i n the lives of the women, towards cautious discursive analyses of h o w their stories, m y questions, transcripts, quotations, interpretations provide compelling 'understandings' and 'overstandings' 1 7 about female sexualities. The unfinished and partial nature of such poststructural inquiry was captured w e l l by N o r m a n Denzin (1994):  language and speech do not mirror experience; they create experience, and in the process of creation, constantly transform and defer that which is being described, (p. 296).  See detailed explanation in Chapter 3 'Understanding and Overstanding'.  45  I think this interminable process is crucial to poststructural methodology ~ requiring a tolerance for open-endedness, suspended judgement and ambiguity on the part of both researchers and readers.  Sampling M y Initial Letter of Contact (see A p p e n d i x 1) stated that I wished to interview female physical education teachers who had taught i n the public school system i n western Canada i n order to explore how changes i n ideas about gender and sexuality had affected the lives of women from different generations. I also stated that I wanted to talk to women who identified "as heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian, unmarried and married women, and women w h o w o u l d not use any of these labels to describe themselves" (see Appendix 1). N o explicit mention of women's racial or ethnic identities was made during this process w h i c h , i n hindsight, may have contributed to all participants being white, Euro-Canadian women. This limitation is discussed later i n the thesis. Six people recommended women w h o fit the criteria for participation and twenty one teachers were invited to participate. A n advertisement calling for women PE teachers was placed i n the G A L E BC (Gay and Lesbian Educators BC) newsletter for two months. I sent Letters of Initial Contact at different times to forestall the problem of too many women deciding to participate. This also allowed me to select participants with different ages. W o m e n were invited to take part i n 2 - 3 interviews of approximately one hour duration. A s it turned out, interviews lasted between 1 to 3 hours. This d i d not include informal discussions before and after the taped interview. These informal conversations were extremely valuable i n establishing rapport at first meetings, recapping what had been covered i n previous interviews. O n two occasions w o m e n talked about concerns over confidentiality w h e n the tape was not running. Four women were interviewed twice, two were interviewed three times. N o t all the data  46  from these interviews has been thoroughly exhausted i n the analysis. There are still areas w h i c h were covered that could be expanded. Nonetheless, the study w o u l d have undoubtedly benefited from third or fourth interviews after the majority of the data had been analyzed. The decision not to do so was partly because the analysis took over a year and re-establishing contact w i t h all the w o m e n after this time may have been difficult; partly, it was a purely practical decision based on research timelines. The purpose of working w i t h six w o m e n was to allow for comparison across generations of teachers w i t h differing sexual identities and, I think, qualifies marginally as a "group life history". A sample size of six was not intended to be exhaustive and much stronger claims about social trends and commonalties could be drawn if, as i n Connell's (1992) life history work w i t h gay men, groups of ten women i n each age group and each sexual identification had been involved. The decision to work w i t h six women only was partly pragmatic i n terms of balancing the quantity and quality of data to be analyzed. Nonetheless, commonalties i n themes 'Straight Families' and 'Dating Lessons' appeared i n all the women's life histories regardless of age or sexuality. These commonalties w o u l d not have been apparent or significant if the only w o m e n of the same age or lesbian w o m e n had been involved. A significant limitation was the lack of linguistic, ethnic, racial and sexual diversity among myself and the women involved i n the study. This was partly due to the use of the snowball method to contact participants, but I think also reflected the homogeneity of teachers w o r k i n g i n Canadian physical education. Selection on the basis of sexual identity involved a degree of serendipity. I had some a priori expectations about h o w each w o m a n identified her sexuality based on recommendations of other people and m y previous knowledge about them. I was introduced to M a r i o n through her grand-daughter who, i n turn, I met  47  via one of the participants. N o mention of her sexuality was made except obliquely as 'a grandmother' w h i c h may or may not have been intended to describe her as heterosexual. I had been told by mutual friends that Connie identified as heterosexual, although this was sometimes followed by comments that she was lesbian-positive w h i c h cast her heterosexuality into some doubt. A lesbian contact told me assuredly that Bethany was "straight but liberal-minded". Denise had been identified as an older lesbian teacher by two other people w i t h i n her school system. I knew Jenny at graduate school prior to the research, and we were both out as lesbians to one another. Lisa volunteered to participate i n response to the Initial Letter of Contact sent to teachers within the Vancouver School Board so I had no advance ideas about her sexuality prior to our first interview. I d i d not identify myself as a 'lesbian researcher' w h e n contacting participants and my decision not to do so was based on an intuition that some women, especially those who might be unfamiliar w i t h or homophobic towards lesbian women, w o u l d be less likely to volunteer. This is less an issue of deception than a political decision based on conducting research about a heterocentric teaching profession. Equally, I was not out as a lesbian to all the women at the beginning of the research. Jayati L a i (1996) spoke directly to the significance of this:  Identity  is not a useful site for  the exploration  situation  because one is constantly  research  interactions  to become an insider  and  being situated  the macropolitics  is to demand  of one's positioning  in the  research  into it by the micropolitics  of social  that she transcend  inequality.  To expect a  these politics,  (p.  of the researcher  197)  While I d i d not simply establish insiderism w i t h the lesbian women, all m y interview relationships were influenced by the nuances of coming out (or staying in) the closet. Some interviews began w i t h one of us inside the 'closet', as it were,  48  and our processes of coming out were very different. Uncertainty, hesitancy, trust and mis-trust colored different moments in the interviews, and the women's hopes and doubts about m y ability to accurately hear and understand what they were saying undoubtedly fluctuated. One of the most surprising and instructive moments for me as researcher occurred early in my first interview w i t h Lisa. I arrived on time, obsessively punctual as always, at Lisa's house for our first interview one weekday evening after she had returned home from teaching. After greeting me at the front door she led me into the sitting room, where a w o m a n w h o looked the same age was intently watching 'Hockey N i g h t i n Canada'. We briefly exchanged first names and some scathing remarks about the Vancouver Canucks' losing performance, then I followed Lisa into the kitchen to set up for our interview wondering to myself what the relationship between these two women was — I found out sooner than expected. We started the interview talking about demographics; w h y Lisa had chosen physical education; some of her early memories about physical education as a student, and had begun to discuss the gendered relations i n the PE department where she currently taught. I used the words 'sexuality' and 'homophobia' for the first time in a question w h i c h I hoped w o u l d gradually move our general discussion of sexism towards her opinions about homophobia and heterosexism. A s y o u can see from the transcript below, Lisa interrupted her descriptions of her school, colleagues and students to state "for the record" that she was lesbian.  Heather:  Mhm yeah. Um  how do you see issues of sexuality and homophobia  coming through? Lisa: Heather:  Mmmm  God  .from  Any....any.  49  the students'  perspective  or  ?  Lisa:  Well, for nm  one thing  it's  I like the school that I'm  very open  um  at. I  mean....there's  when I went there last year. Well I might  as well tell you for the record anyway that I am a lesbian....but there  er.  open. And  are. they're  there's  a group  of teachers  that are,  open to the other staff members.  open to any of the  I'm  and  they're  not saying  very  they're  students.  I v i v i d l y remember h o w m y cheeks flushed magenta as embarrassment poured over me when Lisa made this coming out statement for the record. A t the time I was at a loss to explain my reaction — I could barely remember the last time I had blushed at the typically pleasurable process of a w o m a n coming out to me. M y reaction seemed inexplicable at the time and I rehearse it now, not purely as a methodological confession, but to draw attention to the sometimes irrational, unpredictable side of interviewing and the difficulty of negotiating the 'closet'. In retrospect, my embarrassment was caused by the way Lisa took the initiative to tell me, instead of being asked, about her sexuality. This clashed w i t h m y intentions to gently provide openings, to hint at, set the scene for each of us to come out. This was made 'worse' by my sense of having read the situation poorly and, maybe, of being perceived as homophobic i n taking so long to ask her directly. This incident taught me early on that the assumption that being a lesbian researcher w o u l d lead to 'insiderism' w i t h other lesbians i n the study were misguided at best. A s Diane Wolf (1996) already knew:  assumptions identification  about understandings  as members of an oppressed  the ethnographer's empathize,  that arise from...having  (p.  personality,  openness,  17)  50  group  overlook  willingness  some kind of mutual or perhaps  to listen,  and  skirt ability  self-  the issue of to  Jenny frequently spoke to me as a lesbian insider — as one w h o knows. Indeed, there were times when I felt I 'intuitively' understood, even could anticipate, what she was telling me. For instance, as Jenny was explaining her initiation by 'The Goddess Kelly' I remembered a week I spent w i t h a lover i n a similar summer camp i n Vermont. But i n the second interview, as we talked about this incident again Jenny's account began to digress from the story I anticipated. Jenny talked about unrequited desire where I had assumed it had been fulfilled, about an unanticipated 'menage a trois' w h i c h surprised me. Thus, I oscillated between insiderism and surprise w i t h Jenny. W i t h the other women, there were far fewer moments of what might be called 'insiderism'. To this day, I'm not sure whether M a r i o n thought, suspected or 'knew' that I was lesbian and we never openly discussed this. So m u c h of our communication remained well inside the boundaries of normal conversation — polite, scripted, conversational. There were occasional moments of tension, but we both quickly brought the talk 'back into line'. It felt to me as if progress towards using terms like 'lesbian', 'gay' 'homosexual' and 'homophobia' i n m y interviews w i t h M a r i o n w o u l d be made if I followed her script — a script w h i c h was frustrating and demanded patience. Throughout our interviews I tried not to offend, shock, press too hard; to listen, follow, be led; to empathize, relate to and understand; to use the words M a r i o n used. I was painfully aware of how we negotiated sexual identity d u r i n g the interviews, but only i n retrospect have I become aware of a different type of identity negotiation. There were few moments i n the interviews when we talked about racism, and even fewer when we talked about becoming and being 'white' w o m e n — arguably, as much was communicated through our silences about racialization as was communicated through the discussions themselves. The limited extent to  51  w h i c h we talked about race, racism and anti-racism was partly due to m y interview focus on sexuality, although a more insidious reason was our unwitting duplicity as White women not to talk about issues of race. Indeed, as Frankenburg so clearly stated, "white women's lives are affected by racism, but frequently i n ways that simultaneously conceal or normalize race privilege from the standpoint of its beneficiaries" (Frankenburg, 1993: 161), and the absence of talk about race or racism in the interviews concealed the privileged subject positions we occupied as white w o m e n w h o could narrate and listen to life histories filled w i t h references to sexism, directed towards issues of heterosexism but only very occasionally making reference to racism and Eurocentrism.  1 8  Moreover, almost all of the talk about race focused on 'immigrants', 'Asian', 'Black', 'Native' and 'racists'. For example, Lisa mentioned that there was "no other racial group" i n her hometown during the 1970s without specifying what the racial group of the town was, leaving the normative assumption that the population was ostensibly 'white'. Indeed, this talk about the Other was also observed by Ruth Frankenburg (1993) i n her life history w o r k w i t h white women i n the US. She adroitly pointed out how "Whiteness and Americanness seemed comprehensible to many only by reference to the Others excluded from these categories" (p. 17). There were only two occasions i n this study when 'whiteness' was mentioned, illustrating powerfully how white racial identity (and its normative, privileged position) was constructed through differance, as the absent presence i n most talk about race and racism.  M y use of the term 'white' is intended to, in part, counteract the normative process at work when only the racial identities of women of colour are noted. One of the central features of white privilege is not to 'see', discuss or research its own operation. Therefore, another purpose in repeatedly naming the narrators and myself as white women is to mark the text as a 'white' text, to deliberately invite anti-racist criticism as part of the process of becoming accountable for the operation of my white privilege in the construction of the text and conduct of the research. i y  52  Transcription I anticipated transcribing to be a mechanical, laborious task; yet sitting d o w n to transcribe my first interview I was faced w i t h a series of decisions. H o w w o u l d I cope w i t h overlapping voices, emotions and intonations; w o u l d I include laughs, sighs and sneezes; h o w w o u l d I arrange the voices into speaking turns, intonation units, events and so on? I developed a protocol based on linguistics and ethnographic literature concerning transcription (Edwards, 1993; Mishler, 1991; Moerman, 1988). I decided to use only the most basic unit of sequencing, the speaking turn (Gumperz & Berenz, 1993), whereby paragraphs are used only at the end of a period of speech by one person. D r a w i n g on Edwards (1993), overlapping speech was accommodated into the vertical spatial arrangement of speaker's turns; words were separated using a single space, to preserve the readability of the transcript and pauses were represented by a series of periods that approximated the length of pause; accentuated words were capitalized; and laughs and sighs were noted i n italicized parentheses i n the running text. M o r e specific intonation units and prosodic features were excluded as these have more relevance for linguistic analysis, and I thought they w o u l d detract from the readability of my transcripts.  Heather:  Um you  maybe you call yourself  yourself Connie:  a  could retrace your steps not as a teacher,  a feminist,  as a feminist  feminist?  er....When  YES....yes...yes  How did  did it....Do  that first  you  if  call  start?..YES  (laugh)  YES  (both  laugh). Er. like  Well  the  point  sort of your first  laugh)....probably me the first  I could  articulate  orgasm that you really [  taking  couple of  where  Women's  Studies  sounds  ] (both  courses at Queens.,  courses I took it was truly  53  ?  (laugh)  because  like someone had  for  taken  this cloudy Windex That's and  glass that I seen my  whole life in and  and wiped it clean and I went "Holy fuck! what it was like. And  wider  and  then I just wanted  they simply You gotta be  sprayed kidding".  to open that window  wider  wider  The protocol I decided upon omitted many microscopic features. I decided that marking intonations or clocking the length of pauses w o u l d make the types of discourse analysis I intended to use more rigorous. A s Mishler (1991) noted, transcription is not a straightforward task of capturing the transparent 'reality' of speech but it is a critical step i n the transformation of speech into a representation — transformation that could lead to many different representations. O n l y i n the last draft of the manuscript, after the interpretations had been all but finalized, were many pauses (  ) and extraneous words (Yes....yes  yes  Er  Well....)  removed to make the quotes more readable. Being re-immersed i n the interview during the transcription altered m y perceptions quite dramatically at times. I recall leaving one of the very first interviews feeling unsettled, almost upset for two days afterwards. Although I have never really identified specific reasons for this unsettled feeling, it partly arose from my anticipating or desiring responses and opinions that the interviewee didn't provide accompanied by a sense of disagreement that I hadn't anticipated. The traumas of a neophyte interviewer! When I transcribed this particular interview, however, my feelings of disappointment evaporated to reveal some wonderful statements of courage that I had been unable to hear during the interview. T w o things occurred to me as a result of this. Firstly, that the person interviewed d i d not go through a similar process of 're-living' the interview. Secondly, I was painfully aware of questions that could have been asked if I had been able to hear i n the interview what I later heard during the transcription.  54  A s for the technical aspects of analyzing the transcripts, once I had selected episodes from the transcripts which, i n a very general sense, related to a theme I cut and pasted them from the 'transcript' file into a new 'thematic' file. This was done on Microsoft W o r d 5.1 because I was familiar w i t h the program and felt that a qualitative software program such as HyperCard or N U . D I S T w o u l d be too time consuming and provide insufficient flexibility. Interviews were initially transcribed using original names for people and places. Pseudonyms were then inserted into a second copy of the transcript w h i c h was then returned to the narrator. A l l place and personal names were changed, including names of universities and of course schools. Place names were generally altered to fictious names (e.g. Bretonnaire) and city names interchanged w i t h nearby city names, (e.g. Edmonton was altered to Calgary or Saskatoon). In most cases, the city name 'Vancouver' was not changed because anonymity of the w o m e n was not risked, due to the number of schools i n the city, and relevant geographical details w o u l d have been omitted. A list of original names and pseudonyms was kept secure w i t h the original transcripts. N o original names or transcripts were kept on floppy or hard disc files. Narrators were asked to read the transcripts, change the pseudonyms and mark anything they wanted altered or deleted. The six w o m e n responded to their transcripts w i t h varying degrees of detail which was, i n turn, connected to their differing opinions about anonymity. T w o w o m e n said at the interview that they didn't particularly care if pseudonyms were used and made minimal or no alterations to their transcripts. Three were concerned that their names and schools not be identified, but accepted the pseudonyms I suggested. W i t h one narrator, I went through a lengthy process of editing the transcript and altering the pseudonyms several times. This process began w h e n the narrator returned the transcript of her first interview to me w i t h lengthy sections deleted and many  55  grammatical corrections. A t our second interview we agreed to retain the conversational speech of our interviews rather than strive for written grammatical correctness; however, the narrator insisted that strong language and swear words should still be toned d o w n . For example, 'it was a hell of a trip' was changed to 'it was a very challenging trip' and 'Holy Fuck!' changed to 'Wow!'. O n one hand, these were difficult changes for me to make because they fundamentally altered the language and meaning of the interview. O n the other hand, the changes stemmed from the narrators' deep concern about how anonymous her interview could be made merely by using pseudonyms, and so she wanted to remove anything potentially incriminating or contentious i n case the transcript was traced back to her. G i v e n the political struggles and school climate this teacher worked i n , these concerns were quite understandable. Eventually, we edited each transcript twice instead of once and spoke at length about the compromises and alterations. Discourse Analysis  Lift! D i g in, dig deeper. Bin, sort, chunk, Shape, w i n n o w , layer, weave, Lift! D i g in, dig deeper. Push into it, p u l l it apart, Probe, and Lift!  Poem by Joan Zaleski (cited i n Ely, V i n z , A n z u l & Downing, 1997: 162) 56  Steinar Kvale (1995) outlined five approaches to analyzing interviews. In the beginning I used 'condensation' analysis to identify themes. Dissatisfaction w i t h these early interpretations led me to try 'narrative' analysis, w i t h equally unsatisfying results. Eventually I combined several types of discourse analysis w h i c h are discussed in detail at the end of this chapter. Using Kvale's terms, I used both 'condensation' and 'interpretation' approaches i n my analysis; however, during the course of the analysis I came to conceptualize these as 'understanding' and 'overstanding' the interview texts. W i t h i n this dual approach, I analyzed the transcripts at a micro-level using speech act theory and deconstruction and at a social level using positioning theory and institutional discourses. In addition, I attempted to incorporate a psychoanalytic and poststructuralist, rather than humanist, theory of subjectivity. Selecting the method of analysis was by no means straightforward, as the following account w i l l show. After transcribing the interviews, I danced w i t h a couple of analytic partners before taking a flying intuitive leap into interpretation analysis. (See table below.)  57  Approaches to Analysis of Meaning  Interview Text  Outcome of Analysis  Condensation:  Categorization: +/-  1-2-3-4-5-6-7 Narrative:  Start -> Goal Enemies > Hero < Helpers Interpretation:  h/- 1-2-3-4-5-6 -7  A d hoc:  (Kvale, 1995: 191) Condensation analysis When I first started m y analysis I attempted to condense the interview data into a number of key themes w h i c h I then intended to base m y analysis upon. Here's m y first set of themes, sketched on a scrap of paper i n m y local coffee shop during the early days of w o r k i n g w i t h the transcripts:  58  INSTITUTIONAL DISCOURSES Essentialism  Racism  &  Religion  Law  Feminisms  Lesbian  natural changes in racism of reproduction & parents generation mothering  living-insin divorce  individual privacy  either lesbian or heterosexual  lesbian monogamy  protection from employment discrimination  liberal feminist access & equality in sport pedagogies epiphanies  silence & closet bookstores & media coming Out teams sport Gay Games  Heterosexism  urban resurgence of anti-Asian racism over homophobia  I managed to get through a grand total of three transcripts, thoughtfully coding sections as 'essentialism', 'religion', 'feminisms' and so on but I realized that merely naming the themes, applying a coding label was far too pre-emptive for me. A l t h o u g h an episode i n the interview may seem to relate to 'feminism', I knew I might also return to it i n 'lesbian' or 'essentialism'. It seemed as though the themes and codes were pre-empting the directions i n w h i c h m y interpretations might follow — coding felt like foreclosure. Condensation analysis or coding could be described as a method which aims to "understand" (Culler cited i n Eco, 1992) interviews. Codes are marked, albeit tentatively, i n response to themes, stories, episodes i n the transcript which are obvious, significant, raise key issues. For instance, I marked this quote from Jenny's interview as ' L E S B I A N ' w i t h a.subtheme ' C O M I N G O U T ' . A s you read the transcript these seem to be quite obvious themes. (See excerpt from transcript below.)  59  H:  J:  H:  Yeah um when you were kind of in your later grades and thinking about being a phys ed teacher were there any particular phys ed teachers who encouraged you? Mmmhhh....Yeah I it's....when I think back on the PE department at my high school, there were I guess probably five, maybe six, full-time PE teachers and er....all but one of them, who I had very little to do with I never had him, were I think all really influential because of the coaching they did. And I had a lot of involvement with the PE department, I was the Athletic what did they call me?....what did they call me? Head of the Athletic Council or something? A n d I..I was representative for a Leadership Camp in the summer that the Ontario government ran for high school students, so..I had....I had really good relations with all of them, but there was one teacher in particular in who I really just thought was great. And her name was Miss Morris, and she did gymnastics. And she was SO N E A T because I never image of my body was not that of a gymnast. And she saw that I was very strong, and I didn't have a lot of fear so she got me up for gymnastics....And I just loved it. I kept jumping and doing flips, and she had me doing stuff I never thought I could do. And she was just...she was young, you know, and very vibrant and I still remember her, she was just...everyone loved her, well not everyone but she was just er people who liked sports anyway. Yeah, so she was probably the most. A n d Mr Richards, the PE department head, in his own grumpy way, you know...we knew that he loved us, deep down, and they just You know, they really encouraged us. And there was lots of money then for sports... So there was Mr Richards, Miss Morris and who were the others?  Theme: COMING OUT Sub-Theme: SAME-SEX DESIRE IN A D O L E S C E N C E [lines 66-73]  C o d i n g this section as ' C O M I N G O U T ' foreclosed other potential ways this Passage could be interpreted, risked fixing the content of the story, but at the same time was quite coherent w i t h Jenny's apparent meaning. The story appeared to invite analysis i n terms of 'coming out'. What was not apparent, or i n Derridean terms, present i n the transcript were the questions which queer theory might ask. But beyond codes such as ' H E T E R O N O R M A T I V E ' and ' L E S B I A N R E S I S T A N C E ' I couldn't frame themes of absence, silence and secrets at this stage. I was unable to start "overstanding" the transcript using a process of coding or condensation analysis.  60  Narrative analysis A t this time, I was motivated by Laurel Richardson's (1992) ethnographic poem "Louisa May's Story of Her Life" to look for primary themes or motifs running through each woman's life histories. Maybe the primary motif w i t h i n each i n d i v i d u a l life history could illustrate the institutional discourses? Returning to m y coffee shop, I sketched another possible framework...  INSTITUTIONAL DISCOURSES SPORT  DENISE: Teams of Silence  LAW  FEMINISM  CONNIE: Activist Teacher BETHANY: Becoming Single  LESBIAN  ESSENTIALISM  LIFE HISTORY MOTIFS LISA: Coming Out  RELIGION  RACISM  MARION: Marriage  JENNY: Travels to/from Home  ...and then wrote three short life histories w h i c h were structured around a motif w h i c h was frequently 'present' i n the woman's stories. (See A p p e n d i x 2 for Jenny's 'Travels T o / F r o m ' narrative). These life history motifs presented two problems. Firstly there was no straightforward correspondence — no 'good fit' — between the individual motifs and the broader social discourses, as the empty columns i n the previous diagram show. None of the narratives illustrated the institutional discourses of law, essentialism and racism I had coded earlier. Secondly, the narratives re-presented events i n chronological order even though the stories had been told i n different sequence as the women traveled forward and back i n time during the interviews. M y coming out narratives of the three lesbian women followed what K e n Plummer (1995) described as the modernist plot of a voyage of discovery to a true inner self. Elliot Mishler (1995) distinguished  61  this type of narrative analysis as "reconstructing the told i n the telling" and I was sensitive to his warning that such narratives suppress the problematic relation between the order i n w h i c h events took place and the order of their telling i n the interview. H e noted that "adopting this realist perspective, researchers tend to privilege the 'real' sequence of events, giving it an objectivity independent of language" (p. 92). These chronological narratives ignored a poststructural focus on how the telling of stories was intimately connected to the re-construction of our notions of sexuality. By reordering the women's stories as narratives of coming out I was rehearsing a familiar plot w h i c h has been empowering for individuals and persuasive w i t h i n identity politics, but w h i c h was nonetheless a rehearsal, a reiteration and a repetition. To resist this modernist plot and write more fluid poststructural narratives it seemed that I w o u l d have to move away from organizing narratives chronologically according to 'real' time. Writing separate narratives for each w o m a n was problematic i n two ways. O n one hand, i n d i v i d u a l narratives produced a significant opposition between the women's identities as 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual'. O n the other hand, writing separate narratives for each woman inscribed discrete textual boundaries around each of the women. This introduced a fundamental structure i n w h i c h each w o m a n was textually represented as a unitary whole, discrete and separable from the texts of other w o m e n and m y analysis. A g a i n this suppressed the poststructural notion of individuals being embedded within and constituted through discourse, w h i c h ultimately led to m y decision to structure m y analysis around themes i n w h i c h the women w o u l d be 'embedded'. This seemed to be a more open acknowledgment of the power (maybe tyranny) of the ways texts constitute subjectivities, rather than romanticizing m y textual representations of the w o m e n as somehow more 'real' and less 'textual'.  62  The problems of a chronological sequence, fixing the lesbian/heterosexual binary and emphasizing individuals as unitary w h i c h emerged i n these modernist narratives didn't bring me closer to developing a poststructural, fluid, open-ended analysis. After three weeks of trying to dance with what appeared to be an ethnographic avant-garde, I was deeply unsatisfied and so I moved on yet again. Understanding and Overstanding M y decision to use both condensation and interpretive analysis (Kvale, 1995) was borne from conflicts between the methodological literature about feminist/lesbian life history and theoretical literature of poststructuralist/queer theories. I was painfully aware that not foregrounding the women's stories 'as they were told' risked subjecting the women to textual erasure and silencing, and yet my previous attempts to do this were problematic on poststructural and queer grounds. Equally, I have struggled to avoid the anti-feminism of some queer theories and political nihilism of the most skeptical versions of poststructuralism. A s a result I adopted a pragmatic 'feminist-queer' approach w h i c h had more than one purpose driving the analysis. I wanted to 'understand' and' overstand', to listen to stories and silences. Umberto Eco argued that "we can, and do, recognize overinterpretation of a text without necessarily being able to prove the right one, or even clinging to the belief that there must be one right reading" (Collini cited i n Eco, 1992: 9). 1 9 For me, this meant considering the women's accounts i n ways w h i c h they might have intended but, at other times, using queer theory to deconstruct the 'surface calm of meaning' (Sanger, 1995: 91). So at times, I represented the 'active voices' of the women by using verbatim quotations to allow y o u , the reader, to create a 'realist'  i y Various positions on the limits of interpretation were laid out in Interpretation and Overinterpretation (Eco, 1992), a fascinating debate between semiotician Umberto Eco, pragmatist philosopher Richard Rorty, and postmodern literary critics Jonathon Culler and Christine BrookeRose.  63  reading if desired. I also wrote queer deconstructive interpretations w i t h the explicit intention of disrupting these 'realist' meanings. This led me to a paradox i n poststructural interviewing caputured well by Steinar Kvale (1995) w h o asked whether the purpose of interpretation is to get at the author's  intended  meaning  or does it concern the meaning  the  text has for  us  today?  Rather than seeking resolution, this thesis is precariously balanced i n the dubious space between the horns of this dilemma, resulting i n two different forms of analysis. In chapters 3, 4 and 5 data have been represented as a series of themes, as suggested by Smith (1993), rather than chronological life histories. The themes emerged from how each w o m a n talked about issues and memories, and how these narratives relate to institutional discourses such as families, feminism, racism and so forth. M y use of the term 'Location' refers to the positioning of each w o m a n within these discourses. Broadly speaking, I analysed the interview transcripts to suggest ways i n which each w o m a n positioned herself i n relation to the categories of 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual'. Extending the analysis beyond the actual transcripts, I then suggested how these subject positions might have acquired their status as coherent and core elements of i n d i v i d u a l subjectivity; as political realities through the institutional discourses of women's sport, lesbian and feminist urban communities, feminisms, physical education to name a few; and h o w the silences and unsaid suggested meaning using psychoanalytic and deconstructive theories.  INSTITUTIONAL DISCOURSES Straight  Dating  Lesbian  Re-living  Silences  Shadows  Feminist  Families  Lessons  Encounters  Sexisms  of  of  Generations  Straightness  Whiteness  64  Kvale (1995) described how interpretation analysis allows "the interpreter goes beyond what is directly said to w o r k out the structures and relations of meaning not immediately apparent i n the text" (p. 201). This approach has been problematic for many life historians, methodologists and literary critics, not the least of w h o m was semiotician Umberto Eco (1992) w h o argued that overinterpretation occurs when the textual coherence of a text is not maintained i n its interpretation. But, if we adopt this criteria of textual coherence, we need to ask what happens to interpretations that seek out the moments and memories w h i c h do not seem to fit? A n alternative approach is Jonathan Culler's (1992) d i s t i n c t i o n 2 0 between  understanding w h i c h asks questions the text insists upon and overstanding w h i c h asks questions the text does not pose. A s Culler explains, overstanding "asks not what the work has i n mind but what it forgets, not what it says but what it takes for granted" (cited in Eco, 1992: 115). Accordingly I directed analysis i n Chapter 5 towards themes not immediately apparent i n the interviews or i n m y earlier interpretation of them. For example, exploring what the preceding analysis d i d not include led to queer speculations about heterosexualities i n relation to the lesbian closet, the lesbian gaze i n single-sex teaching contexts, and the lesbian eroticism i n pedagogy. 'Condensation analysis' and 'interpretation analysis' expressed the different interpretative pulls within m y analyses and, to this extent, these heuristics helped me re-focus when I was mired i n the rich muddiness of the data. Since then, w i t h much needed personal distance, I have been able to reflect on more detailed tensions embedded within my feminist-queer poststructuralist approach to life history.  ^ u Culler's (1992) use of understanding and overstanding draws directly on the distinction first made by Booth in 1979.  65  The analysis produced i n this study has justified a feminist poststructuralist approach to life history. Poststructural feminists like Scott (1992), Davis (1991, 1990) and Weedon (1997) regard the hybridity between feminisms and poststructuralism as central to theorizing the 'subject' and 'experience' i n life history. Indeed, as Ruth Roach-Pierson (1991) reminded feminist historians, "it has, after all, never been the job of the historian only to reclaim voices. That w o u l d result i n naive empiricism. N o , the task has been equally, and just as importantly, to contexualize the i n d i v i d u a l voices, to reconstitute the 'discursive' w o r l d w h i c h the 'subjects' inhabited and were shaped by" (p. 94). This life history research started w i t h similar hopes although I attempted to incorporate poststructural assumptions about identity and queer theory of sexuality alongside feminist life history methodology. A major tension arose because the research aimed to incorporate a poststructural theory of subjectivity into feminist life history, yet poststructuralist notions of the subject have been challenged on several fronts by feminist and materialist critics. The same can be said for the queer theory informing this study. So, what are the implications of attempting life history from a feminist-queer poststructuralist framework? W h i c h aspects of poststructuralism can be justified; h o w has poststructuralism intersected w i t h other theories; and w h e n was poststructuralism unable to provide the most compelling analysis? To respond to these issues it has been necessary to reflect on how m y analysis occupied a theoretical space between several poststructural, feminist, and queer theories. The w o m e n talked about their lives and sexualities at different levels, sometimes recounting momentary incidents, sometimes reflecting i n more general terms. A s a result I sometimes focused on very specific moments, both i n the interviews and i n the lives of the w o m e n — I came to regard these as 'flashpoints' of meaning. Equally, I wanted a broader social analysis of sexualities i n these women's lives, an analysis which stretched across the different generations of women.  66  Kamler, Comber and Cook (1997) observed that i n many types of discourse analysis there is currently a good deal of interest i n the way researchers move between broad social formations and micro-textual analytic work. The next section details the types of analysis I used, and the theoretical tensions surrounding their use. I focused both on what was said i n the interviews, what was permissable to talk about i n the normative discourses of the time and on the silences about sexuality w h i c h often carried a great deal of significance. The following diagram is no more than a tidy schematic — the analysis itself entailed messy overlaps and connections. (See diagram below.)  67  SPEECH  SILENCE  UNDERSTANDING  OVERSTANDING  asks questions the data insists upon  asks questions the data does not pose  SOCIAL-LEVEL  TEXTUAL-LEVEL  SOCIAL-LEVEL  TEXTUAL-LEVEL  positioning  speech act  social  deconstruction  theory  theory  unconscious  Discourse analysis occurred at the micro-level of words using speech act theory and deconstruction; at the social level using positioning theory. Analysis aimed to understand common, historical themes across the women's lives and to overstand how silences shaped the unsaid otherness of their stories. Analysis revealed how the historical context normalized the type of lesbian and straight identities these teachers could take up while also unsettling this process of normalization. I must admit, however, that tensions between these approaches became almost palpable at times during the interpretive process. The example below illustrates w h y women's narratives warranted the use of different types of discourse analysis. Lesbian Encounters This section outlines how the w o m e n encountered 'lesbian'. Briefly, the three lesbian-identified women talked at length about coming out, meeting lesbians and searching for lesbian community. In contrast, the three heterosexual w o m e n talked i n much less detail about their encounters w i t h lesbians and lesbian stereotypes.  68  The following demographics are included to assist the reader to identify the six teachers i n the themes w h i c h follow: Pseudonym  Identified as  Age  Entered P E profession  Marion  'married'  70  1962  Denise  'lesbian'  59  1956  Bethany  'heterosexual'  49  1968  Connie  'heterosexual'  40  1976  Jenny  'lesbian'  37  1977  Lisa  'lesbian'  29  1990  Thank G o d somebody told me! Jenny reminisced about the summer of 1986 when, i n her early twenties, she had just completed her undergraduate degree at a university i n Ontario. Immediately after graduating she went to teach outdoor education at a private summer camp i n N e w Hampshire — a journey w h i c h was going to change the course of her life.  There's  a lot of arts at this camp and a lot of free-spirits.  this one woman postcards.  Sonya.  So off she goes on her out-trip  and keeps sending  So about the end of July ive're doing a switch  some are coming, Camp Director] and wonder  and toe have this big celebration.  I got to be good friends  with  all these  over, some kids are going  I was chatting  and said that I got all these postcards from  Sonya,  with  Kelly  and it's just  where she is now and I can't believe she has that much time to  and  [The great,  write.  Kelly kind of put her arm around me and she said, "Do you know why she's sending all those postcards?  Cos she's really interested  69  in  you."  you  And  I'm like, "What do you mean?"  She said, "Well, Sonya's a lesbian and I probably think you are too. And Sonya is very interested And  in you."  I remember  thinking  "Ooohhhhhh...."  The narrative crystallized around one phrase w h i c h carried exceptional illocutionary force — w h e n Kelly declared that 'Well, Sonya's a lesbian and I probably think y o u are too'. This phrase served as a powerful speech act. It served to 'speak into existence' Jenny as a lesbian, to be hailed b y Kelly, to interpellate her into the possibility of becoming lesbian. 2 1 The implications for this d i d not fall into place immediately, but later she described the profound importance of this conversation.  Like, how did I not figure  this out? I can't believe that somebody else had to tell me,  but tuhen I think back on it was just so out of my realm of experience.  It wasn't  I had heard about gay people negatively,  the only person in  the zuorld zuho didn't  I just hadn't!  have a sexual experience  until  I'm probably  they were in their late  even that  twenties!  There are two reasons why "I think" may not appear to be a clear example of Austin's performatives such as "I do", "I bet", "I solemnly swear" which complicates this analysis initially. Firstly, Kelly's statement did not occur within an immediately recognizable social convention, such as a wedding or courtroom. Clearly, the convention in which Jenny and Kelly spoke was not strictly governed in the same way as a marriage ceremony or trial but their conversation took place within a collegial female friendship. The conventions governing this conversation become more obvious when contrasted to the conversations that could happen between, say, teacher and student, husband and wife, lawyer and client -- obviously the illocutionary force of the phrase "I probably think you are a lesbian" would be quite different in each of these contexts. Nonetheless the speaker, Kelly, had authority which lent force to the statement because she was out as lesbian to Jenny, and in the broader context of the camp. Secondly, "I think" does not immediately give rise to a clear action, whereas to say "I bet" gives rise to the bet at the moment of speaking. This distinction between descriptive/constative and performative acts is central to, yet subject to slippage in, speech act theory. Again Sandy Petrey (1990) tackled this dilemma with great insight, explaining that the constative/performative distinction cannot last, and one consequence is that "the illocutionary force borne by words is always also a relationship lived by people" (p. 26).  70  The fact that Jenny referred to this incident several times during her life history reinforced 2 2 h o w powerful it was for her. B r o n w y n Davies (1992) outlined w i t h great simplicity how stories are a central to the constitution of subjectivity, writing that "who I am potentially shifts w i t h each speaking, each moment of being positioned within this or that discourse i n this or that way" (p. 57). Certainly i n Jenny's case, w h o she was shifted dramatically when the camp director said "Sonya's a lesbian and I think y o u are too". A l l of a sudden, Jenny encountered the possibility that women could be more than merely 'free spirits', they could be 'lesbian'. N o wonder she later described the camp director as "The Goddess Kelly"! In 1986, after finishing her B E d , Jenny taught i n A o t e a r o a / N e w Zealand for a year i n what she described as "the most conservative town i n the w o r l d " .  Neiv Zealand community  is a pretty  although  repressed  my impression  country  although  of it is mostly  there was a pretty centered in Auckland  Island. I was way down at the south end of the south ...One of the reasons I left, and it certainly be there in that town knowing probably  wasn't  that I had ZERO  want to have a relationship  with.  And  strong in the  women's North  island...  the only one, was that I just chance of meeting  anybody  coiddn't  that I'd  if I did how could you possibly  conduct  one there?  ^ The repetition of speech acts within life histories has implications for poststructural theories of reiterability which are beyond the scope of this study. I shall merely intimate where this line of thinking could lead. Building on her earlier notion of gender as an imitative performance which is forced into endless repetitions, in Bodies That Matter Butler (1993a) clarified that performativity depends not on the "act by which a subject brings in to being what she/he names, but, rather, as that reiterative power of discourse to produce the phenomena that it regulates and constrains" (p. 2). It is this notion of reiterability which is central to a poststructural usage of speech act theory. The Derridean notion of iterability, formulated in response to the theorization of speech acts by John Searle and J. L. Austin, also implies that every act is itself a recitation, the citing of a prior chain of acts which are implied in a present act and which perpetually drain any 'present' act of its presentness (Butler, 1993a: 244).  71  O n her return, Jenny spent time i n Ottawa and then Vancouver trying to find lesbian communities by visiting women's bookstores, reading lesbian/gay newspapers like Angles or Xtra-West, attending Women's events such as the Take Back The Night March, and volunteering for the G a y Games but repeatedly found that "there wasn't much to break i n to".  J sort of looked for ways to find this funny  little cafe, I don't  the lesbian community  and it  it's  there. And  there's  remember even what it was called , so I kind of would  wander in there and sort of figure  out how to meet people. I'm not a club person, you  know, I'm not a..I can't just go and hang out in a bar  7 zuent to the Take Back The Night that sort of time who I really  march and this and that, and a....a woman  became friends  with...actually,  bookstore. But you know, that led to other things. And Coast Mountain do stuff..and  Sports so  then I went though a...period started  to connect  with  then I ivas working  you have this time, you're  have this time when you're where I just wasn't  she works  meeting  who ai  here at the part time at  all these people,  you  not sure if it's going to last. And seeing anybody.  And  then I really  people.  I'd go to the Lotus once or twice. Yeah and even/time this? Even if I met anyone here, I wouldn't like these places, you know. And  have anything  I went to Flygirl  thought forget  it, I just have to do the things  is EXACTLY  what  happened  72  I went, I thought  why am I doing  in common with them. I don't  with a couple of my friends, and I  I like to do and I'll meet somebody.  Which  Y o u don't have to put a label on it Denise remembered very little open discussion about w h o was or wasn't gay during thirty five years playing and coaching basketball and softball. She recalled that "her first indication that there was anyone else i n the w o r l d w i t h the same feelings as she had" came i n 1957 playing softball. In those days, w e l l before homosexuality was decriminalized i n C a n a d a , 2 3 she learned about sexual relations between women primarily by observing how and where w o m e n socialized after practices, games and competitions.  We went to the Championships  down in the States. All the teams zuere in one hotel and  there was a room set aside for socializing.  One night ive decided to go up there. So we  went up to the eighth floor and some women were dancing a double take. And it was interesting  and I kind of went in and did  because, like I said, now um ....I see lots of the  people I played ball with then and I'd say sixty percent at least were gay and yet none of our team stayed around. (Laughing)  We just went up there, had a look around  and went back! Went back to our rooms, we didn't  and left  know.  For much of her adult life homosexuality had not been openly discussed at home, work or sports. She explained h o w 'the times' affected what could and could not be talked about:  ^ In 1955 the American judiciary recommended the legalization of all consensual sex between adults (Harbeck, 1992). In the U.K. the decriminalization of homosexual acts was pioneered by the Woolfenden report in 1957. It was not until 1969 that homosexual acts were decriminalized in Canada (Sanders, 1994), and then this only referred to consensual acts conducted in 'private'. As the Gay Day Committee pointed out, this legal reform "was widely misunderstood as 'legalizing' homosexuality and thus putting homosexuals on an equal basis with other Canadians. In fact, this amendment was merely a recognition of the non-enforceable nature of the Criminal Code as it existed" (cited in Kinsman, 1987: 172).  73  Denise:  I didn't  know if she was gay. She was in a very long term relationship  the States er ....sometime  after , like a 25 year relationship,  in  and we had  never talked about it until just a couple of years ago. We were chatting she had just broken it seem  and  up.  Heather:  Doesn't  incredible?  Denise:  Yeah. But it's the time. It wouldn't because everything's  more  happen now. It wouldn't  happen  open.  She explained h o w women managed to express same-sex desire w i t h i n this reverberating silence:  Heather:  People still fall nothing  in love and have relationships,  really could  how did that work  be said?  Denise:  I think  it was just something  Heather:  Or ...more kind of, how do fall in love, start seeing somebody see somebody  Denise:  Well, I  7  if there's  that happened  no language?  but was kept  secretive.  Or what language  was  or just  used?  don't know. I mean what language do you use today?  can certainly fall in love and start seeing somebody the terms 'gay' or 'lesbian'.  I mean, you're  without  having  socially.  And  you don't  obvious.  So ...I don't honestly  I mean these are questions  have to label something  feelings  know  had no language and zuent though six months  74  have  somebody  to have  I can relate to — I mean in my first  two people in the whole world,  You  to use  who you are and you don't  to put a label on it. So you can just start going out and seeing  Heather:  if  you  know  of believing  relationship  we were the  I  only  It has been relatively recently, i n the 1990s, that Denise has gone to lesbian bars and bookstores:  Denise:  I'd never gone to a gay bar, a gay party and  that was more drinking  Denise:  I was surprised  Heather:  Can you remember  Denise:  Oh it wasn't  that long ago. Probably  line dancing  or something  picking  the first  than  outside  time I saw lesbian  magazine  I was  or a  newspaper.  when it was? a couple of years ago going down to  like that at the Lotus  like  Club and people I was  tuck it in my jacket,  believe it. I said "Did you see this?"  nonchalant.  connection  anything.  up these papers and I look (laughing)  Couldn't  the odd softball  "Oh yeah."  with  thing.  People were very  "Ohhh."  There's lesbians anywhere y o u play sports Lisa stated that she had 'known' she was gay from an early age:  Well I grew up thinking elementary  school  I was gay. I had crushes  I know whenever  house game in elementary  we played  on my teachers and friends. with  school and I was always  our friends, 'Uncle'...  we played  'Uncle  Lisa!'  And  in  like a (Laughs)  Lisa remembered encountering homophobia directed at female P E teachers at her high school i n small town i n central British Columbia during the early 1980s. She told me they had been the target insults such as 'She's a dyke', and i n one case, 'being r u n out of town' because parents found out she was lesbian. One of her first memories of lesbian desire arose through softball:  75  Lisa:  Summer  of grade 8 or 9, I had been picked up on this ball team in  to play in provincials, team. And  but I needed to stay in Karimore  I stayed with this one family.  who played ball and I thought had to sleep together Heather: Lisa:  Marianna,  to practice  Karimore with  the  she was the only one  she was very good looking.  And  anyways  toe  (laughs)  Damn! Damn!  Yeah, that's what I thought! And she got up in the night to, I don't  know, must have gone to the washroom  or something  like that, so I laid  arm out across the bed (laughs) and she just got back into bed. And probably  about the only thing  that I can  my  that's  recall.  Women's team sports were central i n Lisa's coming out i n during her late teens and early twenties:  Heather:  What sort of things helped you come out?  Lisa:  Sports and friends, would  probably  probably  (laughs) Definitely.  Growing  never even be heard of. Having  woiddn't  (laughs)  Probably  That's  Lisa:  Yeah. Moving  — I wouldn't  Heather:  have talked to my  crazy isn't  coidd never have told each other as we were growing  into a bigger town right after I graduated  in sports that I did, and I...I don't  anywhere  What sports  up.  it?  that you play  were you  playing?  76  sports.  and  getting  care where you go any  that you join, you're going to run into homosexuals lesbians  parents  even though it turns out four years later that she's gay too!  Heather:  involved  old fashioned  it  have helped much. So I sort of just stayed in, no-one to  talk to in high school. Even my best friend best friend  up in a small community  There's going  sports to be  Lisa:  Fastball really  and broomball. told anybody  played fastball  My first  I was still  that summer  year at college,  in the closet...but  my first  searching.  hadn't  Then once I  year at college some women  "Why don't you come out and play broomball?" basically  well I was...I  came out — to some close friends  said  and that's where I  of mine.  Lisa entered teacher education i n 1993:  1 zoas associated  with  being lesbian on campus  here and associated  with  different  people. I ivas choosy though in who I told only because I was going into the  teaching  profession.  Live and let live M a r i o n taught Ukrainian folk dance w i t h her husband for many years w h i c h is where she met most of the gay people she knew:  My husband  and I, we've worked with so many people especially  who were gay. Some were openly gay and some were not. And.we know accepted of them and everything.  And...and  got along fine  in the dance were both with  business  them.  M a r i o n made an oblique reference to lesbian sexuality when she told me about her experience w i t h this policy at her graduate school i n the U S :  Heather:  When you went through degree  your  teacher training  tohat sort of messages  in the three years of the  were there about how you shoidd  as a lady or as a woman in sports?  77  or  behave  Marion:  Well..there  was some talk about what  remember  but there was more emphasis  the fellow  who was kind of in charge of the PE program  of this stereotype..We  don't  we should  and shouldn't  wear I  the second time I went back because said "Let's get rid  have to wear the baggy sweat  pants  and all  that. " Heather:  And  that was what  Mation:  But the first  people were  wearing....?  time, not very much was said. But the second time I went back  to school there seemed to be a little  bit more emphasis  • coidd be a PE teacher and be feminine. very much  the first  time  on the fact  And I don't remember anybody  Because people weren't  Marion:  I think people just accepted it and said "This is the way it  Heather:  So I wonder xohy it changed and people became a little  Marion:  what  Well, I think  think  worried  they were looking  about it or  ? is".  bit more  worried  like.  it was when this equality  business and be feminine.  saying  around.  Heather:  about  that you  thing came along. Women  can be in  They can do a lot of things and still be feminine.  that whole idea was starting  to break down  a little  I  bit  In this particular story, she hinted at the association between lesbian stereotype and unfeminine appearance, and linked this to "the whole equality thing". If we consider the discursive repertoires available to M a r i o n at this time, this story illustrates h o w liberal feminist discourse was taken up w i t h i n the physical education profession. The idea that feminine women could succeed i n previously masculine professions, such as business and physical education, was central to h o w Marion's remembered women's equality i n the 1960s. This association between femininity and women's equality indicates h o w liberal feminist discourses was used w i t h i n physical education to normalize heterosexuality and sustain homophobic  78  attitudes at that time. M a n y physical education departments i n the United States used dress codes to combat an image of female physical educators as unfeminine. Such homophobic policies were relatively widespread i n women's physical education programs throughout the United States at this time (Franzen, 1996) 2 4 . I didn't know they were anything B U T heterosexual Connie didn't recall homosexuality being talked about at her high school:  Connie:  In terms of gay and lesbian relationships didn't  in high school then I  even have the words for it. It was never even that I feel kind of  angry about but I think it's the same with all sorts of exclusion. through  a pretty  narrow education  into this box... I didn't alternative Heather:  probably  system,  I went  and life long learning,  and fit  even know there was life beyond that box,  positions.  The issue of language  is really  important  time you heard words like 'gay' and 'lesbian'?  Can you remember  the first  Can you remember  the first  time? Connie:  No.  Heather:  Can you remember them being used as insults  Connie:  I don't really. I certainly think about it. And calling  somebody  in school?  hear them a lot now but er  if I did I didn't  even  I don't think that any of the people I knew, I mean  a fag for example wasn't,  I don't  remember...!  don't  remember.. Heather:  What were the insults  Connie:  Er ...'slut',  2 4  that you used? You've  'nerdish'..nerdy  got to have something  to ...  or geek.  For a full account refer to Trisha Franzen's (1996) oral histories of US lesbians born during the  1940s.  79  Connie remembered finding several friends were lesbian or gay during her thirties:  Heather:  So you can't  remember  about lesbian' you first  quite specifically  and 'gay'. Can you trace up from  met someone ivho you thought  read about it, when you first Connie:  Probably  when you started  not till university  to get  language  high school to now,  when  was gay or lesbian, when you  heard about and probably  first  it? not till ....I don't know, until  the  last 8 to 10 years. So not that long ago. But that's sort of you, I mean ..I have  Connie:  many close friends  now, and had then but didn't  after that. So I've  had that sort of experience  I had some close friends BUT  heterosexual  or gay and...and..when whole thing differently  about  I found  "  and [  a couple of  I guess that I didn't  i.e. I didn't  think  know  er  times.  were  of them as being bisexual, know  know, and who told me  anything homosexual  guess I was a bit hurt. And of course I wouldn't  ] blah, blah, blah". And went through  the  treat you  any  all of that.  People labeled us Bethany recollected rumors about her friendship w i t h another w o m a n at college i n the 1960s:  I know during  university  my roommate  and very much into dating spent too much  men, but still people labeled us with  time together,  had some friendships  ivith  and I were very close and she's very  we read each others thoughts  women  that have been questioned  80  attractive  "we were too close, we  a little  too closely".  and I always  So  I've  think  it's  interesting think....I  when I hear that because what do people base it on..what don't  knoiv  but I have never ever  doesn't  do people  upset me  In the 1990s, she is supportive of lesbian, gay and bisexual students at the community college where she w o r k e d as the Athletic Director:  There is a very strong  movement  Alliance.  very vocal,  And  they're  on campus called the Gay, Lesbian they're  very demanding.  and  Bisexual  They knoiv what  they  want, and they're present. I enjoy them on campus and the college gives them lots of space, lots of recognition  lots of  tolerance.  Feminist-Poststructural A p p r o a c h to Discourse Analysis The theme 'Lesbian Encounters' illustrated how the w o m e n accepted and avoided the possibility of 'lesbian' i n quite different ways within the material practices of families, schooling and women's sport they experienced. O n one hand, the idea of 'lesbian' was mentioned infrequently by the w o m e n w h o identified as heterosexual, namely M a r i o n , Bethany and Connie. M a r i o n encountered, but was not the target of, lesbian stereotypes at graduate school and had several gay male acquaintances i n the dance business. Bethany remembered being stereotyped as a lesbian during her undergraduate physical education degree. Connie's contact w i t h lesbian women was mainly through friends during her thirties, while she became sensitized to homophobia as a result of Women's Studies courses she took at graduate school. The invisibility of the category 'lesbian' is evident i n the small number of recollections about lesbianism i n sport or physical education, the sparse detail of these memories, and the recollection of isolated incidents of lesbian  81  encounters 2 5 . This can be thought of as an instance of what Deborah Britzman (1998) referred to as 'exorbitant normality' w h i c h occurs when 'the other' is rendered intelligible only as a special event, never the everyday. O n the other hand, Denise's, Jenny's and Lisa's narratives suggest how they responded to the possibility of 'lesbian' quite differently. The three lesbian-identified women spoke at length about searching for other lesbians, coming out, and establishing lesbian social networks. They recalled first glimpses and touches, searching for lesbian contexts and coming out i n straight contexts. Jenny's search led her to various feminist and lesbian urban contexts, such as lesbian cafes, feminist bookstores and a 'Take Back The Night' march. She found lesbian bars and women's team sports quite disappointing. In contrast, women's team sports had formed the sole basis of lesbian community for Denise since the 1960s and, more recently, for Lisa as well. The differences i n these accounts may seem obvious — lesbian w o m e n are going to talk about the category 'lesbian' more frequently than straight women. Despite this important difference, all six w o m e n talked about their adult  sexual  identities as relatively stable elements of their sense of self. Interestingly, Susan Cahn (1994a) was struck by a similar imperative, concluding that "a sense of authentic self is both real and necessary to people living w i t h i n a given context" (p. 332). This interpretation of identity is, at first glance, contrary to the conceptualization of identities as always i n formation, incomplete and even contradictory. The apparent tension between the notion of coherent identities — either 'lesbian' or 'heterosexual' — w i t h poststructuralist claims about incomplete,  ^ 5 Reference to homophobia and lesbian stereotyping as 'isolated incidents' has parallels w i t h Ruth Frankenburg's (1993) observations about h o w racism was talked about by white women.  82  fragmented identities leads me back to the notion of positionality and subjectivity. If we are prepared to conceptualize identity along the lines of L i n d a Alcoff's (1995) notion of positionality, a coherent identity can be considered "relative to a consistently shifting context, to a situation that includes a network of elements involving others, the objective economic conditions, cultural and political institutions and ideologies, and so on" (p. 451). Thus, the narration of apparently stable 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual' identities can be understood, i n part, as an effect of normalization w i t h i n the discourses themselves, 2 6 as evidence of h o w these binary oppositions were, to all intents and purposes, the only sexual subject positions available to the women i n these generations. I think the absence of the 'bisexual' or 'queer' from the life histories demonstrates the pervasiveness of the lesbian/straight binary for these women. There were other differences, i n addition to the contrast between 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual' identities — most notably h o w the w o m e n talked about their identification w i t h feminism. There were also important differences w i t h i n each woman's stories about themselves and, of course, differences at the level of the 'social'. Existing life history research has rarely accounted for such differences 'within', 'at' and 'beyond' the i n d i v i d u a l because it has relied heavily on a  levels:  ^° This narration of 'fixed', 'authentic' sexual subject positions can be thought about on several  i. as a humanist interpretation of a bourgeois, sovereign self which underpins modernist conceptions of identity, derived variously from sexological, psychological, liberal and radical feminist constructions of 'lesbian identity'; ii. as a pragmatic, political defense/offense against the normalizing pull of heterosexual identities within heterocentric contexts; iii. as a narrative 'effect' which can never be fully achieved due to the slippages along an endless chain of signifiers, or due to the unconscious alterity which inhabits the 'self. The latter two are, in my opinion, compatible with a pragmatic poststructural theory of subjectivity. Lesbian identities can be regarded 'as if they were authentic in order to engage in strategic political struggles such as establishing separate lesbian sports or anti-homophobic policies. Equally, the impossibility of being completely and permanently 'lesbian' must be continually borne in mind at the ontological level of long-term, historical theorization.  83  humanist, individualist assumption of a 'coherent' identity. I suggest that, because poststructuralism rejects this self-contained presentism of humanist identity i n favor of a fragmented theory of subjectivity, it not only accommodates but directs attention onto difference at several levels. This fragmentation of subjectivity — the notion of the split subject — focuses attention onto construction of self/Other; normative/marginal sexual identities; speech/silence; and conscious/unconscious. I w o u l d also argue that the intersection of gendered, sexual and racial subjectivities is not incompatible w i t h a poststructuralist theory of the subject driving this research. While much feminist and queer theory purports to account for intersections between race, class, and gender, empirical research frequently struggles to respond to these complex intersections. The potential of methodologies such as life history to insist  that researchers listen to specific, intersecting subject  positions of women's lives has long been recognized i n feminist research. O n several occasions the narratives insisted that race and racism be foregrounded i n my analysis, although I was sometimes surprised at the moments w h e n this happened. The way we talked about racism and racial difference i n the interviews revolved around linguistic, racial Others w h i c h led to analysis of the normative silences w h i c h sustain our positions as W h i t e ' women. O n reflection this unexpected direction i n data analysis is a persuasive argument for a life history methodology — for continuing to research empirical life stories i n spite of the tensions set into play by poststructural skepticism about transparency of experience i n verbal accounts. Speech A c t Theory There were occasions when unexpected things were said i n the interviews, when the conversation took a sudden turn, w h e n a particular w o r d made something 'happen'. N o t only were the interviews disrupted by these 'dramatic' moments, but w o m e n remembered their lives being affected by a conversation, a remark, an act of speech. Jenny's revelation at summer camp by 'the Goddess Kelly'  84  that she might be a lesbian was a striking example. A l t h o u g h they were rare during interviews, these moments lent themselves to a focus on the performativity of language using micro-level discourse analysis. Speech act t h e o r y 2 7 has the potential to illustrate, i n a very immediate way, how discourses function performatively. M y use of this type of close discourse analysis illustrated h o w particular words enabled or restricted the endless discursive construction of sexual subjectivities. Neither speech acts or the silences they evoke have any permanence; indeed, a never-ending task faces heteronormative discourse to continually repeat or perform its silencing functions. Lesbian subject positions can, of course, be claimed within physical education but doing so has impact — "my girlfriend and I...", "yes, I prefer women...", "from m y lesbian perspective...". Such speech acts are extra-ordinary, remarkable, and usually remembered. These were the occasions which 'stood out' during interviews and w h i c h were most appropriate for micro-level analysis. In contrast, heteronormative speech acts thrive i n being unremarkable, mundane and so very ordinary. Maintaining a heterosexual storyline relies on continual repetition to the extent that it may appear that a person simply 'talks like that'. A s Bronwyn Davies and R o m Harre (1990) explained, "participants may not be aware of their assumptions nor the power of the images to invoke particular ways of being and may simply regard their words as 'the way one talks' on this sort of occasion" (p. 49). Mundane ways of talking play an important role i n normalizing heterosexuality. Heterosexual subject positions can be claimed  Austin's speech act theory of the 1960s emphasized how speech is not only descriptive but also performative, through the idea of 'illocutionary' acts. Words are performative if they do things, if they perform an action — conversely, if they aren't spoken the action doesn't happen (Petry, 1990). Put another way, illocution is to locution what speech acts are to speech. Moreover, 'illuctionary force' is the combination of language and social practice and, at certain moments in the life histories, speech acts about lesbian sexuality often carried exceptional degrees of illuctionary force. The performative aspects of language and discourse have developed into a important topic in queer, especially literary, studies (Butler, 1993a, 1997a; Parker & Sedgwick, 1995). £ /  85  and repeated on numerous opportunities i n everyday and professional conversation. These repetitive performances, if unchallenged and uncomplicated as they frequently are, grant security and certainty to heterosexual storylines. This i n turn allows a heterosexual subjectivity to be firmly and deeply anchored, so that a heterosexual sense of the self can be readily experienced as coherent, life-long and 'natural'. Speech act theory was able to reveal the impact of a particular speech act on Jenny's lesbian identity, highlighting the link between the performativity of language and sexual subjectivity — when silence was 'broken' rather than 'golden'. What happens when analysis turns to the spaces between silence/speech, inside/outside, lesbian/heterosexual? Time and time again I needed to listen to the rowdy silences about lesbianism w h i c h littered the narratives. Deconstruction I found myself turning to Derrida's notion of differance, where meaning resides but is never fully present (Collins & Mayblin, 1996; Derrida, 1982; Sampson, 1989). For example, I wanted to delve beneath the surface calm of an anecdote M a r i o n told me because it contained much about language, Other and sexual normativity. She recounted a conversation from graduate school i n the early 1970s:  One of the graduate everything, the way And  students  said to me one time, because she knew I was married  and she said, "I want to be married  some of these others  she meant the single...But  ivant to get married  and  and have a family.  I don't  and  want to live  live." it was just her feelings  have a family,  that's good  about the whole thing.  If  you  too.  'Marriage' and 'having a family' referred directly to heterosexuality, while 'the whole thing', 'single' and 'others' referred euphemistically to a w a y of life that was  86  different, that was not heterosexual. A l t h o u g h 'single', 'these others' or 'this whole thing' were vague, the meaning of each term relied upon being different from 'married'. This type of analysis illustrated the more general queer theoretical claim that 'female heterosexuality' requires the 'lesbian Other' because it only acquires significance i n the play of differance between the two. While there are significant differences between speech act theory and deconstruction 2 8 , Sandy Petrey (1990) cogently argued that both warrant great interest because "their disagreements over how language performs take off from the same constant awareness that it performs" (p. 133). M y approach to deconstruction drew on Jack Sanger's (1995) metaphor:  deconstruction explore  (the act of using  text to undermine  the text as a kind of water tank wherein  under the surface calm of an attempted  unitary  its own rhetoric) conflicting  resolution,  allows  ideologies  the analyst  to  are submerged  (p. 91)  Thus, speech act theory and deconstruction shaped h o w I analyzed specific words in the transcripts. This type of close discursive analysis suggested how particular words functioned at different historical moments for these women; that  ^ ° 'Deconstruction' is a highly contested term which by its very nature defies definition, but some explanation of my use of the terms 'deconstructive' and 'deconstruction' is warranted. Petrey (1990) contended that "Derrida concentrates on language as language, Austin on language as collective enactment of reality; one emphasizes locution, the other illocution" (p. 147), yet despite these differences, "speech act theory understands society as a dynamic process tangible in the words through which human beings interact, and deconstructive commentaries on the words enhance the fascination of the tangibility" (p. 144). Derrida himself refused any fixed definition of deconstruction as method, analysis or critique and was quoted as saying that "all sentences of the type 'deconstruction is x' or deconstruction is not x' a priori miss the point, which is to say that they are at least false" (Collins & Mayblin, 1996: 93). Deconstruction has been used as a means (Scott, 1992) for analyzing discourses which opens up a term, or rather binary oppositions, to question and reconstruction, rather than negating the terms completely (Butler, 1992). While cautioning that deconstruction is not simply a set of techniques, Parker (1988) distinguished three stages to a deconstruction. Firstly, identify conceptual oppositions; then demonstrate that the privileged pole of the opposition is dependent upon and could not operate without the other; and, finally, point towards new concepts by reinterpreting the opposition.  87  is, it helped to 'understand' what the narratives contained. A t other times, this detailed level of analysis gestured toward the unsaid; tried to 'overstand' what lay beneath or outside particular words. Individualism and Social Postmodernism Close discourse analysis of the type produced by speech act theory and deconstruction, as well as other approaches commonly used i n life history, r u n the risk of individualism; that is, placing too m u c h emphasis on an i n d i v i d u a l transcript, interview, or account of experience. Life history as a methodology has always had to confront this criticism. M y use of six w o m e n countered this tendency for unwarranted individualism to a degree (see Sampling). Individualism was also tempered by analysis at the level of the 'social', what I refer to as 'institutional discourses'. Returning to the example 'Lesbian Encounters' again, several discourses about lesbian sexuality i n women's sports were evident. Denise and Lisa encountered other lesbians, developed same-sex relationships and a lesbian social network by playing team sports. Denise remained quite closeted while playing and coaching basketball and softball from the late 1950s until the late 1980s, whereas Lisa came out early in her fastball and broomball playing days. From the way Denise and Lisa talked, lesbian relationships between players were common i n these sports and, since the late 1980s at least, increasingly overt. These long-standing and widespread lesbian communities were based on liberalist assumptions about privacy and individual rights. Varying degrees of secrecy and privacy placed restrictions on how lesbianism could be expressed — players were expected or could 'choose' not to be out as lesbian within these sports. Open discrimination against lesbians i n these sports seemed to be rare, providing a relatively high degree of safety for the exploration and expression of lesbian desire. Lesbian identity was constructed as a  88  matter of individual choice deserving of privacy and, since the late 1980s, limited visibility as well. In the last decade a number of 'lesbian' teams and leagues have been established i n Vancouver, i n addition to the 1990 Gay Games. This represents a significant shift i n assumptions about lesbian sexuality w i t h i n sport, and is indirectly linked to the women's access to feminism (see Feminist Generations) and identity-based politics of urban lesbian and gay movements. A l l the lesbian w o m e n had deep reservations about segregated lesbian or gay sport, but for quite different reasons. Jenny volunteered at the G a y Games only to be shocked at the sexism of gay men she w o r k e d with. Equally, she was disappointed to have little i n common w i t h women i n a lesbian volleyball league she joined. Denise strongly disagreed w i t h the Gay Games on the grounds that it unnecessarily highlighted sexuality and that she had never experienced exclusion from sports because she was lesbian. Their lack of involvement i n organized 'lesbian' sports indicates h o w central individualist and liberal views about sexuality were for these women compared to views w h i c h emphasized lesbian visibility and segregation as a form of identity politics. Lesbianism i n women's team sports was conspicuous only by its absence i n the narratives of the women w h o identified as heterosexual. Connie encountered the possibility of 'lesbian' through friends and feminist courses at graduate school but didn't mention open or secret lesbianism i n outdoor recreation, her m a i n physical activity. Bethany d i d refer to lesbianism but only i n terms of negative stereotypes and homophobia, firstly as a PE undergraduate i n the 1960s and then recently i n sports administration at the college level. M a r i o n referred indirectly to lesbianism i n physical education w h e n she remembered the 'single' w o m e n professors and feminine dress codes at her graduate school i n the U S during the 1960s. O n the basis of these isolated memories it is difficult to make substantial claims about changes i n lesbian stereotypes or homophobia. Rather, the significance  89  lies i n the persistent silence about lesbianism from 1950s through to the present time. Discourses about lesbian sexuality circulating i n women's sport and the physical education profession were significant — not for the lesbian possibilities they offered but those they disavowed. Their narratives about lesbianism i n sport remained relatively untouched by the increased visibility of lesbians i n women's team sports or the emergence of organized 'lesbian' sports (although this was not the case w i t h their views about feminism i n sport, see 'Feminist Generations'). The example above demonstrates h o w I attempted to 'understand' the specific historical attitudes about lesbian sexuality circulating i n women's sports, feminism and physical education. Here m y focus on these institutional discourses was a move towards social postmodernism. The under-theorization of the 'social' has been a criticism of performativity and speech act theory i n queer, literary and sociological studies (Eagleton, 1983; Patton, 1995; Nicholson & Seidman, 1995). 2 9  ^ y Cindy Patton and Stephen Seidman both expressed concerns about the trend away from social theory in queer work: New work in queer and gender theories on performance and performativity emerged importantly in response to a critique of essentialized identity and debates about the end of identity politics. Given this particular entrance of performance theory, into a highly political domain, there has been, I believe, an overemphasis on the actant-subject and a relative lack of consideration of the stage or context or field of the performance or performative act. There have been highly developed poststructural and postmodern accounts of these bodies-in-performance or their performative acts, but little in the way of poststructural and postmodern efforts to reintroduce concepts for what was once called the "social". (Patton, 1995: 181) Queer theory has largely abandoned institutional analysis. In Sedgwick, the homo/hetero definition functions as a largely autonomous cultural logic...these meanings are never linked to social structural arrangements or processes such as nationalism, colonialism, globalization, or dynamics of class or family formation popular social movements. (Seidman, 1995: 134)  cidtural or  Equally, Terry Eagleton (1985) exposed the consequences of skeptical postmodernism in literary theory, which I think applies to some poststructural textualism in social research: it is mischieviously radical in respect to everyone else's opinions, able to unmask the solemn declarations as mere dishevelled plays of signs, while utterly conservative in every other way. (p. 145)  90  Similar arguments have recently appeared i n debates about discourse analysis i n educational research:  Neither  Austin  deconstructing wealth...To economy  nor Searle are interested and critiquing  do so would  require  'games'  in using  of social relations,  we broaden  of speech acts, a sociological  speech act analysis difference  out speech act analysis  analysis  of the fields  sites where speech acts are used, and a documentation  constitution  and reconstitution  precisely  this type of analysis  which  of language  and material to a  political  of social relations,  institutional  of the 'rides'  as a way of  of the  games of everyday  is at the heart of critical  discourse  the  dynamic life...It is analysis.  (Luke, 1997: 350)  If a critical focus on the 'social' can be achieved, it creates the possibility for poststructuralist life history to contribute to social critique and ultimately political action.30  Poststructurally informed work which allows for political and material realities is currently difficult to find. One exception is Sagri Dhairyam's (1994) poststructuralist theorization of racial identity through lesbian sexuality in which she explores how performative speech acts involve both the language and the body: Locating the performative as the body that speaks is also to write speech as of the body; in so doing we resist the slide from body to language to literacy to literature, and so, indeed, to theory, which relentlessly returns the critical intellect to pride of place...To reflect on racial identity through not to subsume one into the other; rather, it is to highlight the color of the body as both all-too-material difference and as fantasy...Only when whiteness, mascidinity and education still enjoy the discursive privilege of 'passing' as invisible can the intellect be sanctioned without any need to reflect on the colonizing fantasies of its physically threatening body. (pp. 42-43) 3 0 This is the case only if pragmatic rather than ludic poststructuralist positions are adopted. For futher detail refer to Donald Norton's (1996) Material Queer trenchant critique of ludic postmodernism in queer theory.  91  H a v i n g been sensitive to the need for social analysis throughout this study, from a reflective position I n o w contend that social analysis is not necessarily incompatible w i t h a poststructuralist theory of subjectivity 3 1 . Both can be accommodated w i t h i n poststructuralist life history, but not without tension. Undoubtedly assumptions about fragmented identities, Others within the Self, and constitutive force of silence place considerable torque on straightforward social explanations and political strategies. In this study, the tension gave rise to my divergent impulses to 'understand' and 'overstand' the women's narratives. Such tension can be relieved, to a limited degree, by pragmatic feminist-poststructuralist strategies such as simultaneously striving towards deconstructive overstanding i n the theoretical long-term, while opting for short-term politics based on assumptions 'as i f identity mattered, selves could be known, and life histories told to one another (Riley, 1988; Sykes, 1996). This may involve a move towards 'social postmodernism' w i t h i n life history; w h i c h requires:  rethinking  the very nature  viezved and constituted. categories  Such a postmodern  as the family,  This move de-essentializes and political  contexts.  of understanding; the institutional  of the basic categories approach  the state, the individual, such categories  It thus avoids  it also avoids context  through  by placing  the essentialist  practices.  the social  whole is  rejects an understanding  of such  and the homosexual  those poststructuralist  of discursive  which  them within disposition arguments  (Nicholson  as  specific  'natural'. historical  of some modern which  & Seidman,  often  modes ignore  1995: 24-25)  • i l Refer to Chris Weedon (1997) for a comprehensive explanation of poststructural conception of 'subjectivity', and also Catherine Belsey's (1997) precis of Althusser's notion of the subject in relation to Lacanian subjectivity.  92  The 'social' has been analyzed i n this study by focusing on the institutional discourses 3 2 w h i c h framed the women's narratives. Throughout the analysis, decisions had to be made where to strike a balance between textual and social analyses. A s it turned out, a large majority of the analyses focused on institutional discourses.  1 have used the term 'institutional discourse' in the same way as medical anthropologist Jamie Saris (1995). In his life history work on illness narratives he drew on Lyotard's definition which: always requires constraints for statements to be admissible within its bounds. The constraints function to filter discursive potentials...They also privilege certain classes of statements (sometimes only one) whose predominance characterizes the discourse of the particular institution: there are things that should be said, and there are ways of saying them. (Lyotard, 1984 cited in Saris, 1995: 42)  Saris (1995) went on to lyrically define 'institution' as: A structure (physical, conceptual or both) that 'sets up' discourse bundles of technologies, narrative styles, modes of discourse, and, erasures and silences. Culturally and historically situated subjects reproduce these knowledges, practices, and silences as a condition orbit of the institution, (p. 42)  and as importantly, produce and of being within the  This complements Bronwyn Davies' (Davies & Harre, 1990) conception of discourse as the institutionalized use of language at disciplinary, political, cultural and small group levels, and around specific topics such as 'gender', 'class' and I would add 'sexualities'. Davies explained in more detail how: the constitutive force of each discursive practice lies in its provision of subject positions. A subject position incorporates both a conceptual repertoire and a location for persons within the structure of rights for those that use that repertoire. Once having taken up a particidar position as one's oion, a person inevitably sees the world from the vantage point of that position and in terms of the particidar images, metaphors, story lines and concepts which are made relevant within the particidar discursive practice in which they are positioned. (Davies & Harre, 1990: 46)  Whilst Davies employed the term 'conceptual repertoire', Wetherell and Potter (1988) used 'interpretive repertoire' defined as a relatively internally consistent language unit within a particular discourse. This view is helpful because it allows for inconsistent and variable interpretive repertoires within the same discourse. Ultimately, I prefer the term 'discursive repertoire' as used by Ruth Frankenburg's (1993) which avoids the ties of 'conceptual' with psychologically-based humanism.  93  Psychoanalytic Theory of Subjectivity Poststructural and psychoanalytic theories of subjectivity have a long, intertwined intellectual h i s t o r y . 3 3 This research has been troubled throughout by the extent to which psychoanalytic approach to subjectivity could a d d to the interpretations of the women's life histories. Psychoanalysis has been important to feminism, as Chris Weedon (1987) explained, by presenting a challenge to the "unified, self-present subject of rationality, and to theories of innate biologically determined sexual identity" (p. 71). Indeed, I think that cautious use of psychoanalytic concepts or metaphors can be justified. Nonetheless, many feminists continue to have reservations about the political efficacy of psychoanalytic t h e o r i z i n g . 3 4 These tensions between psychoanalytic, poststructural and feminist accounts of subjectivity must, sooner or later, be confronted by researchers employing any form of poststructuralism. I turned to psychoanalytic concepts when contradictions, evasions, and curious repetitions occurred i n our interviews — moments w h e n the illusion of coherence began to fall apart, began to fragment. It was these moments w h i c h drew  The most influential, of course, being Lacan's re-reading of Freud as the cornerstone of his critique of Saussurian linguistic structuralism. M  For excellent feminist appraisals of feminist responses to and critiques of psychoanalytic theories refer to Weedon (1987), Landry and MacLean (1993), and Barrett (1992). Michele Barrett (1992) explained how deep critique of social causality and the search for epistemological origins evolved in both poststructuralism and psychoanalysis. Most relevant tensions for my analysis are the misogynist theoretical origins and clinical institutionalization of psychoanalysis and the heterosexism of many feminist reworkings of psychoanalytic Oedipal and object-relations theory. I found Landry and MacLean's (1993) articulation of these tensions persuasive from their materialist perpective. They explained that although poststructural theory of subjectivity must take into account difference — the subject as formed in relation to the Other — there are dangers in universalizing this notion of difference. As they pointed out in Michele Barrett's work, "Freud's writings are deeply embedded in the gender ideology so crucial to women's oppression" (p. 172) and Spivak's critique of the colonialism in an exaggerated uiversalism of psychoanalytic theory. They also note that "the existing feminist debate on sexuality has been a relentless focus on psychoanalysis as 'the' language of sexuality and the family as 'the' ground of sexuality. Such focus not only familializes sexuality but also heterosexualizes it" (p. 160). 3 4  94  me to think about how the absent Other haunted the confused spaces at these edges of meaning, floated i n the intangible u n s a i d 3 5 . The problem psychoanalytic theories attempt to confront is, deferring to Nicolas Abraham's (1994) erudite summary,  how' to include discourse,  in a discourse...the  fundamentally  very thing  which,  being the precondition  of  .  escapes it. (p. 84)  M y route into this problematic was the notion of 'identification' through the Other. A s M a d a n Sarup (1996) pointed out, identification is used i n many senses within psychoanalysis but is most typically used i n the sense of "identification of oneself w i t h the other" (p. 30). The notion of identification allowed me to listen to h o w w o m e n talked about themselves through various Others w h i c h , i n turn, led to more specific psychoanalytic concepts such as transference, introjection and incorporation, transgenerational phantom, fetishism and social unconscious (Abraham & Torok, 1994; de Lauretis, 1994; Felman, 1987; Frosh, 1997; LaPlanche & Pontalis, 1973; M a c k w o o d , 1997; Presnell & Deetz, 1996). For instance 3 6 , several teachers were reticent to talk about student crushes but talked freely about their o w n crushes as students. This contradiction struck me as important but there seemed to be no easy explanation. M o v i n g from the general notion that crushes are part of the way students 'identify' with their teachers, the concepts of transference and countertransference allowed more complex interpretations to emerge. I came to think about the women's hesitancy to talk about their students' affections as 'homophobic  3 5 This notion of the 'unsaid' has begun to appear in educational theorizing influenced by psychoanalytic theories, notably Sharon Todd's (1997) edited volume Learning Desire in which Kaarina Kailo explored ways that "the unsaid evokes psychoanalytic concepts referring to traces of unconscious desire, for Lacan 'the desire of the other'" (p. 189).  3 6 See Teaching Desire in Ch 7 for a more detailed analysis of desire, transference and countertransference in women's physical education.  95  counter-transference', which i n turn raised the dark possibility that homophobia might be deeply rooted i n the collective psychic defenses of the teaching profession. In this case, then, psychoanalytic theory allowed for speculations about homophobia w i t h i n the teaching profession beyond the level of rational educational discourse. Similar issues about homophobia w i t h i n the profession arose from stories where Bethany and Denise talked about similarities and differences w i t h their mothers. O n one hand, Bethany consistently distanced herself from her mother's homophobic and racist attitudes while, on the other hand, Denise identified strongly w i t h social pressures faced by her grandmother. The following excerpt illustrates the type of interpretation psychoanalytic theory allows, and also the tentative nature of such claims w i t h i n this thesis. This particular theme speaks to unconscious investments w h i c h sustain homophobia. Denise recalled the lengths to w h i c h her father's family went to uphold public respectability i n the 1920s and 1930s:  My father's  background  was  and  unwed  was unknown  raised him  to me until  as if he were her little  after he died actually.  His  brother. Again  depression,  it was  mother  lived with her mother. I mean in these days to be an unwed mother was just a sin. never acknowledged didn't  know until  him,  even to the rest of her family,  to her younger  she was almost on her death-bed. I grew up thinking  children. she was my  she She  They aunt.  This story emphasized the secrecy surrounding the birth of Denise's father, revealing something about the normative values about marriage and parenting of the 1930s — as Denise said, "to be an unwed mother was just a sin". But there was more to the story than this. The timing and telling of this story i n the interview was important. I felt as if this disclosure occurred to Denise quite unexpectedly and she had to make a snap decision whether to share it w i t h me. It was one of those  96  moments when the level of trust between us increased dramatically. Each time I returned to Denise's transcript, the impact of this particular story within her overall life history became more compelling. Denise told stories about her father quite frequently i n the interviews, sometimes w h e n they seemed to be only indirectly related to my questions. For example, i n response to this question....  Heather:  So, I want to get an understanding a relationship,  the  things  of the things  that are  that you  wouldn't  tolerate  in  unacceptable.  ...Denise talked about her father's attitudes about money, the family's finances and how this gave her a sense of responsibility. This was not the type of response I had anticipated. I needed a w a y of thinking about w h y our interviews felt to me as if they veered off i n unexpected directions back to her father. She gave me a clue w i t h this remark:  Denise:  being tolerant and  think  of or looking  'How  acknowledge  at somebody else's situation.  could he accept the fact  him?  But  he played  the  1 look at my  that his mother  Dad  wouldn't  game.  This seemed very similar to w h y she hadn't told her mother she was gay:  Denise:  ...going would  through  that whole realm of being gay,  have gone, what her attitude  she knoius. She's not a stupid anything  have been. On  She can keep up the  life  one level I know  woman so she has to knoiv but it's  that's been discussed.  97  would  I don't know where my  pretense.  not  1  While these secrets were quite different, they seemed to be connected somehow across different generations. I began to wonder if, at some level, k n o w i n g about her father's secret helped Denise to cope w i t h being i n the closet. The notion of 'incorporation' provided a starting point to think about the connections. A s Gae M a c k w o o d (1997) explained, incorporation copes w i t h loss of an object by burying it in a psychic crypt and keeping it secret to preserve the fantasy that the loss d i d not occur:37  Because the basic structure object and onto language prohibited  of introjection 'about'  and thus left 'unsaid'  or incorporation,  requires the mediation  the object, any traumatic could subject the individual  of desires from  event that is silenced to an 'illness  of  the lost or mourning'  (p. 182)  Of course, on the basis of life history interviews it is not possible or productive to ask what actual psychic loss Denise or her grandmother may have incorporated — whether secrets about being an 'unwed mother' or a 'lesbian' represent similar lost objects. Yet I think it is possible to consider how subjectivity can be shaped b y unconscious patterns, not only throughout an individual's life history but also across generations. 3 8 Nicolas A b r a h a m and Maria Torok's (1994) concept of the 'transgenerational phantom' refers to the consequences of silence from one generation to the next, through the unwitting reception of someone else's  1 first came across the notion of buried psychic secrets in Abraham and Torok's (1994) detailed work in The Shell and the Kernel, and later found Mackwood's (1997) application of this work to pedagogy very compelling. Yet, this is a detailed theoretical issue - particularly, the distinctions between incorporation and introjection - which I have only begun to work through in this analysis. It is important to acknowledge that my use of 'incorporation' and 'transgenerational phantom' are suggestive rather than adamant. 3 7  3 8 In order to pursue this interpretation any further, however, the analysis should become more metaphorical than literal, more social that individualistic.  98  secret. It has been argued that this has "the potential to illuminate the genesis of social institutions and psychical roots of cultural patterns and political ideology" (Nicholas Rand cited i n Abraham & Torok, 1994: 169). If we are prepared to accept this p o s i t i o n 3 9 , using psychoanalytic theory to speculate about secrets i n life histories might contribute to existing ways of thinking about oppressive, social relations such as homophobia or heterosexism. Maybe the persistence of homophobic ideas w i t h i n physical education is linked, i n some unreadable way, to the repetition of deeply hidden psychic secrets across generations of the profession? I have left these thoughts about secrecy hanging i n the air, incomplete and fragile, as a provocation for future research into the homophobic social unconscious. Increasingly, I find interpretations of silences and secrets urging a return to queer literary criticism. Current queer theorizing is populated by many scholars grounded i n literary criticism which, among other functions and problems, serves to open routes of analysis. For instance, I am tempted to suggest that m y suspended argument could be moved forward by considering D . A . Miller's writings about the open secret 4 0 . Consider for a moment the possibilities for theorizing opened up by these passages:  ...the social function conceal knowledge, Weed, 1997:  of secrecy — isomorphic  with its novelistic  so much as to conceal, the knowledge  function  of knowledge.  — is not (Miller  to cited  in  279)  3 9 It is arguable whether the idea of a crypt of the self or of the phantom is the most relevant metaphor for interpreting how secrets cross generations.  4 0 I encountered Miller's work on the open secret in Elizabeth Weed's (1997) contribution to the debate in 'Feminism Meets Queer Theory '.  99  In a mechanism known,  of Freudian  but nonetheless  disavoival,  ive must persist,  the open secret registers  the subject's  obliterated  he would  imaginary  we know perfectly  the difference  denial of this system  however ineptly,  accommodation  in guarding  to a totalizing  make — the difference  'even so'. (Miller  well that the secret is  he  it. The paradox of system  that has  [sic] does make, in the  cited in Weed, 1997: 280)  Is it possible to refuse Miller's literary thoughts about the 'open secret' when this trope has been so enduring within physical education? This bridging between empirical life history narratives and textual criticism is potentially rich, yet life historians must continuously make it explicit when their interpretations draw upon such w o r k . 4 1 Indeed, the literary roots of much poststructuralism and psychoanalysis invites this interdisciplinarity. The issue of limits remains; forcing the question, how directly can such literary ideas be incorporated into the analysis of life history data? I think it is difficult to draw associations directly from i n d i v i d u a l life histories; rather, literary sources might support analysis beyond the individualistic l e v e l . 4 2 I have attempted this by discussing the notion of the transgenerational phantom w i t h i n the social unconscious. Theoretical tensions linger. I remain uneasy about theorizing about the social from i n d i v i d u a l narratives. M a d a n Sarup strikes to the heart of m y uneasiness:  Some people assume  that if identification  works  in a particular  then it must work in the same way with, say nations. psychoanalysis  analogically.  But to draw  This would  psychoanalytic  insights  ivay with  individuals,  be using from  one sphere and  4 1 See section on "The Lesbian Closet' in Ch 7 Dis/Locations where I cite the influence of Eve Sedgwick's analysis in Epistemology of the Closet.  4 2 In addition to exploring psychoanalytic ideas within the social unconscious, other routes into the social from the individualism of humanistic life history are provided by postmodern social theory (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985; Seidman & Nicholson, 1995).  100  to transfer  them to another  identification, larger, avoid  sphere is reductionist.  and one cannot just  scenario.  There are many differences  the charge of reductionism,  Perhaps  transfer  there will  There are many types of  what happens in one scenario between one scenario  much more theoretical  be a tension  between the psychic  have to learn to live with  that tension.  (Sarup,  1996:  and  another,  and another,  work will  always  to  and,  to  have to be done.  the social and  we  may  183)  Nonetheless I think possibilities opened up by psychoanalytic theories warrant their cautious use, if only to gesture future directions for life history research. Summary I was, perhaps, struggling w i t h irreconcilable issues. O n the one hand, a poststructuralist approach to life history raised issues about the short-term, ethical effects of the power relation between researcher-as-critic and researched-as-author. Other issues were raised by the long-term poststructuralist project of (de)constructing normal/queer subjectivities using life history — previously a humanist, and thoroughly modernist, research method. Rather than being irreconcilable, maybe these questions were of a different order. Concerns about the ethics and power enacted between the researcher and researched are not, if one accepts Richer's (1992) view, "produced i n or by the subjects who produced knowledge. The relations are produced elsewhere, so that questions about the researcher's intentions are the perfect decoy, deflecting attention from the social field to the individual one, turning a social question into an introspective one" (p. 112). Richer based this on Foucault's declaration that power should not be analyzed at the individual level of conscious intention, as a subject of knowledge but rather as an effect of power relations.  101  Such an approach shifted the methodological questions onto the field of power relations surrounding the interview context. By doing this, the research interview could be conceptualized as a form of academic surveillance deployed through accreditation, labor market, legitimization, contemporary identity politics; that is, a mode of knowledge production (dis)guised as critical (queer) social science. The interviews could be thought of as relations of power, disguised as neutral, ethical, humanistic research relying on the duplicity and complicity of all those involved. The tensions between queer and straightforward interpretations of the women's stories — indeed, a queer interrogation of straight lives — risks re-inscribing the relation of power between researcher and the narrators. In light of this, it is productive to regard the interview i n terms of the researcher/researched  power  relations and theoretical tensions between straight/lesbian/queer standpoints w h i c h are worked out within a field of institutionalized power.  102  Chapter 4 Social Locations, Narrated Selves  This chapter outlines h o w a hierarchical relation between 'heterosexual' and 'lesbian' was taken for granted i n the early years of the women's lives but then, as adults, they developed divergent views about female sexualities. The themes 'Straight Families' and 'Dating Lessons' bring into view h o w 'heterosexuality' was normalized across three generations of w o m e n , while the theme 'Feminist Generations' highlights h o w feminism influenced their views about gender relations. Straight Families  Insertion specific  into language discourses  consistent  feature  (Weedon,  1987:  begins at an early age and always  governing  family  of most forms  life and  of discourse  childhood  happens in the context  more generally.  that they deny their own  Moreover  of it is a  partiality.  97-98)  G i v e n the richness of i n d i v i d u a l lives, none of the women's families could be adequately described i n such sterile terms as 'heterosexual nuclear family'; however, the primary parents i n each woman's life history were a mother and father, and there was little mention of parenting within extended families. Bethany talked about her 'absentee dad'; Denise spoke about her father's upbringing b y his grandmother, and Lisa spoke of negotiating her relationship w i t h her adoptive and biological parents. Discourses about sexism, occasionally racism, colored some of these childhood memories. What was not questioned, except possibly i n retrospect, was the assumption of heterosexuality w h i c h structured all immediate family 103  relations. The following childhood recollections provide some indication of what gendered and sexual subject positions were available to the women i n the early days of life. Just the way it was Marion's parents immigrated to Saskatchewan from the Ukraine i n the early 1900s just before the outbreak of the 'First' W o r l d War. A s a first generation Canadian, M a r i o n was caught between Ukrainian and N o r t h American views about early marriage. She recalled h o w her family's Ukrainian tradition of early marriage was a 'cultural thing' which her mother i n particular wanted to move away from:  Both my Mother Saskatcheivan] Regina  for  through  they tvanted  and Dad said they had moved a reason.  We are related  to Saskatoon  and I think  to live differently.  know, the traditions  the people  they purposely  married  States  wanted  the influence  [from  in Saskatchewan to get away  from because  of the families.  You  young.  one time and one of my aunts said something  about  meeting  boys — two days later we were on our way home . She decided 1  better get her teenage daughters They just felt  to half  it was just  — the girls getting  We went [to Saskatchewan] some nice Ukrainian  I think  to the United  out of  that as long as they lived  that had come over with  she  there. in Canada  they would  have that cultural  thing  them.  M a r i o n commented on the unequal division of labor w i t h i n her family, referring to a form of sexism which was to appear i n all the other women's memories of their early families.  104  My  sister and I still  laugh about how my Dad was waited  it to other people but that's just the way it was. it was just the way it  on forever.  There tuas nothing  We try to  explain  cruel or bad about  it,  was.  Like M a r i o n , Denise also used the phrase 'just the way it was' frequently i n her stories. Denise contrasted her o w n situation as an unmarried, professional w o m a n w i t h her parents' generation being one wherein the w o m e n "went to w o r k in Woolworth's, got married, had families" w i t h the expectation that after marriage "the male provided and the female stayed at home". Like M a r i o n , Denise concluded her narrative by reminding me that this was "just the way things were at that time". A s Denise told me a series of stories about her parents, she stressed the impact of the economic depression of the 1930s i n Edmonton, Alberta where she grew up. A s she said, "I grew up with my parents having gone through the depression years. Neither had a lengthy education and probably neither completed high school". Her stories resonated w i t h economic hardships:  Well we could and  only afford one [child].  And  that was  they didn 't have enough money. They figured  that was  in the age of fairly  they coidd  large  families  only afford one kid.  So  it.  and women's lack of choices about the type and timing of paid work:  My  Mum  female  was at home. My  stayed  she didn't She was  at home and  loork.  She would  the youngest  backgrounds.  Dad was of the generation  where the male provided  looked after the kids. So he didn't have loved to have worked,  of six girls.  Each of the girls  I  want her working  the  and  think.  in her family  had  similar  Some went out and left home very early and had to work for  105  and  other people  to make ends meet, went to work similar  um  they all had similar  in Woolworth's,  backgrounds  got  married,  to what she did. And  backgrounds  had families. it was  just  in terms of went to  Her five the way  older sisters things  school, all  had  were at that  time.  Again, limited access to higher education and financial necessity restricted the options available to her mother's generation — Denise remembered early marriage being almost inevitable for them. M y father had it really good Bethany's family lived i n rural N o v a Scotia d u r i n g the 1950s. H e r memories focused on the family's poverty, h o w this affected her father and mother differently, and the contradictions between her mother's Catholicism and racism. In this description, Bethany emphasized h o w economic and emotional dependence i n her parents' marriage kept her mother at home while her father "had it really good".  Bethany.  My  parents  have a marriage  years that I have known father.  Heather  So the relationship like  Bethany  to  that has never changed  mother alternately  life being himself  and  loves and  she still  in all  the  hates  my  expects him  to  happiness. that your mother has isn't  something  ... that you  would  have?  Well, he did his own good looking. never left him always  them. My  He just goes through  be the source of her  partnership  And  thing,  went off. He was an absentee Dad.  my mother has never forgiven  either, mostly  been a housewife.  because she can't.  Plus  she's always  him for  that but  loved  him.  very  she's  She's never worked,  Poverty permeated Bethany's memories of the marriage:  106  He was  she's  Nobody  could afford church. I can remember my mother crying  blaming  my father  about it for years, and  — not that he was there very often to be blamed. It was twenty  aivay and we didn't  have a car. I can remember as a kid she'd try to read us prayers  gave up after a while because there were too many didn't  have running  forgave  my father  miles  other important  water, we had to carry buckets of water. I don't for  things  but  to do. We  think she ever  that.  Through these stories Bethany implied that she disapproved of her mother's situation, yet recognized h o w her mother's choices to redefine the marriage were limited due to social and economic realities. She linked the family's poverty w i t h her mother's dependence upon her husband for financial support and spoke directly about 'sexism' w i t h i n her parents' marriage. Patriarchal system Both Connie's parents were third generation Euro-Canadians, her farther's family had emigrated from Germany and her mother's from Scotland and Ireland. From her current feminist perspective, Connie looked back on h o w a "definite, total patriarchal system" affected her family:  Connie:  I can remember  sitting  around  He sat down and he didn't brother,  you know.  the table and my father  get up from  The whole cooking  had the  armchair.  the table and neither would  my  and...  Heather:  Okay, so when you say roles you're  meaning  really  Connie:  ...yeah, yeah. In terms of domesticity  for sure. And  traditional... then educationally  think I ivas very much stifled because of my gender and I saw that right until  university,  I up  you know. You feed into it too. I mean it works both ways  107  because you learn as a infant  that your gender is first  and then the  human  being is second.  She recalled some family tales of financial hardship during the depression but, unlike Marion, Denise and Bethany, her parents' generation had progressed through post-secondary education, entering into a white, professional middle-class.  Connie:  Well I would say for my Mother probably  not relative  Heather: Connie:  And  up they were quite poor,  to others especially  heard stories of putting the winter.  growing  newspaper  stitching  during  the depression.  although But I  in the toe of their shoe so it would  up the stockings  and lots of stories  last  like that.  Right. My Dad, maybe not as much. He went to university. and I would assume  Heather:  What  Connie:  And  Heather:  Three sisters.  Connie:  That's a good question. Mum  about  that ivas not the  three  ...he had a brother,  University  of  Manitoba  norm.  who died, and two  sisters?  sisters. Do you know what sort of education One of them was a music  they had?  teacher. And I know  ivas a teacher for a while but just went as far as middle school  ivas like six months. another  one  Another  one might  have a university  my which  degree and  doesn't.  Jenny talked about her parents i n terms of their connection to the United Church and her father's interest i n the family genealogy:  jenny:  That family family  thing,  you know. And  either. All our lives ive've  108  we're not just  talking  about  immediate  heard about his aunts,  uncles  and  grandmas  Heather:  and grandpas That's  and  is huge for  him.  the  Yeah. How  many generations  the famUy  tree. And  just  that whole  package  unit. Canadian  and kind of where do you  trace  your  family? Jenny:  Oh my Mum, And  she moved from  my Dad would've  would  Holland.  So her family  been...oh this is awful  have been his grandfather,  England.  So since the eighteen  Yorkshire  or somewhere.  So fairly  is  but I don't  maybe his grandfather  something's...50s,  Dutch-German.  60s.  long on my Dad's  came  from  They emigrated  side. My  Mum  is  from fairly  European.  Sexism was a prominent theme i n the women's descriptions of family life from the 1930s to the 1950s. In contrast, heterosexuality was taken for granted i n these narratives of childhood. U n l i k e sexism, heterosexism i n the immediate family went unremarked and unquestioned between parents, brothers and sisters. Later narratives show how the heterosexuality of aunts, uncles, and teachers was occasionally questioned.  Dating Lessons  If anything  marks  postwar  between the two categories,  ideologies it's  dating.  about gender (Adams,  and  1997:  sexuality  and  the  relationship  98)  A curious split appeared w h e n we talked about sexuality d u r i n g adolescence. Several women remembered scenes from high school, nostalgically recalling old friends, boyfriends and the kudos gained from 'dating'. These memories were punctuated by fears about contraception, pregnancy and unwelcome male heterosexuality. Nonetheless, these narratives about heterosexual dating were  109  neatly split from the women's talk about lesbian sexuality, 'girlfriends' or same-sex desires w h i c h only appeared i n women's memories of sport and physical activity outside high school. Thus, the co-educational high schools were remembered as key sites for the normalization of adolescent heterosexuality. These dating narratives also reveal the economic possibilities available to these w o m e n 4 3 , w h i c h were quite different from the economic pressures facing their mother's generations. I don't understand this dating M a r i o n talked about her memories of 'dating' as a young w o m a n growing u p in Washington state i n the United States i n the early 1940s.  I didn't  start dating  till I was practically  out of high school the last year, and I  remember one time I had a date with a boy one Friday another  boy to a dance on  And  my Mother  And  I said, "Well Mother,  the And  United  Saturday.  said to me, "I don't understand  this  dating".  I'm not sure I do either. It's the way that they do things in  States".  you see, what bothered her was she was used to making  time she was seventeen she knew she was going That's  My  to go to a movie, and I went zoith  to marry  my Dad. Sixteen,  the only time she said, "I'm not sure if I understand  mother never encouraged  me to get married  I still met somebody and got married  young  young,  anyway!  a commitment.  Like,  by the  seventeen.  this".  although  she had married  But it was not something  early.  that ivas  ^ Marie Louise Adams (1997) outlined how changing economic conditions, proliferation of cars and availability of commercial amusements after the First World War made dates outside the home possible, and how constantly changing partners evolved into 'going steady' for working and middleclass white youth in North America after the Second World War.  110  mandatory.  No it wasn't  like this is something  that ive've done and we expect you  to do  it.  M a r i o n mentioned several times her o w n and her mother's 'lack of understanding' about dating, a lack of understanding that temporarily bridged Ukrainian and N o r t h American cultural difference. She contrasted this version of 'dating', encountered late i n her high school days i n Washington state d u r i n g the 1940s, w i t h her mother's traditional U k r a i n i a n experience of courtship. This N o r t h American version of 'dating' referred to going out for an evening to social events such as movies or dances w i t h a boy. The 'date' lasted for one evening and provided semi-public means of heterosexual socializing during adolescence; again, this contrasted w i t h her mother's U k r a i n i a n experience where the norm had been to establish an exclusive, long-term relationship w i t h a potential husband. M a r i o n was aware of having to adopt the normative practice of dating, aware that it differed from her mother's normative expectations of early commitment and marriage. The adjustment was just one of many required of U k r a i n i a n immigrants such as Marion's family w h o was deliberately assimilating into white N o r t h A m e r i c a n cultural practices. N o longer a Grimm's Fairy Tale romance Looking back on her teenage years i n rural N o v a Scotia during the early 1960s, Bethany remembered how heterosexuality was the only version of sexuality publicly available to her at that time:  Heather:  Can you give me a brief outline what sort of relationships  Bethany: Heather:  you  of um...when had.  Fourteen! And  you  can remember  him  Ill  clearly!  you  started dating  boys and  Bethany  I certainly And  can. Yes I can. He was one of the hired help on one of the  he was a Fonzie  character  the leather jacket. And  I just  We used to go out stealing things.  For fun.  And  with  thought  things.  So he had his own car or he would  Bethany  Oh he was like twentyish.  out  Hub caps...and  mirrors  I was totally  back  in the  off  hair, world.  cars...and  enchanted.  borrow?  He zuas old. So yep I do remember  exactly.  Yeah  him. Of course it took him about two months to figure  that he couldn't  of it unfortunately,  cars, the slicked  he was the best thing  drive fast for fun.  Heather  I can still remember  the fast  farms.  have sex with (laughs)  me and  then...pphhtt...that  I was in such mortal  was the end  terror!  O n the one hand, Bethany's portrayed dating as a rebellious rite of passage, of being 'totally enchanted' w i t h breaking the rules such as driving fast and stealing hubcaps; yet on the other, she concludes the narrative by invoking a dark feeling of 'mortal terror'. A g a i n , the contradictory burdens of sexual responsibility and availability r u n beneath Bethany's memories of h o w she positioned herself w i t h the normative practice of heterosexual dating. Looking back on her marriage of seventeen years, she told me h o w her life had turned out quite differently from her early expectations and hopes.  My life is quite different from have a horse-farm  and er  what I set out to do. I set out to get married,  that would  I have a career now. (laughs) person you'll  And  be my life. And  I live in the city....oh  I didn't  have a job,  get any of those  my God. I'm  things.  the least city  ever come across.  A s a single woman i n her fifties looking back, Bethany remarked to me that "marriage no longer holds that Grimm's Fairy Tales romance for me".  112  Wanting To Beat Them U p ! Connie recollected her experiences of dating i n a rural Ontario high school i n the mid-70s w h i c h included one-night events such as dances, movies or skating and later having a series of boyfriends. The importance of peers was reflected i n being visible, having the last skate or being shown attention by boys.  Connie:  What I remember  personally  to beat them up. I remember  is probably trying  my first  dance, Heather:  to have a guy  The phrase going  boyfriends  new friends  The last skate, I would to skate with  that I could beat up  happened. I  but I remember  roller-skate  sort of  every Friday.  that was pretty  on a date keeps coming  wanting  or I could arm wrestle and I still  But I guess it was about grade 7 when  boyfriends.  in boys is  to get the reputation  guys and I coxdd put them on the ground  to a new school so I was making  interest  The  switched having last  cool.  up. From your experience,  what  did going on a date mean? Connie:  It usually going  meant getting  to the A &W for hamburgers  stomach  With  Dubs, and I didn't  Connie:  I remember  nervous.  sick to my  I just remember  that  again.  the new A & W coming  comprendez!  to the movie and then  and root beer. And feeling  and not being able to eat, from feeling  over and over Heather:  picked up in a car, going  A &  get it cos I've never seen it. Like, you eat in your car?  (Both doing  here, Jan was going on about the drive-in  Non  laughing) that. And  then going  to get kissed, and then ivhat are  they going to try and do. Oh yes I used to get so nervous Heather:  Did you have boyfriends  Connie:  I had a lot more guys that I was friends grade 9 or 10, the first  for a week or a month, with.  or how did it  progress?  I had a boyfriend  either  year that I had a boyfriend  113  about that.  in  that was in grade 12 or  13. And  then after that I don't  so. And  then for the rest of high school, like different guys  remember  Heather:  a steady  Having would  have a boyfriend,  boyfriends  neat but not extreme.  really  your a peon, because we were sort of hanging  or if  react? Like I don't  if I didn 't but it was like getting  ivas like "Wow! She's got one and she's lucky." and  but I don't  was there if you had a boyfriend,  how did your girlfriends  ivas pretty  not have friends  that was only for a year or  boyfriend.  What sort of pressure or peer reward you didn't  Connie:  having  really remember,  think I  the newest coat, it  Not there's some out  demi-god  together.  It just scared me to death Similarly, Jenny went to high school i n rural Ontario i n the 1970s. She remembered reluctantly going on a few dates w i t h guys i n her peer group at high school.  Heather:  Did you go on any dates with boys when you were at school?  Jenny:  Oh very few. I didn't  want to. It just scared me to death. There was this one  guy who called me a couple of times to do stuff. And I never did. We sort of ended up at parties together. He was a nice guy, but I just didn't find very attractive  him  in that kind of sense.  Jenny began her narrative by recalling the expectations and fears associated with dating, declaring "I didn't want to. It just scared me to death". She mentioned several times not being sexually attracted to the boys, preferring instead to have non-sexual relationships w i t h them.  114  And  then this friend  necking  Jordon is at this party and he wanted  and I'm like "I don't know"  knew he wanted  because I didn't find  to. I mean he probably woidd've  hot to trot. And I finally  just said,  to get..first  it was start  him very attractive  and then I  gone all the way. I mean he was just  "Yaughl"  O n another occasion she mentioned ending the date when the boy attempted to initiate sexual activity, although what constituted such sexual activity was left unsaid.  / did stuff  with all my friends.  was a bunch of guys, actually  didn't  There was Penny  and Kate and Julie and Nan..and  and most of whom were actually  feel comfortable  around  them. I didn't  there  were in higher grades. And I care for most of them  They were kind of not that nice. But yeah, I had one friend  actually.  Derek who was my age, and  actually  yeah we went on a date and then HE decided — this was in grade 12 — he  thought  it might  quickly  be a good idea if we decided zue zuould become more than friends  and I  vetoed that because he's a great guy but I had NO desire to go out with him. He  ivas just a big goof. A really sweet guy. relationships female friends  So I was really happy with  with guys. It was sort of just fun. and now we know  those kind of  And of course I loved being around  my  why!!!  These narratives portray the difficulties Jenny encountered i n resisting the normative discourse of dating during her high school days — w h e n she finally just said "Yaugh!" and "quickly vetoed that". H e r stories also gave a sense of the fear and ambivalence she remembered. Even though I knew I was gay Remembering her time at a small town high school i n British Columbia i n the 1980s, Lisa talked openly about having sexual intercourse and using  115  contraception. It may be tempting to claim that her narrative reflects a liberalization of teenage sexual activity i n the 1980s compared to other women's memories from the 1940s to 1970s. More significant I think were themes w h i c h reappeared i n Lisa's story. For example, she also recalled her fears about pregnancy the first time she had sex with a guy:  Lisa:  I lost my virginity  in grade 8, which was a big  It was the one guy  that, probably  the only guy,  on. And he was a new guy, and he came from looking. drinking, Heather:  Lisa:  Heather:  The morning  no, probably through  No, actually  "Hey."  We had been  factor.  when did you come to think of it as a  after or years  any other guys  was it  after?  the same year. And high  then I didn't  have  school. At the time, in the  morning  okay? I guess I thought  broke — we were responsible, guess I thought  when  I decided  it was a mistake  because the condom  had  we used a condom — but it did break. And I  I was pregnant  school and the counselor probably  Quebec and ...he was very good  a cause, a big  So what made you think it was a mistake? after,  Lisa:  and that ivas probably  No years after...well sex with  that I ever had a real crush  And when I got into grade 8, I just thought  So when you go "it ivas a mistake", mistake?  mistake.  so...and  then it went through  got a hold of it and called me in. And it was a  the whole that's  mistake.  There seems to be several elements which contributed to this incident being remembered as a 'mistake'. Lisa initially hinted that the actual loss of her 'virginity' was a mistake, but a fear of getting pregnant, perceived responsibility for contraception and the reaction of peers and school staff came through later i n the  116  narrative as more important underlying reasons. Similar themes appeared i n the narratives of Bethany and Jenny, revealing how they had to negotiate their sexual activities within acceptable limits of availability/promiscuity, risk/responsibility, abandon / control. Lisa explained to me that she had a boyfriend i n high school "because everyone else d i d " and also during the first year of college "even though she knew she was gay". O n the surface then, having a boyfriend appeared to be, for Lisa, closely linked to the heteronormative expectations of high school and college friends.  In high school I only had one boyfriend, basically (Laughs)  we got  along  together and  I think I zuas in grade 11. But  did  That was just a school thing  things  because everybody  did go to college my first year — when I first anybody  — and I had one boyfriend  though I knew that I was  together. Never  met  my  it wasn' -parents  else had a boyfriend.  started to come out I still didn't  in Karimore  during  my first  was though.  When I know  year of college,  even  gay.  'Dating' has probably been one of the most important and long-standing practices through w h i c h (hetero)sexuality has been institutionalized d u r i n g adolescence. Certainly 'dating' appeared as a common discourse across the generations of women i n the study and an important vehicle for normalizing heterosexuality. A l l the women, w i t h the exception of Denise, recalled various rituals of dating. H a v i n g a boyfriend and being seen to date were recalled as vital parts of correctly performing female heterosexuality as a teenager, especially within the context of 'the high school'. Several w o m e n talked about negotiating expectations of parents and peers, controlling the sexual activities of their (male) dates, taking responsibility for contraception and fearing the risk of pregnancy. But, of course, there were differences within this common discourse between each  117  w o m a n and each generation of women. The women's memories of dating also revealed their deep ambivalence about this normalizing practice. W i t h a particular reading, their narratives may also start to loosen the grip of heteronormativity. Changes i n the discursive repertoires about 'dating' can be observed across the generations from Marion's accounts from the 1930s to Lisa's memories from the 1980s. These changes might loosely be attributed to widespread liberalization of female (hetero)sexuality in N o r t h A m e r i c a n society. Yet part of this liberalization, at least the reduced pressure to get married early, was due to the economic independence the teaching profession afforded these women. In Marion's case, adopting the unfamiliar N o r t h American practice of dating was a move away from Ukrainian-Canadian tradition of early marriage, and intimately linked to her family's deliberate assimilation into white, middle class N o r t h American culture. The irony i n Marion's story is that even though assimilation and educational access were emphasized by her parents, "she got married early anyway". For Bethany, w h o often mentioned how poverty affected her family i n rural N o v a Scotia during the 1960s, dating was remembered as a time of rebellion. Rebellion against the confines of her family's poverty (no disposable income, no car, no travel to church); against her mother's discriminatory attitudes; and the beginnings of her journey away from 'home'. She recalled the pervasive expectation that w o m e n w o u l d marry early, and this is clearly connected to the lack of economic choices facing w o r k i n g class w o m e n in her rural community at that time. Denise made no mention of dating or boyfriends, talking instead about the silence surrounding homosexuality w h i c h she experienced throughout adolescence and adulthood. For Connie, dating was largely unquestioned and vaguely recollected as a regular part of high school life. Each story contained a deep ambivalence towards dating which, I think, revealed the contradictory subject positions they had to negotiate as young women. H o w did the women talk about the apparent contradiction between heterosexual  118  dating and being lesbian? Jenny and Lisa's remarks revealed much about the incompleteness of heteronormativity. Jenny ended her stories about dating by saying cryptically "and now we know why!". The phrase offered a partial explanation as to w h y she preferred to spend time w i t h her girlfriends, and have boys as friends rather than 'dates'. Lisa concluded her stories w i t h the remark "even though I knew I was gay". This phrase undermined the possibility that she was, i n any authentic sense, straight even though she was sexually active w i t h boys. These remarks help to reconcile  the  apparent  contradiction  between their adult lesbian  identities w i t h their memories of teenage heterosexual activity. A t the same time, these ironic remarks undermined the impression that teenage dating was linked to 'authentic' heterosexuality. This is, of course, the main idea behind dating — to explore and prove normal sexual activity during high school. So, Jenny and Lisa's stories dislodged compulsory heterosexuality from its normative moorings. Arguably then, the very linguistic process w h i c h tried to 'fix' lesbian identity actually demonstrated the 'fragility' of sexual identities. These stories indicate how the lesbian Other can inhabit heterosexuality or, as poststructural theorists might say, how the absent trace haunts any presence i n subjectivity (Sarup, 1996: 57). Movies, dances and skating were the scene for many high school stories. They also revealed how relentless the pressure to 'be' straight was at h i g h school. Teachers, and i n particular physical education teachers, d i d not figure i n the discourse surrounding dating, unlike parents, counselors and peers. A l s o , none of the women mentioned sport or physical activity i n their narratives about dating. There were other settings outside high school where women talked about lesbian sexualities (see 'Lesbian Encounters').  119  Feminist Generations This section explores the women's perspectives about feminism. The life histories revealed that only some w o m e n identified as feminists whilst all of them talked at length about sexism. L i n d a Alcoff's (1995) explained what difference she thinks a 'feminist' identity m a k e s 4 4 :  When women become feminists have learned any position,  be critical  of the formerly departure  thing  new facts about the world  a different  is happening  the crucial  from  their own  position  imitative  , the point from  attitudes  a political  which  but  When colonial  they had  with  change  all things  is not  that they  that they come to view those facts  as subjects.  is that they begin to identify does necessitate  that has occurred  toward  the  the colonized  rather  in perspective  since  are measured,  from  subjects begin colonialists,  has changed,  than  what  the  the point (p.  to  of  452)  Pre- to Post-Feminist Generations 4 5 A t first glance the women's personal politics seem to correspond w i t h the rise and fall of second wave feminisms and, undoubtedly, the availability of feminist and lesbian discourses influenced each woman's ideas about sexuality. M a r i o n and Denise, the two older w o m e n i n the study, talked at length about sexism they had experienced during their teaching careers and the lack of equal opportunities for  Linda Alcoff's (1995) concept of 'positionality' has similarities to but should not be confused with 'positioning theory' which is evident in the feminist poststructuralism of Bronwyn Davis (Davis & Harre, 1990) . Harre's psychological explanation which focuses on conversation analysis, explains positioning as the process by which people are 'located' within conversations as observably and subjectively coherent participants in jointly produced storylines. This differs from Alcoff's broader social conceptualization of positionality in terms of psychoanalytic subjectivity combined with identity politics. The two are by no means exclusionary or even contradictory; rather they demonstrate quite similar post-structuralist theories of identity from different disciplinary perspectives. 4 4  4 5  Refer to Nancy Whittier (1995) for an analysis of the post-feminist generation in the United  States.  120  women and girls i n sports. They attributed improvements i n society's attitudes towards women and homosexuals more to the passing of time rather than specific political struggles. A l s o , while both w o m e n were committed to principles stemming from first wave feminism, such as equal access to education, employment and sport for women, neither used the term 'feminism' directly or identified themselves as feminists. O n the other hand, the three w o m e n w h o identified themselves as feminists encountered second-wave feminism during the 1970s and 1980s, but have come to express their feminism i n very different ways. Bethany's liberal feminism was rooted i n her childhood memories of poverty and racism, w h i c h have combined w i t h her more recent political struggles at w o r k to improve sporting opportunities for females. In contrast, Connie's environmental concerns as an undergraduate have developed into a committed social activism on environmental, multicultural and feminist issues both inside and outside her teaching. Jenny's feminism, i n contrast, stemmed from her involvement i n various feminist communities while coming out as a lesbian. She spoke about her difficulty i n separating "the lesbian part from the feminist part". A l l three 'feminists' encountered feminism through the media, particularly books, and yet had diverse experiences w i t h white feminist communities and the educational system. The youngest woman, Lisa, explicitly identified herself as not being a feminist and distanced herself from social activism. Nonetheless, several discourses of identity politics and lesbian rights were evident i n how Lisa distinguished between the homophobia she recalled i n rural communities and the racism she was n o w observing as a young teacher i n an urban school. Just the way it was M a r i o n and Denise, born during the depression years of the 1930s, developed their early political views w e l l before second-wave feminism i n N o r t h America. They spoke at length about sexism without any reference to feminism. Marion's  121  declaration that "it was just the way it was" appeared often i n both m y interviews w i t h these older White w o m e n as they positioned me as a younger w o m a n w h o had not experienced growing up i n the 1930-40s. The phrase served to stress h o w ordinary these family arrangements were at the time. It was important to both M a r i o n and Denise that I come to understand that they were telling me about something quite normal for the time, at the same time this illustrated h o w they spoke about unequal gender relations without explicitly using feminist terms or concepts. M a r i o n never spoke i n terms of 'feminism' as she described two decades of dealing w i t h sexism i n physical education; nonetheless her narratives were filled w i t h how she coped w i t h sexist behavior i n physical education. A s she put it, "There were times when I felt when I wasn't given the better deal. A n d then I found myself, I wouldn't even fight most of the time. I'd just take that". Marion's childhood memories about the changing roles of w o m e n were interwoven w i t h her family's assimilation i n N o r t h A m e r i c a n culture as p r e - W W I immigrants from the Ukraine. She also recognized her parents' deliberate break w i t h other aspects of Ukrainian tradition:  Both my related think Mother  Mother  and  Dad  said they moved to the United  to half the people in they purposely would  that way.  say,  wanted "We're  We're going  Saskatchewan, to get  away  in the United  from  Regina  States for through  because they wanted  States. We're American  to accept their culture".  And  she would  Saskatoon. to live now.  122  We  are  And  I  differently.  We're going  speak her own  when there was no-one else around, but as soon as one of my friends English.  a reason.  came around  to be  language it ivas  W i t h i n this context of assimilation to white N o r t h American culture, Marion's family stressed the importance of equal access to education for women.  I remember my  Dad saying,  "Times are changing.  Girls  have to have an education".  think that's one of the reasons they liked me to be in sports. Anything school. My  brother was an average student.  Sports kept him  in  to keep me  So I in  school.  These stories told how M a r i o n became aware that her parents departed from Ukrainian tradition by valuing access to education and sports for girls. Girls' access to education and sport reappeared as a primary concerns i n Marion's teaching career. Responding to my questions about how she had experienced sexist discrimination later i n life as a physical education teacher, her stories told of battling against sexist language, stereotypes of women as physically inferior, students' resistance to co-ed classes, and struggling to improve girls' sporting facilities, maintain collegial relations w i t h male staff and demonstrate that femininity could be combined w i t h women's equality . The absence of the terms such as 'feminist' i n Marion's narratives about sexism might be attributed to the fact that M a r i o n grew up before 'feminist' discourses were widely available; however, this overlooks the use of the term 'feminism' as early as the 1890s when it applied to a group of political and social movements n o w collectively referred to as 'first wave feminisms' ( H u m m , 1992: 1). Indeed, the importance of women's equal access to education was first identified by M a r y Wollstonecraft and J.S. M i l l i n the 18th and 19th centuries respectively (Jaggar, 1988) and was later taken up by predominantly white, first wave 'feminist' or 'suffrage' movements. In light of this, it is more accurate to consider h o w Marion's language illustrated the way i n w h i c h her deeply held beliefs about women's rights  123  and equality were disassociated from the early feminist discourses i n w h i c h they originated. Neither M a r i o n or Denise referred to themselves as feminists nor were their personal politics directly concerned w i t h social activism inside or outside the school. Both women had long been concerned about i m p r o v i n g girls' access to education and sport, and both attributed changes i n social attitudes about homosexuality to the passage of time which i n turn gradually increased society's level of tolerance. Denise viewed social change as an external process which slowly affected individuals' attitudes. She talked about changes i n values about gender roles, homosexuality and racism from one generation to the next, often explaining that "just general acceptance of language" altered social attitudes — quite a different notion than feminist perspectives w h i c h assume that social change results from, as much as acts upon, the agency of individuals. Denise regarded education to be an important site for more progressive social values, w i t h educators being a "more informed" and "more accepting group of people".  knoiv I think that, and maybe I'm  more informed advantage  public  of having  that you  do general  all the literature  aware, they want us to be informed parents'  attitudes  setting. so  some  public.  given  but  And  in a school setting  to us constantly  on certain  you  issues, and so  have a more informed  of people because of the nature  learn're  not  to discriminate  have a  of the job.  the  because they want us to be when I look at  changed as much as someone who has been in an  I think that in education group  you  I think we have probably  They only know what they read in the paper and  accepting you  it hasn't  naive,  what they see on TV  my educational and  group of people and a more You  learn to accept  people,  on sex or race or and so...that has to have  bearing.  124  A g a i n social change was, i n Denise's view, deliberately imposed upon teachers by unspecified educational authorities because "they want us to be aware, they want us to be informed". Equally she observed how attitudes gradually changed with time as she outlined how her expectations as a lesbian teacher differed from "more modern teachers".  But  then you  have to remember that because I have been teaching  much more naive. perception my  of what the expectations  experiences  years ago. Now teacher.  And  But  were probably I wouldn't  they...they  of a teacher was  not [inaudible].  say that's  wouldn't  look at my  So  um  than  say fifteen  know, a fifteen  years younger,  and  I've  probably had a  when I went into teaching I never went to a gay  the experience  have the same  background  of a teacher....a  more  and  bar until  so, three  modern  concerns.  I look at my age too, and how I think and what it was like for me is  different are,  see, when you  longer I am  year difference. their experiences  totally  I look at a lot of my friends are  totally  different  than  that mine.  Both these women were keenly aware of sexism and discrimination, and talked about changes i n society's attitudes about w o m e n during their lifetimes. Neither w o m a n identified w i t h feminism directly w h i c h may, i n part, be due to the absence of feminist discourses i n their professional training and school settings. Denise often mentioned the complete lack of discussion about homosexuality on T V and i n the media during her childhood, and the fact that it was only i n 1992 that she first visited Little Sisters, a lesbian and gay bookstore i n Vancouver, or went to any lesbian bars i n the city. Denise had little contact w i t h lesbian or feminist  125  movements outside the mainly closeted, white lesbian sporting communities for almost thirty years. Games m y Mother never taught me Bethany, Connie and Jenny came of age i n the era of struggles over civil rights and women's rights. Their paths to feminism were quite different, as were their substantive feminist views. While they all encountered feminism i n the late 1970s and 1980s, they followed different routes via w o r l d travel, Women's Studies, entering white lesbian communities and reading feminist books. Early on i n our interviews Bethany described her feminism to me as "the belief that I defended women's rights — period. A n d that was my only definition for being a feminist". Through her stories I noticed that challenging stereotypical views about women and unequal opportunities for w o m e n i n sport and w o r k have been central to her liberal feminist views. Since the early 1980s, it has been important to Bethany to state her feminism explicitly i n work contexts:  As far back as 1983 started  or 1984  to attend national  this is what we shoidd  I ivas calling  meetings  myself a feminist.  did I first  start to say  Back here when I first "Yes,  this is what we are  and  be".  Bethany discussed how her personal feminism at w o r k had become less "arrogant" and more consultational.  So many years ago when I was on the Canadian would  call myself  as Chair  a feminist  of that committee,  tuhich upset everybody  and many around I insisted  Colleges  Women's  the table would  that people think  refuse to, and  of things  of course, and I zooidd no longer go in with  126  Sport Committee,  when I sat  in a feminist that  I  way  approach.  Bethany told h o w she was pleased by a provincial policy on gender equity i n sport, a policy based on liberal feminist notion of equal o p p o r t u n i t y 4 6 .  The government  took a stand  with  sports  several years back and they virtually  said  "Unless you bring your female numbers up to match your male numbers you're not going to get federal funding"  and I ivas very  was never very sure who did that deal  pleased  that somebody  but it worked its way down  did that....although to the groups  I  that I  with.  For Bethany, the feminist movement of the 1970s resulted i n increased opportunities for w o m e n i n traditionally male sports — a history w h i c h , she pointed out, is too readily forgotten by many of her female students i n the 1990s.  They don't  realize  on the wrestling, now and again didn't  that a few years back they wouldn't wouldn't  be a women's  golf program for them  that there were people who fought  get there by saying  "I'm not a  have been playing  for  those kinds  ,wouldn't  J have to remind of programs  be them they  feminist!"  More broadly, she expressed concern about a decrease i n many women's acceptance of the 'feminist' label:  They're  less accepting  of it because they think  men, that it means that you're things  to people...and  as all those things  not going  it means gay, that it means you  to be reasonable  it means a whole lot of  women  don't even like to use it because they don't  I think  it's  really  hate  I tell everyone  like to be seen I can that if we  See Alison Jaggar (1988) for an analysis of contradictions inherent in this notion of equality.  127  don't  take back that label, if we don't  people that no-one wants Noiu I don't  to deal  call ourselves feminists  Some are fine  with  will  it. Others  be the  unreasonable  are not fine  with  it...  care.  So, i n response to direct questions, she gave me the impression that being k n o w n as a feminist w o r k i n g i n college athletics had not become easier for her during the past ten years, rather she was aware of increasing fear and resistance to the feminist label by other women, especially younger women. Her primarily liberal feminist views continued to motivate Bethany to keep "gently prodding" for colleagues to deal w i t h sexual harassment i n sport, to model and discuss women's rights w i t h her students and confront sexism i n coaching and sport participation within her institution. H e r liberal feminism seemed to stem from her childhood memories of being poor alongside her resistance to traditional expectations about marriage. H e r feminist views have evolved through her struggles against sexist discrimination at work. She spoke about feminism less directly when talking about her personal relationships, poverty and racial discrimination. U n t i l I have freedom I think Connie w o u l d approve of me describing her as a social activist concerned particularly w i t h environmental and women's issues. I got the sense throughout our interviews that she wanted to convey to me the urgent need for committed social action, both inside and beyond the classroom. Before our second interview began, we had been chatting i n her sitting room about types of music we liked, and Connie told me about her theme song "I W i l l N o t Rest U n t i l I Have Freedom":  128  And  to me, I don't understand  at the top of their lungs not all trying  zuhy all 5.4 billion  'Until  to immediately  I have Freedom  people aren't standing  and Justice'.  save our environment,  up and  shouting  It makes no sense that we're  immediately  fight for  human  rights.  A deep-seated concern for environmental issues underpined Connie's political views, a concern w h i c h she started to pursue as she "sort of fell slowly but naturally into Environmental Studies" as an undergraduate i n the late 1970s. Connie speculated that her three sisters presently considered her to be the most "left-wing, more activist and more concerned about global issues" family member, and attributed this partly to her experiences traveling...  Connie:  Traveling  to southern  was a life-long  countries,  sort of quote unquote  'countries  learning  experience  Heather:  So when did you start  traveling?  Connie:  Oh I did the Europe scene when I was 18. But actually  1990 so not that long  ago. Took a year off and traveled  and since  taught  been to China and just gathering  more information  global  to ivorkshops  issues locally  and pushing  here. Going  for me. And  'developing  still will be one to  then I've  me to look at another perspective  in Nepal  and getting  — they're  continue.  involved  always  and then Women's  in  "Aha", Studies  courses. Once you open up it just sort of falls at you and the more you're the more it  and  open,  falls.  ...and partly to her experiences taking Women's Studies courses. O n returning to graduate school almost a decade later, she recalled her dramatic introduction to feminist perspectives.  129  So many things have made me realize thirty  years I've  been brainwashed  that the way  and  I see thing  conditioned  to think  is SO narrow. certain  It's  like  things.  O n occasion Connie described her feminism i n terms of a single category 'women', but she frequently talked about other oppressed groups. She was the only w o m a n w h o talked about Women's Studies, referring to courses she took as a graduate student. Isolated Women's Studies courses first appeared i n Canadian higher education during the early 1970s (Roach-Peirson, 1995) and, by the time Connie went to graduate school i n 1987, w e l l over forty universities had Women's Studies programs (Eichler cited i n Roach-Pierson, 1995). She mentioned to me on several occasions how Women's Studies opened up a new way of looking at the w o r l d and at herself:  Heather:  Do you  Connie:  Yes.  call yourself  Probably  a feminist  taking  courses I took it was seen my  truly  that window  because for  they simply  You gotta be kidding".  wider and  me to a Master's  Studies  ivider and  sprayed And  Women's  me the first  Windex  and  couple of  OFF  level to learn this. I should be learning  Studies.  It's  FUNDAMENTAL  wiped  then I just wanted  wider. I was PISSED  at the very most, they did me a disservice  including  start?  like someone had taken this cloudy glass that I  whole life in and  and I went "Wow!  And  Women's  and when did that first  in my to  it  clean  to open  that it took  this in high  Bachelor's  school.  not  everything.  Being introduced to feminist viewpoints was not always easy for Connie, as she went to considerable lengths to tell me what emotions were unleashed as she began to think through a feminist lens — how she dealt w i t h feeling angry, guilty and privileged.  130  / was  SEEING  patriarchy  the patriarchy  historically  rest of the world, a lot with  I'm  healthy  and  and  all of its  omnipotent.  Just  manifestations, looking  what about the rest of the ivomen?  white, know,  I'm  educated, I'm  I...I'm  middle  every minute  around  globally.  What  Seeing my privilege  class, I'm  molecule  heterosexual  and  of  about  the  struggling  I'm  able-bodied.  The implications of social privilege occurred repeatedly throughout Connie's thirties, as she worked to incorporate feminism into her teaching. The physical education profession i n Canada, Britain and the U S responded even more slowly than the field of education generally to the development of Women's Studies, w i t h articles directly informed by feminist theory appearing more frequently i n the late 1980s i n journals such as C A P H E R . Spurred on by literature of feminist pedagogy within education, accounts appeared documenting how i n d i v i d u a l teacher educators began to incorporate issues of sexism, homophobia, motor elitism and racism i n preservice physical education courses. U n l i k e Denise and Lisa, being lesbian was inextricably connected to Jenny's personal feminist politics. She told me about the fluidity between her feminist and lesbian identities, saying "it's hard to find the.... the crossover between the feminist part.... and the lesbian part" and "there's a D I F F E R E N C E and..I don't k n o w  I  don't k n o w what it is". For Jenny, becoming and being 'lesbian' and 'feminist' were not synonymous, nor were they easily separable. Sexism was more evident i n some of Jenny's stories and homophobia i n others, despite this her stories showed h o w difficult it was for her to maintain a clear distinction between sexism and homophobia. Jenny described how her teaching was deeply affected by her feminism, w h i c h in turn could not be separated from her lesbianism.  131  Heather:  Can you think of any ways that being a lesbian affects your life as a teacher?  fenny:  I don't if it's more being a feminist issues.  You know, kids....if  -  hear it  So there's  homophobic  sensitive  to gender  I hear them talk about fags and homos, and I  don't hear that very much from don't  but I'm certainly  our kids, which probably  that really  overt stuff  means that I just  about gender  and sexual  behavior.  It's going to change the zoay I interact with MEN for sure. That mean  that there aren't  interacting Kids  girls  women  activity.  Again,  who have different  think  it's  that there's  hard to find  are doing, how the system straight  doesn't  ivays of  a difference for  the crossover  part and the lesbian part. I pay a lot of attention  a predominantly a  straight  with men, but I certainly  and physical  the feminist  -  me.  between  to what  the  treats them, and what we expect of them.  system,  I don't  know  In  how that has affected me as  teacher.  Jenny acknowledged both i n d i v i d u a l homophobia and the institutionalized heterosexuality of her school.  Heather:  How do you think you would  teach differently  if you were a  straight  feminist? Jenny:  Wow  J can't  imagine  being  straight  (both  laugh)...I  really  can't. I think a lot of it is I'm really  looking for..different  to them, and to present myself, and I think a real independence,  a strength  132  of character,  to a few a really  ways to present  options  that I certainly  convey  STRONG  woman.  I'm  teaching  with straight  DIFFERENCE...I  women who  do as well hut  don't know what it  I think  there's a  is.  Jenny noted the difficulty in explaining precisely what the difference was between her sense of femininity and that of heterosexual women. She was the only woman to mention heterosexuality as a political rather than personal concern when she talked about w o r k i n g i n "a predominantly straight system". Sometimes they go overboard Lisa, the youngest teacher i n the study, distanced herself from feminism and social activism. G r o w i n g up in the 1970s meant that feminist projects such as increasing women's access to sports and securing lesbian rights had frequently been achieved by the time Lisa came out and started to teach. Social activism was increasingly associated w i t h a unproductive idealism by many of Lisa's 'postfeminist' generation. A n d while Lisa's declaration that she was "not a feminist' might be attributed to 1990s apoliticism, the similarities between her cynicism towards gay activism i n sport and that of Denise actually traverses their generational divide. Lisa outlined her political stance i n the following way:  Lisa;  I mean I'm  not a feminist  in the politics  of it and lohat not.  demonstrations rights may Heather: Lisa:  and  and I think sometimes  be they've  I mean I think if there was  ...fewer demonstrations  what not,  and  activists  I think things might get  helped a bit  ...feminists  out  better. But  get  too  involved  few  there for  gay  then I think,  well  too.  Mmmhhmm. ....but sometimes  they go overboard.  I don't knoiu. I don't get involved  of that stuff. I just sort of live my life. May  133  be I should, I don't know.  in  any  Right  at this point I don't. I [mean I would] walk down the street on gay ... gay pride day I mean that's fine, politics  that's my right, but I don't get involved  of it.  Heather:  Because it can kind of annoy other people or  Lisa:  Yeah it does annoy homophobia.  Like  people shoidd  ?  other people. Because there's there is the racism  be fighting  for things, fighting my  in the  for.  part and  There's just  for that. I'm  more so than the other  just  things  that  too much of everything.  not very political  person.  Fighting  I just like to live  life.  Heather:  Yeah, yeah.  Well we only have a certain  Lisa:  So I'd hope things of the activist becoming  amount  will change but I don't  of  energy.  think people have to do as much  stuff as they do to change it because I think  more  that it's  slowly  acceptable.  Following her BPE degree, Lisa qualified as a teacher i n a one year BEd program i n 1994 at w h i c h time issues of discrimination, abbreviated to "The Isms", were taught i n the physical education methods course. Lisa felt these issues were somewhat relevant to her current teaching context but the instructor had placed too much emphasis on them during the course.  Heather:  Was there any time in your teacher ed where they even touched like  Lisa:  on  issues  this?  Well , in one of my phys ed classes. One of the teachers touched upon quite a bit of the issues  that would  Heather:  In terms of sexual harassment  Lisa:  Mainly  Heather:  The "isms"  on sexual  take place in phys ed.  harassment,  in the gym?  134  or ethnic sexuality  issues? er  oh God, the  "isms'  Lisa:  Basically  Heather  Mmmm....too  Lisa:  Well (laughs)  I think  that's  much  what the whole  course  was  on.  so?  Yeah it ivas too much so I thought and a lot of the males in  the class thought  it was  too much  so,  Heather  And  Lisa:  Oh I think it is very important  and  relevance,  the classrooms  hoio much kind of relevance  fust seeing it within  does it have now? ....I mean..yeah, and  it's  got quite a bit of  within  the  school.  The three lesbian w o m e n were ambivalent about connection between lesbian activism and lesbian team sports which emerged during the late 1980s as lesbian leagues and the Gay Games evolved alongside the struggles for sexual diversity within Vancouver's lesbian communities. Jenny's search for lesbians i n the feminist communities rather than team sports accounts, i n large part, for the difference between her views and those of Denise and Lisa. It might also account for the surprising similarity between Lisa and Denise's concern that some recent developments w i t h i n lesbian communities were unnecessary if not potentially damaging. For instance, Denise questioned the need for the G a y Games on the basis that "as soon as y o u label it sexually, then y o u automatically exclude certain people" and that she had not been excluded from existing sporting competitions because of her sexuality.  Denise:  My  partner's  very involved,  okay. Thousands participate  of people  or has been very involved, participate.  than the Olympics.  international  competition  they didn't  call them the  everybody."  And  and  But  I said  135  they have more  "You  know,  I was never excluded  'Heterosexual  her argument  Well  is "The  Games'. Gay  in the Gay  I've  Games  people  participated  because I ivas gay.  in Like  I said "It ivas open to  Games are open to  everybody.  You can go in whether you're gay or not." label it ...sexually because they don't don't say  then you want to, you  'heterosexual'.  But it seems to me, as soon as  automatically know...  exclude  They don't  They're just games. So I  They wanted me to go in the Gay Games. And  certain  people  call these others,  you just they  don't.  I said "It's  not because I would  be concerned of going in because you 're not going to be seen if you 're over in Europe  somewhere."  I don't  believe in the philosophy  of  it.  Denise's views raised a dilemma i n liberal feminism whereby, as A l i s o n Jaggar (1988) explained, institutions such as sporting competitions provide equal opportunities to everyone while a l l o w i n g each i n d i v i d u a l m a x i m u m opportunities for fulfillment. The Gay Games may fulfill many athletes' need for competition i n lesbian-positive atmosphere and institution, but also raised issues of exclusion and unnecessary labeling for Denise. A concern which Denise also voiced about Vancouver's Gay Pride March:  One  thing I don't like is when I see these gay parades and I see everybody  always  think  they look like a bunch  of clowns  anything,  you  know, guys dress up with  whatever.  You  know, is that what it means if you're  all dressed up in your  and  probably  all their regalia, going  dressed up. I  more male  than  even the dykes on bikes or  to be gay do you  have to get  leathers?  Summary A l l the women were deeply concerned about women's inequality i n sport and physical education, yet they had quite divergent opinions about feminism. Denise and M a r i o n began teaching physical education i n the 1960s, before second-wave feminism entered the physical education profession. In contrast, Bethany, Connie  136  and Jenny who entered teaching i n the late 1970s and early 1980s, identified as feminists and expressed views from liberal, multicultural and lesbian-feminisms respectively. H a v i n g trained as a teacher i n the early 1990s, Lisa d i d not regard herself as a feminist. It is, perhaps, significant that the women's identities as feminists were not connected to their sexual identities; to put it bluntly, being lesbian d i d not mean becoming a feminist. Chandra Talpade Mohanty (1992) challenged this idea about 'feminist osmosis':  The politics woman  of being 'woman'  or lesbian.  or 'lesbian'  Being female  where the experience  [is] deduced from  is thus seen as naturally  of being female  transforms  the experience related  us into feminists  of being  to being by osmosis,  feminist, (p. 77)  Instead, the generation to w h i c h the w o m e n belonged was, arguably, the most significant influence on the women's views about feminism. If the w o m e n are characterized i n terms of generations, M a r i o n and Denise could be regarded as belonging to a generation prior to second-wave feminism; Bethany, C o n n i e and Jenny as belonging to generation of white, second-wave feminists; and Lisa as belonging to a 'post-feminist' generation.  137  Chapter 5 Social Locations Narrated through Other(s)  This chapter considers how the w o m e n talked about various types of unequal social relations; that is, the extent they talked explicitly about discrimination or inequities i n their o w n lives. It begins w i t h stories about sexism, highlighting the types of discrimination endemic i n the physical education profession. The w o m e n also spoke about unequal female-male relations i n their families and i n women's sport. They spoke at length about sexism and more briefly about racism. Frequently their narratives avoided direct references to their o w n racial identities or experiences of homophobia within physical education. Stories about racism and homophobia focused more frequently on 'Others' and less about the womens' o w n experiences. Increasingly, shadows of whiteness and silences of straightness appeared i n the life histories. These shadows and silences about racisms, sexisms and homophobia reveal much about how privilege, as white physical educators, is constructed over lifetimes and even sustained by life history research such as this. Nonetheless, these stories about discrimination provide historical substance to the political categories 'race', 'class', and 'gender'. The difficulty of m o v i n g beyond the often empty incantation 'race-class-gender' has been quite eruditely stated by H i m a n i Bannerji (1995):  How to think of gender, 'intersectionality'... Somehow,  'race' and class in terms of what is called  their  is a project that is still in the process of being worked  we know almost  instinctively  that these oppressions,  138  separately  out. named  as  sexism,  racism  showing  how,  of speaking concrete quality  and class exploitation, it is always  difficult,  on such matters.  understanding about it. (p.  And,  are intimately and  strains  if abstract  of hoiv they actually  connected.  the capacity theorization  work  But  when it comes to  of our conventional is partially  together continues  possible,  ways the  to have an  elusive  122)  The following stories about sexisms, racism and homophobia illustrates changes experienced by the women during their teaching careers. Re-Living Sexisms  When asked about sexist discrimination they had experienced at work, women spoke about verbal sexism of male colleagues and systemic differences between female and male promotion. Each w o m a n placed a different emphasis on these narratives of sexism between female and male physical education teachers within their overall discussion of discrimination and personal politics. M a r i o n talked almost exclusively i n terms of sexism throughout her life history whereas Denise noted h o w sexism of the 1970s and 1980s had been overtaken by concerns about racial and linguistic difference i n the 1990s. A l t h o u g h Jenny talked about changes from blatant to subtle sexism, her narratives of sexism were frequently interwoven w i t h issues of heterosexism. The road to administration M a r i o n talked about coping w i t h the effects of male sexism by avoiding it, to the extent that she declined a promotion over fears about potential sexism of the male P E staff:  Marion:  We didn't  have all that equipment  but  they had it at the senior secondar —  the balls and ribbons and stuff. So we would ivas returning  borrow that stuff, so one time I  some stuff there and I have never heard...I  139  tell you,  1 zuoidd  just quit...they were going  were screaming  and yelling  to get in a fist-fight.  at each other. I thought  they  These  Heather:  Who? The  students?  Marion:  No. The teachers. The PE teachers at Middletown  Senior Secondary.  Just  awful. Heather:  Two men?  Marion:  Yeah..oh  there were three or four  mentioned  of them, really  angry  voices. And I  it to one of our men teachers and he said "Oh yeah, there's just a  lot of bad feeling arguments.  there". And  they really got into some hot and  And then there ivas an opening for a woman PE teacher and  somebody said I .... by this time I had a lot of seniority, to I probably would have been first comfortable  heavy  here", and I coiddn't  in line. I thought  so if I had wanted  "Forget it.  I'm  see where it was going to help me any to  go to a senior secondary and I knew that there were only three or four years and I would  be through  teaching  more  anyway.  While Marion's decision not to move schools for a promotion partly because of the loud, argumentative behavior of the male physical education staff illustrated the personal cost of harassing verbal sexism, Denise recounted the more systemic sexism w h i c h resulted i n male physical education teachers all too frequently moving up the administrative ladder. She spoke about the difficulty female P E teachers experienced being promoted prior to the m i d 1980s, recalling a common joke that "the road to administration i n Vancouver is phys. ed., counseling then administration", for male P E teachers anyway.  Heather:  Is that still  the  situation?  140  Denise:  Oh well I shouldn't positions  and proving  couldn't  imagine  It's  say it's  not. As more women are in  themselves  working  for a woman,  the same thing as doctors.  automatically or a female  a male and  very well it's  now  Now  administrative get some men  that kind of barrier  is  who  broken,  They used to say that a doctor ivas you  actually  ask  "Do you  have a male  doctor  doctor?"  A l t h o u g h Denise compared the improvement i n women's promotion w i t h i n the educational system to a "barrier that was broken", she noted that as more women "came on board it [was] just accepted as a fact" inferring that w o m e n gained equality as society's attitudes evolved over time. Bethany left teaching after a few years, because she "liked the coaching but didn't like teaching", to w o r k i n a sporting goods store for a year followed by a job i n sports administration i n the Maritimes. After m o v i n g to British C o l u m b i a i n 1980 it took her three years to find w o r k i n sports administration, initially taking a parttime position as one of the first female administrators i n college athletics i n the province. She was w i l l i n g to accept a part-time administrative position w h i c h was considered suitable for a w o m a n rather than a "more accomplished" man, but emphasized her agency i n making the position full-time.  But I got the job because it was a part-time basis and try to make into a full-time well as anyone way.  out  They see men  there...I  job and I was prepared  job which I have. And  truly feel that way.  as being more accomplished.  141  I feel I can do this job as  But  I'm  But  I have a great deal of respect  anyone who can take a job and try to make into their  job.  not  to accept it on that  certain  that people see that for  She determined to challenge the prevailing assumption that w o m e n were less accomplished i n managing athletic programs by gradually altering the nature and extent of her work. Go ahead and have your little fun M a r i o n and Jenny both talked about the verbal sexism of their male colleagues but i n quite different ways, w i t h M a r i o n fending off deliberately provocative sexist humor of colleagues i n her department i n the 1970s and 1980s while Jenny noticed differences between her male and female colleagues i n the early 1990s. Marion's resignation to "the way things were" existed alongside a quiet confidence to intervene w h e n she wanted to, something w h i c h I became aware of i n many of Marion's stories, like these about the equipment storeroom and sexist jokes:  So one day I'd men  cleaned this thing  teachers "Listen,  up and I walked into the office and I said to all three  I've got a whole house to clean, if I zoant to do any  got all kinds of opportunities  cleaning  I've  at home. I don't ivant to do this night after night".  Boy,  they all leaped up and went in and straightened feel intimidated  At  and say sexist  things.  We were trying  a new  grading  system.  office and one of the men  grading  system figured I said /'Good  So I told the Principal,  that time I never ever did. And  into my  And  it out.  it was  know,  they used to tease me  right after school, I walked  teachers said in a loud voice,"Well  out".  because we'd  "We've decided any girl  This one day,  you  been working  on  this".  ivith a 40 inch bust line is an absolute  142  I don't  A".  we've got  this  And  I said "Oh that sounds great".  your little  I'm not going to react to this. Go ahead and have  fun".  Jenny made a distinction between 'blatant' and 'subtle' sexism i n her workplace explaining that, while she couldn't remember the last time she was blatantly discriminated against, she had noticed "differences i n discourse" and promotions between female and male teachers.  In terms of promotions very male-dominated.  I think just being a zvoman you 're at a disadvantage Economically,  benefits,  all that stuff  my partner on as soon as she can prove she's been living  We have alzvays had male Principals, until  although  is no problem  because it is — I can  with me for two  put  years.  we did have a zvonderful  female  V-P  this year. She's gone to another school. There are tzvo men and two zvomen in our  program,  I see the tzvo guys taking over a lot. Not taking over, but they just  automatically  go and do the power stuff  taken all of those different appropriated  and leave Louise  roles that involve  that kind  and I behind. of liaising  [They]  and  have  they've  them.  I notice differences  in discourse  — when either of the men talks to the students  they zvill  talk about "I am doing this. I am doing that" zvhereas I zvill refer to the "zve". I can't just speak for me because I zvant to be clear that this is a decision zve've made or the kids need to knoiv that it's  something  zvhen either Brian or Desmond  program-wide  and that doesn't  are speaking in the class. It's  happen as  much  "I" or "me" not "zve" or  "us ".  T can't  remember  that last time  I felt  overtly,  against.  I think that because of zuhat I do, and I do a lot of masculine  143  like really  blatantly  discriminated sports, as does  Louise, you knoiv we run and we climb and we ski. And um  within  the milieu  we're pretty good at it so  of our school, even there's some really really sexist men  staff, they leave us alone. I mean we don't spend much time down there anyways, they kind of know we're....  we're...pretty  independent  and  pretty  strong,  on  our but  so  The women's narratives about sexism were, perhaps, the most detailed of all unequal social relations discussed i n the interviews. They had all taken up subject positions as 'female' within sexist social relations of their families, communities and specifically the physical education profession. Perhaps this is not surprising, nevertheless it raises several issues. Firstly, their detailed accounts of sexism contrasted w i t h the way they rarely talked about racism; occasionally about homophobia; and only two w o m e n talked about class privilege and poverty. This emphasis on different social relations revealed much about the subject positions available to these women as physical educators, and also how silence can be a powerful way of maintaining social privilege. Secondly, there were important differences i n how the w o m e n conceptualized their agency within the sexist relations that structured physical education. O n one hand, M a r i o n and Denise regarded verbal and systemic sexism as 'social facts'. This is not to suggest that they regarded sexist practices i n any reductive way as biologically-determined or ahistorical; rather, sexism was referred to as 'just the way it was at that time' or as the result of 'society's attitudes'. Both w o m e n discussed how sexism had changed during their lifetimes, but the crucial difference was how they regarded themselves i n relation to these changes. A s Chris Weedon (1987) observed, such a view of unequal gender norms "tends to render invisible the social power relations which have produced them together w i t h their inherent instability" (p. 94). Recognition of one's position w i t h i n sexist contexts, such as physical education, families, schooling and sport, does not necessarily entail  144  recognition of one's individual agency or engender a political intention to alter these sexist practices. The articulation of 'feminist' w i t h 'female' subject positions differed between Marion, Denise and Lisa w h o d i d not identify as feminists and Jenny, Connie, and Bethany w h o d i d (see 'Feminist Generations').  Silences of Straightness Marion's way of talking about homosexuality indicated a basic liberalism, similar to Denise and Lisa, w h i c h assumed that sexual orientation is a non-political aspect of an individual's private life. This notion of privacy accounted i n large part for the delicacy and hesitancy w i t h w h i c h M a r i o n worded her opinions, w h i c h i n turn led me to ask indirect questions about 'single' w o m e n and homosexuality. For much of her adult life Denise's experience of being gay reflected a political liberalism in w h i c h sexual orientation was a private and personal concern, rather than a political issue to be discussed or struggled over i n public. She talked about being gay as a personal matter although several of her stories refer to changes i n 'society's attitudes' as homosexuality has become more openly discussed. This v i e w of social change reinforced her conviction that sexist, homophobic and racist attitudes mellow over time without, even i n spite of, political activism by special groups such as feminists or lesbian activists. However, as later narratives w i l l illustrate, Denise's views on being gay were not influenced by liberal discourses of lesbian rights unlike her views on sexism, w h i c h took up liberal feminist issues such as systemic, sexist discrimination i n promotion. Despite their thirty-year age difference Lisa and Denise shared remarkably similar views about being gay, particularly a non-political approach to lesbian sexuality. The most significant difference was how Lisa had taken up the discourse of lesbian teachers' rights w h i c h emerged from gay liberation and lesbian feminist movements i n the 1970s.  145  We don't talk about T H A T i n sport. W o r k i n g n o w i n college sports administration, Bethany expressed a m i x of frustration and resignation that raising homophobia as a concern w i t h fellow administrators remained a taboo. Bethany has recently tried to "gently p r o d " her colleagues into developing a sexual harassment policy but has been met w i t h denial w h i c h i n turn has left her professionally isolated.  I've  organized  a couple of harassment  seminars  and those kind of things...and  they  just turn around and say "Ahh, ive don't need this. There's no harassment going on" And I have to say "Excuse me, but we had this situation deal with it?" very difficult. sort of  just this last month, how did you  "Ahh yes, but that was just an aberration". Some of the ivomen do not speak  was an ugly  situation..really  ugly  "Alright  fine "...but it's  of the women  and we're  still  ivas an  dealing  still  Athletic  with  those  things.  Silence was a major obstacle to Bethany's ability to raise the issue of homophobia, speculating that other Athletic Directors w o u l d "look at her as if she had rocks in her head" if she were to suggest a policy to deal w i t h it.  Heather:  Is there any mention  of homophobia  Bethany:  No, never talked about (sarcasm).  or same-sex  "We don't  harassment?  talk about that in  There isn't any of that in sport, don't you know that?....unless ivomen trying sarcasm) Heather:  sport!'. it's all those  to come out and cut out all the heterosexual women (end of No....(laughs)  So that is still  silent?  146  Bethany:  Very, very silent.  They'd  tried to introduce  that. I haven't  Homophobia,  all look at me as if I had rocks in my head if I  no. I haven't  gone any further  approached  than  harassment.  it,  When she looked back on earlier parts of her life, Jenny observed that she had been oblivious to incidents of sexism and "the homosexuality issue", but n o w this was quite obvious from her adult perspective as a feminist and lesbian. For example, thinking back to her high school physical education she said, "I don't remember noticing a lot of sexism about then, but although as I reflect back it was H I D E O U S " . The story below demonstrated how Jenny reinterpreted an incident of sexist discrimination at university as a homophobic incident.  Heather:  Did you have the language? word  Jenny:  When you went to university  did you know  the  'lesbian'?  No. I don't remember ever using it. It just didn't come up. One of my favorite  profs — I wasn't  attracted to her, maybe on some level I  kneiv — I loved to talk ivith her. I loved her course and got really marks in it. Used to hang with her as much as a student there was this weird stuff going basketball  team, a very successful  coach the men's be Athletic  and a prof can. Then  on about she was the coach of the team, and they brought  team and there was all this shuffling  Director.  They were basically  trying  And  I'm  like  the homosexuality  "What?"  147  to  about who's going  to shuffle  some input into what was going on. A couple of months said, "Didn't  women's  in this guy  issue ever come  to  her out, and I  think a lot of women were quite upset by this, and we were trying  friend  high  to have  later, a friend up?"  of a  You  see, I didn't  have a clue that was what it was all about. All  women,  they were probably  missed  it!  those  all dykes — in fact, I know they are now  — I just  Looking back, Jenny described how she disagreed w i t h what she thought was sexism i n the PE department. The mention of 'the homosexuality issue' by a friend a couple of months later introduced Jenny to a new form of discrimination — heterosexism. Denise didn't mention any personal experiences of homophobia during her long career as a teacher or an athlete, but d i d agree that female physical education teachers have frequently been stereotyped as lesbians. Regarding the relation between education and sexualities, Denise spoke i n terms of her school's responsibility to meet the counseling needs of gay and lesbian youth explaining that currently "the counseling department deals w i t h kids' sexuality, the phys ed department doesn't deal w i t h it directly". Lisa didn't say if she personally experienced homophobia during adolescence and gave me the impression of being satisfied w i t h the lack of homophobia and opportunities she had experienced playing team sports and teaching physical education i n Vancouver during the 1990s, although she often distinguished between the tolerance of urban settings w i t h the ongoing homophobia of rural environments. The regional location of a school was an important factor i n the forms of sexism and racism she noticed, distinguishing between a "big city and small town", between inner city East Vancouver and more affluent West Vancouver. Talking about a gay male teacher who was "run out just a couple of years ago" from a school i n a small city i n southern British C o l u m b i a she felt that acceptance of homosexuality "changes from being i n a big city where it's quite open to being i n a  148  small, smaller area".  4 7  Regarding her present colleagues, she told me that a group of  openly gay teachers i n her school had "got a very good response from the rest of the staff" although "they were not open to any of the students". M o r e generally, she went on to say that:  because I have a lot of straight  friends,  and like girls  and guys  accept women a lot more so than they do men. So I don't find the general  like er  they seem to  myself affected by, say,  population...  but, on the other hand:  ...I feel limited  in my job only because so many parents look down upon it still. Not so  much in the east side, I think it's more acceptable  than maybe the outskirts  of  Vancouver.  Lisa felt directly affected b y the discourse that lesbian and gay teachers were morally suspicious w h i c h emerged after homosexuality was decriminalized i n 1969 and was re-ignited i n the mid-1990s b y vocal right-wing, family values groups i n British Columbia. The one occasion Lisa expressed dissatisfaction w i t h the educational system, she criticized the exclusion of gay and lesbian issues from the curriculum, giving the following example:  4 / Recent work in the geography of sexuality has developed analyses of this rural/urban trope. See for instance Tamar Rothenburg's (1995) work on the emergence of urban lesbian spaces. Also Lawrence Knopp (1995) highlighted the important connections between particular race, class, gender and sexual relations in the urbanization of Western cities. This work supports Lisa's comparison between urban and rural homophobia, and current race relations in her urban school. Another element in the geography of sexualities was the evident re-location of lesbian desire and homophobia from the everyday practices and content of physical education into the exclusive domain of couselling. (See Denise's comments on homophobia in Chapter 5 'Shadows of Whiteness'.)  149  if you're  doing family  life or you're  doing family  trees, some kids have a family  a mother and a mother but it's always a mother and a father if it was open like that, then kids er ...because of the high er that happen to be gays and lesbians,  up on the family suicide  tree of tree. And  rate of kids  and they have no-one to turn to, or at least they  feel like they have no-one to turn to, if you could just open it into the schools like things could change that way. And  I think that's  that,  the only way, the only place that you  can open, I don't knoiv, make things make sense is through the education  system.  And I  don't know ..I don't know why it's not open like that. I mean we've got all the rights we can have in our Union. why can't we bring  Our Union's  great and, if we've got such a great Union  it into the school system  that way  that way?  Lisa regarded the teacher's union as primarily responsible for activism on gay and lesbian issues, acknowledging their achievements i n protecting gay and lesbian teachers while failing to meet the needs of gay and lesbian students. To this extent, contesting the rights of gay and lesbian teachers and students was a public rather than personal issue for Lisa. A liberal discourse of rights and equal opportunities underpinned Lisa's views about both sexism and homophobia. Discourses of lesbian and gay civil rights had circulated since the 1970s and were beginning to be institutionalized w i t h i n teacher education curriculum and public school policies b y the time Lisa entered teaching i n 1990. It was w i t h i n such a context that Lisa developed her political views about sexual orientation w h i c h reflected a strong personal sense of entitlement and equality as a lesbian. Shadows of Whiteness  The preceding narratives highlighted h o w the w o m e n rarely described themselves as targets of homophobia, referring instead to its effects o n other people, 150  teachers 'run out of town', generic 'women i n sport'. Homophobia was not talked about as a problem within physical education i n the classroom, although the negative stereotyping of lesbians i n sport was hinted at. Silence and disavowal ran deep, and continued i n our discussions about racism. M y questions about homophobia i n physical education teaching during the 1990s i n Vancouver led both Denise and Lisa to talk about racism between students. A l l the same, instead of distancing ourselves from the effects of homophobia as women i n physical education, more often our narratives disavowed our implication i n racism through our talk about racism's effect on others. This displacement of racism onto Others casts a shadow of whiteness over these narratives w h i c h (partially) concealed how we, as white women, talked about and have been privileged within discourses of race and racism. I don't find her any more racial than the general public One of the m a i n ways Denise and Bethany spoke about racism was by comparing their views w i t h those of their mothers. Denise's opinions about racism were contradictory. A t first she positioned herself as racially tolerant, i n contrast to her mother...  Denise:  But I don't find  [my mother] any  She's in Calgary.  In Calgary  here [in Vancouver] see something related  they are people  and  her friends  they don't  have the diversity  or my  they see a gang related shooting  that have come to ...for all  that we  151  public...  have  they know  They  or a drugthey think  they might  but they don't know that. But I don't find  than the general  friends.  terms like pakki or East Indian.  they look at the color of the skin and  been born in this country, more racial  than  so they use slang  on the TV and  shooting  more racial  that  have her  any  Heather:  But you're  not only another generation  down but you're  also teaching and in  a school . Denise:  Yeah and I'll be talking  about  the kids at school — the transitional  and I'll tell her some of the cute things appreciate reports  that kids are kids.  But  that they do. I think she can  when you  then you can see how people ivill  way because the numbers  class —  look at what  react to immigration  the  media in a  negative  of crimes.  Her description of her non-English speaking students as 'cute' and that 'kids are kids' was based upon a 'color-blind' multiculturalist discourse. This color-blind trope reflects a liberal humanism which purports to see beyond skin color to regard all individuals as fundamentally equal. The color-blind metaphor is part of what Ruth Frankenburg (1993) referred to as 'color-evasive' discursive repertoire employed by white women w h i c h 'dodges difference' while leaving the racial hierarchy firmly intact. A s other anti-racist critics such as George J. Sefa Dei (1996) and Christine Sleeter (1993) have pointed out, this discourse of color-blind multiculturalism not only denies the salience of 'race' on an individualistic level, but obscures broader workings of racism at structural and institutional levels. It's a language thing...! don't see sexuality Lisa shared Denise's opinion that racism between students currently overshadowed sexism and homophobia i n her Vancouver high school:  I think it's more racial tensions have grown  up, especially  a lot of single families, growing poverty  in our school than sexism.  I think  in the east side because there's  I think kids, they probably  up on the west side ivhere there's  know,  I think in the inner city  the kids are brought  152  a lot of broken  accept it more so than if you  less, fewer  broken homes and there's  up the 'right  way'.  kids homes, were  no  Denise's narrative didn't refer to h o w structural racism throughout the school system severely limited students w h o didn't speak English as their first language. Instead, she suggested that she w o u l d "struggle w i t h Japanese" if she were i n Japan. This covers over h o w white, Anglophone privilege permeates schooling, from institutional to i n d i v i d u a l levels. For Denise racial differences, mainly i n the form of language differences, had become the most important form of social difference and discrimination i n her Vancouver school i n the 1990s. A s she put it, "everything's changed so much. I mean n o w kids are very outspoken but the language is a really interesting area because y o u don't know what they're saying. I walk d o w n the hall, I can't understand half the kids. In m y class I can't understand them".  Heather:  What sort of discrimination  Denise:  you  between students,  language  understand!"  I'm  And  Japan or something could be throwing  always  they just laugh  insidts  I'm just  "Speak  Yeah  galore at someone  who didn't  knoiu? I mean  (laughs)  them insulting.  153  their  so I  / mean, if you and I went to  there and smiling  wonderful  speak  English  with Japanese.  the kids quite nice to one another.  of the staff. I don't find  understand...they  them  we tuould struggle  me an old bitch and standing  find  can't  telling  a smile on your face and who would  that they think  What sort of  ?  You see, half the kids in the school native  or insults?  Speak English! speak English they could be  at me and I'd be  I think  them reasonably that they're  with calling  thinking  I have no idea...Basically  I find  So we  I  considerate  in a school  that is  is  I think  it's a fairly  nice school. I don't  think  it's  a  rough  school in terms of gangs.  Denise identified the 'racial' issues as not understanding students w h o c o u l d / d i d not speak English and the w a y students formed groups. Denise's narrative contained shades of an assimilationist, multiculturalist discourse which seeks to erase differences from a white, Anglophone norm. A l s o , the focus upon students' interactions evaded h o w institutional racism structured the school system; that is, the discourse ignored problems facing non-English speaking students within a structurally racist institution by referring to students as the cause of problems within the system. Over the past ten years, issues of sexuality i n her physical education classes have been pretty much obscured because "it's a language I don't see sexuality as even entering into this".  The attitudes  towards  each other are more racial  concern and I don't knoiv if we're going to find come into my class and ask skill,  it doesn't  I'll say, And  matter  "Don't  they'll  about  you like one  say,  "Yeah,  than anything.  — Caucasian  It doesn't matter  here, oriental  here.  another?"  that's  fine".  But they go in their comfort zone. The oriental  kids, a lot of them can speak to one  another. So I say, "Get into groups: Mandarin It's a language  more of a  a way to address it. You see the kids  okay, get into two groups.  two groups  That's  here, Cantonese  thing so I don't see sexuality  154  here".  as even entering  into  this.  will  about  Lisa framed racism between her students somewhat differently than Denise, talking i n terms of home background and cultural values rather than language differences. This may have been partly because, at the time of our interviews, Lisa was teaching mainly English as a second language to students referred to as the 'Literacy Group' and some physical education i n an inner city school i n East Vancouver. Possibly because language differences formed a central part of her teaching, she explained racial difference i n terms of students' socio-cultural family contexts rather than language differences. Lisa described h o w the 'racial tension' she observed was gendered i n a particular way because "it seems to be just boys, it's not the girls using racial comments" towards female students and the authority of some female teachers i n particular. She focused on the racism-sexism of male students from Vietnam and E l Salvador i n her Literacy Group. H e r understated description of these students as "refugee kids that have come from countries where civil war has taken place" most of w h o m had "been split from their families...for four or five years" let me k n o w that she was aware of trauma i n their lives outside school; all the same, their linguistic and cultural difference from herself were the most significant element of the boys' sexist attitudes and actions. Lisa responded to m y question about her experiences of sexism at work w i t h the following narrative i n which she attributed the sexism of her male students to family contexts "because many of them come from broken homes" and different cultural values of "refugee kids" recently moved to Vancouver.  I guess because there are so many ethnic backgrounds  at the school, you see a lot of  gender issues. A lot of the kids that have come from  the different  cultures  You  where the male is the dominant  one  155  cultures,  come from  see a lot of....a lot of males  that have a lack of respect for females, school er er  like their classmates.  particularly  lot  whether  it he teachers or other girls  I see it a lot in my ESL  last year when I was on my temporary  my ESL kids there were some Vietnamese  one, who was sexually they were terrified  harassing  the girls.  And  to come and tell anyone,  whether  classrooms contract.  We ivent though a  boys who were, well  the girls  in the  were Vietnamese  it was myself  particularly as well and  or zve have an ESL  counselor.  This year I have a couple of boys from for female authority.  El Salvador  The boys say, "You're  and they show their lack of respect  not my mother, so you can't  tell me what to  do "  We have tables like about this high and I have them in a U-shape in the I'm standing going  at the front  and apparently  like this — you knoxo, like jacking  see it. The girls  never said anything.  classroom.  this one boy whipped his penis out and was off to the girls  I found  who ivere across — and I  didn't  this out later.  Lisa suggested that "because there are so many ethnic backgrounds at the school, y o u see a lot of gender issues" i m p l y i n g that the sexism of her male students was noticeable because it was linguistically and culturally unfamiliar to her. There was also sense that their sexism was due to 'different', non-mainstream Canadian forms of patriarchy w h e n she explained that many students i n the Literacy Group were "from cultures where the male is the dominant one...a lot of males that have a lack of respect for females, whether it be teachers or other girls". She pointed out how language differences between the students and herself prevented her from recognizing boys' verbal sexism and also prevented girls telling her about  156  harassment they experienced, both of w h i c h made it more difficult to intervene i n sexist dynamics as she said "it was probably happening as I was standing i n front of the classroom". Lisa explained sexism of male refugee and ESL students i n terms of cultural differences, often compounded by poverty or economic hardship — although her descriptions focused on the actions of i n d i v i d u a l male students, her explanations implied that structural racism, i n the form of economic hardship, and global politics, as "refugees from countries where civil war has taken place" also played a part. Homophobia.. .One of the most tabooish Connie made little reference to homosexuality or homophobia i n sport, but was extremely concerned about homophobia w i t h i n the general high school population. The next story demonstrated how, for Connie, feminist teaching meant countering not only sexism but also homophobia.  Heather:  How  aware were you  about Connie:  that's an interesting  of...legality,  or my  (laugh)  right as a public  the local school board which  Well, our Federal signed  Government  all these documents  know the document....the Uh  huh.  Connie:  And  to me all those U.N.  one that ivas signed  in a speaker to speak  educator,  157  I'm  in  terms  a civil  servant, of  is a member of the United you  I work Education.  Nations.  We've  know the discrimination about women, you  documents..the  a public  because...  is part of the BC Ministry  including  in Nairobi,  of them say...that  question  long document  Heather:  ALL  to bring  homophobia?  Well,  for  of your legal position  Rights  know...  of the Child,  you  the one that was signed  in  education  by the  system funded  know  Copenhagen. public  the  system,  ALL....  push for their  you can't discriminate.  that, that homophobia...gays  own....totally.  fundamentalists  And  it's  you  know...I  it's  And  there's more and  and homosexuals  who are spearheading  know, I mean in other countries  Right?  more  are on a CLASS  think  the  Christian  that. And  it's  so bizarre  of  to me.  You  it's....  Connie talked to me at considerable length about h o w she thought formal education, both physical education and the Career and Personal Planning course was teaching at the time, was related to learning and unlearning gendered roles. Connie expressed both liberal and multicultural feminist views i n addition to an awareness of homophobia. The class she described below involved debunking negative myths about homosexuality i n order to increase students' tolerance towards lesbians and gays.  Connie:  It struck  me that of all the 'isms'  classism,  Eurocentrism  fundamentalist  place  — ageism,  sexism,  Heather: Connie:  ticked  me  homophobia,  and so on — the most tabooish in this (both laugh)  that zue noiv live  That's a good place to start. I also saw it as so blatant really  racism,  was  right-wing, homophobia.  in the schools.  It  off.  Yeah. And  it was amazing  whenever  you brought  it up hoiu controversial  was very naive luhen I went into it. Like a year ago I invited knozv from  this community  homophobia.We'd didn't And  (laugh)  been talking  I was quite APPALLED  a woman  and discrimination  So she came in, then I asked for  and I reactions.  and a bit afraid at some of the responses  158  I  into speak to my class. The topic zvas  about racism  at all tell them anything.  it zoas. I  I got.  Like guys telling they saw  me like, you know, they'd  beat the shit out of a gay if  one....  For Connie, homosexuality was an unjust basis for social discrimination comparable to other oppressed groups such as First Nations, female, non EuroCanadians and so forth. Her views have been influenced by three concurrent sets of discourses about difference — feminist identity politics, First Nations land claims, and global environmental issues. Debates within feminism around identity politics and difference, generated initially from black feminist critiques of liberal and radical feminism during the 1980s, w o u l d have been ongoing when Connie was introduced to Women's Studies. This, I think, largely explains w h y Connie's v i e w about equality exceeded a typically liberal notion of freedom — briefly, an individual's right to freedom from discrimination without according special rights to any historically oppressed social group. Very public debates about aboriginal sovereignty and European colonialism accompanied First Nations land claims w h i c h were well underway when Connie moved from Ontario to teach i n N o r t h e r n British Columbia. Also, Connie had been concerned about economic and environmental issues on a global scale since her undergraduate studies i n Environmental Studies in the late 1970s. These various discourses coalesced i n Connie's concern about discrimination, especially the homophobia of her students, g i v i n g rise to a view w h i c h was by no means exclusively feminist. Her view that social problems were basically individualistic and psychological caused Connie to get students to learn about themselves, unlearn prejudice and roadblocks. It is worth introducing Ambalvaner Sivanandan's (cited i n Bonnett, 1993) warning that reducing social problems to individualistic solutions may only serve to confuse personal satisfaction w i t h political intervention 4 8 .  159  Connie and Bethany occasionally spoke about racism i n what Frankenburg (1993) termed a "race cognizant" 4  discursive repertoire used by some white  9  feminists w h i c h :  pays careful attitudes, life. Others  attention  to the ways racism  and worldview,  as well as to what one might  were more concerned  were less convinced  shaped ivhite  of the value  with  structural  of examining  women's  experiences,  call the 'micropolitics'  or institutional  of daily  racial inequality  the ways race and racism  shaped  and white  selves, (p. 159)  Some women linked racism i n various ways to other forms of oppression based on social identity, a w a y of talking about race w h i c h had been clearly shaped by identity politics since the late 1980s. Connie and Bethany cited a series of marginalized social identities or minority groups when referring to unequal social relations. O n one occasion Bethany compared being gay, black or female:  Bethany:  Leave it open. Certainly  it doesn't  I think there's hurt involved. be a woman  sometimes  hurt anyone.  I only have a problem  when  And let's face it, to be gay, or to be black, or to is  hurtful.  4 8 Refer to Ambalvaner Sivanandan's (cited in Alister Bonnett, 1993) critique of Racism Awareness Training (RAT) in which he warned that the catharsis of guilt stricken whites does not contribute to the political black struggle against racism.  4 9 Ruth Frankenburg (1993) traced race cognizant discursive repertoire to the following particular historical moments:  movement for decolonization in the Third World; post-World War II civil rights activism; the Black, Chicano, Asian, and Native American antiracist, nationalist, and cidtural reneiual movements of the 1960s and 1970s; and, finally the articulation of distinctively feminist versions of antiracism initiated by women of color throughout the 1980s, (p. 158)  160  Connie often specified a chain of oppressed groups i n addition to 'women' such as 'homosexual', 'gays', 'people of color', 'women of color', 'buddhists', 'male nurse', 'homosexual teacher', 'E.S.L. student'.  And  I got a thing written  sucks Satan's celebrated  cock" written  student  shop and  on my doorstop.  that hurt because I thought  BE....homosexual, [E.S.L.]  on my doorstop.  to BE....a  I really felt harassment. That REALLY  "That's  it  "Miss  Feltsham  hurt. But you know what? I  what it must feel like to  person of color, to BE  a minority.  at our school". I had a moment of reality  they planed  I got  You know to BE an  there. Then I took it to the  off.  Connie described this harassment as a specific incident i n which she "had a moment of reality". It was an incident that Connie recalled to illustrate the type of everyday events which she experienced as a teacher w h i c h led her to keep analyzing how sexism, racism and homophobia affected her and others.  161  Chapter 6 Queer Dis/Locations  Queer theory offers education dismisses  techniques  to make sense of and remark upon what it  or cannot bear to know. (Britzman,  1995: 154).  But women's desires are the result of bodily inscriptions lines that catch them up in ways of being/desiring unless  they can re-inscribe,  bounds of the old structure  and of metaphors  from  which  discover new story lines, invent, and old discourses.  (Davies,  and story  they have no escape  invert,  and break the  1992: 58)  This chapter presents a series of analyses derived from, yet exceeding, the life history data. The previous chapters revealed h o w these w o m e n encountered possibilities such as being a 'feminist' or a 'lesbian' and how these identities affected their teaching practices. W i t h i n the institutional discourses w h i c h gave rise to these possibilities, specifically within physical education and dating, 'lesbian' subject positions were often absent. The themes i n this chapter — called 'dis/locations' — begin to deconstruct 5 0 these silences. Each theme focuses on the visibility of  ^'Deconstruction' is a highly contested term which, by its very nature, defies definition. Derrida refused any fixed definition of deconstruction as method, analysis or critique and was quoted as saying that "all sentences of the type 'deconstruction is x' or deconstruction is not x' a priori miss the point, which is to say that they are at least false" (Collins & Mayblin, 1996:93). Nevertheless, some explanation of my use of the terms 'deconstructive' and 'deconstruction' is warranted. Jack Sanger's (1995) metaphor broadly describes the way I approached deconstruction: deconstruction explore  (the act of using  text to undermine  the text as a kind of water tank wherein  under the surface calm of an attempted  unitary  its own rhetoric) allows the analyst to conflicting  resolution,  ideologies  are  submerged  (p. 91)  I attempted to undermine some of the most obvious meanings of the ways the women and I talked about the lesbian 'closet', 'gaze' and 'crush' in life history interviews to suggest how  162  normative forms of female heterosexualities w i t h the purpose of dis/locating these normative discourses. Questions have been asked w h i c h the life history data and my previous interpretations d i d not ask — 'lesbian' has been deliberately, maybe provocatively, located into spaces where it previously seemed absent. It is important to stress that these analyses have been re-worked to relate directly to my analysis of institutional discourses i n the previous chapter, rather than from the women's i n d i v i d u a l narratives. This chapter dis/locates three apparently heteronormative discourses — the lesbian closet, gaze and crush. Laclau and Mouffe (1985) argued that, because discourses are always open, the subject can never be fully determined. Thus the challenge taken up i n this final chapter was to examine 'who and what went missing' i n the narratives. What follows, then, is an analysis of rhetorical moves, silence and omissions, disavowals and contradictions w h i c h is intended to dis/locate some of the familiar, normative boundaries between hetero and lesbian subject positions. The Lesbian Closet  5 1  Keeping lesbian sexuality safely contained w i t h i n 'the closet' has been vitally important to normative heterosexuality. One of the main purposes of the closet is to discursively u p h o l d the boundary between either/or, homo/hetero, self/Other; indeed, this boundary has been and continues to be very effective. Silence has been the most obvious and enduring feature of the closet, often a permanent feature i n a discursive w o r l d where there simply weren't words to name heterosexuality relies upon silence and speech to maintain its privileged position. Finally, these interpretations are put forward as one of several possible interpretations, each of which could itself be undermined by successive deconstructive readings — which is where you, as the active reader, enter or refuse the fray. 5 1 The analysis in 'Dis/location 1: The Lesbian Closet' has been published in the Journal of Sociology of Sport (Sykes, 1998).  163  the closet and its secrets. For instance, Denise reminisced about the silence surrounding lesbian sexuality i n her youth, recalling that "gay wasn't even a term" in the 1950s:  There was no discussion indication  at school on sexuality.  that there ivas anybody  There was no TV  else in the world  to give you  that was gay.  any  I mean there  wasn't  ... gay wasn't even a term.  The silent closet has haunted women i n physical education since the postWWII social repressions of the 1950s, through the sexual revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s and well into the 1980s era of lesbian and gay rights. But silence is never just silence. Silences communicate meaning — consider metaphors such as "a pregnant silence h u n g i n the air" or "an a w k w a r d silence filled the room". Silences can almost be regarded as speech acts w h i c h become remarkable only i n relation to what else has been said:  Silence  itself — the things one declines  that is required  between different  other side from  which  functions strategies.  alongside (Foucault,  1978:  or is forbidden  to name, the  speakers — is less the absolute  it is separated  the things  to say,  by a strict  said, with  boundary,  them and  limit  of discourse,  than an element  in relation  discretion the  that  to them within  over-all  27)  A s Sedgwick (1990) artfully stated, the silences of the closet only have meaning w h e n the discursive situation i n which they are produced is considered :  164  'Closetedness' not a particular relation  itself is a performance silence,  to the discourse  but a silence  initiated  as such by the speech act of a silence —  that accrues particularity  that surrounds  and  differentially  by fits and  constitutes  it. (p.  starts,  in  3)  Broadly speaking then, the lack of explicit discussion about lesbian sexuality only becomes remarkable because of the constant, explicit discussion and representation of heterosexuality. A s Sampson (1989) explained, the category 'lesbian' always already exists within the category 'heterosexual' as the absent trace, the absent presence which is required and yet not visible. It is what Fuss (1995) called the interiority of the exterior w h i c h the closet hides from view. Fuss went on to argue that "the greater the lack on the inside, the greater the need for an outside to contain and to defuse it, for without that outside, the lack on the inside w o u l d become all too visible" (p. 235). In the case of the lesbian closet, this lack can be read as a lack of certainty underlying the naturalized status of heterosexuality. If we return to Butler's (1990) theory that normative heterosexuality sets itself apart by claiming the certainty of its 'natural origin', the closet persistently threatens to reveal this lack of certainty. Thus, normative heterosexuality is compelled to defend against the recognition that its ontological status, its claim to naturalness, is less than certain. If one accepts Derrida's (1982) notion of differance 5 2 , one begins to see that doubt of the closet and certainty of normative heterosexuality can never be fully contained either side of an watertight boundary. So often doubt and suspicion leak outside the closet and so, rather than being a hermetically-sealed confine for lesbian sexualities, the closet is i n fact highly contagious, capable of transmitting doubt, suspicion and secrecy (Sedgwick, 1990).  ^ l Refer to Chapter 3 for discussion about my use of deconstruction and the notion of differance alongside speech act theory. 165  Closets of (an)other One of the outcomes of this permeable boundary is that 'heterosexuals' may find themselves inside the closet of someone else, coping w i t h the secrets of someone else's clandestine sexuality. Paradoxically, secrets are thrilling burdens — so often the thrill of being entrusted w i t h a secret is quickly tempered by the burden of keeping that secret. A g a i n Sedgwick (1990) articulated this feature of the closet so eloquently. She observed that coming out to someone charges them w i t h secret knowledge which, i n turn, draws them into the closet that has just been vacated. For instance, Denise explained h o w her mother preferred to 'keep up the pretense' of not knowing Denise is gay because it meant she doesn't have to explain w h y her daughter was still not married. If Denise came out of the closet to her mother, she w o u l d have been burdened by 'having to explain' to relatives and friends, explanations riddled with decisions about what to say, what not say, w h i c h secrets to maintain and which to expose. Similarly, Denise was not out to a straight colleague at w o r k w i t h w h o m she discussed the trials and tribulations of their emotional lives because coming out to this straight colleague w o u l d have placed the burden of secrecy, decision and discretion onto her friend. So, the closet is not the exclusive property of lesbians, its burdens of secrecy can be displaced onto others. This means that heterosexuals may find themselves i n the closet of another and the inside/outside boundary becomes less watertight than one might have imagined. Closets of association The closet generates doubt and suspicion about all sexual identities, irrespective of their normative or marginal status. A g a i n , this works through the radical instability of 'differance'. To be silent about heterosexuality breeds suspicion. For instance, not to stress one's femininity, discuss one's boyfriend/husband, to articulate a heterosexual script is to create silence about heterosexuality. This i n turn can position an individual perilously close to the suspicion of being closeted. Thus  166  heterosexuality is compelled to repeat itself on two counts: i n order to construct the silence of the closet, and to allay suspicion that it inhabits the closet. This means that unconvincing performances of heterosexuality can breed suspicion that the 'lesbian specter' is at large, as Bethany recalled quite clearly:  I know during  university  my roommate  and very much into dating  men,  and I were very close and she's very  but still people labeled us with  spent too much time together, we read each others thoughts had  some friendships  interesting  with  ivomen  that have been questioned  I don't know but I have never ever cared. It doesn't upset  'we were too close,  a little and  when I hear that because what do people base it on?  attractive  too closely'. I always  think  What do people  we  So  I've it's think?  me.  Part of the suspicion directed towards Bethany stemmed from the trope of homosexuality as gender sameness. Single sex contexts, such as female roommates, ostensibly designed to regulate (hetero)sexuality can work through a reverse discourse to intensify (homo)sexuality. Likewise, segregated changing areas, saunas, steam baths are designed as de-sexualized spaces within heteronormative logic; yet these very same spaces may be saturated w i t h lesbian desire. Thus, a heterocentric view of sexuality is perhaps nowhere more powerful than i n the "internal discourse" (Foucault, 1978: 28) of physical education and sport where separation of the sexes is blindly assumed to dissipate, if not entirely remove, any eroticism. A t the same time, the haunting 'specter' of lesbian sexuality, w h i c h is the absent trace in these heterocentric assumptions, continually poses a threat to the certain and natural status of normative heterosexuality. Thus, any w o m a n i n physical education may be suspected of being lesbian if her performance of heterosexuality is not sufficiently convincing.  167  Paranoid closets Often the 'suspicion' that someone is lesbian is confirmed by the 'fact' that they are a physical education teacher. Arguably, the lesbian P E teacher has become an icon w i t h i n some N o r t h American lesbian communities, as those familiar w i t h M e g Christian's (1982) lesbian anthem "Ode to a G y m Teacher" w i l l testify. In the excerpt below, Lisa and myself ironically recognized this lesbian script:  Lisa:  Well a lot of the women that I play sports with, teachers. So no I haven't of THEM  really..."Oh  a Phys Ed teacher, you're one  are you? A Phys Ed teacher, I should  Heather:  And a wry smile or a knowing  Lisa:  Yeah that's teacher?"  you're  right!  there's a lot of Phys Ed  have  guessed".  look!  When I say that I'm a teacher, they say "Phys Ed  And I say "Yeah!  That's  right",  (both  laugh).  This excerpt illustrated a common assumption that lesbians can detect other lesbians more accurately than anyone else, and Sedgwick (1990) pointed out h o w this assumption involves a degree of paranoid h o m o s e x u a l 5 3 knowledge w h i c h pulls heterosexuality ever closer to the closet. She outlined h o w a form of "homosexual-homophobic k n o w i n g " (p. 97) underlies the cliche 'it takes one to know one' so that doubt about someone else's sexuality may elicit doubt about one's o w n (hetero)sexuality. This paranoid doubt may be intensified after having one's suspicions confirmed; that is, w h e n someone comes out. So it is w h e n female athletes, coaches and P E teachers come out, the heterosexuality of other w o m e n is cast into doubt. Indeed, this is one of the epistemological features of the closet  ^ Sedgwick's (1990) depiction of homosexual (gothic) paranoia was specifically concerned with male homosexual identity in turn of the century literature.  168  artfully described by Sedgwick (1990) whereby "the double-edged potential for injury i n the scene of gay coming out...results partly from the fact that the erotic identity of the person w h o receives the disclosure is apt to be implicated i n , hence perturbed by it" (p. 81). Moreover, there may be a mourning for the loss of the previous relationship, the loss of innocence, and the loss of certainty, as Lisa recalled:  I did have a nucleus  of girlfriends  who I went to school with who were very  A couple  of them backed off after a while  that I'm  still  the same  but  then they came back after they  supportive. realized  person.  The realization that Lisa was 'still the same person' may not have been the only realization at w o r k i n this process of recovery. The loss of certainty about the Other (Lisa's sexuality) was accompanied by a paranoid uncertainty about the Self (their o w n heterosexuality), as the haunting refrain 'it takes one to k n o w one' lingered i n the b a c k g r o u n d . 5 4 Lisa's coming out no doubt unsettled her friends' sense of their o w n heterosexuality and it is quite feasible that their return was dependent u p o n the realization that 'they are still the same' as m u c h as 'she is still the same'. Thus, the paranoid doubt that accompanies the suspicion of others is yet another threat against w h i c h normative heterosexuality is compelled to defend itself, another element i n the orchestra of challenges posed by homosexuality to the stability and certainty of heterosexuality.  ^ 4 Maybe this reaction — ostensibly the loss of a 'heterosexual' friend when she came out as lesbian — served as an uninvited reminder of the melancholic loss of the person's own lesbian desire. As Judith Butler (1997) theorized, a melacholic heterosexual subjectivity is founded upon a double negation: The formula  'I have never loved' some of similar  person predicates  the T  on the 'never-never'  169  gender and  'I have never lost' any  of that love and loss. (p.  23)  such  The excerpts above outline three ways i n w h i c h the boundary between certainty/doubt and hetero/homo are less than watertight. Heterosexuals might find themselves i n the closet of someone else, may be suspected of being closeted, and may even suspect their o w n heterosexuality. Constructing the silent closet, foreclosing the very possibility of lesbian subjectivity within discourse, attempts to stabilize the boundary between self-assured heteronormativity and marginalized lesbian sexuality. Heteronormative discourses repeatedly deploy the logics of misplaced masculinity and misdirected femininity to describe and defend against lesbian desire. These tropes construct homosexuality through mundane and everyday ways of talking, of remembering, of silencing, of telling stories. Queer theories allow us to read these mundane, everyday ways of talking as heteronormative scripts enlisted to uphold normalcy. Accordingly, I have employed a deconstructive queer analysis to turn 'the lesbian closet' inside/out, or at least begin to undermine the certainty of the boundaries between inside/outside, doubt/certainty, and homo/hetero. M y purpose has been to dis/locate normal discursive functions of 'the closet', to question the certainty of heteronormativity and draw attention to w h y it has been compelled to prove its certainty and normalcy. G a z i n g at a L e s b i a n I c o n  The life histories often focused on the dress and appearance of female PE teachers, w h i c h seemed to be the most powerful visual means of communicating gender and sexuality. This section outlines how dress and appearance worked to normalize sexuality, via the taken for granted assumptions of a heteronormative gaze, and then shifts locations to consider a lesbian gaze. To this extent, m y interpretations seek the absent gaze, the looks w h i c h are not acknowledged, to hint at how normal ways of looking and being looked at, as a female physical education teacher, are twisted to fit w i t h familiar, heteronormative narratives. 170  Dress, appearance and style communicate genders and sexualities i n conjunction with, but also i n excess of, verbal discourse. That is to say, images of another person do not necessarily function through linguistic signs and symbols but may also operate as visual icons (Presnell & Deetz, 1996). Icons, explain Presnell and Deetz (1996), function as "visual fragments that set into play a conceptual constellation. The image is a mere desiccated trace of life that, w h e n water is added, can become an instant full-blown Weltanschauung"  (p. 300).  Consider Jenny's explanation of the impact of her appearance:  I can't imagine  that some middle-aged  wonder, but who knows?  Mum  zualks in and sees me and doesn't  kind of  (fenny)  Jenny's statement calls up several assumptions about her femininity, and therefore her sexuality, w h i c h she didn't state explicitly as she is aware how her o w n appearance functions as a visual icon for a 'middle-aged M u m ' . She also acknowledged how the gaze of her students allowed them to assess her sexuality, based on the 'conceptual constellation' set into play by, among other things, her haircut and clothes:  J would  almost guarantee  that I'm  a dyke because I see them look. Carmen  we are, we're loading ivearing  pants  that every single  the bus,  kid,  if they don't  know they must  suspect  drops me off when I have a trip — here  and I drive in with  this other woman  with  short  hair,  (fenny).  So we could think of dress and appearance as a discourse of visual signs which play a part i n constructing gender and sexuality and, as Patrick Fuery (1995) writes, "the gaze is not simply the act of perception...It is the powerful discursive  171  order that has direct connections, via epistemic operations, to power and knowledge" (p. 119); furthermore, it is this discursive quality that "transforms the act of looking and being looked at into processes of the gaze." (p. 118). In addition, appearance and body image are deeply embedded i n the psyche, as constitutive parts of 'identity', through processes of internalization and identification. M y use of the term 'gaze' does not literally refer to the looks that pass between students and teachers i n PE classes; rather, it refers to a process w h i c h mediates h o w appearance is understood, what appearance is trying to communicate i n the display (or performance) and the gaze (the consumption). Under a homophobic gaze, the icon of the female PE teacher may unleash a constellation of fears — transgression of gender roles, unfeminine appearance, masculinization through sport, homosexual recruitment — all of w h i c h challenge normative female heterosexuality. O n the other hand, a homoerotic gaze can interpret the same icon quite differently — positive role-model, homoerotic athleticism, masculine fetish-object. According to Patrick Fuery's (1995) interpretation of Lacan, the gaze is more than looking or being looked at, nor is there any single, binary or even three-way construction of the gaze; rather, there is a 'heterology of the gaze' involving eyetwisters and the empty eye, i n addition to the lure, trap, shame of the gaze. The workings of Lacan's eye-twisters (Augenverdreher)  demonstrate the complexity of  the workings of the gaze:  When we see something outrhead  totally  to one side to try  defamiliarised. the established gaze, and yet  But  new  to assimilate  what we really  discourse,  we rub our eyes, ive blink  try  the familiar  this is precisely  the unfamiliar,  the uncanny,  to do is draw the new pattern...  Narrative  what it does in a constant  172  rapidly,  twist  doesn't and  highly  we  twist  the into the old  seem to twist formulated  twist, the  fashion, narratives  so much so that events, histories, so that they fit  acts of interpretation  more easily into the act of gazing,  become twisted (p.  into  119)  Physical education discourses attempt to normalize heterosexuality for girls and women through visual and verbal discourses that rely on the logic of heterosexuality w h i c h glues gender and sex together. Whenever gender and sex appear to challenge this logic, sexuality is called into question and the lesbian as Other is glimpsed. If the lesbian Other begins to gaze too openly or come into view too clearly, normative femininity must be reasserted i n order to maintain a clear distinction between the self and Other — this clear distinction is always a delusion. Thus while normative heterosexuality requires the lesbian Other for it's o w n sense of self, the boundary between hetero/homo is unstable and so it must constantly w o r k to keep the Other on the outside and reassert normative femininity. But relations of power always operate i n multiple directions, so even as normative feminine heterosexuality reasserts itself, a lesbian gaze operates outside, across and inside the hetero/homo divide. This section explores how the appearance of female PE teachers has been regulated by the gaze of a heterosexual imaginary via the continual surveillance of ubiquitous sweat pants, sweat shirts, whistles or earrings within the profession. The women's life histories illustrated h o w the institutional discourse about 'feminine appearance' i n physical education has altered over the course of the women's lives: from pant suits i n the 1950s, dress codes lasting into the 1970s; to styles of feminine dress currently available to white female teachers. M a r i o n provided the earliest recollection about the importance of female appearance:  In the early 50s they were debating  whether women — this was not just PE teachers it  was everyone — shoidd wear pant, suits. I can remember going  173  to a staff meeting  one  time  and they were trying  to decide because at that time the other teachers were all in  skirts and, you know, blouses and sweaters trying  to decide whether  and dresses. I remember  that was appropriate  wear. And  that and they were  eventually  all the  teachers  wore pant suits a lot.  Later, i n the early 1970s, she recalled h o w concerns about female physical educators' appearance of heterosexual femininity were formalized v i a dress codes:  Marion:  Well..there  was some talk about what  remember  but there was more emphasis  the fellow  who ivas kind of in charge of the PE program said "Let's get rid  of this stereotype..We  don't  we should  and shouldn't  wear I  the second time I went back because  have to wear the baggy sweat  pants  and all  that." Heather:  And  that was what  Marion:  But the first  people were  wearing....?  time, not very much was said. But the second time 1 went back  to school there seemed to be a little  bit more emphasis  could be a PE teacher and be feminine. very much  the first  time  on the fact  that you  And I don't remember anybody  saying  around.  Heather:  Because people weren't  worried  about it or  ?  Marion:  I think people just accepted it and said "This is the way it  is".  Both M a r i o n and Bethany reflected on h o w they presented their heterosexuality through their style of dress. Bethany acknowledged the pressure, and possibly hinted at the benefits, of conforming to heteronormative expectations:  174  I wear make up; I wear earrings. don't  know any  thought  [It means] fitting  other way and I'm  about it a few  times but  in with the way society sees you.  not really brave enough to do anything I am  else.  I  I've  traditional.  M a r i o n also spoke to the particular pressures facing female physical educators whose w o r k clothes (baggy sweat pants, Nikes) were easily perceived as 'unfeminine':  When I was planning  my year I always  have new  I would  Nikes.  because I wanted  But  think  little  track outfits,  about what to wear for  thing.  So I would  tailored  and  everything.  feminine  think about wearing  I always  the parent-teacher  to look nice and not look know. I didn't  to the Parent-Teacher yet  bought my  zuear my  something  had  to  meetings  track  outfits  that kind  of  Particular versions of normative feminine appearance have been institutionalized within physical education. The instances above illustrated some of the ways that an imaginary heterosexual gaze has defined and regulated styles, clothes and women's bodies. The question must surely be asked w h y has this concern about 'feminine' appearance persisted w i t h i n physical education discourse from Marion's early years of teaching i n the 1950s well into the 1990s? O n the surface, concerns over feminine appearance represent attempts to dispel the 'masculine', read 'lesbian', stereotype w h i c h have haunted the profession. This has been achieved by keeping a feminine/masculine boundary firmly intact, allowing normative femininity to continually reassert itself as natural and homogenous without the gender trouble of "interfering heterogeneity" 5 5 (Felman, 1987: 61). This  Shoshana Felman (1987) used Lacan's notion of reflexivity to clarify the difference between  175  normalizing process becomes clearer w h e n the inseparability of sexuality and gender is examined. Heteronormativity requires gender and sexuality to be linked — for women to appear feminine and m e n to appear masculine. This internal logic of heterosexuality is troubled by other forms of sexuality where female/feminine, male/masculine are not so clearly linked. Thus w o m e n who disrupt this logic b y appearing too masculine run the risk of being positioned outside the heterosexual self as Other and, within physical education, this has historically meant as 'lesbian'. Nonetheless, a lesbian gaze has operated w i t h i n physical education despite the professions' attempts to ignore it. A s M i c h e l Foucault (1978) observed, "silence and secrecy are a shelter for power, anchoring its prohibitions; but they also loosen its hold and provide for relatively obscure areas of tolerance" (p. 101). Thus, because the boundaries between feminine/masculine, inside/outside, homo/hetero can never be fully secured, women's physical education has provided an occult site for unimaginable lesbian gazes. It becomes more apparent how a lesbian gaze can circulate inside single-sex classes, changing rooms, friendships, parent-teacher evenings, faculty meetings and so on, even as heteronormative P E discourses refuses its presence. Moreover, what if the normalization of feminine heterosexuality i n physical education — that is, the preceding normalizing institutional discourses and those constituted as subjects within it — has seen, recognized, known, felt and desired the lesbian Other? What if, as Deborah Britzman (1997) dared to ask, w i t h i n the discourses of normalization there have been moments of (mis)recognition that "the other to the homophobe is heterosexuality" (p. 34). What then? Maybe the d r i v i n g  humanistic and psychoanalytic modes of reflectivity or self-reflection which elucidated the poststructural discourses about fragmented and unified identities. Her phrase 'interfering heterogeneity' refered to psychoanalytic self-reflection in which symmetry in the recognition of the self is illusionary, "a symmetry that subsumes all difference within a delusion of a unified and homogenous individual identity" (p. 61).  176  force behind heteronormativity has not been to completely dispel the negative stereotype but merely to devalue it; to maintain the negative associations of 'lesbian'; to retain the hierarchical relation between hetero/homo. Maybe, the very normalcy of the physical education profession has relied on keeping the stereotype of the unfeminine lesbian at a safe distance as the Other, the 'specter', the dangerous icon and, most importantly, the not-me. One last point — remembering how visible bodies of physical education teachers are, due to the content and pedagogy of physical education itself, it becomes easier to understand how, under a homoerotic gaze, the PE teacher may become a lesbian icon. Presnell and Deetz (1996) foreground the connection between a visual icon as a spectacle and as a fetish object. If we accept that the gendered appearance of the female PE teacher may be remembered by some as visual icon of female masculinity, it reinforces the notion that she may also be constructed as a 'lesbian fetish-object' (de Lauretis, 1994). This raises questions about how students, i n particular, gaze upon their teachers as lesbian icons. Teaching Desire Denise and I started to discuss this i n later interviews:  Heather:  Do you  think that girls  their phys Denise:  zoho may  ed teacher [than  be gay  other  are more likely  to have crushes  teachers]?  Well I think it was maybe more the case in past years than it is because 1 think at one time the PE teacher dressed in a certain ivere more casual in their dress, there was situation classrooms  than in a regular classroom. and  And  less formality  a regular  177  teacher.  way,  they  in the phys ed  now you can go into any of the  there's not a great deal of difference  teacher dresses and  now  between how  the  PE  on  What Denise hinted at can be explored i n more detail, through the discourse of the 'schoolgirl crush'. Lesbian historian Martha Vicinus (1989) examined this phenomenon w h i c h was prevalent i n English boarding schools from the 1870s onwards — a phenomenon w h i c h was so common that it was also k n o w n as a 'rave', 'spoon', 'smash', 'pash' for passion and a 'flame'. She noted that for most young girls these flames focused on publicly admired figures w h o were at the same time remote yet familiar, either the head girl, a favorite young teacher, or a games captain. W e l l into the twentieth century, raves were openly discussed i n the discourse of women's education, safely contained as controllable adolescent phase and apprenticeship for marriage. Vicinus noted that the entry of the N e w W o m a n into the public sphere, however, provided too m u c h of a threat to normative views about femininity so that single-sex institutions were attacked, teachers' friendships stigmatized and raves disparaged as permanently distorting. Scientization also played its part. The medical discourse of sexology emerging i n the 1880s started to conceptualize the rave i n psycho-biological terms, as Havelock Ellis decreed:  while  there is an unquestionable  be regarded .  as an absolute  (cited in Vicinus,  1989:  sexual element  expression  in the  of real congenital  'flame'  relationship,  perversion  of the  this  cannot  sex-instinct.  227)  Although, as Vicinus astutely observed, the influence of sexological discourse in labeling rave as deviant was by no means straightforward. The pathologization of homosexuality, initiated at the turn of the century i n sexological discourses, began to have noticable effects on women's physical education i n the United States from the 1920s onwards. Sports historian Susan C a h n (1994b) observed that open acknowledgment of same-sex crushes between female physical education students and instructors coexisted for a while alongside emerging concerns about  178  homosexual deviance, but after the second w o r l d war McCarthy-driven fears about the 'homosexual menace' led to dress codes mandating feminine athletic uniforms, a shift from single-sex to coed athletic programs, and even to coed courses designed to foster "a broader, keener, more sympathetic understanding of the opposite sex" (p. 182). This section explores how the status of a female teacher combined w i t h physical education's focus on the body form a unique object for queer desire. Teachers, i n the broadest sense, can become the object of a student's transference desire due to the knowledge w h i c h they are presumed to possess (Felman, 1987); however, i n physical education this knowledge is more directly concerned w i t h the body than any other subject i n formal schooling. This is compounded by the fact that the athleticism of w o m e n i n physical education has often challenged traditional notions of femininity, given the long-standing associations between masculinity and athleticism. Before moving on, a note about desire i n pedagogy is required. For many, teachers are amongst the most significant adult 'Others' encountered outside the familial home. They are uniquely positioned i n the parade of Others w h i c h pass through an individual's psychic development, on the cusp between parents and lovers, on the trajectory between infancy and adulthood. A s Freud himself reminisced, "we courted them and turned our backs on them, we imagined sympathies and antipathies w h i c h probably had no existence" (Freud i n Felman, 1987, p. 84). It should come as no surprise then if teachers are often remembered (or repressed) as significant Others, as a good influence, as positive role models. But what does it mean w h e n we cite a pedagogical relationship as 'significant', w h e n we regard a teacher as a positive role model, even to the extent that we follow i n her footsteps? Transference and identification are key concepts i n understanding the unique type of relationship w h i c h can form between a student and their teacher(s).  179  Transference, i n the psychoanalytic sense, is necessary for learning to take place, or as Shoshana Felman (1987) puts it, transference is "both the energetic spring and interpretive key" to the functioning of authority w h i c h leads to the realization that "teaching is not a purely cognitive, informative experience, it is also an emotional, erotic experience" (p. 86). In Lacanian terms, the teacher becomes seen by the student as the "subject presumed to k n o w " (Felman, 1987: 84) and transference occurs when a student desires the 'knowledge' w h i c h the teacher (supposedly) possesses. Patrick Fuery (1995) raises the subtle yet important point that what is desired is "not simply the knowledge of something, but the knowledge of knowledge, and the desirable status of this knowledge" (p. 51). Transference entails a desire for the teacher's knowledge which, i n the special context of physical education, also happens to be knowledge of the body, a particularly embodied form of knowledge. W e might ask where and how does a boundary get constructed between, for example, a student's desire for gymnastic knowledge, intellectual knowledge and erotic knowledge? Maybe it is the proximity of such desires, inscribed onto the body of the P E teacher, w h i c h is at the heart of female sexualities i n women's physical education. To gain insight into desires for the teacher, it might be more revealing to look at the finer distinctions between erotic and platonic desire. A mundane description of the 'erotic' is provided by Webster's:  a close relationship  betiveen usu.  attraction  or libidinal  generally  believed  opposite-sexed  persons  in which  desire has been either so suppressed  to be absent. (Webster's  Dictionary,  an element  or so sublimated  1986:  of  sexual  that it is  1735)  Immediately we can see h o w 'erotic' and 'platonic' gain meaning only i n terms of their 'differance', w i t h platonic having meaning only as the absence of erotic. In education and physical education especially, a great deal of discursive work  180  is expended to maintain the distinction between erotic and platonic relations between students and teachers. Evidence of this can be found i n the prohibition of childhood sexuality (Foucault, 1978), the close regulation of adolescent heterosexuality i n sex education and professional silences about the erotic (Guttman, 1996). While it may be difficult and somewhat arbitrary to locate the boundary between the erotic and platonic, the tolerable and taboo, it is reasonable to suggest that there appears to be considerable slippage across the erotic/platonic boundary i n spite of the policing attempts of normative educational discourse. Like all oppositions, the boundary between platonic and erotic is tenuous at best. There are always moments and instances when the boundaries are traversed and transgressed, revealing their inherent instability. Referring to Derrida's logic of the supplement, "what something is is thoroughly inhabited by what it is not" and this i n turn requires the recognition of the other-in-self and self-in-other (Sampson, 1989: 16). The following interpretations suggest the presence of eros where it seems to be absent — the erotic trace — and thus present the way student-teacher relations are constructed as a potent, yet frequently sublimated, discourse i n the development of homo/heterosexual identities and storylines. This leads into Derrida's critique of the metaphysics of presence, where he asserted there can be no primary presence; that is, meaning is produced through the constant deferral of presence, through the absence of the Other. Thus any absolute or fixed difference i n meaning is impossible, thereby opening up each term to slightly different meanings (that is, creating the possibility of deconstruction). It is this Derridean notion of differance w h i c h underpins the following interpretations of h o w the w o m e n i n the study talked about their o w n physical education teachers. Lisa's remembered her P E teacher as an inspiration:  181  [She]  was my  inspiration  myself. I didn't  know I wanted  because of the way laid  back outside  to become a phys ed teacher actually.  to be a teacher at that time, but she inspired  she was with the classroom  She just reminded  the kids. She was an authority because she coached qirite a few  but  me just  she was  sports as  me of  also  quite  well.  Lisa stated that her teacher's informality and accessibility i n coaching situations distinguished her from other teachers, possibly hinting at a less formal relationship and one where identification and transference were more possible. She recalled that her teacher's way of being w i t h the kids influenced her later decision to become a teacher, expressing desire for a specific way of pedagogical k n o w i n g , of accessibility, informality and firmness w h i c h she regarded as more likely i n a physical education (specifically, coaching) context. Lisa's description of her teacher i n these terms follows a common script i n physical education — of the teacher being informal, casual. Indeed many physical education teachers claim the informality of the coaching situation to be one of the most rewarding aspects of their work, a situation i n w h i c h less authoritative relationships can be formed w i t h students. Possibly more interesting was Lisa's observation that "she reminded me of myself". If we return once more to a psychoanalytic interpretation, the remark leads us to consider the prominent role played by this teacher i n Lisa's chain of identifications.! This commonplace explanation serves an important n o r m a l i z i n g function i n w h i c h erotic desire can be sublimated i n informal, casual student teacher relationships. Such sublimation is an important way of dealing w i t h counter-transference on the teacher's part, but it can also obfuscate homoerotic desires of students. The boundary between admiring the informality and closeness of being around the physical education teacher and sublimated erotic transference onto the teacher is by no means fixed or impermeable. Precisely where this boundary is constructed is critically important given the relations of power inherent  182  in a pedagogical relationship; but what is also important is how homoerotic and heteroerotic student desires are constructed differently. This leads to questions about the implications of disavowing same-sex teenage crushes i n heteronormative, if not homophobic, educational contexts where scripts for the development of lesbian identities are either absent, pathologized or devalued. Desiring the gymnastic body Trust and physicality were the cornerstones of Jenny's memories of her P E teacher — the bodily experience of being taken to new heights under her mentorship. Jenny remembered her PE teacher's influence on her sense of self and her gymnastic body-image:  She did gymnastics. of a gymnast.  And  she was SO NEAT  She saw that I was very strong,  me up for gymnastics.  And  you  and I didn't  I just loved it! I kept jumping  doing stuff I never thought I could She was young,  because my image of my body was not have a lot of fear so she and doing flips,  that got  and she had  me  do.  know, and very vibrant  and I still remember  her.  Jenny discovered a form of knowledge she desired, the very physicality of jumps and flips. This desire could be interpreted as the ludic exploration of her body's movements or as nothing more than the instrumental outcome of 'effective teaching'. To an extent Jenny desired the immediate knowledge of how to do gymnastics, what Patrick Fuery (1995) referred to as the knowledge of something; however, her story also hinted at more deep-seated identifications. It is not only gymnastic skill, but body image, a lack of fear and a love for the process w h i c h color Jenny's account. In remembering her teacher as a person w h o 'did' gymnastics, w h o recognized her strength and courage, who took her (literally) to new heights we get a glimpse into w h y Jenny 'still remembers her'. She  183  remembered entrusting not only her body but her body image to her teacher, and identifying w i t h her teacher as youthful, vibrant, and gymnastic. Returning to the notions of transference and desire, we cannot separate Jenny's desire for gymnastic skills from h o w these very skills were inscribed onto a 'vibrant, young and gymnastic' body. W e could surmise that for Jenny the 'desired status of the knowledge' is embedded within her teacher's physicality, a desire for her gymnastic body. Desiring the feminist body Bethany admired the independence of her P E teacher as a divorced, singleparent breaking from the constraints of normal femininity of the time:  Then I simply  realized  that she was divorced,  and she was raising  a child.  seem to be the way that I recognized most ivomen being coy and subservient didn't  seem to have all those characteristics  that other women seemed  She  didn't  to men. She  to have.  She  did tohat she ivanted to do... She did make it very easy for me to select this job.  Bethany identified w i t h her P E teacher because she "didn't seem to have all those characteristics that other women seemed to have" and admired the sexual independence of her teacher, that she could be divorced, a single parent, assertive with men. This is quite different from Bethany's expectations as an adolescent:  When you groiu up in the country that's what you do. You get married. find  somebody  to  You just have to  marry.  Her teacher presented a version of womanhood w h i c h was both attractive and unattainable. She desired the fantasy of redefining marriage, of pursuing a career, or re-writing the traditional script of female heterosexuality. It has taken  184  Bethany a long time to reach a similar place i n her life, although her image of her teacher and the present image of herself bear a striking resemblance 5 6 . A normal way of being female was partially resisted by Bethany w h o identified strongly w i t h her P E teacher. Her memories of being inspired by this emancipated w o m a n were powerful yet platonic; there was little room for (homo)sexuality i n Bethany's tale. This absence of homoeroticism was consistent w i t h Bethany's adult heterosexual identity, and resonated strongly with her sense of being sexually and financially independent. Bethany remembered h o w her teacher embodied sexual relations which were relatively independent, desire for a different version of heterofemininity lived out by her teacher — what could be termed desire for a feminist body. Desiring the lesbian body In a telling moment of lesbian insiderism, Denise and I both recollected having crushes on our o w n teachers:  Heather:  I know as a student I was MADLY  Denise:  Right,  I was too ... until  in love iviih  my phys ed teachers.  she got married!  Jenny recounted her increasing awareness of erotic desires for female teachers and mentors, m o v i n g from her high school P E teacher to an undergraduate  56 T h i s raises the issue of how the recollection itself reinforced Bethany's current sense of identity. As Madan Sarup (1996) succinctly observed:  we know that the past ahuays marks the present, but often the past consists of a selectively appropriated set of memories and discourses. This may be because the stories people tell of their pasts have much to do with their shoring up of their selfunderstanding.(p. 40)  185  professor and climaxing w i t h a sexual relation w i t h a C a m p Director when she was a C a m p Counselor.  M i s s Morris  but I don't know if it was a crush as much as... I know I really  but I don't remember having fantasies a woman,  about sleeping  with her or anything  and she was a PE teacher. It was okay to do fun  zoas probably  some of  liked her a lot but she  was  PE stuff with her. So there  that.  Retrospectively, Jenny admitted the possibility of eroticism i n her relation w i t h a university professor, conceding that "maybe on some level I knew":  And one of my favorite  profs, I wasn't attracted  to her... maybe on some level I kind of  knew... but I loved to talk with her and I loved her course and got really  high marks in  it and I used to hang out with her as much as a student and a prof can.  Lisa, like Jenny, described an erotic crush on her undergraduate professor.  Oh I had a powerfid  crush  on one of my university  went out to a party and I ended up phoning  teachers. Yeah, actually  one night  her — I don't knoiv if I got through.  talk to me the next day so maybe I never did get the right number,  I  She did  I don't know!  (laughs).  Through their recollections about more explicitly erotic desires for some teachers, Denise, Lisa and Jenny attested to lesbian desires directed towards the teacher's body. The substance of the women's desires are quite diverse, ranging from platonic to erotic — admiration, inspiration, physical tutelage, images of the self, sexual independence, and sexual desire — all swirling w i t h i n discourses of  186  pedagogical desire for the 'subject who is presumed to k n o w ' 5 7 , illustrating the immanence of an erotic female body i n physical education. Being the object of desire Whereas the women fondly reminisced about a teacher w h o m had been influential for them as students, they were more circumspect about being the focus of their students' desires 5 8 . This final section explored h o w teachers respond to students' transference desires; that is, the notion of counter-transference. "In h u m a n relationships, sympathies and antipathies usually provoke a similar emotional response i n the person they are addressed to" explains Shoshana Felman (1987), and so "the pedagogical situation may thus degenerate into an imaginary mirror game of love and  It is beyond the purview of the data to attempt a specific psychoanalytic reading of Lisa's identification with her teacher. I think it is possible to use a psychoanalytic concept of identification metaphorically, in order to introduce the unknowable and unconscious aspects into my interpretation of students' desire for the teacher. Here I am using the term 'identification' in a psychoanalytic sense, drawing primarily on an explanation provided by William Meissner (1981) who differentiates between the psychic process of incorporation, introjection and identification as follows: 57  Identification is a process of internal organization and synthesis zuithin the ego which is carried on essentially as a modeling and self-organization process in which the object representation is left intact and no translation of object elements into the selforganization takes place. Thus, while incorporation and introjection can be understood as defensive measures and ways of dealing with the intolerable threat of separation from or loss of the object, in identification the object is left totally intact and distinct and its inherent separateness is not only tolerated but preserved, (p. 53)  Alternatively, one might start from the definition of identification given by Laplanche and Pontalis (1973) as: a psychological process whereby of the other and is transformed, (p. 205)  the subject assimilates an aspect, property or attribute wholly or partly, after the model the other provides,  One might question how these desires are related to the sexing and gendering of bodies in physical education. Why is it that the physical education teacher features so prominently in these recollections? How are these recollections connected to the storylines in each of the women's lives? Or how are these memories of PE teachers deployed by women who have become PE teachers? M o r e candid stories about same-sex 'teenage crushes' were told by PE teachers in Squires and Sparkes (1996) life history research, stories which would lend themselves to this type of psychoanalytic interpretation. 58  187  hate, where each of the participants w o u l d unconsciously enact past conflicts and emotions, unwarranted by the current situation and disruptive w i t h respect to the real issues, unsettling the topical stakes of analysis or education" (p. 86). There is considerable disagreement, stress Laplanche and Pontalis (1973), whether counter-transference includes "everything i n the analyst's [teacher's] personality liable to affect the treatment" or only "those unconscious processes w h i c h are brought about i n the analyst [teacher] by the transference of the analysand [student]" (p. 93). A p p l y i n g the more expansive notion to pedagogical contexts, the risks accompanying teachers' countertransference have led to the assertion that teachers must somehow gain insight into their o w n "transferential mechanisms", w h i c h w o u l d assist them to understand their students' desires and their o w n desires (Felman, 1987). Moreover, Freud stated what may seem obvious but w h i c h is crucial to the present interpretation of desires for/of the physical educator that the teacher [analyst] "must also possess some k i n d of superiority so that i n certain situations he can act as a model for his patient and i n others as a teacher" (Freud cited i n Felman, p. 87). Is it possible to argue that social silences about homosexuality (that is, heteronormative discourse) are also constructed at the level of individual's psychic processes. If so, one might contend that for generations of teachers growing up w i t h i n heteronormative contexts, one manifestation of counter-transference w i l l be to repeat the silencing and erasure of homosexuality — a return of the repressed, if you like. In other words, the psychic repression of homoerotic transference desires (compounded by silencing caused by the heterosexual imaginary i n discourse) can return as an unconscious feature i n some teachers' counter-transference, a feature that might be termed 'homophobic counter-transference'. U n d o u b t e d l y this form of counter-transference is one (of several) socio-psychic processes w h i c h , i n Judith  188  Butler's (1990) terms, propels heterosexuality to repeatedly assert itself as originary and natural. Silence as counter-transference A l l the women i n the study implied, more or less directly, that samesex crushes had, i n all probability, never been directed towards themselves and their narratives maintained the silence surrounding their o w n students' lesbian desires. This can be thought of as one way i n w h i c h countertransference can operate for teachers. A l t h o u g h referring to the analytic setting particularly, Lee Crespi (1995) drew attention to silence and neutrality about homosexuality as symptomatic of counter-transference on the analyst's part, an observation which I think goes part way to explaining the silences w h i c h echoed i n the women's narratives. 5 9 Questions about being the object of student same-sex desire elicited ambiguous responses from the teachers w h o identified as lesbian. O n the one hand Lisa and Jenny downplayed any personal knowledge of being the object of their students' homoerotic desire, while on the other hand their lesbian friends were both curious and skeptical about their denials.  Heather:  Do you see that same thing ever occurring  with you now that you're a  teacher? Lisa:  How come everybody asks me that? Joanne asks me that all the time(laughs).  Heather:  Well  that's  important  in itself, why do we ask that  question?  Crespi (1995) also suggested several specific reasons for silent, homophobic countertransference which cannot be extrapolated beyond the analytic relationship. It is also beyond the detail of the data to do more at this point than merely suggest that silence and erasure of homoerotic desire may, and I stress may, indicate some form of unconscious repetitions on behalf of the teacher. 59  189  Heather:  Do you think any of your students had crushes on you?  Jenny:  MY  FRIENDS  ASK  ME  have a crush on me?" them  THAT  (HS  (laughing)  laughs) And  and I say they're  "Oh,  why  like, "Ohhh,  would  anyone  I bet lots of  do!"  I mean this is not a strong area for me, picking just laughs  'cos SWOOSH  So I really, REALLY  (gestures  honestly  straight  I would  that. They all have crushes  on Brian.  kind of guy  face.  with a grizzled  I don't know. As I said, my friends  those things up. My over her head) .  say probably You  Yeah,  partner  know,  not. I don't get a sense of long-haired,  they all love  sensitive,  him.  don't believe me when I say  it.  A s k i n g whether female students have crushes on their female P E teachers seems to be a F A Q — a 'frequently asked question' — within Lisa and Jenny's lesbian communities. Their friends' skeptical response to their denials seemed equally commonplace, supporting the idea that the female PE teacher has served as an icon w i t h i n these lesbian communities. Jenny, on the other hand, coped w i t h the possibility that she might be the object of same-sex student desire by failing to 'pick up those sort of things', stressing the evidence of heterosexual crushes on a male colleague, and by distancing herself from the lesbian folklore and F A Q . Similarly, Lisa was surprised w h y other lesbians seemed to ask this question so frequently. G i v e n Lisa and Jenny's memories of desires for their o w n teachers, their denial of similar desires i n their students appears contradictory. It could be, however, that their denial is a way of coping w i t h these desires — that is, counter-transference through disavowal. H o w m u c h of Jenny and Lisa's disavowal of lesbian student desire can be attributed to unconscious  190  counter-transference and h o w much to deliberate strategies of professional selfsurveillance is difficult to discern. Lisa cautiously speculated that one of her students might have had a crush on her, but provides no clues as to the attraction, the substance of her students' desire:  One of my  ESL kids, Mahala,  great kid and her sister's  a girl from Iraq. She's just such a sweetheart.  been in Canada four years and  thought her sister said some comment boys anyway!"  [with the corner?] maybe,  maybe  they were separated. And  to me once about "Oh Miss  with a smile on her face. And  Mahala  she's got these big eyes. But I wasn't  She's a I  Logan doesn't even like  kind of smiled  and  looked at  sure if I had heard it right.  me So  not.  Denise was less circumspect about student crushes. Homoeroticism i n Denise's memories of student-teacher relations was both fondly remembered and strictly denied. A t times she talked explicitly about same-sex desire and relationships between students and their teachers, including her o w n . Other times, she emphasized the strictly platonic nature of her relationships w i t h students, her teaching context and curriculum. She stressed that all student issues about sexuality were directed towards the school counselor, having "no place inside the gymnasium". A s a counter-transference mechanism, this distanced rather than silenced same-sex desires and so establishes a balance between acknowledging and deflecting students' potential desires for her. If we accept these speculations about teachers' counter-transference, it indicates how homophobia and heterocentrism can be rooted w i t h i n the unconsciousness of individual teachers, and arguably throughout the collective psyche of the teaching profession. This i n turn points to h o w  191  homophobia operates w i t h i n the teaching profession, beyond the level of rational educational discourse. One might wonder about the effectiveness of rational, behavioristic attitude-adjustment approaches to homophobia i n light of these speculations, and question whether current anti-homophobic initiatives can function at the level of these unconscious desires and countertransferences. 6 0 Not being able to confront the way students desire the body of the female PE teacher reinforces the heteronormative stalemate w h i c h has prevailed for so long, but acknowledging eros i n pedagogical relationship needs guidelines w h i c h I think can be extrapolated from the analytic relationship. Hans Loewald's (1978) eloquent consideration of h o w love and transference can be engaged i n remaking the self describes the opportunity and task facing physical educators and the physical education profession:  Transference does not mean that we are condemned to mindless re-enactment of early love relations. Nor does conscious understanding of automatic repetitions, of unconscious transference manifestations, lead to the elimination  of transference. Consciousness of  transference means that the living interpenetration of inner past and present can be resumed, (p.  49)  Similarly, dis/locating intellectual attention onto lesbian gazes and desires within women's physical education necessitates pragmatic guidelines regarding concrete practices within the profession; but for now, m y purpose has simply been to  I am indebted to Deborah Britzman for introducing me to the issues of transference i n pedagogy, the in/effectiveness of purely rational anti-homophobic, anti-racist education i n light of psychoanalytic reading of pedagogy.  192  open some discursive possibilities w h i c h have previously been silenced by the noise about normal female heterosexualities w i t h i n women's physical education. In/Conclusion Contribution to Literature about Teachers' Life Histories This study set out to examine the social construction of sexualities i n the lives of female P E teachers from different generations, focusing particularly on the hierarchical relationship between 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual' sexualities. The study's focus on lesbian and heterosexual women from different generations contributed a number of new insights to the life history literature about female P E teachers. Likewise, studying teachers from different generations revealed h o w ideas about women's sexuality have changed since the late 1950s. The most noticeable changes were the impact of feminism on the women's identities and views about social justice and increased availability of urban and sporting lesbian spaces. These changes greatly affected the women's lives outside teaching — views on marriage, politics, social changes, women's equality and so on. This cross-generational perspective also revealed what had not changed, particularly the professional silence about lesbianism i n the day to day discourse of physical education i n public schools. This research also stemmed from the political commitment to challenge homophobia and heterosexism within the physical education profession by drawing on elements of queer theory. The research process, narratives and many interpretations are still, however, 'located' quite firmly w i t h i n the binary of 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual'. Additionally, framing issues i n terms of lesbian 'suspicion' and 'specter' may risk allowing negative, suspicious readings of homophobic discrimination and heterosexism to continue, although I hope that the dis/locations and nuances of these life histories contribute, instead, insights w h i c h challenge this process within the profession.  193  One of the benefits of life history over other forms of oral or ethnographic research is the focus on different phases i n teachers' lives, taking seriously not only their experiences as teachers but also as children, young adults, athletic women and, of course, sexual beings. The indelible impact of growing up i n straight families and learning heterosexual dating lessons i n high school should not, I think, be underestimated. The women's families, where heterosexuality was quietly yet continually normalized, provided an important context for comprehending h o w these women claimed adult sexual identities as lesbian', 'married' or 'heterosexual'. In the theme 'Straight Families', the w o m e n remarked on the sexist relations between their mothers and fathers yet the heterosexuality of their parents was taken for granted. W h e n the sexuality of other family members was 'questionable' an aura of silence usually prevented any open discussion. Similarly the theme 'Dating Lessons' showed how all the w o m e n talked about the pressure to date boys i n high school, memories punctuated w i t h fears about contraception and unwanted pregnancy. The impact of these heteronormative years should be constantly 'remarked upon'. The life histories also documented important historical details about how, as PE teachers i n western Canada, they have encountered the idea of 'lesbian'. A l l three lesbian-identified women talked at length about meeting other lesbians, coming out, and developing a lesbian social network. N o t surprisingly, the women who identified as heterosexual talked less about lesbian issues, referring mainly to lesbian stereotypes they had encountered i n physical education. The study also confirmed findings of previous life history research about lesbian teachers (Khayatt, 1992,1994; Sparkes, 1994a, 1994b, 1995; Squires & Sparkes, 1996), notably the way silencing has been central to the experiences of lesbian teachers. Also, the importance of feminism on teachers' professional activities and personal politics reinforced Khayatt's (1992) research about lesbian teachers i n Canada. The inclusion of 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual' teachers i n this study extended  194  this finding to suggest that, not only is a 'feminist' identity influential on teachers' ideas about social justice, it is more influential than a 'lesbian' identity. The life histories illustrated the profound impact of second-wave feminisms on teachers' access to politicized discourses about sexism, multiculturalism and, to a lesser extent, lesbian civil rights. Connie's life history testified to the importance of access to Women's Studies i n shaping her approach to teaching, while Lisa was more ambivalent about the way issues of discrimination had been taught i n her teacher education program. In hindsight, this study w o u l d have benefited from more detailed discussions about h o w the women's identities as 'feminist' and 'not feminist' actually permeated their everyday teaching practices. The importance of feminism has not yet been sufficiently acknowledged i n the physical education and sport sociology literature; indeed, the impact of contemporary social movements — feminism, anti-racism, lesbian and queer politics — on teachers' approaches to physical education warrants more inquiry. Although this was one of the first studies to focus on 'lesbian' and 'heterosexual' teachers, the linguistic and racial backgrounds of the w o m e n were relatively homogenous. This may be, i n part, a limitation of the snowball method of contacting participants although I think it also reflects the high numbers of EuroCanadian teachers i n western Canada, especially more experienced teachers. Nonetheless, a strong case could be made for further life history research about P E teachers w i t h more diverse linguistic, racial and sexual identities. Contacting educational and lesbigay organizations i n the First Nations, Asian-Canadian and Afro-Canadian communities i n Vancouver might be considered d u r i n g the sampling process i n future studies. A l t h o u g h every attempt has been made not to gloss over the quite different ways M a r i o n , Connie and Bethany identified as heterosexual, this study can reasonably be described as focusing on 'heterosexual' and 'lesbian' teachers. It w o u l d be valuable for follow-up studies not to reify this  195  dual focus and, if possible, work w i t h teachers w h o identify as 'bisexual', 'queer', 'transgendered' or 'transsexual'. Another productive line of inquiry w o u l d be the life histories of gay and bisexual men w h o have taught physical education. A g a i n , such research w o u l d have to actively overcome the tendency for physical education not to recruit men w i t h non-hegemonic sexual identities. These problems of recruitment, gatekeeping and homogeneity i n physical education could be a valuable topic to consider. The stories of men and women w h o left the physical education profession because of heterosexism or racism could contribute to such an inquiry. Contribution to Feminist Sport Sociology The study supports the basic elements of a feminist analysis of heterosexism in physical education which has circulated i n sport sociology since the late 1980s. D u r i n g the lifetimes of these w o m e n , lesbian sports have become more organized, lesbian teachers have been granted legal protection from discrimination and homophobia has started to emerge as professional concern i n P E teacher training and higher education. Nevertheless, the sexologist's specter of 'a male soul trapped i n a female body' lingers i n the heterosexist assumptions underpinning the day to day practices of physical education i n the public schools. These life histories reveal h o w lesbian sexualities continue to be marginalized w i t h i n the physical education profession, despite the increased visibility of lesbians i n sport and urban spaces i n western Canada. There were occasions when the women's stories reflected Susan Cahn's (1994a) notion that the suspicion of lesbianism works as a magnet and a repellent. These dynamics appeared i n Marion's recollections about the 'image problem' of female P E teachers i n the late 1960s, and then reappeared i n Jenny's story about assumptions made on the basis of her short hair. Likewise, the lesbian community Denise developed by playing team sports i n the late 1950s was remarkably similar to  196  that sought out by Lisa thirty years later. These lesbian sporting spaces clearly provided a magnet for Denise and Lisa, alongside their careers i n physical education. The life histories of these six w o m e n provide limited support to the argument that PE teachers' involvement i n sport accentuated suspicions of lesbianism i n physical education. Denise and Lisa participated i n relatively 'masculine' team sports, thereby associating them w i t h lesbianism. To this extent, their life histories support the claim that homophobia and homoeroticism w i t h i n women i n sports carries over into their lives of PE teachers. Jenny's life history was more ambiguous. She participated i n less 'masculine' sports, even though they formed part of her lesbian social network. The impact of this sporting involvement on her life as a lesbian PE teacher was difficult to estimate because of her simultaneous involvement i n feminist communities outside sport. The 'heterosexual' women all participated i n physical activities that offered little challenge to the compulsory heterosexuality normalized through sport. Marion's love of dance spurred her entry into P E , Connie's experiences i n outdoor education were central to her feminist pedagogies, while Jenny's personal empowerment from rock climbing and running also shaped her approach to teaching. The women's involvement i n these sports d i d not provide significant challenges to the gender order of sport, thereby raising few suspicions about their heterosexuality. The participation of the 'heterosexual' w o m e n i n feminine or gender-neutral sports might have protected these women from the suspicion of lesbianism they might face as PE teachers. Overall, the involvement of these PE teachers i n various sports does little to dispel the associations between masculinity and lesbianism. I think it is more accurate to suggest, as Jennifer Hargreaves (1994) rightly observed, that suspicions about lesbianism have simply been deflected:  197  Although  there has been a broadening  honed athletic to heterosexual breasted...face  female  bodies are now  criteria, insinuations  nevertheless, about  of definitions openly  of sporting  embraced  athletes  defeminization.  who (p.  femininity,  as sexually  are  heavily  attractive  muscled,  and  wellaccording  small-  170)  So, it appears that suspicions about lesbianism facing women i n physical education operate despite women's participation i n an increasing number of sports. It is, arguably, only the forms of heterosexism that have changed. This diffusion of heterosexism i n contemporary sports indicates a potential area for further research. It might be productive to examine the construction of sexualities i n 'extreme' sports like Ultimate, blading, boarding and mountain biking, and the impact on the construction of sexualities i n a younger generation of PE teachers. Theorization of subjectivity i n life history research Due to nature of the 'lesbian specter', and the particular way lesbian sexuality has been marginalized within physical education, the notion of 'silence' was central to this study. This led me to think about h o w silence and secrecy actually functioned within the teachers' stories, i n the social contexts surrounding them and, perhaps most intriguingly, i n the formation of sexual subjectivities. Perhaps the most significant contribution this study makes is the w a y 'identity' was interpreted i n life history data using a poststructural framework — it was certainly the most challenging! The notion of understanding and overstanding data was central to this process, w h i c h led to a montage of discourse analysis approaches being used. The use of psychoanalytic theory and deconstruction alongside speech act and positioning theory i n the analysis of life history data is unique, certainly i n terms of physical education teachers. It points to the complex challenge of approaching empirical interpretative research i n education from theoretical positions informed by poststructuralism, and also queer theory. I hope that the methodological tensions  198  discussed i n Chapter 3 contribute to the sometimes difficult conversations between progressive feminist, materialist and poststructuralist intellectual traditions w h i c h , after all, are concerned w i t h social justice i n education and interpretive research as a form of political engagement. The w o m e n talked about themselves directly when remembering their families, high school experiences and their relationship to feminism. I came to think about these themes as a process of narrating  a self.  Each w o m a n featured  prominently i n stories about these uniquely personal aspects of their lives. In contrast, their narratives of sexism, homophobia and racism often focused on other people. I came to think of this as a process of narrating  the self through  the  Other.  For example, stories about race mainly focused on the racism experienced by students rather than the women's experiences of being white or anglophone i n western Canada. Increasingly this way of interpreting the data challenged the humanist notion that identity has tidy i n d i v i d u a l boundaries, and that a life history can be re-told without reference to the Other. A l s o it should be noted that, through the process of narrating their stories, these w o m e n not only recalled selected life experiences but also analyzed many aspects of them. Consequently, the process of interpreting the experiences these w o m e n told me involved analysis by both the narrators and myself. Not only d i d the theoretical framework assume that identities are constituted in the very acts of narrating the self and, often, through the other but also that identity can never be fully  constituted.  This led to interpretations i n the final  chapter which deliberately, some might say provocatively, inserted lesbian desire into the silences created by the data. The deconstructive analysis of the lesbian closet is intended to extend ways of thinking about how suspicions about lesbianism operate, contributing sights from queer theory to the existing analysis within feminist sport sociology. Similarly, the analysis of dress and physical appearance  199  searched out an absent lesbian gaze. Another way 'silence' was analyzed was by drawing on psychoanalytic theory, acknowledging the possibility that "the organization of our sexuality comes i n an important w a y from outside" (Frosh, 1997: 35). The inclusion of psychoanalytic concepts i n this study begins, i n an extremely speculative way, to engage w i t h other w o r k on sexuality and the unconscious i n education. The methodological dilemmas of interpreting empirical data such as life histories from a psychoanalytic perspective were far from resolved i n this particular study. This is one of the most challenging areas facing life history methodology i n the future — whether to seek interpretations about unconscious desire on the basis of oral accounts. Admittedly, the political implications of bringing poststructural concerns about silence, absence and othering to bear on life history w o r k remain to be seen. The contribution of complicating understandings about the closet, of exposing lesbian eroticism within gymnasia, of suggesting that homophobia might involve more than rational humanist social processes is impossible to guarantee. In the long run, the political and intellectual efficacy of approaching life history and the study of sexualities from a feminist-poststructural framework w i l l be assessed by the way such issues contribute to academic debate and, most importantly, the meanings individual readers assemble from engaging these histories. A t this stage it is important to once again acknowledge h o w my theoretical and personal biography shaped this research. A s I reflect back on my search for the 'lesbian specter' i n the passageways of physical education, I'm aware how my o w n interests directed this study i n so many ways. The process of reading the self through the other certainly applies to me, just as it d i d to the w o m e n I worked with. Henrietta Moore (1993) expressed the outer limits of this self-reading:  200  ...this is much more than the comprehension this is the imaginary assigning  comprehension  value and meaning  becomes knowable.  (p.  of the self by 'detour'  of the self, the desire  to experience,  through  the  other',  to make sense of the self by  the desire to capture  a complete  self  which  203)  Yet, the impossibility of such complete knowledge lingers as I m u l l over m y decision to take up Jeanette Winterson's (1993) seductive invitation w h i c h began this whole affair:  'Explore  me,' you said, and I collected my ropes, flasks  soon. I dropped into the mass of you and cannot find free, coughed again,  (p.  up like Jonah from  and maps, expecting  my way out. Sometimes  to be home I think  the ivhale, but then I turn a corner and recognise  120)  201  I'm myself  References Abraham, N . & Torok, M . (1994). The shell and the kernel: Renewals of psychoanalysis. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Adams, M . L. (1997). The trouble w i t h normal: Postwar youth and the making of heterosexuality. Toronto, O N : University of Toronto Press. Alcoff, L. (1995). 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Harbeck (Ed.), C o m i n g out of the classroom closet: Gay and lesbian students, teachers, and curricula (pp. 141-166). N e w York: Harrington Park Press. Woog, D. (1995). School's out : The impact of gay and lesbian issues on America's schools . Boston, M A : Alyson. Young-Bruehl, E. (1996). The anatomy of prejudice. Cambridge, M A : H a r v a r d University Press.  222  Appendix 1 Initial Letter of Contact  Dear X X X X , I am contacting y o u to invite you to participate in a research project I am conducting as part of m y Ph.D. thesis. M y thesis is a historical study of the changes in attitudes towards women and sexuality in physical education during this century, and w i l l be based upon the life histories of female physical educators teaching in British Columbia. Gender is an issue that most of us w o r k i n g i n physical education have been concerned about at one time or another, but only recently has the physical education profession begun to talk about sexual orientation as an important aspect of gender equity. This project hopes to explore how ideas about gender and sexuality have changed historically, and the impact these changes have had on the lives of women from different generations who w o r k i n the profession. I wonder if you w o u l d be interested in being interviewed about your life history as a physical educator. The interviews w o u l d focus on your experiences as a woman teaching physical education alongside your personal views about gender and sexuality. I am seeking to include women w h o identify themselves as heterosexual, bisexual or lesbian, unmarried and married women, and women w h o w o u l d not use any of these labels to describe themselves. Participation i n the study w i l l involve a m a x i m u m of three one-hour interviews. Your participation can be anonymous and the content of the interviews w i l l be confidential. Also, y o u are free to withdraw from the study at any time y o u wish to do so. If y o u are interesting in sharing your life stories w i t h me and are w i l l i n g to be interviewed, please sign and return one of the attached Consent Forms. I w i l l then contact y o u to arrange a convenient time and place for an interview. H o p i n g to hear from you,  Heather Sykes, School of H u m a n Kinetics, U B C  223  Appendix 2 Example of Narrative A n a l y s i s  Jenny: Travels T o / F r o m  M o d e r n discourses of 'coming out' into a lesbian identity have begun to appear, and may be quite recognizable to both lesbian and heterosexual readers. The chronological events i n Jenny's life history account may be re-told (Mishler, 1991) from the transcript to provide just such a modern tale. (Equally, a deconstructive queer reading of the gaps, slips, contradictions and boundaries i n Jenny's transcript can provide us w i t h a late-modern or less-modern tale.) Jenny's narratives pass through three phases — adolescent naivete, initiation, and searching for community. Pre/Adolescent Naivete Jenny's earliest recollections of desire included a crush she had on a childhood best friend, w h o has since married and is quite 'right-wing and uptight'.  That would  have been in probably  had gotten to be fairly touching  and kissing  of being  thrilled  and  good friends  about grade 8 and  who was in my class.  and she stayed over at my house. We sort of got  ... But I know weren't horrified  this girl  at the same  like necking  or anything  We into  but I remember sort  time.  Later desire was transferred onto female mentors, remembered as feelings of admiration, collegiality and respect. This transference of desire within a pedagogical relationship may be deemed as love and eroticism; however, such desire is directed as much at the teacher as "the subject presumed to know" (Felman, 1987: 84) as at the adult as a sexual object.  224  Miss  Morris  but I don't know if it was a crush as much as... I know I really liked her a lot  but I don't remember having fantasies a woman,  with her or anything  and she was a PE teacher. It was okay to do fun  ivas probably  And  about sleeping  some of  one of my favorite  but  she  was  PE stuff with her. So there  that.  profs ... I wasn't  attracted  to her, maybe on some level I kind of  knew but I loved to talk with her and I loved her course and got really high marks in it and I used to hang with her as much as a student and a prof  can.  Jenny's memories of becoming lesbian move from self-recognition, initiation, frustration, and searching towards a self-awareness of multiple desires w i t h i n her existing, committed relationship. Increasing self-awareness, experience, capability flavor Jenny's recollections, serving to assemble her sexual experiences into a productive journey w h i c h in turn supports her increasingly secure identity as a lesbian, and a lesbian teacher. Revelation and Initiation Realizing that she was or could be a lesbian was an epiphany for Jenny. She was literally spoken into existence (Davies, 1992) as a lesbian by 'The Goddess Kelly', an older lesbian colleague/mentor at a summer camp. A l l o w i n g Kelly's positioning of her as a lesbian allowed her desires to begin to follow a sexual script w h i c h had hitherto been silenced a n d / o r repressed. The floodgates were opened, so to speak. The emphasis on Kelly's revelation i n each re-telling of the story serves to cement this incident as a turningpoint, as a crucial ingredient i n her ability to refuse a heteronormative script, to search for a lesbian script. It tempers intolerable realizations — how could I have not realized this myself? H o w could I have failed to read beyond the heteronormative script if no-one taught me how to read between the lines?  225  Once my revelation feeling  I'm awful,  was given  to me by the Goddess Kelly  quite exciting.  having  intimate  wasn't  even REMOTELY  But what  relations  interested...I  You know, I just didn't (hamming  really worry about too much.  was hard was actually  with anybody,  women but 'a' not thinking  along"  I don't  recall  this is bad, what am I going to do. But there is this how thing  how am I going to tell people which I didn't actually  (laughs)  anything  have a CLUE.  to start feeling  because I hadn't mean go figure  ever about  It was comfortable  gone out with any guys.  I  here I am being attracted  to  was wrong with that or 'b' doing anything  about it.  I thought you know "Someday someone will  come  it up)  Jenny recounted her adult sexual relationships i n terms of increasing fulfillment. That summer she remembers being sexually intimate w i t h a w o m a n for the first time while also being unprepared for 'the nuts and bolts' of sex.  I'd sort of had a little all summer  the woman who'd had this huge crush on me  and we went away for the zueekend to Martha's  knoiv, were Ultimate right  bit with one woman,  away, for  but didn't  whatever  vineyard  ... you knoiu... because I just wasn't  and sort of, you prepared to do that  reasons.  Later i n the summer she was deliberately and deliciously initiated into some of the mysterious techniques of lesbian sex by her much desired and admired colleague/mentor.  jenny:  She finally  offered to... She was quite happy  and I guess she was attracted like "Great!" Heather:  Was  (Laughing)  there up-front  talk  to sleep with  other  women  to me so that she didn 't mind doing it. I ivas  "Okay!  When?"  beforehand?  226  So it was all very  interesting  Jenny:  Oh yes.  So it "What night?"  "Okay but I have to do this first"  did what she had to do that evening . and you  know, did it!  and  // So  then we went back to her  she place  (Laughs)  The Search for Lesbian C o m m u n i t y After these revelations about her lesbian identity and initiations into lesbian desire, her narratives focus as much on the material realities of finding employment, affordable accommodation and lesbian community as the variable currents of desire i n a series of relationships. A year teaching i n N e w Zealand provided a mixture of rapid professional development and frustrating isolation.  One of the reasons I left and it certainly there in that town knowing probably one  wasn't  that I had ZERO  want to have a relationship  with.  the only one was that I just couldn't chance of meeting  And  if I did how  anybody  coidd you  that possibly  be  I'd conduct  there?  O n returning from N e w Zealand, Jenny attempted to enter the lesbian community in Ottawa:  I sort of looked for  ways to find  the lesbian  community.  cafe... So I woidd wander in there and sort of figure  And  there's this funny  little  out how to meet people. I'm  not a  club person, you know. I can't just go and hang out in a bar.  Her frustration at the difficulty of locating and accessing a satisfying lesbian community precipitated her exodus to the West Coast. Here her search began afresh — finding a teaching position, affordable accommodation and the ubiquitous Vancouver lesbian community. The financial sense of sharing accommodation i n the city d i d not  227  always match her emotional requirements, as Jenny recounted two unsatisfying relationships i n w h i c h cohabitation seemed to be central to the problems:  So 1 moved out here and a jew bad for  both of us. And  months later 1 got involved  we ended up lasting  only for a few  me. I needed a place to live, she had a spare room. But never  [The  shoidd  have  relationship]  which  I wasn't  briefly.  months which didn't  It  was  bother  it ivas never meant to be and  it  been...  wasn't  that long, probably  at all happy about but  about a year. She broke up with  in hindsight  same room in this house. Like there was NO  with her still  it was great.  me,  We toere sharing  the  space... I mean she stayed there until  she  had done her school year. So here I am a mess for most of April  xoith a woman  most of February,  all of March  and  around-  Over a number of years Jenny established a network of lesbian friends w i t h i n the city and was successful i n accessing a lesbian community she felt comfortable w i t h ; however, it was not a straightforward or rapid process. She recalls attending feminist events (e.g.. Take Back the Night March) and lesbian and gay sporting events (e.g.. Gay Games and volleyball leagues) without establishing fruitful contacts. Finally, she returned to her preferred individual sports of running and climbing and it was i n these contexts that she made the most long-standing and fulfilling network of lesbian friends and lovers. A t present, Jenny expresses satisfaction w i t h her chosen lesbian-athletic community i n Vancouver. While she is currently committed to a long-term relationship she acknowledges the boundaries of desire are not always synonymous w i t h the boundaries of monogamous relationships:  228  But I think you can have a lot of people in your life that you just love dearly and  would  love to be really close with... And if you can be with one person and if you can be, say, intimate  with more than one person. I mean they're  about... And I think that is the human  condition,  too, you know. And I just try to enjoy it.  229  very interesting  things  as far as I'm concerned.  to  think  That's just me  


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