HART publication on Motherhood and Swimming

LSHART’s recent run of published research has continued with the release of a new paper in Leisure Studies Journal focusing upon women’s experiences of aquatic leisure with their pre-school aged children. The full paper can be found here.

The paper, written by Dr. Adam Evans and Dr. Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, focuses upon how  the centrality of the gendered body affects women’s experiences of aquatic leisure, both as individuals and as part of a family. The paper presents results from research with 22 women, each with children aged under 3 years. A number of key themes emerged from the data, which highlighted the centrality of the gendered, lived body as a key social construct contouring participant perceptions in the swimming pool environment. Women reflected upon their self-perceived physical deficiencies when wearing revealing swimming costumes, particularly under the critical gaze of ‘other’ bodies both present and imagined. The co-presence of other bodies was also central in shaping lived experiences, and the presence of ‘dependent’ children’s bodies shifted bodily intentionality away from the self towards perceived maternal responsibilities and the management of perceived risks, including ‘dirt’ and ‘germs’ and the negotiation of the tacit rules of the swimming pool. Results also suggest that the emphasis on maternal responsibility in aquatic leisure activity and timing of parent-toddler sessions could lead to reproduction of gender inequalities and the exclusion of some fathers from participation.


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