No pain, no gain: embodied masculinities and lifestyle sport in Japan

Manzenreiter, Wolfram GND

In postmodern society, the field of consumption has replaced the world of production as the main arena in which dominant stereotypes of masculinity and femininity are communicated and reinforced. Previous research findings suggest that deference to male authority, homosociality, hierarchical junior–senior relationships, conformity and control, and the appreciation of pain and violence are characteristic elements which exaggerate masculine traits and devaluate feminine ones in sports in Japan. My own experiences with rock climbers in Western Japan questions the conventional wisdom of the preponderance of such “masculinity rites” – which overwhelmingly have been observed in highly formalized, competitive, and organized settings. Confronting traditional, mainstream sports with less explored subcultural modes of alternative sport involvement, such as surfing, skateboarding, or climbing, this article explores to what degree hegemonic masculinity has also shaped ideas and ideals of maleness within lifestyle sport and whether these subcultural spaces actually offer the opportunity for the experience of alternative modes of masculinity.