Department of Humanities & Communication
In a conversation years ago with the late, legendary college basketball coach Pat Summitt, Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins asked Summitt if she was a feminist (“To ‘Sum It Up”’). It seemed an odd question, considering Summitt’s unparalleled role in the rise of women’s athletics. Yet, for sports journalism scholars, Jenkins’ question was compelling for another reason. What if Summitt had responded by asking, “Are you?” Much like Summitt, Jenkins has achieved success in an overwhelmingly male-dominated profession, and she has moved the needle forward for women in sports and, by extension, for women in general. Her visibility allows her to influence the way millions of readers understand gender issues in sports. Certainly no sign carrier (which would defy journalistic ethics), Jenkins has often questioned her “feminist credentials,” particularly when she takes contrarian positions on issues near and dear to second-wave feminists. These positions mirror, to some degree, the historic conflict and evolution of the feminist movement in America. Considering that sports is such a fertile ground from which to grapple with feminist concerns, Jenkins should be considered a highly influential ally, whose career success and distinctive, if sometimes controversial, voice reflects the multifaceted later waves of feminism.
Studies in Popular Culture
Popular Culture Association in the South
Scholarly Commons Citation
Master, S., & Mitchell, T. J. (2017). “No But”—Understanding Sally Jenkins’ Friction with Feminism. Studies in Popular Culture, 40(1). Retrieved from https://commons.erau.edu/publication/1100