Pretty Strong: Muay Thai Women

Sharyn Davies, Antje Deckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Women now compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship for which Muay Thai is a feeder discipline. It is timely to analyze how the tools of this pugilist trade, women’s bodies, are lived and discursively positioned. We explore how bodily attributes (strength and beauty) are positioned vis-a-vis women fighters by drawing on 17 interviews with women Muay Thai fighters. We argue while women are in control of their bodies and proud of their strength, normative narratives of fighting being unfeminine must be combatted. Theoretically, we expand discussion of gender and the body by deploying the ‘pretty imperative’ to examine how women’s quotidian practices open space for other women fighters and by engaging the notion of ingenious agency to reveal women’s strategic efforts for inclusion and acceptance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages12
JournalSociology of Sport Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

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