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Goalkeeping or Gatekeeping? A Lexical Analysis of Sexism in Italy’s Female National Football League

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Rachel McDonald

The Italian language as an echo of its country's culture has contributed to the historical alienation of women in sports as well as reinforcing the gender-based discrimination that occurs in Italian soccer today. Rooted in a defiance of Italy's developing Fascist state, the Women's Soccer Group established in 1932 contradicted Mussolini's emphasis on the value of women lying solely in their reproductive capabilities. "Fascist Italy needs good mothers, not 'virago footballers'" Lo Schermo Sportivo, a Milanese sports journal, claimed in a 1933 article. The propagation of negative sentiment towards Italian women in sports not only disbanded the Women's Soccer Group, but also maintained its absence for a subsequent 35 years. It is with these origins in mind that I conducted research through social media tracking, interviews, and academic study in order to understand language's impact more fully on Italian women's soccer. In monitoring specific hashtags across various social media platforms over a period of 8 months, the statistics concluded that Italian women's soccer was referred to negatively in 20.2% of mentions, as opposed to 14.6% positive references. The idea that female soccer continues to be spoken of unfavorably is reflected in the amendment scarcely made in 2022, allowing the Italian women's soccer league to become professional and its salary cap removed. Though language continues to mirror a culture cemented in its hegemonic foundations, it may also positively influence the perception of Italian women in sports, which then transforms their reality.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Type: Oral
Format: In Person
SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Area of Research: Humanities
Faculty Mentor: Dan Paul
Location: Union Building, PANORAMA EAST (4:10pm)