The pain and pleasure of roller derby: Thinking through affect and subjectification

Adele Pavlidis, Simone Fullagar

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Writing about pain in roller derby challenges us to rethink old dichotomies that
separate mind and body, real‘ and virtual, feminine and masculine. The 'tough‘ roller derby girl‘, willing and able to endure pain for the pleasure of the game, has become a powerful figure in contemporary western popular culture. Our analysis of roller derby reveals women‘s complex relation to pain and pleasure, as part of a feminist reimagining of sport. Through an analysis of derby texts we explore how painful affects are mobilized in particular ways: to imagine collective belonging, to invent alternative feminine subjectivities, and to mark out the limits of self and other. In this way we endeavor to think through the affective experience of derby and how sport might become more gender inclusive as a transformational cultural site. The embodiment of pain is not simply one of overcoming‘, but a corporeal relation that is productive of multiple feminine subjectivities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-499
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • women's sport
  • feminism
  • embodiment
  • affect
  • sociology


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