Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Using ethnographic methods, I began this project with the goal of understanding the full experience of what it means to be a derby girl. This included examining how the sport dictates performances of gender and how derby girls perform gender on and off the rink. Additionally, I paid special attention to how the women negotiate femininity and beauty. I found that roller derby girls maneuver through the world of gender dichotomies skillfully by means of their actions and words in the derby space. Unlike at the inception of derby, current derby girls engage less consciously with the feminist movement. Instead of that being a failure or corrosion of initial guiding principles, the current crop of derby girls embrace the sport because it is a place where they can be themselves, regardless of whether their behavior falls into traditional masculine or feminine categories. I argue that new derby girls represent a compelling example of the new breed of modern woman who rejects traditional gender norms and reaches across the aisle to masculine qualities without contradicting their feminine qualities.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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