Is figure skating a women's sport?
In her recently published book Culture on Ice, Dr. Ellyn Kestnbaum critically examines the theory espoused by feminist writers of the 1970s that the essence of figure skating is that it presents to the dominant male "gaze" a bevy of submissive female beauties whose worth is validated by the extent to which they exhibit the disempowering quality of "gazed-upon-ness." Thus when men preen and pose before an audience, be they ever so virile and macho, they are assuming the passive female role by presenting their bodies as objects to be looked upon.
This raises two questions:
(a) Does the figure skating establishment, in particular through judging panels, reward female skaters who represent and reinforce societal norms as to what constitutes the feminine ideal?
(b) What strategies are available to male skaters to counter this feminizing, hence devaluing, view of their sport.