Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Jennifer Bruening; Dr. Linda Pescatello

Field of Study



Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


For centuries, sport has been a space dominated by men and served as a microcosm of society in which women’s subordinate position has been highlighted. Despite the great strides women have made within the sport industry, sport continues to serve as a realm that is more welcoming to men than it is to women and that reinforces hegemonic masculinity (Cunningham & Singer, 2012; Connell, 1987). Although many sports reinforce male hegemony and patriarchy through use of violence and physicality, golf has also reproduced notions of male hegemony through the on-course rituals men take part in, the gendered language used on the course, and the discrimination of women by golf course personnel (McGinnis, Gentry, and McQuillan, 2009). This study utilized hegemonic masculinity and critical feminist theory to explore whether the Back9Network, a newly developed golf media network, is challenging hegemonic masculinity or simply reinforcing it through its portrayal of female golfers both on its website and on its Facebook page. This study employed a mixed methods approach with a sample size of n=16 at a large Northeastern University where participants were shown six images categorized as athletically competent, ambiguous, “girl next door,” “sexy babe,” soft pornography, and hyper-heterosexual (Kane & Maxwell, 2011). Overall results indicate that the more an image is sexualized in nature, the least likely it is to generate support. Further, results were analyzed under critical feminist theory and hegemonic masculinity to uncover gender differences in the way consumers interpret media portrayals of female athletes. Although women preferred the images of athletic competence and hyper-heterosexuality, men tended to rate the soft pornography the highest. However, qualitative results indicated that the soft pornography image would only entice men to look at the model and not be interested in the sport of golf and the Back9Network.

Major Advisor

Dr. Laura Burton