Multiculturalism, Gender and Bend it Like Beckham
In this article, we explore the efficacy of sport as an instrument for social inclusion through an analysis of the film Bend it Like Beckham. The film argues for the potential of sport to foster a more inclusive society in terms of multiculturalism and gender equity by showing how a hybrid culture can be forged through the microcosm of an English young women’s football club, while simultaneously challenging assumptions about traditional masculinities and femininities. Yet, despite appearances, Bend it Like Beckham does little to challenge the structure of English society. Ultimately, the version of multiculturalism offered by the film is one of assimilation to a utopian English norm. This conception appears progressive in its availability to all Britons regardless of ethnicity, but falls short of conceptions of hybrid identity that do not privilege one hegemonic culture over others. Likewise, although the film presents a feminist veneer, underneath lurks a troubling reassertion of the value of chastity, masculinity, and patriarchy. Bend it Like Beckham thus provides an instructive case study for the potential of sport as a site of social inclusion because it reveals how seductive it is to imagine that structural inequalities can be overcome through involvement in teams.
film; gender; multiculturalism; sport
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