Have I Made Myself Queer?: Writing and Revising the Gendered Running Body

I’m not here to defend my fashion choices (they’re largely indefensible), but I do think that my unfortunate outfit—in conjunction with the other body modifications and technologies I was exploring and would continue exploring—is worth theorizing. I’m talking here about athletic identity, and that means both having a body that performs and performing a body.

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These are just some initial notes and musings as I try to theorize queer running bodies and to queer running and to queer running bodies and running narratives—and to theorize what it is we’re resisting when we push against pavement (and patriarchy).

And to stop apologizing. 

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The (Lustiness of the) Long Distance Runner-Writer*: Metaphors and Erotics of Running and Writing

For years now I’ve been trying to articulate what I identify as a very strong connection (correlation?—see: ligament, see: tendon, see: tend on) between my running and my work—specifically, my writing: 

I see running as a creative (writing) process. I see writing as embodied.

Is this relationship solely (pun intended) metaphorical? Alicia Ostriker defines metaphor as “that which joins, that which announces connection, overlap, shared essence, and yet retains the actual distance between whatever objects it brings together” (89). She calls it “the erotic element in language” (89).

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What I haven’t directly asked the women I’ve interviewed (yet) is this: is there something specifically feminine or linked to your identity as a woman about the body part(s) you injured or lost? 

For me, the answer is “yes.”

My knee is fraught with femininity and sexuality.

Its scarring represents the complicated consent I gave to multiple entries.

 

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Fear and/of Femininity

The “rim of the well” is a useful metaphor for me in thinking about/theorizing female runners’ relationships with their wounds and their bodies (and for some of us, with our bodies-as-wounds and wounds-as-bodies) because it’s a brink, a precipice. A possibility. A tension. 

(Think: connective tissue. What gives.

Many of our stories (mine too) are characterized by rims, by tensions: 

Do we narrate what our bodies can do or what they can’t do (anymore)?

Does the violence of injury distance us from our bodies, or force us to feel them, consider them, be (within) them?

Does the violence of injury separate our bodies into parts, or does it fuse those parts into (w)holes?

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Cruciate and Crucial: The Gendered Crux of It

This is what I learned about the word cruciate today, as in cruciate ligament: It’s from the Latin cruciātus, past participle of cruciāre—to torture, rack, torment.  

A now obsolete definition: tortured.

(As in, look what language has racked up here, whose cross this is to bear, whose cross this is that has broken.)

I’m a lapsed Catholic as I am a lapsed runner, so the metonymic weight of the cruciate and its etymology, the cross, the crux, isn’t lost on me. But, lest I cross anyone, let me assure you I don’t mean to paint myself as a martyr or to glorify or exaggerate my suffering. I’m just waxing poetic.

And waning. And wanting.   

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Seeking FEMALE RUNNERS WHO HAVE SUFFERED INJURIES to Participate in CONFIDENTIAL Interviews (or in a CONFIDENTIAL Online Survey)

For the second chapter of my dissertation, I'm conducting interviews and an online survey, gathering the running, injury, and recovery narratives of other female runners who have suffered injuries that rendered them either temporarily or permanently unable to run. I'm looking at how injured female runners tell their stories and how this helps them to rebuild and rehabilitate themselves and their bodies, as women and as athletes. 

You may be eligible for this study if

  • You have identified or did identify as a female runner for at least one year

  • You sustained (at any point) a traumatic injury that prevented you from running (either temporarily or permanently)

  • Your injury caused you to seek medical treatment

  • You were training to run or planning to run a race of at least 5 kilometers when you were injured 

These interviews and survey responses will help me (a fellow female injured runner) to write my doctoral dissertation. While there are no particular benefits to participating in the study, I hope that the process of sharing injury and recovery narratives may be constructive for some participants. 

Eligible participants will choose to participate either in a 60-minute interview (preferred) or a 60-minute online survey. Interviews will be conducted at my office on campus at UL or at a coffee shop or other location of the participant’s choice. Please feel free to share this widely and to refer additional participants. I'm willing to travel within the Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans areas to interview participants and can also conduct Skype interviews (NO GEOGRAPHIC CONSTRAINTS). Additionally, I'm interested in obtaining survey responses from as many other participants as possible (no geographic constraints here either).

If you'd like more information, or if you would be willing to participate in an interview, please contact me at billie.tadros@gmail.com. You may also find additional information and a fillable research consent form here.

If you are unwilling to participate in an interview, but you'd like to complete the survey, you can find it here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/injuredfemalerunners