There was a lot to cut from Women and Fitness in American Culture. It went through many incarnations and there was so much "perfect" evidence. But that doesn't mean that there weren't sources that would have been helpful, insightful, even key to the crux of my argument. The fact that there are always more examples to add to the mix speaks to the flexibility of interdisciplinary studies as well as the subject at hand.
Red Nails, Black Skates: Gender, Cash, and Pleasure On and Off the Ice is a book I not only highly recommend, but also wish I would have discovered before my book was written--for my own personal and professional reasons.
It is really quite ridiculous that I did not discover this book during my extended research process. In fact, as I scratch at the reaches of my brain, I am pretty sure that I clicked right past it. At one point I decided that I needed to narrow my scope of research, to only tangentially consider "sport." I wanted to consider sport mostly as it stood in for "fitness," as it narrows the overall quality of fitness to an athletic/competitive activity that relies upon the mastering of a set of specific skills. I remember scrolling by thinking "skating" is not "fitness." And it's not, but I didn't imagine at the time just how relevant skating is, at least in the context of Rand's work.
Since author, Erica Rand, is practically my neighbor and is a friend of a colleague of mine, and since I am pretty sure said colleague mentioned this book to me at one point, it is simply a travesty that I did not pick it up. Her arguments about pleasure, social justice, and queer bodies and queer approaches and spaces would have been helpful to round out some of my less developed arguments. For instance, while I write about the term "pleasure" scaring away participants, Rand boldly writes a whole chapter on the connection of skating and pleasure titled, "Skating Is Like Sex, Except When It Isn't" and in the first paragraph she proceeds to provide the best definition/description of sex I have ever read:
For me, skating is a lot like sex. It's at once hot, intense, smooth, and sweet. It involves control, in ways that mix taking and yielding it. It's rhythmic, you can improve with practice, little things can make all the difference, it can feel like flying, and when it really works it's intensely in-body and out-of-body at the same time (46).
While I apologize, Rand embraces.
But the biggest reason I lament my oversight is that Erica Rand's book is so much like mine at the same time that it is so different from mine. It would have been helpful to have her book in a kind of role model/mentor kind of way. So many things that I was afraid to do with my book--tell my story (even the personal details), use myself as a research subject, put my body on display beside the product of my brain--Rand does with confidence, poise, and insight. She owns her work in a way that I want to own my work.
Even the structure/approach of my work has similarities to Rand's book. When I read her "Introduction: Skate to Write, Write to Skate," I felt like we had parallel projects. The thoughtful subtitles, the process laid bare, the personal narrative, the connection between the spheres of academia and physical embodiment/engagement, and the desire to reach audiences beyond academia, are all qualities that our work shares. She lays it out with confidence.
I lay it out with trepidation--a different language, a less-definable subject (skating is more concrete, fitness is diverse and abstract), an exploratory method, a distilling of theory, a weaving of less defined voices and more abstract ideas. I am still in the process of understanding how to do critical interdisciplinary work; and interdisciplinary theory and methodology will be one of my next research projects.
But, ultimately, for both of our works, transformation is the impetus. In conclusion Rand writes about "the principle of ethical fieldwork: Don't take from communities you study without giving back" (261). This is a principle that is embodied in my dual spheres of fitness and academia; for both of us, "fieldwork" is also life. She also reminds me that "there is not one single way to effect change ... in the rink only" or "to participate in anti-oppression struggles across categories of race, gender, sexuality, economics, and nation" (261). Academia and activism, pleasure and politics do not have to be binaries.
Our endings are even similar. She notes, "we need to get out there and do the work. And still, then again . . ." (261), while I note "if we are willing to do the work(out)." But neither of us can let that be the last word. I turn to final relaxation/rejuvenation. She turns to correcting a myth (that I perpetuate)--that Emma Goldman never actually said: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution." But, Rand argues, she did express this sentiment. And to this sentiment, Rand adds, "And sparkle."
Next installment of additions and reconsiderations: Hanne Blank, The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide to Exercise: And Other Incendiary Acts.