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Tjejlopp – not only cosy festival

the Organizers of the tjejlopp that Tjejmilen, . and similar markets are often the races as the big folk festivals in which the participants should have the cozy and fun in a lovely female community.

But for most participants is performance the most important thing, rather than loppens often stereotypical setting.

etnologerna and gender researchers Karin S Lindelöf, and Annie Woube in the book ”In girls ' track – for future victories” (Macadam publisher). It comes out in the next week and based on studies of how the phenomenon tjejlopp developed from the 1980s to the present day.

– the Results of our study surprised us. Tjejloppen be compared are often on the ”fegisvarianter” that the participants with a shoulder shrug, but we can show that most people take the races very seriously and that they want to perform, as best they can. It can be about to improve his time from last year or that the performance itself counts as a victory, " says Annie Woube.

She and Karin S Lindelöf has had access to vast quantities of written and oral stories, including the 600 stories from the women who responded to a skrivupprop carried out in cooperation with the Nordic museum. They have also made their own observations and participated in various tjejlopp.

Annie Woube, to the left, and Karin S Lindelöf. Photo: Julia Benjaminson and Private

the Researchers also examined how the media portrayed tjejloppen and studied the material from the different organizers, printed matter, sheets, decals, etc.

– The participation of the women out that they do not have to be uttittade in the same way as they might experience in a mixed race in which men participate, " says Karin S Lindelöf. Women appreciate what they perceive as a more even competition and that a woman comes first in the goal. To participate and compete in the single-sex context are also experienced as liberating.

or disappear completely in the tjejloppen. But the women also want to that said really perform as well as possible and to physically be able to conduct the races is seen as important.

The first Swedish tjejloppen was organized during the 1980s. Men and women still had very unequal access to leisure, and the responsibility for the home was also even more frequently than in the day of the women. There was also a male idrottsnorm to fitness race was not something women would engage in.

In the day involved hundreds of thousands of women in the Swedish tjejloppen each year. The organizers likes to talk about them in terms of ”community”, ”joy” and ”celebration”. The participants should not have to ”rush and rush”, but at their own pace to participate together with friends or colleagues.

– But this image is shared by many of the women that we interviewed or the stories that we have received, " says Annie Woube.

that the larger races have different types of events like entertainment, social activities and shoppingtält – all with a focus on the special target group, women.

– Many of the female participants appreciated not at all this. They also feel a great deal of doubt and introduces the concept of ”girl” in this context. Organizers frames often in races with the beliefs and prejudices about gender and femininity. Many women react to this, " says Annie Woube.

Photo: Jonas Lindkvist

Earlier during her research, she and Karin S Lindelöf come to the conclusion that many of the participants think that the number of trips to the various tjejloppen becomes silent. We can talk about a kind of modern ”husmorssemester” where the women for a moment to get away from a stressful everyday life.

– However, our further analysis of the participants ' stories show that the performance during the race itself strengthens them both physically and mentally. The focus is thus on the idrottandet that provides a better self-confidence, " continues Annie Woube.

it has been noticed that the tjejloppen created other and new way to exercise and play sports on. The pride in performance and to be able to use their body in a functional manner, are for many in the day is more important than to feel the blood taste in the mouth, they say.

The latter, to push themselves as far as it goes, was a long time that a typically male-coded way to work out and play sports, say the two researchers.

We intend to proceed with studying the gender aspects of participation in the so-called extreme fitness race, type, ultramarathon or triathlon, where you compete in three different branches.

The notes that tens of thousands of women have learned to train by to be with in a tjejlopp. Participation in the first sporting event has led to that they started to run, cycle or go skiing on a more regular basis.

They started with for example. and Tjejmilen had to focus on that it should be easy and fun to exercise. Then, they have been followed by other races that is for everyone, for example the Bloodstream and Midnattsloppet, " says Karin Lindelöf.

She points out that it still often is to be able to dropping ideal where everything is going to be the best and where performance is the only thing that need to be measured.

between 2011 and 2018, the research project on tjejloppen been going on. It is now finished.

" But we intend to go on to study the gender aspects of participation in the so-called extreme fitness race, type, ultramarathon or triathlon, where you compete in three different branches. It's all about the race that takes place under extreme circumstances in any way, for example, for a long time, in the dark, in the cold or in inaccessible terrain, " says Annie Woube.

Annie Woube and Karin S Lindelöf is ethnologists and researchers at the Centre for gender studies at Uppsala university.

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