Ep. 14: The Violent Femmes of Women’s Rugby

There’s a lot of assumptions folks make about violence and video games, from beliefs that violence in video games cause real life violent crime, to the stereotype that violence in video games is intended only for our more dudely players. But what about the violence that happens in real life sports? Does tackling and dragging someone to the ground for a ball make you more likely to tackle and drag someone to the ground out in the real world? And do women really like all that brutal physicality anyways?

As far as brutality goes, the sport of rugby is about as brutal as they come. Sometimes it hurts to watch rugby, much less play it. Legend has it that rugby was invented in England in 1823, when William Webb Ellis decided the rules of soccer (“football”) didn’t apply to him, picked up the ball with his hands, and ran the length of the pitch to score the first ever try. The Tulane Women’s Rugby Team follows in this great rugby tradition of smashing expectations, and are currently ranked third in the country after only two years of competitive play. This week we’re joined by members of Tulane University’s Women’s Rugby Team, Emma Peterson and Hayley Alexander. Emma and Hayley want folks to know that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the “violence” in rugby, and that the respect and comraderie of rugby is actually the selling point of the sport… not the bruises and the black eyes (however fetching they can be).

Unfortunately, Hayley and Emma have found that rugby isn’t always thought of as a “women’s sport”, mostly due to assumptions about what genders are interested in physically brutal gameplay. And when people DO think of women rugby players, they often assume the women are all hyper-masculine drunken lesbians who are into bar fights. While there undoubtedly are rugby women who fall into those categories (“shoot the boot” is a real and terrifying thing, apparently), Hayley and Emma discuss some of the stereotype-shattering aspects of the women’s rugby community, from teams filled to the brim with sorority girls, to winning kicking competitions at rugby tournaments in pencil skirts.

Emma Peterson, originally from Northern California, is a graduate student at Tulane University, getting her M.A. in English. She plays for Tulane Women’s Rugby Club.

Hayley Alexander, originally from Bellevue, WA, is a senior at Tulane University, getting her M.P.H (Masters in Public Health). She’s the president of the Tulane University Women’s Rugby Club.


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This episode is the fifth (and final) episode in Gaming Broad(ly)’s series on violence and video games. For the full conversation, start with “Episode 10: Moral Combat—Why the War on Violent Video Games is Wrong” with researchers Chris Ferguson and Patrick Markey on the (lack of) data about video games causing real life acts of violence, followed by “Episode 11: Why Are You So Angry?”, with Ian Danskin of Innuendo Studios, to learn more about why folks get so, well, aggressive about making sure games stay violent. Part three will bring you to “Episode 12: Why Are You Afraid of Virtual Reality?” with Gijs Molsbergen for a discussion on virtual reality, violence and trauma, and the responsibility of VR advocates to make psychologically healthy and enjoyable VR experiences. In Episode 13, “The Unbearable Anxiety of Tweeting“, we looked at how just the FEAR of violence in online gaming spaces causes ripple effects that impact even our conversations and interpersonal relationships.

Stuff we mentioned…
How to Play Rugby
Tulane University
Rugby Ball
Moon Walking
Shoot the Boot

JD (The Broad)
Website: GamingBroadly.com
Twitter: @JayDeeCepticon
Instagram: @JayDeeCepticon

Tulane Women’s Rugby Club (The Cast)
Facebook: TulaneUWRFC
Instagram: @Tulanewrfc
Website: www.tulanewrfc.wixsite.com/tuwrfc

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