College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Women's & Gender Studies


Misogynoir, Heteronormativity, WNBA, Self-representation, Resistance


This work is a critical discourse analysis of the media (mis)representations and self-representations of Black queer women athletes in the WNBA. WNBA players have found paths of resistance and self-representation through social media and their relationships with individual journalists in response to continuous misogynoir, colorism, and heteronormativity that pervades sports and sports media. Specifically, this work highlights how WNBA players craft a counter-discourse about themselves, their media representations, and their treatment through their use of social media. By examining Black queer WNBA players use of social media and other tools of self-representation, it is shown that athletes are not only naming the discrimination that they experience within media, by brands, and by the WNBA but they are utilizing social media for self-representation and articulation. While social media can be a liberatory space, these athletes also understand it to be a highly surveilled space that reinforces misogynoir and heteronormativity which makes them selective in how they engage with it. These choices are often driven by the economic strain they face and the potential gain if they can present themselves in ways that produce more economic opportunities. Finally, it is found that players' individual relationships with journalists who are invested in telling their stories are an integral part of athletes' self-representation.