chapter  1
Re-examining Women First
Rewriting the history of the ‘end of an era’
ByPatricia Vertinsky
Pages 20

Women who teach physical education have long been suspected of being lesbian, and for much of the twentieth century suspicions about lesbianism enveloped physical educators in a shroud of oppressive silence. The athleticism of women in physical education often challenged traditional notions of femininity, given the longstanding associations between masculinity and athleticism. As one of the post-war generation of middle-class women often called the transition or breakthrough generation' who bridged the gap between World War II and the women's liberation movement, my late modern physical educator self' both skirted and diverged from many of the female physical educators in Fletcher's story. Lynn Abrams points out how women whose formative years straddled the late 1950s and 1960s in Britain matured against a background of a tension between conservative discourses on womanhood and a social reality incorporating greater freedoms and opportunities.