Academic Absurdity of the Week: Skorting the Truth?

Back when the abomination of “Casual Friday” was degrading the professional workplace, I remember there was lively debate about whether “skorts” (would you believe there’s no Wikipedia entry for “skorts”?) met the guidelines for acceptable casual wear. Never fear, academia is here, 20 years late, offering this gem of analysis appearing in the journal Cultural Studies:

Sporting a Skort: The Biopolitics of Materiality

M. Katie Flanagan, Florida State University


This article explores the intersecting vectors of power, surveillance, and identity relating to technologies of material culture as located within the so-called “skort” or running skirt. It presents a cultural history of the skort, situating it within historical debates over femininity and sport, and contemporary arguments over the commercial branding of the feminine ideal. The author also presents and discusses the findings of her participant-observation that she performed in a group fitness studio on multiple occasions dressed in three different exercise outfits: a running skirt, a pair of shorts, and a sweat suit. With a focus on the skort experience, the concept of skorting materiality emerged in relation to the matrices of power acting on the body and highlights the results of this ethnographic experience, which uses “the researcher’s body to understand how power operates.” This analysis of skorting materiality focuses on the historically produced present and the current function of the skort in physical culture; its garment’s utility, function, meanings, and messages articulated concocting a rich display of culture and moving biopolitics.

I can’t tell exactly what went down here because I’m not going to pay the $36 Sage Publications thinks this article is worth, but it sounds that Prof. Flanagan wore some skorts into a health club, and was ogled. An extraordinary occurrence, I know.

Hat tip, as always, to RealPeerReview.