Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Women in Sports

With the Olympics came a whole lot of sexism leveled at the females athletes, from commentators, news sources, and the general public. When I was faced with this sexism in real life, or on the internet, I tried to counter it with facts and pointed out the flaws in whatever was said, or photographed. I spoke to my friends and family when they'd listen, and even went on a rant on the internet. I don't usually confront the internet, it can be monolithic and intimidating, but I found that I was more passionate about this subject than I knew, so I'm reprinting my thoughts here.

Women are disadvantaged in sports, they have less sponsorship opportunities (and the ones they do get tend to be sexually exploitative, a la Danica Patrick for GoDaddy), less access to training resources, lower pay and less of a chance to play, because women's sports aren't considered interesting.

I think that part of the problem is segregation. Women should be able to play with and against men whenever they want, and I see no reason for them to be separate.

But, but! Upper body strength, muscles, center of gravity! I heard full paragraphs of bull supporting these phrases and I shall not type them out because rage isn't healthy. But, know that similar arguments were used to keep black people out of white sports back in the day, and it was determined then and is still true now that separate is never really equal. We all have different body types, we all have different strengths and weaknesses and that's why there are winners and losers in games, instead of everything always ending in a tie.

Yes, many women are physically weaker than many men. But some women are stronger, some women are faster and more agile and more talented than many men, than ALL the men, and they aren't being given the same opportunities, solely because they're women.

I do think that women should have the option of playing separately, if they want it. The world is so male-dominated, any place where it's okay to be a lady can be a rare sanctuary. But, if a woman wants to play golf, or tennis, or soccer, or football or ANY sport there is and she wants to compete with the men, she should be rabidly encouraged.

And, I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Female Athletes' Endorsement Opportunities Hindered By Sexualization And Lack Of Visibility, Say Researchers

Men vs. Women in Athletics

"By directly challenging and dispelling misconceptions about women’s capabilities, integrated sport programmes help to reduce discrimination and broaden the role prescribed to women." From this amazing, and hugely long study: Women, Gender Equality and Sport.

Here's an article about a female weightlifter who outranked ALL the men and still had trouble getting any scholarships: Why doesn’t Sarah Robles, the highest ranked American weightlifter, have all the athletic sponsorships?

"Because females have historically faced athletic disadvantages, they should be able to play on all-female teams if they choose. But they shouldn't be barred from playing on traditionally male teams.", from Women and Men in Sports: Separate is not equal

Feminism has become a part of my life since my bubble of able-bodied privilege was broken, and I'm probably going to start writing about it more here. Hence, new tag!