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Friday, October 23, 2020

PAST POST: Gender Division in Sports

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Original Post: In combat sports, I think there should still be men's and women's divisions. But I also think there should be an intergender (or maybe omnigender or pangender) division per weight class. There is no reason for any sport/activity that doesn't involve physical harm that there shouldn't be a catchall division open to men, women and everyone else in between.

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Friend 1: I regularly beat men who are larger than I am in fencing. I have beaten three men at once, in HEMA-style fencing. Gender divisions in everything except maaaaaybe weight lifting (and even those are nullified if there are weight classes) are sexist stupidity designed to cosset male fragility.

          Me: I want this to be correct. I would even be willing to see an
          experiment and be proven wrong.

          Me: Not just one woman out of 100, but consistently.

          Friend 1: I'm sorry man, but you are ignoring a hell of a lot of
          evidence. I can find videos of my wins, but look at the evidence
          already available in terms of times and results from gender segregated
          competitions. The male and female numbers consistently match up. Races
          are the easiest to measure, of course, because they're based on plain
          speed. But the fact that you are questioning this is, in itself,
          evidence of ingrained sexism.

          Me: Races, definitely. Swimming, women do better than men consistently.
          I am talking about things like MMA and boxing where people are
          legitimately trying to hurt one another.
          And like I said, I would be interested to see a practical application
          and be proved wrong.

          Friend 1: Only way to do that is to do it, and it will never happen if
          men refuse to allow women to compete with them until they see 'proof'
          that they can keep up. But you should really talk to Matt about this
          because he's seen plenty of women kicking experienced male ass in Judo.

          Me: I want to see it. Trouble is, I am not an MMA/Boxing gatekeeper.

          Me: Every new venture needs proof of concept. This would be a business
          risk. I think people would come out for it. People in the MMA community
          probably want something like this to be available, because they
          have seen it. Ronda Rousey trained with men because there were no women
          on her level (at one time). The more public outcry we get the more
          likely something like this can happen.

Friend 2: We need to figure this out, in part because there should be no reason that trans athletes are forced off gendered teams.

Friend 3:

I thought about the NBA and MLB and how the play styles are different that it makes sense to have women’s leagues, but allow women to play in men’s leagues

Friend 4: I've seen this debate floating around in other circles of the internet as well. It seems that this issue is definitely complicated, and it is unlikely to come to a conclusion that everyone can feel good about. Trans people deserve to feel included and a part of normal, everyday society. Cisgender people deserve to feel like they are permitted to compete under fair circumstances. I would be interested to find more research and statistics on the actual differences between biological females and males in various sports both in comparison to the top athletes in their field, as well as the average athlete in a high school and collegiate setting.

Friend 5: In the US gendered sports divisions are largely results of Title VII of the civil Rights act which mandated schools support sports for both males and females "equally.". Prior to this most schools just didn't let girls compete in sports at all ... Without Title VII patriarchal forces would probably collapse almost all women's sporting, in the USA. There'd be some kind of feeder system for Olympic events, and a lot of for fun leagues, like Roller Derby and Softball and bowling and what not, but HS and colleges would race to covertly defund lots of women's sports, sigh ...

Friend 6: There's been a real push on the Indy circuit to make pro wrestling gender neutral. Part of that is because there's still a serious disproportion in the number of women wrestlers compared to men. You can see that in WWE, even now, where the women feel like they're fighting the same five people for years at a time. The other is based on the idea that wrestling isn't a sport in the strictest sense. The idea that whatever potential percieved risks to women in intergender competition is mitigated by the fact that performers are cooperating with one another rather than competing with them.

I don't feel that intergender competition is a problem, but I can see it needing to be its own division or its own league. I don't see compulsory intergender competition being well received by anyone.

However, it would open up doors for women to thrive in sports where no women's league/division exists.

Friend 6: I also feel that the whole trans athlete argument is a red herring, meant to distract us from the discussion we really should be having about gender neutrality in sports. Transphobes want talking points to support their bad takes on gender and lean on stereotypes rather than recognizing that there is no "right way" to be a gender.

          Friend 2: 🤔 If I fed into that, I apologize. I brought it up because I
          had recently listened to the experience of a trans friend being kicked
          off a gendered team, not by the players or coaches, but by higher ups.

          Friend 6: I was speaking more as a society in general.
          The discussion goes to whether or not trans folk should compete as
          their gender, not realizing that this conversation is inevitably going
          to force to examine gender specific sports overall. Like focusing on
          the symptoms rather than the sickness.

Friend 7: Sports is pretty much bullshit anyway for the most part, and I say that as someone who has three medals that I received for athletic achievements.

          Friend 6: thus, why I follow a farce of a sport that
          was originally meant to be a scam to increase attendance and milk more
          money from the public.

          Friend 7: The other day I was at an open mic that allows all kinds of
          performers, and one of them was an old-timey strongman who did things
          like bending horseshoes and ripping up phone books. The whole bar paid
          more attention to him than anyone else who performed. I saw that and I
          was like "This is true athleticism. Just a guy showing off what his
          body can do." And then I told him that I want to be him someday.

          Friend 5: Meh, I guess I think it's good to let people
          geek out about what they want to. If people wanna do competitive
          fencing, or Mario world speed runs, or volleyball, or watch folks play
          basketball or whatever, I think we can allow enjoyment without needing
          to call bullshit. But we can get a a bit more attacky when the funding
          gets dodgy (public funding of stadiums, or high school atheltics vs
          academics, or people of color sustaining numerous concussions for the
          profits of their billionaire team owners, etc.). It's be nice if we
          could let people enjoy their entertainment without all the BS of
          patriarchy and capitalism, and such intruding, but oh well ...

          Friend 7: I guess I could pick my words better.

          I meant bullshit as in silly and arbitrary and ultimately made up, not
          as in unimportant. That's just it: its importance is not inherent, but
          made by the fact that people care about it.

          Hence when people think that the rules are hard and fast and natural,
          that's what I call bullshit.