This is a Feminist issue.....Equality in Sports


Watching the 2010 Olympics I was suddenly curious as to why aren't there any mixed gender competitions. Figure skating is probably the only sport. But why are there Woman's snowboarding competitions and Men's snowboarding if they are competing in the same field? Isn't the Olympics supposed to show who's best of the best no matter gender? They even get scored equally. So why not have them compete against one another. I think this is a feminist issue because there is clearly no equality among gender in sports. I don't think there should be any distinction in sports because everyone trains the same. I feel that when there a Woman's or a Men's category they are not viewed the same therefore there is no equality.
In trying to find a mixed gender sport I found that there is a lot of debate to whether the safeties of women are at risk. I think that in any sport there is a risk of getting injured but it is your responsibility to practice and ensure that you are playing by the rules so you won't get hurt. But accidents happen and in playing that sport you know what you are getting into.
I didn't found many sports that are mixed gender although the UMN has a soccer team that is mixed. I feel that there shouldn't be any distinction in sports and it should be a feminist issue. Maybe next Olympics we will have an equal competition.Do you agree?


  1. I am going to have to disagree on this subject on the basis of individual competition between genders. This is not about equality, it is about genetic differences that cannot be overcome, unless the woman injects herself with a form of testosterone over a period of time of course. This issue relates to hormones, and how some hormones are more prevalent in the male then in the female, and vice versa. This is not saying that that men achieve a greater skill-level then women, absolutely not. Women have the same skill level as any man in their subsequent specialization, perhaps more so in half the cases. However what does separate the two classes is the physical differences. In some sports, there will not be a physical risk concerning the female, such as tennis where the players don't have any physical contact whatsoever. However, the advantage a man would have is his ability to project a 140 mph serve versus a 110 mph serve from a female, and also the males ability to hit a forehand 30 mph harder then a female. There is your disadvantage. And what a unified sports league of any type does is it tries and limits "advantages" as much as possible, such as creating lists of illegal drugs, drug tests, regulations on equipment use, regulations on salary caps, rules of the game, etc. to create an even playing field as much as possible to encourage competition. Hormones, however do not. Males are just made to create more muscle density, making them stronger and therefore quicker. And it is not about sexism, it's just the way that it is.

    Now, co-ed sports is a different topic. These are usually done in team settings, such as co-ed soccer, co-ed softball, etc. These are also designed for equal competition by enforcing rules that there has to be a certain number of females on the field at the same time. I played in a co-ed soccer league. There are even different rules for when a women has a ball in some leagues, such as only another women can attack the ball when a women possesses it. However, if a man possesses the ball, a man or a women may attack him. So even in some co-ed leagues, there are rules for the safety of women in contact sports, which in my opinion there should be. Another example is co-ed softball, which is another sport I played. Here for example, the batting line-up has to be every other sex. You can't have 3 guys hitting in a row for example. And even further, if the pitcher walks a male, then the female hitting next has to be walked as well, However if the pitcher walks a female, the male has to hit and cannot take the "free walk". This is also to make the competition fair.

    Somethings feminism does not have the power to control or even influence, and which sex generates what hormones and how much is certainly one of them.

  2. The problem with this is that by saying this is just biology or this is just the way it is absolutely reinforces sexist attitudes. The larger issue is not genetics or hormones, it is patriarchy which for the most part determines who gets to do what. Women have been shaped and molded over centuries to be weaker and have less ability to do the things, in sports, that men do. Why in the world would we want to reinforce this by saying, Oh, but it is OK because we are different- but hey, this is not a bad thing-don't be mad-be glad that you can compete in co-ed sports! We associate things like aggression, competiveness, and sport with masculinity. We are already equating all of these things as,'man' and not 'woman' so this becomes problematic. Feminist are curious about many things and are not trying to ‘defy’ biology-

    Constructive definitions of feminism include:
    Concepts such as: women's rights; women's liberation; a movement aimed at eradicating all forms of sexism; a concern for the subordination, victimization, domination, and oppression experienced by women; a confrontation of the issue of male super-iority; a spiritual journey for women's discovery of the self, a challenge to the status quo- (only men in contact sports); the questioning of political, social, and cultural institutions and ways of thinking; and the articulation of such thoughts.

    The last thing that any feminism seeks to proclaim is control because historically women have not been in control. Hormones do not excuse the fact that men continue to associate sport with man and not with woman.

  3. I still gonna have to disagree.

    I don't think there is ever a problem for accepting a man for being a man, and woman for being a woman. When you do have a problem is when you don't give opportunities due to reasons SOLELY based on gender. Sexism is discriminating solely based on sex. In the sports world, you find me a woman who can throw a baseball 95 mph and I guarantee you she will sign a professional sports contract. It is not about her gender, it is about her ability. Danica Patrick is a woman and one heck of a race car driver. Thats why she was in the Daytona last weekend. They didn't deny her based on her gender. She has the ability! I can't throw a baseball 95 mph as a man, so should I be upset or bitter because I don't have the ability or an unqualified for a position as a pitcher? So if I were a woman would that be considered sexism? It just doesn't make sense to me.

    To deny that there are differences between women and men in sports to me is like saying there are no differences in the physical body between the two should be able to breast feed because the hormones and genetics responsible for creating breast tissue and mammory glands are insignificant. Same with the cells that generates a uterus. Who needs a uterus to have a baby anyways?! I want to have a baby as a man just because I have a right to even if I am not qualified, and if I can't then its masculanism!! Sorry, I do not have the ability to have a baby because of the proteins in my genome.

    And in sports, it is not patriarchy. There is no rule in any sport saying that women are not allowed to play! Any team can draft a female player if they so desire. But because they don't due to their lack of performance makes them sexist? Yeah, I don't agree. Find me a woman who can achieve the same performance standards as her fellow competitors and she will "make" team. The fact is, the greater majority of women are unqualified for the position in certain leagues because of performance, not sex. Just as I would be unqualified to breast feed my child....because of genetic differences.

    Women have been shaped and molded over centuries? I don't think their genome has been molded or shaped over centuries. It has been exactly the same. And their genetic differences by no means makes women weaker.

    I was using the reference of co-ed sports as an example of the differentiation between sexes who do play on the same team, not that women should merely be happy that they are able to play in a co-ed league. Obvisouly there are a number of womens leagues in which they can play in. I love watching womens soccer, I loved watching Danica Patrick race against 42 other males in Daytona last weekend, I love watching women's volleyball, tennis, softball because it is a good competition. They are good at it, they are skillful, they have agility and strategy. How are those associations of sport solely with man? There is even a professional women's basketball league.

    It's not about male "superiority". To me that stems from insecurity for the same reason that a man is afraid of being beat by a women and is used more as a scapegoat for an excuse that in some sports women just can't achieve the same performance standards as men. Its about qualification and performance. Women have every right to try out for any sport team just like I do, if they make if more power to them. I will be a fan of theirs.

    I am enjoying this debate. ;)

  4. "I don't think there is ever a problem for accepting a man for being a man, and woman for being a woman."

    The most important question here is: What is "a man" and what is "a woman"? And does either of these purportedly distinguished categories of personhood constitute a human in their entirety? What does it mean to 'be' a man or 'be' a woman? -- and why is 'man' consistently presented as the prototype for human; one in which 'woman' consistently fails to measure up? To say that women are not as physically capable as men is an over generalization that I feel needs to be addressed. For example: Venus Williams versus Jack MacBrayer in any competition dependent upon physical stamina would certainly be less than fair, and not because Jack MacBrayer is male. So does this mean that either of them (or both of them) 'fail' to 'be' their biologically ordained sex?
    (Also important to consider: 'masculine' does not = man & 'feminine' does not = woman; these are entirely separate concepts.)

  5. I would have to disagree that the separation of gender competition in sports is sexism, rather a biological fact we must accept. Men and women produce different levels of hormones, so they develop differently. I believe that as long as both sexes are allowed to play in sports and compete against others who excel in their sport it is fair. Both men and women are given equal rights in this situation. Men cannot compete against women and women cannot compete against men.
    I feel like if women and men were to compete in the same category, there would be another handful of people saying that this is not fair because men and women and genetically different and cannot physically make their bodies reach the same full potential. Notice I have said FULL potential. I am not saying that if men and women competed in the same category men would always come out on top. I am saying that if a women athlete and a man athlete have pushed their bodies to the absolute limit without taking any unnatural hormones, the man would be able to place higher in many sports. I think this would be more frustrating and unfair than competing separately.
    By competing separately, the placement clearly shows which athletes have worked harder, and pushed themselves farther in their talent, not which athletes have a genetic advantage/have excelled more in their sport. By eliminating competition between sexes the large variable of genetics is eliminated.

  6. It is great to see you all respectfully and vigorously debating this issue. In the spirit of Cynthia Enloe and curiosity, I have a few questions:

    How does an appeal to biology and the absolute and intractable differences between "men" and "women" shut down a discussion of this issue? What questions get left unexplored when the issue of equality in sports gets decided by the conclusion "men are stronger than women"? Is there a universal definition of "strength" and does it always refer to men? Are there ways to approach "fairness" or equality (and what does "equality" mean) that rely on strategies other than including women in male sports? If so, what would those look like? Again, what questions get left unasked/unexplored when we frame the debate around equality as inclusion without any interrogation of the underlying assumptions/structures that influence how we define: strength, weakness, men, women, sports, performance?

    Whew...just one more question: can you think of some different ways to frame this debate (that is, change the way we approach it and the issues we are discussing) that inspire/encourage/incite curiosity?

    A lot has been written about this issue within feminist theory--any of you who have a background in GWSS want to offer some resources? Here are two that I think are relevant:

    Young, Iris Marion. "Throwing Like a Girl"?

    Sterling, Anne Fausto. The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female are not Enough

    Thanks again for a good discussion--I really appreciate your willingness to engage in critical conversations about these issues!

  7. This is a very tough issue. It is hard to have equality in sports between men and women I think because naturally men and women have different abilities. I understand where you are coming from though in the fact that it should be equal overall. I think it is equal because men and women are different and their bodies work differently also. This is something we as humans can’t help; that’s just how we were made. I would almost feel it would be unequal if I had to face up against men in a sport that they have naturally better abilities just because they are men. I say the same for men; I’m sure they would feel the same way in a sport where women naturally have the right body mechanics for it. I just think making the Olympics all one competition with no gender differences would make it more of a problem than helping it.

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