Miss Me With That Sports Sexism
The recent conflagration surrounding the United States Women’s soccer team has brought out all the old trolls and tropes. Women don’t deserve equal pay because they aren’t as skilled as men.
Women can’t compete against men. Women are too weak, soft, and uninteresting to have their sports taken seriously.
Unless they’re in lingerie, of course. Har har.
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I am really sick of hearing that because women don’t generally have as much fast-twitch musculature and usually have a bit less lung capacity, we are somehow “less than.” It is a wanton display of ignorance implemented to uphold gender roles that keep women softer and weaker, as not to intimidate those mediocre men who love to spout off about what a joke women’s sports are. The fact is, we don’t truly know what women are capable of because they’ve barely been given a chance.
For a very long time, boys have been given every sport option. Not only could they choose between baseball, basketball, football, soccer, wrestling, weightlifting or anything else – they have been pushed towards these endeavors and pursuits.
Girls have been given far fewer options, less funding, and no attention. They were culturally pushed towards makeup and dolls and crafty things.
Boys are taught from an early age to wrestle it out, to be physical and to take up all the space they want. Their competitive drive may have natural roots, but it is culturally emphasized and honed.
Girls are taught from an early age to be nice and polite and to never, ever hurt anybody’s feelings. Although they can be psychologically competitive, it is never encouraged for them to physically slug it out or fight for something. “Girls will be girls…” is not a phrase commonly used, if ever.
Boys are taught to grow and get stronger. Girls are told they don’t want to look “mannish.” Boys are told they have innate strength and leadership potential. Girls are told they have innate nurturing tendencies and motherhood potential.
Only recently, we have seen a rise in attention, funding, and opportunity in women’s athletics. Only very recently have we been seeing inspirational mainstream campaigns that showcase women’s strength and muscle.
And because of that, there are so few studies on women’s physiology in regards to athletic performance. Whereas men have evidence-based programs and a wealth of training knowledge at their disposal, women have largely been training like smaller men. We don’t truly know what it might take to tap into our full potential.
While men may beat women in power, we tend to beat men in endurance. We do not fatigue over time as men do. While women may be behind men 15 minutes in the marathon, we win ultra-races all the time. Not win for the females – win, overall. While men tend to swim across the English Channel a bit quicker than women, women have beaten men in ultra-swimming events regularly.
The truth is we won’t have a handle on what is a genetic difference and what is different solely because our sex has had such a late start. What we do know in this short amount of time, is women are squatting up to 800 pounds, running two-hour, fifteen-minute marathons, breaking ultra-endurance records for both sexes, winning world cups, and becoming celebrities not just for their looks but for their skill.
I clearly remember when Dana White said women will never compete in the UFC. Now they are main events. I know who Serena Williams is, but I couldn’t tell you who the top male tennis player is without Google.
The United States Women’s soccer team outperforms the men and outsells them, too. Yet we still aren’t allowed in with the boys. We don’t play like the boys, we adapt and play differently, we play smarter because we have to.
There are women out there who try out for men’s teams and qualify, only to be rejected later because of gender rules. Why do we have gender rules? So women don’t get hurt? Do we worry about small, skinny men getting hurt?
If a woman meets the standard, why can’t she play? If it was truly egalitarian, we’d have no need for all this transgender hype, either. Those who qualify, make the team, those who do not – don’t.
We can still have leagues so the less elite people can compete: age, physical handicap, women’s teams, etc. But if someone can hang, swim, fight, play and run with the big boys, why do we stop them? My opinion – it is because we’d hurt all the regular men’s feelings.
The reason why women’s sports has been held back isn’t that we are soft, weak and uninteresting. It’s because a large majority of men who do little but sit and spectate don’t want to see women out there pulling feats they couldn’t accomplish even if they trained for it.
They are told all their lives that if a woman bests them at anything (except baking muffins and nursing children) that they aren’t a real man. They are worthless. It is the ultimate insult to have a girl win.
How many men out there are deadlifting over 500 pounds? How many men are squatting that much? How many men can run the marathon in 2:15? How many normal bros are out there even in the realm of what competitive women are doing? How many men would get their head knocked off by Amanda Nunes if they walked into her gym and challenged her? Answer: most.
And that’s the rub, isn’t it?
It is a lot easier for “do nothing dudes” to watch men beat them. It gives them an idol. And in the end, it’s okay because the athlete is an elite male, the apex of physical prowess.
But the scene changes for do nothing dudes when women start getting at it. Watching little Kammi Lobeliner creeping up on a 300-pound hex bar deadlift at 11 years old suddenly makes it crystal clear that they ain’t sh*t. And that’s a hard pill to swallow.
The world’s most elite women may rarely, if ever, beat the world’s most elite men in power-based sports, but they beat average men. They beat plenty of mid-range elite men, as well. It’s no different than how the men’s heavyweight UFC champ will nearly always beat the lightweight champ.
There are weight classes for a reason. No one calls the lightweight weak and unworthy of our time or money. No one cuts off sports for men who aren’t the best of the best.
Unfortunately, we probably have to wait a little longer for the general population to catch up on how so much of what we thought was inherently physiological facts turn out to be culturally-enforced beliefs and gender stereotypes that have been holding everyone back from their true potential.
What we women, and I would assume most trans competitors, are asking for is space to grow and flex. Space to be strong and adapt to physical competition. Space to be amazing.
Encouragement to keep pushing what we thought were limitations.
If we truly love sport, we will allow everyone to see just how good they can be, whether they are men, women or any other gender on the spectrum. Open the doors and stop being so afraid of competition.
I say that as a woman, knowing full well I can be beaten by a man or a trans woman on any given day. It is what it is and I am who I am, and I’ll eat the L sandwich if I don’t make the cut, because that’s on me. I’m still going to try and do my best.
So, sorry not sorry to all of the barstool champions and all the bros who don’t even lift – we are here and we are taking what’s ours. Get off your ass, get with the program, or die mad about it.