# Are We Removing Womens' Rights by Having Separate Sports?

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jimmydasaint    159

I didn't know where to post these thoughts, but I have been pondering on this for a while.

If we believe that women have equal rights to men, then why are they in separate competitive sports, locally, nationally or internationally (e.g. Olympic Games). Are we acknowledging that they are not as physically strong as men and making the choice for them to separate them, which is a gender apartheid; or are we being condescending in being 'gentle' with them?

For example, should women be able to compete with men in track and field events on an equal basis? In addition, would large team sports like football or baseball not be more interesting when women and men compete together?

Certainly, team showers at the end of the game would be far more interesting...

Any views?

Edited by jimmydasaint

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D H    1371
Are we acknowledging that they are not as physically strong as men and making the choice for them to separate them, which is a gender apartheid; or are we being condescending in being 'gentle' with them?

Yes.

Athletes need strength, agility, balance, etc. Some people have very little, others have a lot. The distribution forms a curve, more or less bell shaped. Men and women are different physically even at the middle of the curve. At the four-sigma plus extremes of the curve where athletes of the highest levels of competitiveness levels exist the difference is quite marked. Consider the 100 meter sprint. Men broke the 10 second barrier more than 40 years ago. Women, not even close. Nowadays a winning time for a mens 100 meter dash that is over 10 seconds is a sign of a mediocre race. If track and field was run as a gender neutral competition there would be no female competitors at the highest levels of competition.

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I agree with D H. In many sports there would be no female competitors at the highest level, so we have separate (female-only) competition.

I wanted to ask an additional question - is the 'men competition' actually 'man-only competition' or is it actually the 'ultimate competition'? For example, if a woman can run 100m in 9.80, will they allow her to run side-by-side with mr. Bolt, or there is no such possibility. Anyone knows?

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swansont    6247

I agree with D H. In many sports there would be no female competitors at the highest level, so we have separate (female-only) competition.

I wanted to ask an additional question - is the 'men competition' actually 'man-only competition' or is it actually the 'ultimate competition'? For example, if a woman can run 100m in 9.80, will they allow her to run side-by-side with mr. Bolt, or there is no such possibility. Anyone knows?

I'm sure if money were involved, it could be arranged. It just wouldn't necessarily be sanctioned by whatever the official track & field organization is.

In the US, this is governed by Title IX at the school level. The idea is equality in opportunity — men and women have an equal right to participate. At the level of professional sports, there's discrimination on the basis of ability, which is not against the law.

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Zolar V    68

I didn't know where to post these thoughts, but I have been pondering on this for a while.

If we believe that women have equal rights to men, then why are they in separate competitive sports, locally, nationally or internationally (e.g. Olympic Games). Are we acknowledging that they are not as physically strong as men and making the choice for them to separate them, which is a gender apartheid; or are we being condescending in being 'gentle' with them?

For example, should women be able to compete with men in track and field events on an equal basis? In addition, would large team sports like football or baseball not be more interesting when women and men compete together?

Certainly, team showers at the end of the game would be far more interesting...

Any views?

No, by segregating women from men we are not removing any rights.

If you watch any American sports, you should know that there are different divisions and types of teams for lets say football. We have divisions that we put teams into in order that they can compete in a fair game, you wouldn't want to watch a division1 team totally annihilate a division3 team. It just wouldn't be a competition it would be a no contest.

Well the same applies for women, they naturally don't have as much of an ability to play at the same level as males. Like previously mentioned about the bell curves.

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Mr Skeptic    1154
Are we acknowledging that they are not as physically strong as men and making the choice for them to separate them, which is a gender apartheid; or are we being condescending in being 'gentle' with them?

Yes. Men are physically stronger than women, and this holds true for both the average and the extremes. While you could easily find a woman who could beat you at a given sport, that won't be so at the highest extremes. For some sports, such as the races, it doesn't really matter whether the people compete together or separately, since they can be compared directly. Feel free to do the comparison.

We also have separate bathrooms for men and women. Yet more evidence of segregation.

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Marat    239

Even more challenging for the purely factual theory that women and men are equal is the inability of women to compete with men at the highest levels of chess and the total absence of great female composers.

But neither those facts nor the inability of women to run as fast as men says anything about women being unequal, since the equality of people is a legal and moral assertion, not a factual judgment. Everyone gets one vote no matter how little attention he pays to the news; everyone is entitled to sue for damages in tort no matter how little contribution he makes to society; everyone medically fit is subject to the military draft no matter how much better he could spend his time than stopping enemy bullets with his head; everyone is assumed innocent when charged with a crime, even if he has a long history of past criminality. None of these assumptions is realistic or justified factually as a working hypothesis for a scientist, but they are all manifestations of the moral resolve of our society to treat all people as though they were equal.

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Zolar V    68

I don't believe all people believe in the concept of equality. I know for one, i don't.

The most of the idea of equality is just bogus, i know for a FACT i am not equal to bill gate. i know that i am not equal to a sewer hobo. There are many facets of the concept of equality which are true, and these are the much simpler ones that deal with legal issues.

The concept of this total equality is just some stupid fantasy. If you ever want to get ahead in life, understand that you are not equal. You are above some people and below some people. It's just the name of the game, evolution/natural selection.

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ewmon    158

Some sports (such as wrestling, boxing, martial arts, and weightlifting) divide competitors into weight classes, which approximates muscle mass. With our modern, accurate methods of measuring muscle mass, I see no objection to dividing any sport (except for purely mental sports such as chess, etc) into classes by muscle mass. Competing and winning would be mostly a matter of technique.

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I think the question is mainly one of semantics. When people talk of equality between the genders they are not saying that both men and women are equal in all ways, they are saying that our goal should be to not disadvantage somebody because of their gender. It is not, ultimately, an entirely achievable goal, but it is one worth striving for. Obviously a female boxer going up against a male boxer is not an even match at the highest levels of competition. But in terms of a woman in certain businesses trying to compete with the old boys network, there is a distinct disadvantage to being a woman that is not based on actual ability. That is one example of the sort of things that equal rights is trying to address.

Woman have to be the ones that have babies. That is a disadvantage. There are certain laws in place in Australia (where I am) to make this less of a disadvantage, but it is ridiculous to assume that if you have a child then there will be NO disadvantage to your career or income at all. If a woman chooses to have a baby, then she will not have the same flexibility of choices as her partner. It's biological.

So basically, women's rights does not mean that men and women are exactly the same. Nobody is suggesting that, as they clearly are not. Therefore, separate sporting teams has nothing to do with women's rights.

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pioneer    65

There is a difference between equal rights and equal results. Equal rights means all play by the same rules. Equal results alters the rules to achieve equal results. Once you alter the rules, so different people have to play by different rules, they no longer have equal rights.

Road races allow men and women to compete together by the same rules. Due to differences in ability, the top males finish first. Then the top women finish, with some of these women better than 95% of the remaining males. Then the rest finish, being a blend of both males and females. The rules are the same for all, with the results being a reflection of natural ability and hard work.

Say we wished to have equal results. This can be done if we require the top males carry extra weight to slow them down. We can also stagger the starting line to give a head start to the slower runners. This may achieve equal results, but would take away equal rights, since the rules are not the same for all.

With sports, the rules remain same. Based on natural ability and hard work, we get a natural distribution of skill based on these common rules. To maintain equal rights, while also allowing people to compete in a way that allows their continuing advancement, you group similar skills. If the skills are too widely different, it makes the top people play less hard and/or it can discourage the lower skilled from trying as hard, since it may not make any difference. Sports tries to group similar skills so all are able to bring out their best, whatever that may be. It just so happens that skill level, based on equal rights and rules breaks down along the lines of the sexes. With this arrangement all can achieve and advance. It is nothing personal, just being objective. Equal results would violate good sportsmanship, since it implies not all will play by the same rules.

Edited by pioneer

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Marat    239

But it seems that the very idea of an equal competition in any area of life is an idealization which never corresponds to reality. Thus suppose we have a group of male athletes in a race, but one, who on a good day is better than the rest, had the flu two weeks ago and is still not perfectly recovered from it, so while he cannot claim the flu as an excuse deserving compensation in the race, since he no longer suffers from it, it still limits his performance. Another grew up wealthy and could afford the best coaches and the best running courses, while most of his competitors never had these aids. Still another had his will to race undermined by parents who regarded athletics as a waste of time, since they wanted him to be a concert pianist and felt that racing was a disgustingly physical activity. Another contestant lived in the mountains of Kenya all his life where his lungs were trained to oxygenate his body in a very thin atmosphere, so that now when he races in the Boston Marathon, it is as though he were being flooded with oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber, so he does much better. A final contestant has a natural hemoglobin level of 180, while the average among the others is 150.

Do any of these competitors deserve their advantages or disadvantages? Of course not. But what is a competitor? Is it the person who now stands before us, with all of his unfair, undeserved advantages and disadvantages already built into him, and the whole person now regarded as the entity who deserves the outcome he can get in the race or not? Or should we laboriously go through the entire list of unearned advantages and disadvantages and attempt to iron them out by having the runners carry different weights, such as they do with horses to make horse racing more competitive? The problem with trying to iron out all the differences is that we can never track down all the unfair pluses and minuses in a person's history, so the outcome of the race will depend on which factors we notice and can measure, rather than on what the ultimate kernel of 'real will' and 'real personal desert' inside the person deserves.

This is also the problem with affirmative action programs generally: They set out to make things equal by addressing only broad racial categories and trying to compensate for those, while ignoring all the other factors which affect performance as though every other influence on performance througout life were fair.

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jimmydasaint    159

I'm afraid that I left this topic sizzling for a bit too long and I hope that it is not over-cooked or overlooked. However, for what it is worth, I agree that discrimination on the basis of ability is not illegal and that women are finally given equal rights under the aegis of the law. However, in sports, my point was that we may be giving women equal rights to compete in curling, climbing or underwater hockey (whatever that is) and that we set up separate teams for soccer, despite the possibility that some women may have a similar ability to men in soccer.

Moreover, I believe that if we discriminate on the basis of ability, then should we separate black and white 100m sprint athletes on the basis of different ability ranges? I don't actually recall the last time a white athlete actually broke the 100 m record in my recent lifetime.

Bottom line is: are we just metaphorically patting women on the ass and saying: 'There there dear, don't worry your pretty little head, we'll set up different competitions just for you...'

I think Butters and others are being intellectually honest in saying that women and men are NOT equal due to obvious biological differences. However, if women do not want to be discriminated against, they only have to appeal to the UN Charter for Human Rights and, IMHO, they have a pretty good case for demanding more equality. Certainly start with prize money for the same sport, where there is a startling disparity.

Edited by jimmydasaint

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D H    1371

Don't kid yourself. We are patting them on the ass and telling them don't worry honey, you don't have to compete with those men who can run faster, jump higher, hit harder than you. We are then pretending that it is not only OK but absolutely essential to do so. Separate but equal didn't work and has been deemed illegal in the case of race, yet somehow separate but equal is exactly what is needed in the case of the genders -- and it is illegal not to have separate but equal systems.

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pioneer    65

There is another side to this coin. Say men wanted to go out for female sports, such as try out for all the female professional soccer teams. Many males can't make the male upper leagues, but could earn a reasonable living if they could compete in professional female sports. What would happen is too many men would get the starting spots, squeezing out too many females from their own sports. I understand it is suppose to be a one-way street, with most men used to saying, yes dear, to even the most irrational demands. But say men stopped, yes dear, to any one way street.

In the next Olympics, the males and females can now compete in both male and female events. This would allow the female teams to have new world record times and distances that will be about the same as the men's team. Would this work for equality? Separate sports for females, already protects females, so more females have an opportunity to compete. Stacking advantage upon advantage for the females only shows that men and women are not equal.

It is considered discriminatory for all male colleges, but is not for all female colleges. One of the hidden strengths of females is getting their way with one-way streets, using some irrational emotional appeal and illogic to get the men to think this is being reasonable. The high maintenance wife does not get her way because of her ability to make sound judgements. She has an irrational strength that allows her to get her way.

Edited by pioneer

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Separating people by their ability has nothing to do with their rights: just as there are different competitions for different age ranges in sports, there are also different competitions for different sexes. It does not make too much sense to have separate competitions for different races, as in that case the differences in ability are not entirely clear nor provable, but if they were, it certainly would make sense. It has nothing to do with patting women on the back either: it just depends on weather people want to see women compete or not. If they do, they must provide for a competition where they have a fair chance to win, otherwise it is not a 'sport' competition any longer. Just as you would not expect a child to be willing to compete in an adult competition, you can't expect women to be willing to compete in male competitions.

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CaptainPanic    1154

There are physical differences between men and women. Everybody knows that! So, why are we discussing a (lack of) emancipation in physical exercises? It's a logical result of our evolution. It's not discrimination.

I mean, how equal do you want it to be? Shoud men become pregnant too, because of emancipation?

Note that in non-physical competitions (for example: chess), there are no separate competitions for men and women.

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jimmydasaint    159

How equal do I want it? Equal prize money for starters. I was making the point initially that there is no equality between genders in sport despite our proclamations about equality for women generally in society. Nevertheless when it comes to prize money, women get paid far less for winning golf, and, to my knowledge, tennis tournaments, in the past (which are now awarding equal money). What is the underlying silent script? It seems to say that women's sports are less worthy, and that, to my mind, is unfair.

Edited by jimmydasaint

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swansont    6247

How equal do I want it? Equal prize money for starters. I was making the point initially that there is no equality between genders in sport despite our proclamations about equality for women generally in society. Nevertheless when it comes to prize money, women get paid far less for winning golf, and, to my knowledge, tennis tournaments, in the past (which are now awarding equal money). What is the underlying silent script? It seems to say that women's sports are less worthy, and that, to my mind, is unfair.

It's more complicated than simply being gender. If the sport generates less revenue from advertising and gate receipts, the prize money will suffer. In the US, for example, men's pro soccer (football) salaries have a minimum of $40,000 and there's just a handful of players that make$1 million. In gridiron football, the minimum is almost 9 times as much, at %310,000, and the average salary is more than \$1.5 million

http://sschilke.hubpages.com/hub/Major-League-Soccer-Salaries-2010-The-Top-50

http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/major-league-soccer-little-fish-little-pond/

http://content.usatoday.com/sportsdata/football/nfl/salaries/team

So women's sports will have smaller purses/salaries if they don't draw audiences as large as the men's events. If you tried to force them to have the same payout by raising the women's purses, they would simply fold, as many leagues have done.

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jimmydasaint    159

I accept the point that the market does dictate wages paid to players in team sports and that male team sports generate far more income than female teams. I accept also that males are physically stronger than females and that this physical disparity means that women have very little chance of winning a man's sport generally. Males also prefer watching male sports presumably. They like watching other men get hot and sweaty. Fine.

Would you then agree that women are equal in educational and employment opportunities? I would argue that women are badly under-represented in academic occupations, in government and in becoming CEO's of well-known companies - but that is a separate issue altogether, and deserves a separate post.

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imatfaal    2478

I accept the point that the market does dictate wages paid to players in team sports and that male team sports generate far more income than female teams.

Not just team sports - I sell Tennis open finals tickets every year, I can get 4-5 times the amount for men's finals day than women's finals

I accept also that males are physically stronger than females and that this physical disparity means that women have very little chance of winning a man's sport generally. Males also prefer watching male sports presumably. They like watching other men get hot and sweaty. Fine.
The homoerotic slant is disingenuous and just plain wrong; to take the example I am most familiar with, men's tennis is faster and just more exhilierating (even if if Rafa does make me feel slightly inadequate) - it is nothing to do with sex or sexism, men's tennis is just more exciting
Would you then agree that women are equal in educational and employment opportunities?
No, definitely not; but sport is the wrong avenue of approach as the majority of purses/prize monies are determined by attendance and ticket price, which are market determined - rather than predetermined on gender.
I would argue that women are badly under-represented in academic occupations, in government and in becoming CEO's of well-known companies - but that is a separate issue altogether, and deserves a separate post.
Completely agree that women are under-represented in the areas you highlight; they are also under-represented in prison populations, bankruptcies, and suicides. Whilst there are tremendous barriers that hinder any woman doing well in business, in science, etc which must be removed, it is not a straightforward proposition to say that men and women are entirely similar apart from societal barriers.

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randomc    41

...it is not a straightforward proposition to say that men and women are entirely similar apart from societal barriers.

Is it really necessary to mince quite as gracefully as that around the fact that men and women are different? Surely it's only the lunatic fringe of feminist theory that claims otherwise, and such pandering just lends an undeserved legitamacy.

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imatfaal    2478

Is it really necessary to mince quite as gracefully as that around the fact that men and women are different? Surely it's only the lunatic fringe of feminist theory that claims otherwise, and such pandering just lends an undeserved legitamacy.

I mince gracefully without even trying to...

If you could direct me to papers and articles (other than cod-psychology) I would be very interested. The position of "the lunatic fringe of feminist theory" as you put it, is a very good place to start from; I would think that the null hypothesis is that, excepting societal barriers, men and women will perform equally in all pursuits of academe, of business, and within society in general - has this been shown not to be the case? Is it ever possible to control for societal and cultural pressures and norms? What legitimacy does the opposing view have that is threatened by my pandering? I think this is an area of such great flux and uncertainty that a modicum of graceful mincing and lack of stridency is called for.

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John Cuthber    3234

This thread reminds me of a conversation I had with someone who has a son who nearly made the (past) Olympic team as a swimmer.

He said to me "I'm no good at golf- and I probably never will be. Would you or anyone else sponsor me to play?

I din't get much of a chance to answer before he followed it up with "Why does anyone sponsor the paralympics?"

I said that as far as I was concerned they could not bother sponsoring any sport. That didn't improve his mood.

He was upset that his son was finding it hard to get sponsorship even though he could swim a lot faster than the paralympians who did get sponsored.

The truth is that, for example, blind football players wouldn't ordinarily* expect to beat a team who could see. They just are not as good at football.

So, he asked, "why do they bother? They are, through no fault of their own, destined to be a bit crap at it."

I explained that, while the idea is to win, it's unrealistic to believe that you will be the best in the world so, by his argument, nobody should take the trouble to train because it's odds on that you won't win.

But people take great pleasure in winning smaller championships.

I might not be the best in the world, but I might be the best in the UK- or the best in the county- or perhaps the best in town.

I will find a group among whom I can compete with a reasonable chance of success.

By permitting separate events for men and women we are not restricting anyone's freedom.

However many sports' governing bodies will not permit mixed competitions and they are indeed restricting freedom in a way which is difficult to justify.

* I said ordinarily, in the dark, they might do very well indeed.

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randomc    41

If you could direct me to papers and articles (other than cod-psychology) I would be very interested.

How could i possibly direct you to anything other than cod psychology? That's exactly what is used to support the notion that gender is entirely a social construct. Gender feminism being the lunatic fringe i mentioned.

Unless you mean you want to be directed to evidence of difference?

I would think that the null hypothesis is that, excepting societal barriers, men and women will perform equally in all pursuits of academe, of business, and within society in general - has this been shown not to be the case?

I don't disagree. Gender feminism is nevertheless still bullshit.

Is it ever possible to control for societal and cultural pressures and norms? What legitimacy does the opposing view have that is threatened by my pandering

The opposing view would appear to be in fact your view, assuming that by 'not a straightforward proposition' you mean 'not very well supported by evidence'...

"it is not a straightforward proposition to say that men and women are entirely similar apart from societal barriers."

...it's just obfuscated by your pandering to gender feminism. Unless, that is, you are actually advocating gender feminism?

I think this is an area of such great flux and uncertainty that a modicum of graceful mincing and lack of stridency is called for.

I just think your position is slanted. That is all i'm pointing out. I'm not asking you to be strident, just straightforward.