Posted: Mar 02, 2014 12:02 pm
by TMB
Fallible, you said
Perhaps, but I don't know. It's the situation as it is at the moment at least.

I read your first statement as being very certain that women were in no way capable of performing athletically than men giving the 100 metre example, however your later statement appears to be less certain. Which is it?

The reason I ask this is because others on this board have argued that womens lower performance could be due to cultural mechanism rather than innate biological difference. I disagree and consider that women are biologically less able to run as fast or faster than men over the distances we consider relevant. Likewise javelin, high jump etc

I don't really understand how you get to that from what I said. I can't see that the two are connected.

I have connected the two because if women are given their own events because recognise that they are unable to compete with men on equal terms with men in these areas, they why is it an issue if men and women compete on unequal terms when it comes to being judged on your looks? Both of these are based upon innate biological mechanisms

The awards usually have lesser value because overwhelmingly those who are the best are adult, able bodied men.


My point is that you use the word ''protection'' to describe something that happens across every group, even that of adult able bodied men, who are ''protected'' from taking part with the best performers if they can't manage a certain time/height/length, and are left to compete lower down the scale for lesser rewards.

Also you keep referring to ''protection'', but I'm not sure that's what it is. It would seem to make sense that you pit those of comparable abilities against each other for various reasons - to ensure the contest is fair, to make it more exciting for the viewer, etc.


OK let us remove the word ‘protection’ and lets describe the mechanism that is in place for these. Looking at the 100m metre sprint, if there were only ever one event open to all ages, genders, etc, we both seem to agree that it will be won by an adult male, and will reward them for being the best in absolute terms – ie. No one does it better than Usain Bolt at the moment. As you point out the vast remainder of society will never be given the opportunity to win medals or gain recognition under these terms, so we provide people with lesser ability an event with lesser recognition where they can excel in non absolute terms, ie. Women can be regarded as the best among the women, men between 40-45 can be regarded the best in that group, then you create geographical and other ways to divide this up. What is also relevant is that certain categories people are barred from competing against these lesser categories. In the Olympics it means than men (though some have tried) cannot compete against women and ‘unfairly’ win the gold medal. Neither can a 20 year old enter a race for 45-50 year olds because that is ‘unfair’. To me this is all protection, but I am not attached to that term, we can call it what you like, it does not change the mechanism that is operating.

This means that a light heavy boxer can compete in a heavier group but a heavyweight boxer cannot compete downwards. Heavyweight fighters are given more value, just as ‘open’ competitors medals are worth more than the 50-60 year old category, just as the Olympics medals are seen as being of more value than para Olympics, for the simple reason is that the Olympics medals have no protection, it is the best of the best.


Again, the word ''protection''. You need to argue for why this word should be used. I don't understand much of what you said there about boxing, but those who perform the very best of all are obviously seen as the best - it just happens to be the case that built as they are, that's men the majority of the time. It seems to me that you are labelling any measures which enable anyone other than the very tip of the group called "able bodied, adult men" to compete in sporting events as protection. That seems an absurd stance to take.


Like I said no issue avoiding the term, lets just describe what is happening. In other words people with less ability have events from which people who have unlimited (in the sense that they compete in events with no barriers to entry) ability. In boxing the best heavyweight will beat the best bantamweight, flyweight etc, so lighter boxers can usually compete upwards but heavier fighters cannot compete downwards. Older competitors can also compete in open events but younger competitors are restricted from competing in older groups.

Again, that word.
I do not understand your issue with the word it does not seem to have a any political baggage and it describes rules that are out in place to keep competitors from competing against others with defined and known differences of gender, age, disability etc.


Because they represent the best of their group. Are you suggesting the fact that men out-perform them means that women should never be able to perform at the highest level, and that they are able to means they're being ''protected''?


I do not understand why you are asking this question or the logic behind it. I have no issue with women competing with women and declaring the best woman sprinter, tennis player. However by definition they are not the best a human being can be because males will sprint faster, jump higher and longer etc. The fact that men are not allowed to compete against women in these events means that women can be recognised as being the best woman in a specified discipline. If you recall the original post, a top female swimmer has an issue because she is being judged upon her appearance and has an issue that this does not happen to male athletes. I simply pointed out that she is only considered an elite swimmer with equivalent status as an Olympian because events have been created so that women can be given the same status – note Wimbledon purses are the same for both men and women, implying that they are equally good at the sport of tennis.
Since these concessions are already in place, why not point out that people just don’t value male looks as much as they value female looks?

They're still elite athletes who have had to make qualifying times, etc. over months in order to gain a place on the squad.

They certainly are elite FEMALE athletes, if however they removed sex discrimination from the Olympics and simply had a 100 meter sprint and awarded medals to the fastest person of either sex, then women would not make the qualifying times and would disappear totally from the quantitative track and filed events.

I knew you were going to bring up the tennis thing. There have been complaints that the women in certain tournaments receive the same prize money as men, despite them playing less sets (this was not always the case, it was changed recently). What is ignored here is that it's the same amount of effort for them to reach the very highest level as it is for men. Having put in the same effort, it makes sense that they should be rewarded the same.


We do not award tennis awards based upon peoples efforts, all these are based upon merit regardless of how hard they have to work to get there. We might admire their hard work to achieve it but if they cannot play well enough to get there we have little interest. The fact remains the same, remove sex discrimination from tennis and have the best singles player in the tournament and all elite women would be eliminated. Women are given their own category because they have less ability than the men, yet the tournament exists to find those with greatest ability. If this is not so, why should womens events be paid the same as the mens. The stuff about the number of sets is just noise, the issue is the discrimination on the basis of sex in these sports. However the women are also there based upon their appearance, some of the top female players make plenty of money because of their good looks, once again not something that is given to males. I have no issue with separate womens events, or judging women based upon their appearance. I have an issue when people overlook an obvious case of sex discrimination that hugely favors women, and then people complain that they are not getting as much money as men or that people are judging them on their appearance and that THIS is sex discrimination.

That said, I see no reason why women should not play the same number of sets as men - the fact that they do not seems to be based on the idea that women can endure less. Yet they are able to for example run marathons of the same distance as men.


I agree with you, women appear to be able to do the same events as men, just not as fast in the case of marathons, sprints etc, but endurance seems OK, however for endurance swimming women and closer to mens results than in short swimming events, whereas with track the difference of 10% holds consistently trough events up to the marathon distance.

What are you talking about? They're judged on and rewarded for their sporting achievements when they are competing.


Women are certainly judged upon the merits of their sport, be it tennis, golf etc, but they also get informally judged by the greater community on how they dress, how they look etc, far more than males do. These are not formally defined in the sport itself but are still very real. In the same way male celebrities are judged by significant numbers of women as being someone desirable to have sex with. This is of course the groupie phenomenon, something that is far less prevalent when it comes to female celebrities (ie. Far fewer male groupies trying to get into bed with them), when compared to male rock stars, film stars, F1 racing drivers, David Beckham types etc.

You're mixing up how they're seen by the general public or media with how they're seen by those within the sporting arena, as far as I can see. Unless you mean to suggest that women get medals for looking nice, which is obviously crap.

You are right it would be crap, but I am not suggesting that women get medals for looking good in sport, the world of sport is just another human institution that reflects human nature. Sport defines its parameters but humans are not machines so their emotions and desires still remain and so we see this reflected in sport as we do everywhere else. Also note that women do get awards based upon their appearance in other social institutions, this time men get far less opportunity to be judged this way than women. Beauty pageants and modelling are both dominated by women contestants who are there to be judged specifically upon their appearance, and if they win they get plenty of prizes. It seems there is not a big market for judging men on the same basis.

Nope, it's no good. I've read and re-read this and it still seems to be a big non-sequitur.


Then break it down and tell me where my logic is flawed.
There is clear sex discrimination in the field of sports, and it is done to allow women to achieve similar status and rewards as males, despite their lesser abilities. There is also sex discrimination in that women are judged by their appearance more than men are. In every case the winning females in the looks department take advantage of this fact.
The OP was about a woman swimmer who was OK to get the benefit of the sex discrimination that allowed her the status of an elite swimmer (which she would not have had in a non sex discrimination sport), but was not OK that people judged her on her appearance, something that also shows sex discrimination, this time to her disadvantage. Should she have it both ways?