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"“I feel more like myself when I’m out running,” Chase-Brand said. “I’m a good animal.”
October 26, 2011 10:37 AM   Subscribe

"...officials warned that a woman who ran a more ambitious distance might cause her uterus to fall out." [NYTimes] On Thanksgiving Day, Dr. Julia Chase-Brand, 69, plans to run a 4.75-mile race in Manchester, Conn., where the presence of women will be plentiful and unremarkable. Fifty years ago, when she and two other women ran there the first time, it was a widely publicized act of civil disobedience that became a pioneering moment in female distance running in the United States.
posted by Fizz (58 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
> The most alarmist officials warned that a woman who ran a more ambitious distance might cause her uterus to fall out.

Educated people honestly believed this in 19-fucking-61?

*bookmarked for the next time I make the mistake of romanticizing the past too much*
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:47 AM on October 26, 2011 [22 favorites]


Educated people honestly believed this in 19-fucking-61?

Corrected.
posted by Fizz at 10:49 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Educated people honestly believed this in 19-fucking-61?

Concern-trolling over women's reproductive organs has been a popular pass time, especially among male experts in a wide range of disciplines since at least Ancient Babylon or maybe fucking forever.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:49 AM on October 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


On a less jaundiced note: Go Chase-Brand
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:50 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes and you would be suprised what women think of their own bodies in 2011. My mom kept going to the gyn to tell her about a 'tear down there". It was her urethra.
posted by stormpooper at 10:50 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Concern-trolling over women's reproductive organs has been a popular past time, especially among male experts in a wide range of disciplines since at least Ancient Babylon or maybe fucking forever.

See - Female hysteria.

"Plato's dialogue Timaeus compares a woman's uterus to a living creature that wanders throughout a woman’s body, "blocking passages, obstructing breathing, and causing disease."
posted by Fizz at 10:52 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awesome lady. (I had the same reaction as the Card Cheat...there were laws against, and athletic associations had no categories for, women runners? Holy shit!)
posted by notsnot at 10:53 AM on October 26, 2011


Paging women's ski jumping.

(I should be charitable, the Olympic commission decided to finally allow it in the Sochi Winter Olympics. To be held in 2014. Two thousand fourteen.)
posted by lydhre at 10:54 AM on October 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


April 19, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In 1967, Katherine Switzer became first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon, though women were not allowed to officially enter the race until 1972.

How did she manage that?

Answer : She registered under the gender-neutral name "K. V. Switzer". You can read more about it at http://www.kathrineswitzer.com/boston.shtml.

By the way, Roberta Gibb was the first woman to unofficially run the Boston Marathon (1966).
posted by Postroad at 10:56 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Educated people honestly believed this in 19-fucking-61?

Well to be fair, the uterus wasn't always as well attached as it is now. Back before 1968, just about anything used to knock uteruses loose: long-distance running, horseback riding, moving heavy objects, getting promoted out of the stenographers' pool, having political opinions...They say that outside of the "Smith College for Stevenson" offices, you could hardly walk down the hall without slipping on a uterus or two.
posted by PlusDistance at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2011 [50 favorites]


This reminds me of my mother telling me how her father made her quit taking karate lessons after she'd made quite a bit of progress because he was afraid of the damage to her uterus it might cause. This was in the 1960s in India and my mother was apparently kick-ass at karate.
posted by peacheater at 11:01 AM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


How far women have come.
posted by Fizz at 11:02 AM on October 26, 2011


If long-distance running caused women to lose their uterus, my girlfriend would run a marathon every week.

Does not want kids.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:02 AM on October 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hah, yeah, my first reaction was "I WISH IT WAS THAT EASY TO GET RID OF MY UTERUS."
posted by Nattie at 11:05 AM on October 26, 2011 [29 favorites]


the women will pass the men in distance running times some time this century.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:06 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Paging women's ski jumping.

(I should be charitable, the Olympic commission decided to finally allow it in the Sochi Winter Olympics. To be held in 2014. Two thousand fourteen.)


Not considered to be on a certain level of athletic competition due to lack of competitors is not the same as outlawing due to spurious medical concerns.
posted by Authorized User at 11:08 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Chase-Brand had been as immature as I am, she would have crossed the finish line, doubled over and collapsed while screaming "AAARRRGHH, MY UTERUS!!!" When concerned bystanders surrounded her, it would have been revealed that she was doubled over in laughter.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:10 AM on October 26, 2011 [25 favorites]


Women in tight shorts running. Why did men not want this to happen?
posted by Fizz at 11:15 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, this rocks. I live about half an hour from Manchester and know a lot of folks (many female) who run in this race every year (some serious runners, some who just want to wear costumes--yes, costumes--and have fun). I also think the women's college where I work needs to get this woman in as a guest speaker.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:16 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not considered to be on a certain level of athletic competition due to lack of competitors is not the same as outlawing due to spurious medical concerns.

Authorized User, try this on for size: In 2005, Gian Franco Kasper, FIS president and a member of the IOC, said he didn't think women should ski jump because the sport "seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view" where, of course, FIS is the International Ski Jumping Federation and IOC is the International Olympic Committee.
posted by lydhre at 11:16 AM on October 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


the women will pass the men in distance running times some time this century.

Well the current world record is 2.03 held by Patrick Macau. Paula Radcliffe is the women's world record holder at 2.15. Ten men have run under 2.06. The second fastest female is several minutes behind Radcliffe's awesome time.

I think that women will better men in long distance running about the same time men win gold medals against women in the uneven parallel bars.
posted by three blind mice at 11:18 AM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Educated people honestly believed this in 19-fucking-61?

Corrected.


I wouldn't strike out the "educated" part. How many educated people believe that you have to wait 1 hour after eating before getting in the pool? Or that urinating on a jellyfish sting helps? Or that these whole body "cleanses"/enemas do anything more than destroy your intestinal lining? Or that infant vaccination schedules cause autism?

It's important to remember that educated people believe some dump things.
posted by sbutler at 11:20 AM on October 26, 2011 [15 favorites]


I can't say I'm too surprised at the "uterus falling out" silliness. My mom told me that then she was in high school (graduated 1965) they would have the girls play basketball only to half court and then pass off to teammates, since "running the full court would be bad for them".
posted by weathergal at 11:21 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


To add, this is a widespread problem. So widespread that the IOC Medical Commission put out a statement, in April 2011, that reads:

No female athlete should be denied the opportunity to participate in any Olympic sport on the basis that she might sustain an injury to her reproductive organs. A survey of injury data has failed to find any evidence of an increased risk for acute or chronic damage to the female reproductive organs occurring as a direct result from participation in sport.

Again, 2011. Yikes.
posted by lydhre at 11:23 AM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


"dump things"? My brain must have still been thinking about the enemas...
posted by sbutler at 11:24 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


lydia - The fact that they have to put out a statement is killing my brain. Really, we have to clarify that a woman's reproductive organs is not directly related to her athleticism and performance.
posted by Fizz at 11:24 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


lydhre - my apologies.
posted by Fizz at 11:25 AM on October 26, 2011


Educated people honestly believed this in 19-fucking-61?

It wasn't that it was really a belief, I don't think. It was an excuse to exclude women from a boys' club.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:26 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It wasn't that it was really a belief, I don't think. It was an excuse to exclude women from a boys' club.

I don't know. People can be pretty stupid.

“The grand mufti claimed that allowing women to drive would result in public ‘mixing’ of women, put women into dangerous situations because they could be alone in cars, and therefore result in social chaos,” a cable read.
Facepalm.
posted by Fizz at 11:31 AM on October 26, 2011


It amazes me that women being denied entry into some of these sporting events didn't point out that men's reproductive bits are so much more exposed and fragile than their own.

I mean, not actually point out, that would just be rude.
posted by blurker at 11:33 AM on October 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Or that urinating on a jellyfish sting helps?

It doesn't??? I'm an idiot! (A very educated one.)
posted by naoko at 11:39 AM on October 26, 2011


If Chase-Brand had been as immature as I am, she would have crossed the finish line, doubled over and collapsed while screaming "AAARRRGHH, MY UTERUS!!!" When concerned bystanders surrounded her, it would have been revealed that she was doubled over in laughter.

I want to favorite this forever, in hopes that it may one day come to fruition.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 11:40 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Authorized User, try this on for size: In 2005, Gian Franco Kasper, FIS president and a member of the IOC, said he didn't think women should ski jump because the sport "seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view" where, of course, FIS is the International Ski Jumping Federation and IOC is the International Olympic Committee.

Truly the only reason that female ski-jumping was not on the competitive level supposedly required for olympic sports was just that kind of absolutely rampant sexism and certainly those kind of comments cast serious doubt on the whole process, but the exclusion of women's ski jumping was justified based on actual criteria the IOC used. And even though other sports have been accepted based on lesser technical merits, this is an argument against inclusion in my opinion, due to the already overcrowded olympic schedule.

Also to nitpick: FIS is the International Ski Federation and represents a multitude of ski sports beyond just ski-jumping.
posted by Authorized User at 11:40 AM on October 26, 2011


Lifting things also hurts the uterus

Unless they're children or cooking tools or baskets of laundry.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:50 AM on October 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


Anecdata: I read this article just after finishing a run with my friend. She is a foot shorter than me and in an open competition would absolutely crush me, both in speed and endurance. Take that, 1961.

Also my wife has run three half marathons and a triathlon and her uterus seems to be where it's supposed to be. And three of those events occurred AFTER having our son.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:57 AM on October 26, 2011


I went extreme rock-climbing last week and it made my penis fall off. True Story.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:20 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


A pregnant woman felt contractions a few minutes after finishing the Chicago marathon and gave birth just hours later to a daughter.
posted by binturong at 12:33 PM on October 26, 2011


How many educated people believe that you have to wait 1 hour after eating before getting in the pool?

*raises hand*
posted by bitteroldman at 12:35 PM on October 26, 2011


although in my defense I never thought it was becuase one's legs were going to cramp up - personally, I thought it was because if your stomach didn't get enough time to digest, you'd puke everything out.
posted by bitteroldman at 12:36 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


To be sure, by "fall out" (more commonly just "fall") they mean uterine prolapse, which is in some cases triggered by overextertion of unfit abdominal muscles -- primarily in post-menopausal women (or following a difficult pregnancy). This observation dates back to Hippocrates.

The modern view is a little more robust.
posted by dhartung at 12:58 PM on October 26, 2011


Educated people honestly believed this in 19-fucking-61?

In 1969, an OB/GYN told my aunt that her breastmilk was "too rich" for my newborn cousin, and advised her to prepare a formula from evaporated milk and Karo corn syrup. WHICH SHE DID! Presumably this man went to medical school.
posted by peep at 1:21 PM on October 26, 2011


By this logic, they should ban men from cycling.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:26 PM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


To be sure, by "fall out" (more commonly just "fall") they mean uterine prolapse, which is in some cases triggered by overextertion of unfit abdominal muscles -- primarily in post-menopausal women (or following a difficult pregnancy). This observation dates back to Hippocrates.

Sure, this is an actual risk, but it's worth noting that men aren't warned to avoid distance running because of, say, the possibility of hernia. The risks of female participation in sport are commonly overblown, even today; if anything, the risks for men are commonly downplayed (or even seen as positive proof of "toughness").
posted by vorfeed at 1:35 PM on October 26, 2011


The most common thing I've heard of causing prolapse is childbirth but surprisingly no one tells you that before you get pregnant or warns you against it. Weird! It's almost like there's some kind of bias going on!

(the snark is not directed at anyone in this thread, by the way, but at the idiots who spout this kind of thing)
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:39 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


““I feel more like myself when I’m out running,” Chase-Brand said. “I’m a good animal.”

I really like that.
posted by Specklet at 2:09 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like it too; I feel like a good animal when I run.
She may be quoting George Sheehan, who in turn was quoting Spencer and Emerson.

I loved this line too:
“I wasn’t masquerading as a male,” Chase-Brand said. “I was what I was. I’m a girl, I have a skirt, my hair is done, I have lipstick on and I’m going to run.”
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:25 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


...and today, people like Diane Van Deren. She didn't actually mention anything about dropping body parts by the time she completed her first 300-miler, so I guess this isn't quite proof, but remarkable nonetheless.
posted by qwickset at 2:44 PM on October 26, 2011


I often feel like my uterus is going to fall out when I'm running. However, I'm marathon training, so I'll take it as normal.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:49 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


PlusDistance funny FTW!

Well to be fair, the uterus wasn't always as well attached as it is now. Back before 1968, just about anything used to knock uteruses loose: ... horseback riding ...

Oddly enough, the average woman would lose her uterus at the drop of a derby, but the rich had been able to fox hunt for several centuries without a problem. In 1952, Olympic equestrianism was opened to both male and female civilian riders who competed against each other. Uteri littering the arena didn't seem to be a large problem.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:57 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, I remember reading about general disapproval of women riding horses or bicycles because of a supposed risk of tearing the hymen. And then being branded Not Virgins.
posted by likeso at 7:35 PM on October 26, 2011


Educated people honestly believed this in 19-fucking-61?

Clearly, you haven't been to Manchester, Connecticut.
posted by zippy at 8:18 PM on October 26, 2011


general disapproval of women riding horses or bicycles because of a supposed risk of tearing the hymen.

And fears that women would use bike seats for masturbation!
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:54 PM on October 26, 2011


Educated people honestly believed this in 19-fucking-61?

I was getting warnings about how the temperature of my showers would affect me during that "you're becoming a woman now" filmstrip they made all the girls watch in 19-fucking-80. (In Windham, Conn., about two towns over.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:50 AM on October 27, 2011


I was getting warnings about how the temperature of my showers would affect me during that "you're becoming a woman now" filmstrip they made all the girls watch in 19-fucking-80.

Did they know in 1980 that men's sperm motility was affected by temperature, though? (Thus, all the "wear your boxers" advice from doctors.) If they did, that might be a slight mitigating factor for the shower-temperature advice--assuming that what's good for the gander is good for the goose, basically (the fact that the gander's equipment is located in a significantly more vulnerable spot notwithstanding).
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:11 AM on October 27, 2011


dlugoczaj, the problem is that the gander's equipment is not only in a significantly more vulnerable spot, it is also significantly different in its operational method. Egg motility ain't a problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:54 AM on October 27, 2011


An added comment, My mom says she remembers it took Ella Grasso (Connecticut's first female governor, and the first woman governor who didn't get the job as a result of being married to one) issuing a proclamation in the middle of an incredibly cold winter before Connecticut state colleges allowed women to wear trousers to class.

This would have been sometimes in the 1960s in Connecticut, I believe.
posted by zippy at 12:07 PM on October 28, 2011


Oddly enough, the average woman would lose her uterus at the drop of a derby, but the rich had been able to fox hunt for several centuries without a problem. In 1952, Olympic equestrianism was opened to both male and female civilian riders who competed against each other. Uteri littering the arena didn't seem to be a large problem.
Well, of course, the saddles have special reinforcement built in to shove a slipping uterus back into place.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:44 PM on October 29, 2011


Well, of course, the saddles have special reinforcement built in to shove a slipping uterus back into place.

And stirrups.
posted by zippy at 2:37 AM on October 30, 2011


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