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A half-marathon officially designed "for a princess earning her glass running slippers or a woman who runs her kingdom already."
September 24, 2010 11:37 AM   Subscribe

The existence of male runners in women's races have some worried: Interlopers Run Amok: Guys Crash Road Races for Women. They Come in First, Are Dissed at Finish; For Meeting Fit Females, 'It's Hard to Beat.' But for others, it's the races themselves that are the problem: Marathon organizers are also doing their part to 'discourage male interest' ... 'We're making this race so girly that men won't want any part of it' — and, of course, plenty of women won't either. It seems rather ironic for a woman who has proven her physical strength and endurance to be rewarded by being treated like a dainty little princess.
posted by ocherdraco (78 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Hey ladies!

I'm really sorry about all this. We're not all like this, you know. I mean, we're all awful in some ways, but we're not all so blatantly awful.
posted by Mister_A at 11:42 AM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Maybe I shouldn't have been so competitive in a race where I would have been the biggest wanker even if it were an all-men's field," says Mr. Cordes, a 48-year-old California real-estate broker.
posted by biffa at 11:43 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


They should offer these men opportunities to compete in the Special Olympics.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:44 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is exactly what I've been talking about in the threads about Castor Semenya. If you don't have races which are only open to those meeting a relatively strict biological definition of women, men will win every race. That strikes me as a big problem for women in sports. A lot of others seem to agree. It does create difficulties for edge cases. But the number of edge cases is far smaller than the number of non-edge cases.

I can't be the only one who responded to the guy saying that women's races is a good place to meet chicks with "look at this asshole".
posted by Justinian at 11:44 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised a 48-yr-old man crossed the line first in the Nike race. Pretty sure none of these women were there.
posted by Mister_A at 11:47 AM on September 24, 2010


Some men run at the behest of girlfriends and wives. Mr. Mederos, unheralded winner of last year's Disney race, says he ran as a "prince" for his girlfriend, not to show up females.

Wouldn't it have been better for him to have run at her pace, not to run to win the whole thing?

Also, making the races "extra-girly" with paraphernalia and topless firemen is the sort of shit that'd be considered misogynistic if flipped around. Whatever, though. I'm sure there's a race sponsored by some truck company with pickup trucks and wrenches all over the place, and playboy bunnies at the finish line.
posted by explosion at 11:51 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Topless firemen doesn't make it girly. It makes it gay.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:54 AM on September 24, 2010 [38 favorites]


The Disney half-marathon site doesn't even list overall results for the 2010 running, after a man won the 2009 version.
posted by smackfu at 11:54 AM on September 24, 2010


The Austin gay pride race was similarly sexualized - cute little twinks starting the race and giving out the prizes and whatnot - but other than eye-rolling I don't think there was too much complaining.

(Of course, it was the first time the Pride organizers had put on a race - which became obvious when they started it and 9am "so everyone can get their beauty sleep." It's June in Texas, loves - we run at the crack of dawn so we don't die of heat exhaustion, not because we're insomniac masochists.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:56 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm the first to roll my eyes at men whining at any whiff of exclusion from anything. But the discouraging male participation by making it girly schtick totally tempts me to train for a half-marathon but then run/bike/swim in a pink dress and tiara.
posted by Zed at 11:59 AM on September 24, 2010


Letting men enter and then calling them assholes for winning is patently ridiculous - as if it's somehow more considerate to women to purposefully slow oneself down or allow a head start.

I honestly don't understand what the big deal is - don't most marathons already break up prizes/recognition by gender? And if so, why do you need a separate women's race?
posted by TypographicalError at 12:02 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


All the articles say is that men are allowed to "avoid legal spats". Is it illegal to have a women's marathon?
posted by Justinian at 12:04 PM on September 24, 2010


Letting men enter and then calling them assholes for winning is patently ridiculous

To be clear, I didn't call him an asshole for winning. I called him an asshole for saying that he ran the marathon because it was a great way to pick up hot chicks.
posted by Justinian at 12:05 PM on September 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, yeah, you can totally create and grow life, we can still beat you in a 5k.

Boo Ya?
posted by nomadicink at 12:07 PM on September 24, 2010


Why cant' they just give dudes a handicap? Like they start a half hour later or everyone starts at the same time and men get a 1/2 hour added to their time.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:10 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it illegal to have a women's marathon?

And if so, how is it allowed to only have prizes for the women finishers? That male winner above didn't get a prize.
posted by smackfu at 12:14 PM on September 24, 2010


They won't just make a rule prohibiting men because of vague handwavey concern about unlikely "legal spats" but they're going to make things sparkly and princessy and encourage heckling to "discourage" them? That's the most ridiculously passive-aggressive thing I've ever heard.
posted by enn at 12:19 PM on September 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


I honestly don't understand what the big deal is - don't most marathons already break up prizes/recognition by gender? And if so, why do you need a separate women's race?

Gee, I don't know. Maybe it's because there are women who want to compete among themselves, without having to fend off guys who "want to meet fit young women"?

Oh, but the 400 Meter Pick-Up Relay must be every woman's favorite part of running 26 miles in five hours! How can we possibly have a marathon without it?!
posted by vorfeed at 12:22 PM on September 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


" All the articles say is that men are allowed to 'avoid legal spats'. Is it illegal to have a women's marathon?"

The wide spread existence of women only health clubs would seem to speak to strong case law allowing female only events.
posted by Mitheral at 12:23 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it illegal to have a women's marathon?

It is sexually discriminatory. The cases are mixed. There's this anti-feminist nut lawyer in NY who sues against ladies' nights at bars and stuff.

You do have a legal issue where one gender is allowed to participate and another is not. Obviously, if a woman wanted to enter a "men's only" race or join a "men's only" golf club, they should not be prohibited from doing so.

What I don't understand is why they don't just have a men's category. Seems like it would take away all of the issues.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:24 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


train for a half-marathon but then run/bike/swim

My first several months of training will be dedicated to a study of the difference between a marathon and a triathlon.
posted by Zed at 12:25 PM on September 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


"You take out the testosterone and these events are kinder, cleaner, gentler and sweeter," says Robert Pozo, who runs a group of women's races from a website called Run Like a Diva.

From the Run Like A Diva web site:
So challenge yourself like a diva, run in this very unique event, and celebrate the power of being a woman with another 5,000 strong and beautiful ladies. After the run, receive an incredible blinged out finisher medal at the Jewelry Store in the finish line, dress up during the run at the feather boa station and the tiara stop, receive a rose from a handsome firefighter at the finish line, toast your accomplishment with champagne and dance the afternoon away at the Post Race Celebration.
I'm really having trouble deciding who the creepiest guy is in this story.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 12:25 PM on September 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Although men are loath to admit it, one appeal women's races have for them is the shot at a better finish. Men who ran in the middle of a pack of guys can finish near the top of a field teeming with women.

This is far more likely the reason, more than the "meeting hot chicks" angle put out there by the pilot.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:28 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


"You take out the testosterone and these events are kinder, cleaner, gentler and sweeter," says Robert Pozo, who runs a group of women's races from a website called Run Like a Diva.

From the Run Like A Diva web site:
So challenge yourself like a diva, run in this very unique event, and celebrate the power of being a woman with another 5,000 strong and beautiful ladies. After the run, receive an incredible blinged out finisher medal at the Jewelry Store in the finish line, dress up during the run at the feather boa station and the tiara stop, receive a rose from a handsome firefighter at the finish line, toast your accomplishment with champagne and dance the afternoon away at the Post Race Celebration.
I'm really having trouble deciding who the creepiest guy is in this story.


Just another example of sexualized marketing run amok. Seriously, we started out with the "woman's vitamin" and now we have just about the same number of "men's vitamins." It all is a part of the core plan of marketing which is to provide a new way to package the same old product (here a race) to make it seem like something new and different from what it is, which is people running to see who is fastest in a group.

It is freaky that a dude is running that series.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:31 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Single-gender events are allowed in some states and not in others. There's a parallel controversy in poker over the Ladies' Championship event held during the World Series of Poker, which - under Nevada law - must allow men to register. Some men do, there is annoying/creepy girly stuff for players, and there's a whole lot of grar on both sides. Men have won or made the money in women's-only poker tournaments in other states (can't remember if it was at Foxwoods or Borgata) and claim the same amount a female player would.
posted by catlet at 12:31 PM on September 24, 2010


er - substitute "events intended for women players" for "women-only," in states with laws against single-gender events.
posted by catlet at 12:33 PM on September 24, 2010


It is sexually discriminatory. The cases are mixed. There's this anti-feminist nut lawyer in NY who sues against ladies' nights at bars and stuff.

Roy Hollander.

Nationwide, suits against single-sex discounts often win. It is illegal to have unequal pricing by gender (usually at both a federal and state legislative level) because it violates the whole "equal protection under the law" thing.

Realistically, though... he's a nut. Bars institute single-sex discounts because they work. Women show up and drink and the bars' customer demographics aren't as lopsided.
posted by zarq at 12:34 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


After the run, receive an incredible blinged out finisher medal at the Jewelry Store in the finish line, dress up during the run at the feather boa station and the tiara stop, receive a rose from a handsome firefighter at the finish line, toast your accomplishment with champagne and dance the afternoon away at the Post Race Celebration.

Who's organizing this nonsense, Smoove B?
posted by electroboy at 12:38 PM on September 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, that's really it Ironmouth, and that's what really disgusts me. These guys can't do 13 miles in 59 minutes like Ryan Hall so they enter a race that the top women runners aren't even doing so they can "win." Booooo.

Because seriously, can't you just be a good sport for once in your miserable life? I don't care what the law says, you're just an asshole if you're entering a women's race, and you're a bad sport, and I hope Katherine Ndereba shows up and wastes you.
posted by Mister_A at 12:41 PM on September 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


I understand that single-sex races are a legal risk, but wouldn't divided categories for trophies be fine? You don't get many bragging rights for winning the Men's Trophy at the Ladies' Race.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:44 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bars institute single-sex discounts because they work. Women show up and drink and the bars' customer demographics aren't as lopsided.

That doesn't mean they're not discriminatory. They are.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:49 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


You take out the testosterone and these events are kinder, cleaner, gentler and sweeter

FTFY
posted by archivist at 12:54 PM on September 24, 2010


Although the Disney race's website says the half marathon is officially designed "for a princess earning her glass running slippers or a woman who runs her kingdom already..."

wat
posted by jquinby at 1:01 PM on September 24, 2010


That doesn't mean they're not discriminatory. They are.

Yes, they are. Didn't imply otherwise.
posted by zarq at 1:04 PM on September 24, 2010


i really don’t understand the need for women only races, i have to say – most co-ed races i’ve been part of have men’s and women’s winners, so it’s not as if women have no chance of winning. and if it’s primarily about the camaraderie of sisterhood, then it’s not really a serious race anyway, and it shouldn’t matter much who wins. but as long as they don’t actively discriminate against anyone, i don’t have a problem with them.

i find it pathetic that some men are so insecure that they feel the need to enter a race where they are running against a physically slower field in order to display their dominance. that’s just sad. but there have always been, and will always be, men who feel the need to interject themselves whenever it’s not all about Teh Men – those interlopers may be physically faster, but they’re just demonstrating their real weakness.
posted by wayward vagabond at 1:07 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


>They Come in First, Are Dissed at Finish; For Meeting Fit Females, 'It's Hard to Beat.'

BURMA SHAVE
posted by circular at 1:10 PM on September 24, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm not a lady, but I can definitely understand the appeal of winning a race by being the number one fastest person there, as opposed to winning a race because I was the number one fastest person within my gender. At least at a women's only race, a lady ought to be guaranteed to break the tape.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:12 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The idea is for women to have a field they could be competative with. Isn't that what the middle aged guy looking for?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:17 PM on September 24, 2010


Gee, I don't know. Maybe it's because there are women who want to compete among themselves, without having to fend off guys who "want to meet fit young women"?

Oh, but the 400 Meter Pick-Up Relay must be every woman's favorite part of running 26 miles in five hours! How can we possibly have a marathon without it?!


As Ironmouth points out, this is likely a red herring. And even if you did have a race men couldn't enter, unless you're going to ban men from being within a mile of the race, I guarantee you that there'd be creepy guys showing up at the finish line waiting to pick up women.
posted by TypographicalError at 1:36 PM on September 24, 2010


I understand that single-sex races are a legal risk, but wouldn't divided categories for trophies be fine?

To be clear, that's what they do at the Disney Princess one. Well, not divided so much as one-sided. Here are the categories.

Overall Awards
* Top 3 Overall Female Half Marathon Finishers (based on gun time)
* Top Overall Female Wheelchair Winner (push rim only, based on gun time)

Division Awards (based on Net time)
* Overall Female Masters Champion
* 2nd & 3rd Place Wheelchair Female Winners (Push rim only, based on gun time)
* Top 3 Mother Daughter Teams
* Top 3 Sister Sister Teams
* Top 3 Open Women's Division Teams
* Top 3 Co-ed Teams
* Top 5 Female Military
* Top 5 Age Groups (Female)
posted by smackfu at 1:42 PM on September 24, 2010


Hanging on my wall here in my office is a plaque which reads "2nd Over the Finish Line". It is from a 5k I ran two weeks ago. I came in second place*, in a very small race, and I was shocked because I NEVER am even close to being competitive with the other guys in most races. 5k winners usually have times around 15", and I come across the line a little under 25" at my best. It was really cool to win something.

From that perspective, I understand the urge. But I didn't sign up for that race because I expected to be competitive, I signed up because it had a low entry fee and was less than 2 miles from my house. I asked my wife what she thought of these guys running in women's races - she thinks they're dicks. I tend to agree. She's doing a women-only 10 miler this weekend. Instead of whining about how I couldn't do the race, I signed up for a different 10 miler last weekend and did that instead. It was kind of nice to have her and baby cheering for me at the finish, and baby and I will be cheering for her on Sunday. We both get to run, we didn't have to get a babysitter, and neither of us end up looking like dicks.

(*For the record, the first place finisher was female. But my wife thinks I would have beaten her if I hadn't been pushing baby in a running stroller the entire distance.)
posted by caution live frogs at 2:02 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


wayward vagabond, the reason for having women's only races is so that women have a chance to participate in an athletic contest that focusses only on other athletes in their own category- please notice that all sanctioned track and field events, including national and international marathon championships, are divided up by gender and age groups.

A few larger road races have begun having separate starts for the women and men, at least in the elite fields, so that the competitions are more fair for the women. I used to compete as a distance runner, and the two women's only road races I participated in felt a lot more fair, in many ways, than the countless mixed fields.

What people who don't have experience as competitive runners is how much racing depends on strategy- latching onto other runners, pacing oneself, seeing how hard they can push the runners around them before their competition breaks and has to let up, and so on. When I've run solely against other women on the track or on the roads, these kinds of decisions become much more sharply focussed. There's no pacing off of people who you aren't in direct competition with, there's no men blocking you from passing and catching up to the woman in front of you or impeding you from breaking away from the woman behind you because they'd rather die and have to drop out at mile 4 of a 10k than let a woman pass them.

Women who are competing for prize money end up expending a lot of energy fending off men who either think they are being helpful (I can't tell you how much "free coaching" I had to leave in the dust after a mile just so I could get my race focus back) or who are determined not to let you show them up. It was a constant issue that serious women athletes just learned to deal with in whatever ways least affected their performance.

I usually beat all but a small handful of men at most regional races. It's wasn't a matter of wanting to feel special or being the sole focus as much as it was being able race against ones peers, particularly in races where there was some cash on the line for the women's winner.


Do I think that every race should have separate starts or events for men and women? No, but I think there's a place for women's only races, and I think having either a mens division and/or a fun run alongside those is fine. There are some highly regarded international races that are open to men only, like the Fukuaka Marathon in Japan.

But this:

You take out the testosterone and these events are kinder, cleaner, gentler and sweeter," says Robert Pozo, who runs a group of women's races from a website called Run Like a Diva.

This is a lie, unless he really means "event" rather than "race". In which case calling his events races is completely condescending and a mischaracterization of female athletes.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:05 PM on September 24, 2010 [22 favorites]


I honestly don't understand what the big deal is.

My guess is this (and I'm trying to word this carefully yet truthfully): women have worked very hard to have equal rights, which includes pushing against social situations that have been defined to exclude women; so to exclude men would display a social attitude that could work against them in the future. So instead of insisting that they should be able to have an event which excludes men to celebrate women (which is great), they set up an uncomfortable enough scenario so that men freely choose to not participate (this is not great). This isn't meant to be a sexist observation, as I think it's fine for women to have events that exclude men (and actually vice versa). But I do think it's a catch-22 for people who want to prevent exclusion of their gender, yet insist that events allow for it in the other direction. The answer isn't to humiliate men, obviously. It's to change social attitudes to allow for full gender equality without legal coercion, and also allow for the celebration and socialization of individual genders at the same time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:10 PM on September 24, 2010


Hanging on my wall here in my office is a plaque which reads "2nd Over the Finish Line".

Heh. On my bookshelf is a trophy for "3rd place male 20-29" in a 5K. It was also a local race with a small field, and a very small under-30 field. I don't run fast, but still, a trophy!
posted by smackfu at 2:11 PM on September 24, 2010


I am a slow runner. I am okay with my tortoise-like nature.

But let me explain why this pisses me off: because I know some amazingly gifted women. They are outstandingly talented and dedicated to running and training, and watching them run is like watching any master of a skill--it's beautiful not because they are sexy/lovely/desirable, but because they are performing a highly demanding task at pretty much the bleeding edge of physical capacity and efficiency. There are men who want to run with them or train with them because they are fellow runners and enthusiasts. This is the case the majority of the time. But there are always a handful of men who want to run with them because they get their kicks by demonstrating that their biology allows them to outperform these dedicated women with a fraction of the effort and time and real love for the sport.

It's like if I--a relatively tall woman--went around to all of the petite women I knew and constantly took things off the high shelf for them and pointed out what I was doing, and got in their way when they were trying to get their own stuff off the shelves, just to show that I could reach it more easily. My height doesn't make me more awesome or special or more committed to reaching the nice china. I had no choice in the matter: this is the scaffolding I ended up with.

You know what that kind of behavior would make me? An asshole. And being an asshole? That is a choice.

on preview: stagewhisper's right. Any dude who says women's competition is kinder and gentler with the removal of testosterone has never really watched women compete. I played ice hockey in college. You do not see men face-bashing and head-butting their opponents when the refs aren't watching as often as you do in women's hockey. It's pretty much why I advocate for the reintroduction of body checking. It's safer.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 2:34 PM on September 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


Women-only races are something that I understand and support totally, but irk the hell out of me in one specific instance: Race for the Cure. Our local chapter will not allow men to run, though my understanding is that this varies from location to location -- some let men run, some give us a separate race.

I understand that breast cancer is mostly a woman's issue, but it's not exclusively one. I'm a runner. If I were a male breast cancer survivor (or for that matter, if I lost my wife to breast cancer)? I'd be furious.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:35 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you want to know why it's dickish for men to enter women's races, just read stagewhisper's comment above.

My wife is a runner too, and quite fast, though not top-10 fast in a big race with 15-20k entrants; still she can fly. The things she tells me are similar to what stagewhisper describes. There are guys who will do ANYTHING to avoid being passed by a woman. Their reactions to being passed can range from comically inept to passive aggressive to downright scary, from what I've heard. It's funny because they'll gladly wreck their own race to try to hold off a woman for a mile or two; it's disrespectful and sometimes dangerous to boot.
posted by Mister_A at 2:37 PM on September 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


You take out the testosterone and these events are kinder, cleaner, gentler and sweeter," says Robert Pozo, who runs a group of women's races from a website called Run Like a Diva.

Run Like a Diva? Somebody should alert him that those women are actually drag queens.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:57 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, they are. Didn't imply otherwise.

By calling him a "nut" and then following that up with a seeming justification of this discriminatory practice, it sure seemed like you were.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:20 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although men are loath to admit it, one appeal women's races have for them is the shot at a better finish. Men who ran in the middle of a pack of guys can finish near the top of a field teeming with women.

This is far more likely the reason, more than the "meeting hot chicks" angle put out there by the pilot.


I'm honestly not sure which is less embarrassing. Wow. Toss-up, but I'll go with the picking-up-chicks angle. How sad.

There are guys who will do ANYTHING to avoid being passed by a woman.

I'm afraid that this is the real reason. And that's even sadder.

SAD FACE.

You do have a legal issue where one gender is allowed to participate and another is not. Obviously, if a woman wanted to enter a "men's only" race or join a "men's only" golf club, they should not be prohibited from doing so.

"Our membership alone decides our membership - not any group with its own agenda."

- Hootie Johnson, July 2002

Also, PGA, NBA, ATP, WPS? Or do all these league receives special exemptions from discrimination claims? How is the Olympics ever held in the US? Women's World Cup?

I'm still confused why these races can't be women only. I realize the men winning are probably jerks, but I'm guessing there are actually middle-of-the-pack men running because there's a race and they can run.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:20 PM on September 24, 2010


Mitheral : The wide spread existence of women only health clubs would seem to speak to strong case law allowing female only events.

One of those things involves private property rights. The other closes public roads for half a day for reasons totally unconnected with the public good.

So, even if they don't allow men to register, the organizers have zero power to physically stop men from running the same course on public roads.
posted by pla at 3:48 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still confused why these races can't be women only.

This is what I was trying to get at above. I think that they probably could exclude men, but there may be a concern (in this particular case, anyway) that if they don't allow men to participate, it creates a pattern of exclusion that isn't good for gender equality and women in general. So they technically allow it, but exclude men in practical ways, like creating an environment that would be embarrassing to men to be there in the first place.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:00 PM on September 24, 2010


The guy who won the Disney's Princess Half Marathon strikes me as odd. I mean he had to have done it just to piss people off. Reminds me of an Andy Kaufman stunt - only not quite as annoying.

What they should do is have a seperate start for the men an hour earlier and no prizes. In other words, offer the men to race but take away their incentive to run it. They essentially would be running among themselves and they probably wouldn't be able to meet women because when they finish they would have to wait an hour or more for the women to show up.
posted by Rashomon at 4:45 PM on September 24, 2010


Ugh, this just disgusts me. What next, joining (and winning) the elementary school fun run as a great way to meet hot moms?
posted by Xere at 5:30 PM on September 24, 2010


It's like if I--a relatively tall woman--went around to all of the petite women I knew and constantly took things off the high shelf for them and pointed out what I was doing, and got in their way when they were trying to get their own stuff off the shelves, just to show that I could reach it more easily. My height doesn't make me more awesome or special or more committed to reaching the nice china. I had no choice in the matter: this is the scaffolding I ended up with.

You should try out for basketball.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:37 PM on September 24, 2010


Some how, it seems sad to give in to the stereotypically female passive-aggressive behavior of saying "The race is open to all genders" and then doing your best to arrange everything so that men won't want to run. From the babydoll T-shirts to the Chippendale dancers at the finish it seems it might just be cheaper to say "although we can't legally exclude you, we don't want you"
posted by Megafly at 6:20 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I understand that breast cancer is mostly a woman's issue, but it's not exclusively one. I'm a runner. If I were a male breast cancer survivor (or for that matter, if I lost my wife to breast cancer)? I'd be furious.

I don't understand how breast cancer is "mostly a woman's issue." Is sickle-cell anemia "mostly a black person's issue"? Why can't people just care about curing a disease no matter how likely they are to actually get the disease?

Aside from the races, I wonder how men with breast cancer generally feel about the whole woman-centered breast cancer culture.
posted by John Cohen at 8:28 PM on September 24, 2010


I don't understand how breast cancer is "mostly a woman's issue."

I meant that purely in terms of rates of diagnosis and mortality, and in terms of awareness. I'd wager that most people don't even know that male breast cancer exists. I'd wager further that the Komen foundation has done little to raise awareness.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:39 PM on September 24, 2010


I think woman-only or woman-centric athletic events are a good thing because of the way women are often discouraged from doing anything athletic, but I'm very skeptical of the arguments that justify sex-segregated events on the grounds that sex-segregation is necessary to prevent one sex from winning all the time in a given event.

First, I don't know why we should care whether more men win in the 500 meters or more women win marathons, except perhaps insofar as the skewed results discourage either sex from doing anything athletic.

Second, I don't know why we should care about results skewed along sex lines over, say, results skewed along some inherent capacity. The Special Olympics is an example of an arena where we care very much that athletes who might not win in an open field get a chance to compete with people at their own ability level.

Third, I'm skeptical of this kind of argument about skewed results because it is compatible with patriarchal norms: sex-divisions in many competitions are unconnected to preventing lopsided outcomes along sex or gender lines. Someone mentioned the women's poker tournament -- there's no reason to think that success in poker will skew significantly one way or another, but they have separate tournaments. Why?

Consider also that the Olympics doesn't allow women to compete in the ski jump. The IOC's thin rationalizations about concern for women's health aside, I suspect this has more to do with concern that a woman might actually come out ahead of a man in a sport -- keep in mind that some dudes can't even bear to be passed on the highway by female drivers, and you can see how this would make their heads spin.

Again, I think there are good arguments for women-only sports that's similar to the argument for women-only colleges (though these arguments are subject to the same objections about transphobia and policing the boundaries of "real" womanhood), but I think everyone should be wary of arguments that invoke the need to prevent skewed (or rather 'skewed') outcomes at the winner's circle.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:11 PM on September 24, 2010


Third, I'm skeptical of this kind of argument about skewed results because it is compatible with patriarchal norms: sex-divisions in many competitions are unconnected to preventing lopsided outcomes along sex or gender lines. Someone mentioned the women's poker tournament -- there's no reason to think that success in poker will skew significantly one way or another, but they have separate tournaments. Why?

They don't have separate men's and women's tournaments. They have tournaments everyone is free to join and tournaments which only women can join.

Anyone (including you) who doesn't think that in the great majority of athletic competitions (something which poker is not) segregating by sex isn't necessary to allow women to even come close to placing has been drinking the kool-aid. Do a little research for god's sake.

I suspect this has more to do with concern that a woman might actually come out ahead of a man in a sport

Please do not force me to hit myself in the face with a hammer by talking about Lindsey Van because you sort of remember hearing something or other about her at one point.
posted by Justinian at 10:44 PM on September 24, 2010


Oh, and for what it is worth, there actually is good reason to think that success in poker will skew significantly one way or another. In fact, there is the best reason of all; we can see the results of huge numbers of tournaments and there is an obvious skew. Women do not generally place well in open top level tournaments. In fact as far as I know only once has a female player made it to the final table at the WSOP main event in 40 years of tournaments. She came in, I think, 5th.
posted by Justinian at 10:53 PM on September 24, 2010


"Consider also that the Olympics doesn't allow women to compete in the ski jump. The IOC's thin rationalizations about concern for women's health aside, I suspect this has more to do with concern that a woman might actually come out ahead of a man in a sport -- keep in mind that some dudes can't even bear to be passed on the highway by female drivers, and you can see how this would make their heads spin."

Please let's put this chestnut to rest. Women do not out compete men in ski jump. Yes women have jumped farther on the same hill but they aren't competing on the same course as women start farther up the mountain. It gives them a similar handicap to driving from the women's tees in Golf. The lack of women's Ski Jump did not qualify for Vancouver because at the cut off for sport inclusion it didn't have sufficient world standing. It even says that in the linked article. Just because some bigoted dumbass said something stupid doesn't make it policy.
posted by Mitheral at 11:04 PM on September 24, 2010


Anyone (including you) who doesn't think that in the great majority of athletic competitions (something which poker is not) segregating by sex isn't necessary to allow women to even come close to placing has been drinking the kool-aid. Do a little research for god's sake.

Let's suppose this is true -- I've not done any research, so I don't know whether or not women overall wouldn't come close to placing against men in most sports -- that doesn't mean that we should care that men would place ahead of women in most sports any more than we should care that, say, tall people place ahead of short people in most swimming events. We can create skewed results using many criteria, so skewed results alone don't serve as a justification. (Of course, those skewed results might indirectly provide a justification if they discourage women or short people from participating and we think that women or short people really ought to get the benefit of sports.) Skewing, in itself, does not provide a justification for sex-segregation. We need skewing plus a reason to care about this type of skewing.

Sometimes that reason to care is that skewing would discourage women from participating, but that won't explain the history of exclusion (yes, including Lindsey Van), or apparently arbitrary segregation (if poker skews, imagine a sex segregated event that wouldn't, like badminton or synchronized swimming, or what have you). And so I am suspicious that the reason that does the work in making the skewing more persuasive than say, the women's-college or harassment arguments, is a concern about women placing ahead of men, or manly activities being made less manly by having women participate, or some similar objectionable claim.

But maybe it was a mistake to bring this up in the first place since there are good reasons to support women-only events independent of the skewing issue, and it doesn't seem like anyone is pushing it here for objectionable reasons. I only mentioned it because it is a pretty common explanation for sex-segregation in sports among good-willed folks, but doesn't get examined much because it isn't obviously objectionable.

Please do not force me to hit myself in the face with a hammer by talking about Lindsey Van because you sort of remember hearing something or other about her at one point.

This strikes me as excessive. I think what you're getting at is that I have all these opinions about sports but don't really know anything about playing sports, which I guess is true, but seems irrelevant, unless there's some particular fact that I'm just ignorant of (and that you haven't already pointed out).

@Mithral: Yes, I know they offered apparently non-discriminatory reasons. I'm saying I don't believe those are the actual reasons, because the bigoted dumbass gave different ones, and the bigoted dumbass is both the president of the International Ski Federation and member of the IOC.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:58 PM on September 24, 2010


Shaming will never work. First prize should be "A Long Talk About Our Relationship."
posted by taz at 12:14 AM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This strikes me as excessive.

Maybe. It's just that lots of people talk about Van and women's ski jumping and the Olympics without actually knowing anything about it simply because the tiny factoids they heard meshed with their pre-conceived notions. The true situation with the Olympics was a lot more complicated than presented and in any case women's ski jump isn't directly comparable anyway.

But maybe it was a mistake to bring this up in the first place since there are good reasons to support women-only events independent of the skewing issue,

I agree. I do, however, think it is also important to recognize that much or even most of the time sports aren't actually segregated. The professional leagues of most if not all major sports are open to both men and women. There may be a women's-only league in addition to the main professional league, but the main professional league (MLB, NHL, NBA, etc) is not segregated by sex.
posted by Justinian at 1:04 AM on September 25, 2010


Marty Marx : But maybe it was a mistake to bring this up in the first place since there are good reasons to support women-only events

Do good reasons exist to support black-only events? Jewish-only events? WASP Male-only events (cue the inevitable annoying "you mean Western Civilization?" jokes)?


I think what you're getting at is that I have all these opinions about sports but don't really know anything about playing sports

Guess again. He meant that, on the one hand, we get shouted down as bigots for daring to say that males and females do not have exactly the same set of abilities (beyond the obvious of childbirth) - Then we come into this thread and see a bunch of whining about how all the mean ol' men keep winning races segregated so as to only allow female participants.

You don't need to "understand" the sport to observe that. You just need to note the starting and ending conditions - Giving identical starting conditions, does one group consistently outperform another; or, given comparable ending conditions, does one group start with a disadvantage by design?
posted by pla at 6:23 AM on September 25, 2010


Oh, and for what it is worth, there actually is good reason to think that success in poker will skew significantly one way or another. In fact, there is the best reason of all; we can see the results of huge numbers of tournaments and there is an obvious skew. Women do not generally place well in open top level tournaments. In fact as far as I know only once has a female player made it to the final table at the WSOP main event in 40 years of tournaments. She came in, I think, 5th.

This is interesting: you think the fact that the results are unequal is a good rebuttal to Marty Max's point. But I believe Marty Max was just saying that a game like poker doesn't present an unequal opportunity due to physical disparities between men and women. Yet there are still de facto segregated poker games (based on the comments here).

Men and women are different in many ways beyond physical. They tend to be interested in different things. If men are more interested than women in poker and thus tend to be get more practice and be better at the game, this does not represent any unfairness that's in need of rectification.

Having equal opportunity for different groups does not mean we should expect the results among different groups to be equal. Unequal results do not indicate that there's been any discrimination or barrier to opportunity for one group.
posted by John Cohen at 7:20 AM on September 25, 2010


They should offer these men opportunities to compete in the Special Olympics.

Like the executive who parks in the handicapped spot, perhaps he is an emotional cripple.
posted by ovvl at 8:40 AM on September 25, 2010


Guess again. He meant that, on the one hand, we get shouted down as bigots for daring to say that males and females do not have exactly the same set of abilities (beyond the obvious of childbirth) - Then we come into this thread and see a bunch of whining about how all the mean ol' men keep winning races segregated so as to only allow female participants.

Listen, not all double-standards are bad.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:05 AM on September 25, 2010


Um. Thanks, pla, I really needed the "support". Note that this is probably necessary but pla isn't speaking for me.
posted by Justinian at 11:53 AM on September 25, 2010


"@Mithral: Yes, I know they offered apparently non-discriminatory reasons. I'm saying I don't believe those are the actual reasons, because the bigoted dumbass gave different ones, and the bigoted dumbass is both the president of the International Ski Federation and member of the IOC."

We'll have to agree to disagree then. Gian Franco Kasper may have influenced the committee because he is a sexist or truly believes women are "too delicate" for ski jump but the policy which disqualified women's ski jumping doesn't seem to be either discriminatory or being selectively applied in a discriminatory manner.
"I don't think there's any discrimination going on," says Joe Lamb, the U.S. ski-team representative for the International Ski Federation's (FIS) ski-jumping committee.
PS: The @username convention is depreciated here.
posted by Mitheral at 1:14 PM on September 25, 2010


caution live frogs: "Hanging on my wall here in my office is a plaque which reads "2nd Over the Finish Line"... (*For the record, the first place finisher was female. But my wife thinks I would have beaten her if I hadn't been pushing baby in a running stroller the entire distance.)"

So weren't you actually the third over the finish line? Or did your baby get first place?
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:30 PM on September 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


this:

Letting men enter and then calling them assholes for winning is patently ridiculous - as if it's somehow more considerate to women to purposefully slow oneself down or allow a head start.

I honestly don't understand what the big deal is - don't most marathons already break up prizes/recognition by gender? And if so, why do you need a separate women's race?


and this:

Some how, it seems sad to give in to the stereotypically female passive-aggressive behavior of saying "The race is open to all genders" and then doing your best to arrange everything so that men won't want to run. From the babydoll T-shirts to the Chippendale dancers at the finish it seems it might just be cheaper to say "although we can't legally exclude you, we don't want you"
posted by thistle at 3:41 AM on September 26, 2010


This and this what? Those sentences no verb.
posted by Justinian at 8:08 AM on September 26, 2010


This and this what? Those sentences no verb.

I'm pretty sure thistle is doing the "(I agree with) this" thing.
posted by andoatnp at 10:28 AM on September 26, 2010


Women who are competing for prize money end up expending a lot of energy fending off men who either think they are being helpful or who are determined not to let you show them up.

This really put things in perspective for me. My dad was a competitive runner in his 50s and he commented on how often some less practiced person in his 30s would kill himself to not get passed by an old geezer. It was distracting. I can see how having gender segregated events, or at least starting different groups at different times, makes the event more enjoyable.
posted by dgran at 11:42 AM on September 27, 2010


If you are getting passed, that just means you can't really run at the pace you were running at. Which is fairly common.
posted by smackfu at 11:57 AM on September 27, 2010


The corpse in the library wrote "So weren't you actually the third over the finish line? Or did your baby get first place?"

Uh... well technically he didn't RUN. And his name wasn't on the entry form. Wait I'm confused, do I get to keep the plaque or should I give it to him? Little bugger is ALWAYS coming in just ahead of me...
posted by caution live frogs at 11:01 AM on September 28, 2010


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