August 21, 2008

Gender equality uber alles

One contributor to the unwieldy giganticism of the Olympics is the perceived need to hold a women's event for every men's event, no matter how unpopular the sport is with women, or, in many cases, with both sexes. For example, modern pentathalon (in which you pretend to be a courier during the Napoleonic Wars and swim, horseback ride, run, shoot, and fence your way to delivering your secret message -- okay, in theory, it sounds pretty cool, but in practice, nobody cares) hasn't been all that big since George S. Patton finished fifth in it back in 1912, but, nonetheless, the Olympics added women's modern pentathalon in 2000.

Likewise, walking is the all-time dorkiest-looking sport, but sure enough, we've had a women's walking race in all the Olympics of this decade.

Weightlifting is a fun sport to attend, with a professional wrestling vibe as the big galoots try to psyche each other out, but it's hopelessly snarled up by steroids. Nonetheless, the Olympics added women's weightlifting in 2000. Women's wrestling was introduced in 2004.

Of course, gender equality in sports almost always means "separate but equal."

Shooting at the Olympics became sexually integrated in 1968. Women won a number of medals over the next few decades, although men won the great majority. By 1996 it had split into segregated men's and women's events.

The only Olympic sports where men and women compete against each other is in equestrian (where the horse is doing most of the work) and some of the sailing events.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where's male synchronized swimming????

agnostic said...

It looks like Russia and China dominate in women's competitive walking, which you pointed out before is due to them caring about medal counts -- so why not go after a sport no one cares about. Easy medals.

But we can easily come up with a weighting that might catch on -- take the number of articles, reports, words, column inches, or whatever written about all Olympic sports. Maybe total word count from all ESPN.com webpages related to the sport. Normalize by dividing by the highest of them.

That's a decent measure of popularity, so we just use these as weights that multiply each medal won. Note that it's possible for a medal not to count in this scheme, since if no one writes about the sport, it will get weight = 0.

(Is something a sport just because the Olympic committee says so, even though no one pays any attention to it?)

A stat person would have to come up with the index, but it's easy to understand and apply, so it could catch on, even among the innumerate press.

romanaclef said...

Well, there are plenty of minor male sports that nobody cares about either. And I gotta say that women wrestlers have earned the respect and interest of long time wrestling fans, myself included. Also, countries that field good female athletes in tradionally male sports tend to be way better places for women to live than countries that do not.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off-topic, but on the issue of "gender" and the Olympics: What happened to boxing, weightlifting, and wrestling? NBC (the network televising the Olympics in America) seems to have adopted a new Olympic motto: "Diving, diving, and more diving."

I suppose this is in response to some research about female viewers driving ratings, but I'm suspicious.

Olympic boxing used to be pretty cool (Clay, Frazier, Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, the rivalry between the US and Cuba, Roy Jones getting robbed), and one of the signature moments of the 1976 Games was Soviet Super-heavy weight Alexyev (sp?) lofting what appeared to be the weight of a Volkswagen over his head.

I guess the decline of boxing as a mainstream sport is the main culprit.

Will MMA ever be an Olympic event?

John Mansfield said...

Don't forget male field hockey! Because it's really hard not to forget it.

headache said...

"Where's male synchronized swimming????"

See an earlier iSteve post.
The real problem with the Olympics is that it’s hopelessly corrupted by modern drugs. In the olden days nobody took CCCP and DDR wins too seriously since everybody knew they were doping. The assumption was that they were willingly messing up their athlete's lives in order to make an ideological statement, i.e. we win so that means socialism is stronger than capitalism. It’s the same subtle message the MSM portrays when they hype black athletes, except their ideology is not socialism but Black Power or Multicult with black leadership.

The Tour de France lost 35% viewership when it became known as the Tour de Farce, on account of credible knowledge of systematic doping. Surely the best thing is for some countries that want to come clean, I know of Germany and there are others, to begin whistling. Then the IOC will begin the balancing act between viewership (and thus sponsorship money) and not losing theirs and the China/Russia/USA/Third World faces. So far the committee running the Tour de Farce is not doing well at this game and it seems like they will lose even more credibility. But it’s good for the sport. I wish there would be a few turncoats amongst the top athletes and coaches/team doctors. That would be real a "coming out", instead of all the usual sexual innuendo associated with that term nowadays.

Concerned said...

What have you got against women's beach volleyball Steve?

Concerned said...

Oh, look at this. Race-based rooting is OK when it's done for leftlib reasons.

http://www.salon.com/sports/olympics/2008/08/20/race/index.html

When it's done for tribal reasons, it's wrong.

Got it.

Anonymous said...

We really have to get past this "separate but equal" mentality that governs sports. I thought that "Brown vs. the Board of Education" had done away with all that. It's time for women to really show what they're made of. Whatever happened to that great feminist rallying cry of, "Anything a man can do, a woman can do better"? Where are those feminists who've told us that women have to be stronger than men (because of childbirth)? For that matter, whatever happened to "equal pay for equal work" in this context?

michael farris said...

"Where's male synchronized swimming????"

Ask and you shall receive:

youtube.com/watch?v=ocG8IHt7foY

youtube.com/watch?v=y1vjWyCEuZg

youtube.com/watch?v=z5uLrv0VnAQ

youtube.com/watch?v=4qqKws_4AFA

youtube.com/watch?v=vSteihgHYkM

youtube.com/watch?v=P3Y51YKmzSY

Robert said...

I can't believe no one has commented on the outrageous sexism displayed by the Olympic committee in having separate events for males and females. Why, you would think they believe that there are real reasons for treating the two sexes differently! Shocking.

albertosaurus said...

You may notice that even with three concurrent HD telecasts of the Olympics we get very little women's weight lifting, or wrestling. We did get coverage of women's discus but only because there was a rare American winner.

If there is a girl who dreams of capturing a suitable husband by pumping iron - I don't want to meet her and I don't want to watch her. Sports appeal is rooted n physicality - in biology if you will. May and Walsh announced just after they won the gold medal that they were going to immediately go make some babies. They got a lot of air time.

BTW The big change in shooting came a few seasons back when beta blockers became popular. Drug steadied female hands should be at least equal to male ones. BUt when I go to the shooting range all the other shooters seem to be men.

Its like being a fighter pilot. Women physilogically can pull more Gs so they should be better pilots in a dogfight. But when you go to the mall in the video arcades i's always young boys playing electronic shoot-em-up.

astorian said...

Back in 1976, when rifle shooting was an integrated sport, I remember that an American man named Lanny Bssham and an American woman named Margaret Murdoch tied for first. Both of them wanted a playoff round, but the rules provided for an automatic tiebreaker, which meant that Bassham won the gold medal and Murdoch received silver.

To Bassham's credit, during the playing of the national anthem, he had her stand on the top step with him, and they BOTH held the gold medal.

Shooting is one of the rare sport where women CAN compete on an equal footing with men, and have done so. Why they thought women needed their own event is beyond me.

Margaret Murdoch didn't want to be the best female shooter in the world- she wanted to be the best shooter, period, and she MAY have been just that. Would it have been doing her a favor to let her compete against weaker shooters, just so she could win a gold medal that wouldn't command nearly as much respect?

Anonymous said...

Or male rhythmic gymnastics?

Anonymous said...

"Where's male synchronized swimming????"

Will Farrell and Jon Heder were not available.

Anonymous said...

Have you checked out the women's fast-pitch softball? It's actually somewhat watchable. The U.S. team, by the way, has been kicking everyone else's asses around the block.

travis said...

It appears, for the most part, we're only interested in watching women perform in sports that require grace under pressure, like ice skating and gymnastics. The inclusion of other sports in the Olympic games just pads the US medal count.

Anonymous said...

About those shooting events: the Europeans insisted on segregating the women because European men were tired of losing medals to women. Shooting was the chief sport in which interested women competed equally with men (since shooting is more about control than strength), so the whole thing just proves how reprehensible Olympic politics are.

Shooting in the USA is still co-ed; American men want to see the best shooting no matter who does it. Europeans lack the self-confidence to compete on equal terms.

Peter said...

Regarding the prior comment about Olympic boxing, while the main NBC coverage has largely (completely?) ignored it, CNBC has shown a decent amount. There's been even more on NBC's Spanish-language network, Telemundo I belive.

Olympic boxing's a tough sport to like because the scoring system is just plain weird.

Steve Funk said...

And they are eliminating women's softball, a popular sport (in US at least) in which a women can look attractive, although a significant number of the top players are lesbian.

Mark said...

[Modern pentathlon] hasn't been all that big since George S. Patton finished fifth in it back in 1912, but, nonetheless, the Olympics added women's modern pentathalon in 2000.

The events for the "modern" pentahlon date back to the early 1800s. Time for a post-modern pentahlon! What events shall we include?

Where are those feminists who've told us that women have to be stronger than men (because of childbirth)?

Anyone here catch any of the women's marathon? Serious qestion: where were the boobs? Seriously. Does the sport favor women with small breasts? No doubt. Do the (literally) marathon training sessions remove so much fat from the body that their boobs shrink? Do some women get drastic breast reductions in order to compete? Or do bigger breasted women just not bother?

May and Walsh announced just after they won the gold medal that they were going to immediately go make some babies. They got a lot of air time.

Add that to their airtime with Pres. Bush (they thanked him after their victory, and one offered to let him pat her on the behind) and they're sounding positively conservative.

Logistics and timing have something to do with the urgency, however: they'd both like to get back in shape for the 2012 games:

Both Walsh and May-Treanor said they want to have babies soon after the games, and if all goes well they would take 2009 off. That would still leave them plenty of time to get back into shape and qualify for the 2012 games in London — if they want to.

Anonymous said...


Anyone here catch any of the women's marathon? Serious qestion: where were the boobs? Seriously. Does the sport favor women with small breasts? No doubt. Do the (literally) marathon training sessions remove so much fat from the body that their boobs shrink? Do some women get drastic breast reductions in order to compete? Or do bigger breasted women just not bother?


For some such women I think they lose so much fat that menstruation shuts down.

Anonymous said...


Shooting is one of the rare sport where women CAN compete on an equal footing with men, and have done so. Why they thought women needed their own event is beyond me.


What sort of shooting are we talking about here?

Generally bench rest shooting? Anything with a decent caliber with a decent kick (7.62x51mm)?

How do they rate in clay shooting events?

albertosaurus said...

Steve,

Shame on you for not understanding this phenomenon better - you being a movie critic and all.

Every sane adult knows that men are big and strong and women just aren't.

Yet Hollywood provides us with an undending stream of films wherein some dainty little woman beats the snot out of a huge brute of a man. (See - Charlie's Angels, Point of No Return, etc...)

Evidently the desire to see kick-ass women in action is too compeling to be gainsayed by mere reality.

Anonymous said...

Well, with respect to the shooting that women have won medals in against men, they were 50m Three Position and Skeet, it seems.

The Wikipedia article on 50m Three Position coyly points out that 50m events are shot with a rimfire cartridge.

halfbreed said...

Is it just me or does it seem that beach volleyball is getting way too much primetime play? I watch the swimmers, the runners, the jumpers, the gymnasts, the vaulters, the divers, and the lifters, and am filled with wonder: I think, wow, I could never hope to do that. I watch the beach volleyball players and think, hmm, it would take me at least four weeks to master that skill, maybe even five. (I know, I know, it'd take more.) But still, th emost wonderful thing about the Olympics is how they fill us with awe, and beach volleyball just doesn't do that. Are we supposed to be agog at the female beauty on display in those revealing outfits? Personally I prefer the European women running the 400 or 800. And if I want real beauty I'll watch an old Grace Kelly or Tippi Hedren movie. Sorry, just don't get the appeal of beach volleyball.

Another complaint: any sport for which the Olympics don't represent the peak of achievement should not be in the Olympics. No tennis player dreams of growing up to play in the Olympics; they dream of Wimbledon, etc., which gets plenty of TV exposure on its own. So we don't need to see those overpaid athletes at what is supposed to be a celebration of fastest, highest, strongest. Ditto for the basketball players and the baseball players (or has that already been eliminated?). You almost get the impression that Roger Federer and Kobe and LeBron are slumming in Beijing. So the hell with them.

wongba said...

@agnostic

using espn is fine for a US perspective on weighting medals, but it's certainly not international.

few ppl in the US have prolly streamed any of the table tennis matches, yet 330 million in china tuned in for the women's final. that's more viewers than the entire population of the US.

i bet there are similar stats regarding the soccer matches and the soccer powers argentina and brazil.

it's prolly only gonna be track and field events like the 100m that are gonna capture everyone's attention. swimming has generally been ignored in china, and only became relevant b/c of phelps.

Svigor said...

I don't need to tell anyone here that one of the ten commandments of liberalism is "is it good for me (as long as I'm not a white male)?" Since separate but equal is good for female athletes, it's kosher.

Nobody (in any numbers) wants equality. Equality means taking the good with the bad. They want superiority (take the good, leave the bad, take the rights, leave the responsibilities).

So, liberalism is non-white-male-supremacy. Big surprise there.

This obviously means that the liberals who claim that whites (i.e., white men) not only "don't need" particular representation, but are also evil for even bringing the idea up, are liars or fools.

It's just as obvious that the squeaky wheel gets the grease; whoever has particular representation wins, whoever doesn't, loses.

Freddie said...

I dig the giganticism. There's room for it all, and I love it all.

rt said...

I quite enjoy watching female sprinters; many have a very compelling blend of athleticism/strength and femininity. And unlike their male counterparts whose over the top braggadocio can be really obnoxious, they tend to have far more charming personalities.

C. Van Carter said...

I'd never seen it before, but I found the women's team handball surprisingly entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Almost like the WNBA. Apparently it involves basketball and women.

halfbreed said...

From a feminine pulchritude standpoint I think the ideal women runners are those who run the 400 and 800. The pure sprinters tend to be a little bulky and are often 'roided up. The long distance runners have a tendency to look like sticks (though there are some exceptions). But the in-betweeners are just ideal, not too thick and not too bulky, with nice taut legs and well-toned haunches. (Is this getting a little too pornographic for this site?)

anony-mouse said...

1/ About walking-why not have a high minimum age, say 65? It would still look strange, but at least it would be for a good purpose.

2/ Who's objecting to women's wrestling? I'd especially like to see the female contestants in beach volleyball compete in women's wrestling.

Indra Maghavan said...

I find women wrestling a sporting joke, but a vaguely (and pleasantly) pornographic joke. I had the weird feeling I shouldn't watch it in mixed company. Of course, watching beach volleyball, the feeling was more than just vague... ha

jody said...

boxing - most of the boxing tournament was on US television, just not in primetime. i think no americans won a medal. black americans now have to compete with former communists in professional boxing and do not find not automatically dominating the sport to their liking, i suspect. they have been leaving amateur boxing at 200 pounds and up.

also the olympic scoring system creates a less than satisfactory viewing experience.

wrestling - title 9 has damaged NCAA wrestling in the US, but there is still no excuse for the absolutely pathetic performance put in by the americans this year. every high school has a wrestling team, most universities still have NCAA wrestling. yet americans won only 2 wrestling medals.

MMA and football are also taking athletes away from wrestling. two great american wrestlers, stephen neal and brock lesnar, now do football and MMA respectively.

as far as drug use goes, american athletes became widespread drug users in some sports beginning in the 80s. it was definitely not only europeans.

Sideways said...


Every sane adult knows that men are big and strong and women just aren't.

Yet Hollywood provides us with an undending stream of films wherein some dainty little woman beats the snot out of a huge brute of a man.


I'm reminded of that movie where Jolie and Pitt are married spies who fight each other. Jolie headbutts Pitt in the forehead, injuring him. I don't get bothered by some woman beating up a man by using greater skill, but a woman headbutting a man like that is in for some problems.

Is it just me or does it seem that beach volleyball is getting way too much primetime play?

Beach volleyball is, in the States, one of the top 5 sports in the summer Olympics. I have no idea why. I believe the other four are swimming, gymnastics, track, and basketball.

Mark said...

About walking-why not have a high minimum age, say 65? It would still look strange, but at least it would be for a good purpose.

Knock racewalking all you want, but racewalking is incredibly difficult, athletically. At some speed it becomes far more biomechanically efficient to break out into a run but these guys continue well past that point, and due it for a longer distance than the marathon (50 km vs. 41 km).

Whether it should be an Olympic event or not, of course, is an entirely different matter. I can't think of a single famous racewalker and haven't seen it on TV in years.

Racewalking goes back to the 19th century and was developed as a sport by, you guessed it, the British.

grizzlieantagonist said...

"Males are weak and bad; females are strong and good."

It's the mantra of what passes for civilized society today -- the notion that EVERYTHING that women and girls do is good and that EVERYTHING that men and boys do is bad.

I expect to find less of that manta on an isteve blog, and yet there are a number of instances of it here.

"Women are better shooters than men."

"Women are better fighter pilots than men."

"Women wrestlers have earned my 'respect', and a nation is judged exclusively on how it treats its women and not at all on how it treats its men".

"Women don't have as much 'over the top braggodocio' as men" (meaning necessarily that 'over the top braggodocio' is 'bad', but -- here in particular -- the speaker may want to take another look).

"I don't get upset when women beat up men by using 'greater skill'" (My guess is that the speaker would be horrified by the portrayal of a man beating up a woman using ANY means).

"European men aren't 'secure', and lack of "security" is a "bad" thing" (To judge from their words and actions, how "secure" are women these days, even in a society that panders to them?)

It's a primary reason why I intend to die with my genes in. This is just not the right time in our nation's history to bring a male child into the world.

Of course, for other istevish reasons, it may be the wrong time in our nation's history to be born either a male or female of European descent.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, for other istevish reasons, it may be the wrong time in our nation's history to be born either a male or female of European descent."

The bad time for that hasn't come yet (and won't in my lifetime.)

PatrickH said...

This is just not the right time in our nation's history to bring a male child into the world.

Women are incapable of doing serious damage to men without the consent of men. Insofar as feminism has been able to hurt men, it has done so because it has served the purposes of high-status powerful (usually white) men against their status competitors.

Kathleen Parker has a preposterous book out called something like "Saving the Males", blatting on and on about how feminism has "castrated" men, yadda, kvetch, bitch, moan.

Stuff and nonsense. Men do today and will continue in the future to dominate the highest reaches of power, status and accomplishment in our society. Women will continue, because of their physical and emotional fragility and their tendency to intellectual mediocrity, to languish. All the blather today about men being bad and women good is going to go on and on, precisely because it has no effect. It's a Sunday belief for the 21st century.

The underlying reality of deep-seated biological differences between men and women continues to control relations between the sexes. "Feminism" is simply the name given to the systematic application of traditional taboos about discussion of the differences between men and women in an updated form. "Anything you can do I can do better" becomes, well, whatever the hell the slogan is today. Notice that in the old chestnut song the woman is given the victory by the man. We knew even then that you have throw the ladies some sops. Otherwise, you'll never hear the end of it.

The existence of women-only events is precisely this kind of sop-throwing applied to sports. Everybody knows why it's done...to give the ladies a chance to take part too, to stand up on podiums and wave around shiny prizes and feel good about themselves. Women-only events that don't have a separate aesthetic element to draw attention don't get attention. They get pretend attention.

Feminism has had no deleterious effect on men in any area central to our experience. Men continue to brutalize one another in status competition, and "feminism" has been tangentially useful to our Big Dogs as a way to keep Would-be Big Dog in their place. Women cannot do anything to men but WITHDRAW their favour, and that only to some degree.

It's just like white people using black people as props in ruthless Darwinian white people status wars. Feminism is the same deal, except this time the white folk are the men folk.

So this is as good a time as any to be brought into the world as a European man. We run this world. And that will not be changing any time soon.

Reproduce away!