Friday, August 10, 2012

Gender Segregated Competition

Question no one asks: Why are Oscar, Emmy, and Tony awards divided by gender? In athletics it makes sense, as men are, on average, bigger and stronger (which still doesn't explain women's pool, poker, etc.). But acting...?

Speaking of athletics: since we segregate competition among genders to reconcile parity issues, and we segregate competition among the disabled for the same purpose, then why is there no big-time competition among the non-athletically inclined (the "Not-So-Special Olympics")? I'd love to compete in any number of sports in the poorly-coordinated-and-easily-winded-middle-aged-men category!

Final quandary. It was great to see Oscar Pistorius compete. Though nominally "disabled", he's achieved parity. Should top women similarly be funneled in among males? Ye Shiwen, for example, beat the men's gold medal time in the same event this year.

Tricky, loaded questions, all, I know. For one thing, since future champions are increasingly selected, like tomatoes, on breeding factors (e.g. top swimmers need huge torsos), the very concept of athletic "competition" is starting to unravel. The vanishingly thin line between "doping" and legitimate high tech training methods is another blurring factor.  


PSU John said...

Why "Ladies Poker" events? Because it's an activity that's so heavily male dominated that women can feel exclude/unwanted/uncomfortable. Not all women obviously but a ladies event is meant to encourage women who'd otherwise stay away to play. However women can and do compete against the men and often outperform the men (in tournaments as a percentage of entrants for example). The top female players (eg Vanessa Selbst) are also top overall players - likely better than all but a handful of male players.

It's not so much a "you can't compete with the men so we'll make an event where a girl can win" as it is "if you're not comfortable in an event dominated by young males here's an alternative where you might be comfortable". Sort of an affirmative action for something that's male dominated only because women don't often participate.

Jim Leff said...

Thanks. You had me agreeing until that last sentence! "Idiocy" isn't the issue in this present case, but the same logic applies:

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