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Gender Competition Preserves Natural Traits of Competitive Sports

Written by Roman Gaehwiler

In western communities the degree of gender equality and emancipation represents an important indicator to level sophistication and liberalism. In sports, however, sexual discrimination is taken for granted. As a result of strict sex segregation, there’s no opportunity for women to measure their abilities with male opponents. Consequently, either sport seems to lack social development or the emancipation of female athletes is not an issue worth considering. Tamburrini and Tännsjö declare this state as “strange” arguing as follows: “The best response to this argument may be to offer women the possibility of genetically becoming as strong as men”. In fact, this would mean to genetically alter the natural female hormone-balance in order to increase testosterone serum-concentration. Finally, that may result in transforming women into men rather than providing equality. In fact, such an act would undermine the ideology of emancipation and therefore foster the issue about gender distinction more acutely. Additionally, Susan Sherwin and Meredith Schwartz respond that “this solution misses the fact the problem of oppression for women is not that men are ‘naturally’ superior and women are struggling to ‘catch up’ to the male ideal.” Furthermore, the problem may have origin in the masculanization of society and “the construction what is ‘best’ reflects male talents, and those activities that are perceived as female are systematically undervalued.” Apparently, this discussion and the tolerance of gender distinction in sports prove the pleasant fact that the acceptance of natural differences and individual traits are still welcome, even in times of “levelling the playing field” and genetic enhancement debates. As a matter of fact, the nature of competitive sports is about the measurement of differences. Hence, when artificial performance enhancing substances tend to level the playing-field the existence of sexes is able to preserve some natural traits of competitive sports.

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1 Comment on this post

  1. In last week's NYtimes magazine there was an article about marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, who has broken records for long distance swimming for both men and women. I think you make a good point that it is possible that men are not necessarily biologically more athletic (at least I think that's what you're saying…), but instead that our culture has favored the sports that men excel at. For instance, I've read that women have higher percentages of fat stores, even when they are in really good shape. This stored energy gives them a natural advantage at long distance and endurance sports, so the average athletic woman can usually run/swim longer than her male counterpart, while the male can usually run/swim faster than the female.

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