Columnist Decries Sexism in Athletics by Shooting Down Olympic Boxing For Women

Photo of Brandi Chastain Shirtless After Soccer Win
Female athletes have long been regaled to second class citizens in the world of sports. That’s a fact, one that cannot be denied, argued, or otherwise debated. That progress has been made is also unquestionably clear, although the most memorable moment of the U.S. Olympic soccer team might well have been Brandi Chastain taking off her shirt in celebration and ESPNW is not exactly taking off.

The recent decision to include women’s boxing in the 2012 Olympics could be heralded as a step in the right direction (I bet female ski jumpers would be pretty enthusiastic were it their sport), but Herald Scotland’s Ruth Wishart isn’t taking it that way.

From Herald Scotland:

How noble is an art the point of which is to hurt an opponent? Does the dexterity with which the blow is aimed somehow cancel out the effect? How attractive is a sport where blows to the head are too often a short-cut to brain damage? Shaking a baby is illegal, but not using an adult brain as a punch bag.

One Scots trainer, having had a Damascene conversion to women taking up the sport, chooses to draw an analogy with the hostility once shown to female footballers [soccer, to us Americans], now replaced by an acceptance of their high skill levels. It hardly bears rational scrutiny.

Wishart goes on to pretty much dismiss the stratospheric rise of women’s soccer in America as the result of “soccer moms” finding a fun, active, fairly inexpensive sport for their daughters to entertain themselves with while their sons went on to greater glory not just on the soccer field but in sports like football and baseball.

And then predicts that women won’t wax enthusiastic about caravanning their girls around to a sport like boxing.

I can’t image the same enthusiasm being attached to their teenage girls heading down the gym to practise throwing punches. What did fire up the attention levels in America was the circus of Muhammed Ali’s daughter, Laila, being matched against Joe Frazier’s daughter, Jacqui, in a grotesque re-run of their fathers’ titanic bouts; more of a clash in the counting houses of sharp-eyed promoters.

While Wishart is absolutely right that women’s sports are seen as more of a hobby than a career, I can’t for the life of me understand why she’s so down on boxing. The support of any female sports venue (and inclusion in the Olympics is unquestionably support) seems to me like a winning proposition.

Wishart can (and does) cite specific slights in sports ranging from beach volleyball (eye candy for men), rugby (England’s team lost the World Cup final to New Zealand in a real nailbiter that would have gone down in history had it been American football), golf (men become multi-millionaires while women struggle for sponsorship), and tennis (which Wishart believes is “belittled”).

She also makes some excellent points about the media’s view of women sports.

Pundits intone that women’s sport is intrinsically less interesting; not enough people want to watch it. How would you know guys if you don’t give it enough screen time and exposure to whet viewing appetites?

Yeah, Ruth Wishart, you’re absolutely right … so why the hell would you crap all over an opportunity for female boxers to add their weight to the push against misogyny in athletics?

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17 thoughts on “Columnist Decries Sexism in Athletics by Shooting Down Olympic Boxing For Women

  1. Female boxing is a joke. It just goes to show that feminists (who no doubt were the driving (and shrill) voice behind such an idiotic decision are totally out of touch with reality. To mansplain a fact that should be completely obvious to anyone who has ever actually seen a female boxing match, the pool off female boxers is too small. To small to produce any kind of viable sport and much to small to be included in the Olympics. Without a large pool of fighters women are forced to fight women not in there skill bracket, that means women getting there brains beat in by vastly superior fighters on a regular basis. Also boring fights. And how many countries can field female boxers? My prediction a dozen or so completely one sided fights from a handful of countries. And maybe a trannie or two.

  2. I say give them a venue,I love female boxing. Boringwhatever,you better hope that Laila Ali doesn’t decide to feel you up in and elevator!

  3. You know even in New Zealand there was only the tinniest, shortest bit at the end of the sports news saying that our Womens Rugby team had won, if it had been the mens team it would have been front page news for at least a week. It really, really pissed me off.

  4. @ Boring – how like you!
    I state that I have been kickboxing for years – you say that you are going to “start sparring in Karate soon” and somehow you think it would be “quite the match”?
    Here is how it works:
    You have stated in another post that you are a large (over 6′ and over 200 pounds) man. And a newb as far as Karate.

    I am a smallish (little over 5′) woman who is no newb. I am smaller, faster and far more experienced.

    I’d kick your boring ass.

  5. @ Boring
    Of course I do. I have speed, experience and pack serious power behind my hits.
    Just being male and large doesn’t give you a guaranteed win. This is one time where your size will most certainly be a drawback.

  6. @Blurry, Um, I feel more than a litte unconfortable talking about fighting a girl so I will stop now. However a little bit of advice, a real fight is not like a video game, there is no power bar or extra guys. Keep this in mind and stay safe.

  7. @Boring –
    1. I thought we were talking about sparring?
    2. I’m a woman, not a girl.
    3. I play it safe – to begin with.

    In a real fight, I don’t fight fair. I go for maximum damage and get the hell out. I’m not an idiot.

  8. @Blurry, the back and forth was fun for a while, but fighting with women even sparring has always been a sore spot with me (I can already tell it might be an issue with my Karate sooner or later). I have known too many women who when they find out I don’t care to fight women have seen this as an opportunity to play the “I will hit him until I get my way or he runs away, cause he won’t knock me out” game.

  9. Boring, women who play that game are idiots.
    I kickbox because it is great exercise, The fact that I could conceivably protect myself is a plus, naturally. I don’t physically fight willingly with anyone – outside of class.

    I have twice in my life had to defend myself – both times from strange men. The outcome was swift, painful for them and terrifying for me.
    Like I said – maximum damage and get the hell out of Dodge.

    It’s to bad that you have had these experiences. I think that if you go into Karate with an open heart, you will find that sparring with women isn’t as bad as you think. It won’t be Man vs. Woman. It will be Worthy Opponent I vs Worthy Opponent II.

  10. There are plenty of guys who like sparring me in taekwondo because I spar so differently than they do. I’m more defensive and much faster. I don’t spar to knock someone out, I spar to get used to people whalloping me. It’s good to know how to take a hit. And boring, I’m not totally sure why you are so against sparring women; I love sparring my dad, who fits your height/weight pretty well. It’s a big challenge, especially because he has arms like an ape.

  11. I too enjoy some sparring, but serious professional boxing is completely beyond me. I don’t understand why someone would want to hit people and be smacked around for a living, why someone values their brains so little to accept the brain damage that comes from repeated blows to the head, or where the ‘fun’ is. I REALLY don’t understand the joy in watching other people hit each other – in any sport. I enjoy some kickboxing myself, but for fitness and defensibility. I still don’t care to watch the professionals bash each other.
    But hey, everyone’s different. If there are women out there who like it, like the men who do, they can go right ahead, and I wish them the best of luck.

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  13. I think you have misinterpreted the article. The author is expressing her distaste for boxing, which is certainly a reasonable point of view especially given the recent research into the long term brain damage resulting from concussion and sub-concussion head impacts. She is trying to say that she would prefer any minutes of airtime going to women’s boxing to go to another women’s sport. She hasn’t expressed herself very clearly, for example the way she has talked about soccer sounds dismissive, but I think she’s actually trying to praise the sport for being fun, safe and not needing equipment, which qualities she thinks boxing doesn’t have. She is not being derogatory towards women’s sport at all, she just thinks boxing is not a worthwhile sport (much the way I feel about women playing baseball – I wish they wouldn’t do it because that stupid sport doesn’t need more players, not because they are women).

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