Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Man: Princessy Women's Races Are Feminist Plot

The Wall Street Journal ran an article about the plight of male runners who enter women's running races. Apparently, that some corporations market certain races toward women constitutes "reverse Title IX."

Now, depending upon the justifications for it, I don't think sex-segregation in sports is a bad thing. Personally, I consistently participate in mixed-sex and single-sex sporting events and I think each has its pros and cons. All-female sporting events allow women to participate in sports without having men dominate the field under real or imagined assumptions of athletic superiority. As an athlete, nothing grates on my nerves more than some dorkwad guy tripping onto the field who automatically assumes he's better at sports than all women on the field yet who is himself, basically, the worst at sports.

Yet, I also enjoy the challenge of training and competing against men (and women) who are better, bigger, and stronger than me. Such competition makes me a better athlete. Also, given my strength and the fact that I often confront rather than defer to male "athletic prowess," I enjoy consistently challenging men's assumptions about the inherent frailty and suckiness-at-sports of women.

But alas, justifying women's-only races with the reliance on pinkified stereotypes of what women inherently are or like? Not my favorite. One example of the reliance on gender stereotypes in sports marketing, highlighted in the WSJ article, is Disney's Princess Half Marathon, which is apparently "for a princess earning her glass running slippers or a woman who runs her kingdom already."

Then, the article quoted a man in the lady running biz, who explains the reasoning behind these women's races:

"'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."

To discourage men from competing, some races offer feminine goody bags and prizes, such as tiaras, necklaces, and medals "awarded by bare-chested male firefighters."

So, how predictable that such an article would be imbued with comments from dudes like the following:

"...I'll bet there would be an uproar if there were an all-mens' race, with medals awarded by bikini-clad models. This sort of thing is endemic of a segment of feminists whom seem to want equality, yet nonetheless expect the door to be held open for them a little wider. They're the ones who went to Russell Sage or Mount Holyoke, teeming with estrogen from every pore, yet are crushed by the brutal competition of a world that no longer cares about your plumbing, only the price of what you produce."

Comments like these make me seethe.

One, it demonstrates how "discriminatory" women's-only races like this, to misogynists, anti-feminists, and male supremacists, quickly become a metaphor for everything that is wrong with our allegedly post-feminist society. In their eyes, schools, the working world, higher education, politics, the legal system, and everything basically, privilege women by granting special rights to inferior beings so as to ensure equal or superior outcomes for women when, in reality, Everyone Knows that men would come out ahead on a truly level playing field.

And two, some women genuinely do like pink stuff, tiaras, and hot nearly-naked firemen giving them awards. But, if I can burst the fantastical gender-essentialist bubble floating around in this article, some women don't. Furthermore, some men do. Thus, letting male-dominated corporations make a buck off of first creating the sweet pretty princess ideal, reinforcing in women that that is is how real women (and certainly not men) are, and then marketing this pink gender role as Girl Power is not exactly a high priority of the Feminist Agenda.

But yes, Wall Street Journal, let's continue framing such articles from the perspective of the oppressed men who choose to run in some of the very few women's-marketed races that exist, rather than in the others in which they could choose to participate that market men as the default racer, so today's Angry Man can justify his know-nothing pontifications about what is "endemic" to feminism and how modern society is rigged to disadvantage men.

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