Laurie Toby Edison

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Women Wrestling with Laws

Laurie and Debbie say:

In Missouri, they’re now requiring a selection of women athletes (pro wrestlers, pro boxers, and martial artists) to take pregnancy tests before any match. Nineteen-year-old wrestler Julie Utley is protesting the regulation on the grounds of expense: she figures that it will cost her an extra $60 for every match she participates in.

We don’t think we really have to say much about how this relates to the increasingly strong anti-abortion lobby, about how we feel about the state’s treatment of these potential babies once they are actually born; or even about the characterization of women as baby containers. All of those things are true, and worth saying, and familiar.

Instead, let’s look at how men react when women encroach on a sphere they have previously considered their own. Historically, this certainly happened in the first half of the 20th century, when a host of well-meaning restrictions on how much women should be allowed to carry, or how late at night they should be able to work, effectively shut women out of a great many lucrative careers (and remember, these are the very same women that our culture criticizes if they choose sex work).

In the last ten years, one unmistakable trend in entertainment has been the “kick-ass heroine.” From Xena to Buffy, from Storm to River Tam, TV screens and movie theaters are alive with traditionally beautiful, unmistakably sexy young women flinging opponents around like confetti. So what happens when you bombard people with a set of repeated attractive images? Real live people start wanting to do the same thing.

Thus, the increasing interest in professional boxing, wrestling, and martial arts for women. And we know that the guaranteed reaction of a large subset of men, including a lot of men in power, is to try to defend their turf. (Don’t they want to fuck these hot screen babes? Of course they do, but that doesn’t equate to watching them take over the local dojo.)

So, regulations. It’s not fashionable just now to protect women as women. But it is fashionable to protect fetuses. Which means protecting mothers. So all they have to do is define all women as potential mothers, and before Buffy could fling you over the fence, you have a solution. And you can use that ever-so-popular defense if anyone criticizes you: “We’re just thinking of the children.”

We’re rooting for Julie Utley to take her protest physical.

(If you want to sit through the advertising screens, Sarah Elizabeth Richards discusses the issue in Salon. We found it through imnotandrei.

<br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/women" rel="tag">women</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/feminism" rel="tag">feminism</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/athletes" rel="tag">athletes</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/men" rel="tag">men</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/backlash" rel="tag">backlash</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Buffy" rel="tag">Buffy</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/X3+Storm" rel="tag">X3 Storm</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Xena" rel="tag">Xena</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/River+Tam" rel="tag">River Tam</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/sports" rel="tag">sports</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Body+Impolitic" rel="tag">Body Impolitic</a><br />

4 Responses to “Women Wrestling with Laws”

  1. Alan Bostick Says:

    I immediately think of Million Dollar Baby as a narrative by men intended to control and contain a relatively realistic kick-ass heroine. “Sure it looks good, girls, but think about what might happen to you…!”

  2. Jewells Says:

    Thank you for posting about my situation.

  3. Laura Quilter Says:

    Actually, when I looked into this on behalf of the ACLU about 4 years ago, many states had even more intrusive & ridiculous tests for women athletes. (More than a dozen; maybe 17 or 18? or more? I can’t get to my old research because my computer is out of commission!) For instance, some states required full-on pelvics for women boxers prior to a match. Other states required periodic exams of breast tissue. The theory, often articulated by male physicians on state boxing boards, is that women have fragile bits. Infuriating!

    The last I heard, some of these guys had gotten such a bill introduced in California; that was a year ago, and I don’t know the status of it.

  4. Bitch | Lab » The 17th Carnival of Feminists Says:

    [...] At Body Impolitic, Laurie and Debbie look at the way women athletes are subjected to pregnancy tests: In Missouri, they’re now requiring a selection of women athletes (pro wrestlers, pro boxers, and martial artists) to take pregnancy tests before any match. Nineteen-year-old wrestler Julie Utley is protesting the regulation on the grounds of expense: she figures that it will cost her an extra $60 for every match she participates in. [...]

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