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Girl Power: It’s Not Just for Humans Any More

Debbie says:

It’s late, I’m tired, and I was surfing about for something to write about tonight when I found this.

Y’see, Fox News decided to make a list of ten women (females) who can compete with men (males) on male terms in sports. As StuntDouble points out in her blog on the AfterEllen site linked above, this is already an unreasonable idea:

Of course my problem with this list is that [it] exists at all.

When Pat Summitt became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history, the debate rattled on for weeks about whether or not she could truly be considered great if she never coaches men. When Candace Parker dunks, the criticism is that she can only do it in the open court, making her somehow inferior to men who can dunk in traffic. And when Danica Patrick or Michelle Wie place well against men, the argument is even dumber: Well, it’s not like driving a car/swinging a club is actually a sport!

That being said, again as StuntDouble notes, Fox goes out of its way to criticize or undermine the women it selects for the list.

Katie Hnida, first woman to score in a NCAA football game, made an allegation of rape against a teammate but didn’t press charges. (Imagine a male sports hero being criticized for making an allegation of, let’s say, theft, against a teammate, but not pressing charges.)

Among the golfers, Michelle Wie has only “made the cut” in a mixed-gender group once, and Anika Sorenstam missed the cut altogether. Babe Didrikson Zaharias is still the only woman to make the cut in a PGA tour event, but they have to tell us about the ones she missed.

StuntDouble doesn’t go into some of the even subtler put downs. Billie Jean King may have beaten Bobby Riggs, but only after he beat the top-ranked woman player. Hayley Wickenheiser is better known for playing against women than against men. (Now there’s a surprise!) Shirley Muldowney wasn’t first, and her “opening the door” for women is more important than her actual wins.

Only Candace Parker and Danica Patrick seem to have escaped the sportswriter’s scalpel.

But the best of all is the third choice out of the ten: none other than Rachel Alexandra, first filly to win the Preakness since 1924. Yes, really.

Because you know, when push comes to shove, the only thing interesting about being female in a male world is that ability to bear children foals.

They couldn’t have said it more clearly if they tried: “Girl power is more about being female than it is about being human.”

Thanks, Fox. We knew you felt that way all along; it’s kind of comforting to have it right out there where everyone can see it.

One Response to “Girl Power: It’s Not Just for Humans Any More”

  1. Nancy Lebovitz Says:

    The Frailty Myth is really interesting about how the rules for women’s sports are set up to make the sports less challenging so that women’s performances can’t be quite compared to men’s.

    It’s also got a history of the Victorian insistance on making (high status) women delicate, women and exercise and sports, detail about throwing (throwing like a girl is exactly equivalent to throwing like someone who hasn’t learned how to throw well), etc.

    The only thing I don’t like about the book is the assumption that everyone would want to be an athlete if there weren’t social pressure against it.

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