On Strength

So, on the Diane Rhem show yesterday, two authors spoke about their latest book, Playing with the Boys, in which they argue that sports teams need to be integrated – women with men – because the current ‘separate but equal’ set-up keeps us believing that women are inferior in all realms of life, including business and government.

Supposedly, the physical differences between men and women are to be disregarded – they’re just mental constructs created by our biased culture. We believe women are less strong because we have separate sports teams that imply they are less strong, not because they really are.

Guess what? I think that’s a load of crap.

Interestingly, NPR reported today about how women’s spines are uniquely constructed to handle pregnancy – men’s bodies could not actually carry a pregnancy to term.

Is that just bias? Or is it science?

Look, here’s the problem: Why do we automatically assume that physical strength = human superiority? That’s the underlying error. Just because men have a greater probability to be better pack animals doesn’t mean they’re better people. If you think that, then, you’re as just as dumb as a football player with too many concussions in his head.

Comparing gender difference to racial inequality is dumb, too. Men and women are biologically different. Hey – that’s why we have different names for them! That our society is screwed up in terms of how we view gender and power is VERY true. We DO assume that strength is about physical, brute force. We don’t celebrate female power. We arrange people in hierarchies constantly, instead of exploring and celebrating difference. Absolutely true.

But you know, denying nature just misses the point and makes me mad. I don’t need to see women mixed with men on the football field to enjoy the game or to feel respected by my culture. Football players are like gladiators – I enjoy watching their huge muscular assaults on each other – but I don’t expect my husband to get on the field anymore than I would Hillary Clinton. Not that that wouldn’t be entertaining.

On a related but totally different note: I’m really sad about Marian Jones losing her Olympic Medals. Isn’t that depressing?

 

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