Did you know that women’s bodies are still incredibly delicate and prone to internal injury if we bounce around too much? Our lady parts aren’t as tough as our counterparts’ external bits. According to those “high up committees” (International Olympic Committee – I’m looking at you), women are still not allowed to participate in competitions because of concerns of how the sport will impact her insides. Ahhh…yes, the wandering womb diagnosis.
But the wandering womb diagnosis was from back in the ancient Greece, with Hipprocates bringing forward that theory, and we’ve come so far in medical science to understand that the women’s body is a kick-ass, incredibly amazing, strong organism. Right? At an IOC Medical & Science Group meeting in April 2011, the issue of the continued exclusion of women from some sports on the grounds of the risk of injury to their reproductive system was raised and discussed. 2011? Are you freaking kidding me?! At least they pulled their heads out of their assess and made and adopted the following statement:
“No female athlete should be denied the opportunity to participate in any Olympic sport on the basis that she might sustain an injury to her reproductive organs. A survey of injury data has failed to find any evidence of an increased risk of acute or chronic damage to the female reproductive organs occurring as a direct result of participation in sport.”
I came across this CBC article about Laurence Vincent-Lapointe expressing her gratitude and relief for the fact that women’s canoeing will be allowed in the Olympics in 2020. Canoeing. What the..? How? I don’t even…She explains some of the barriers she’s experienced and how she’s been fighting against the belief that canoeing will cause infertility. What the..? How? I’m just so confused! (Here are some more myths and facts at the WomenCanInternational’s site about women in canoeing.)
It took nearly 100 years for women’s ski jumping to be allowed in the Olympics and, even then, we only received one event (compared to the men’s three). And the kicker behind this one? Just prior to the 2010 Olympics, American Lindsey Van set the world record for the longest jump (105.5 metres) on the normal hill – of any athlete, regardless of gender. Yup – turns out girls can jump and *bonus* their uteruses stay intact and inside.
And apparently surfing has it’s issues, too: there are no women’s competition for big-wave surfing. Not knowing the surf world (I’d welcome your insights if you are familiar with it!), this Outdoor Magazine article primarily references numbers as a reason for women not having a competition. However, I have a funny feeling that a larger reason is the belief that women can’t handle the big surf; a belief I’m sure we all know is totally bogus. As in every other sport, there are women surfers who can repeatedly keep up with and throw down in big surf alongside their male colleagues.
So what if it really is about the money and the numbers or levels of competition? Is it a purely business reason for not allowing particular events to have the women’s equivalent? The IOC does have certain regulations for including a sport; such as a sport having two world championship competitions (although exemptions have been made for other events, such as women’s marathon). The biggest failure of this type of thinking (that the level of completion isn’t high enough or there aren’t enough women) is that it becomes it’s own self-fulfilling prophecy. As a lawyer involved in the women’s ski jumping suit Ross Clark informed this article that “Once a sport becomes an ‘Olympic Sport,’ it has been repeatedly demonstrated that it will attract the money required to raise the overall standards and competitiveness. There is a history of this.”
We need to be showing our girls that they can be elite athletes by allowing them to see women in competition, doing what they do, right beside the men. And for equal pay (OK, OK – I won’t get started on the inequality of competition pay!).
Let’s say THANK YOU to the women who continue to fight these ridiculous standards and injustices: who show us that not only is it possible for women to paddle a canoe but that our lady parts will hold up just fine, thank you very much.
Seriously, why am I even having to write this?