Testosterone Disorder

By David

Jane Copland, the editor of Swimwatch, lives in London. She works in the SEO (search engine optimization) industry. There may be a few readers who don’t know about the purpose and function of SEO. Although it is not relevant to this story, Wikipedia will explain. “SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s un-paid search results. In general, the earlier and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.”

And so, that’s what Jane does. There is an interesting discussion going on in her industry. It involves the question of gender equality; not only, are women treated fairly but are they treated with respect and dignity? I have read a number of articles that have debated the position of women in SEO marketing. You may find them interesting. I’ll ask Jane if she can provide you with some links to the SEO discussion.

[Here are a few, including one I wrote]:

http://www.stateofsearch.com/fighting-sexism-a-digital-conferences/

http://janecopland.co.uk/2011/12/women-as-entertainment-in-the-seo-industry/

http://www.stateofsearch.com/female-speakers-in-search/

http://www.aimclearblog.com/2013/01/21/female-online-marketing-speakers-counted-12-evangelists-shred-the-data/

And a two from other areas of in similar tech industries:

http://www.sazzy.co.uk/2013/02/speaking-up/

http://www.standalone-sysadmin.com/blog/2011/09/seriously-stop-with-the-booth-babes/

… and there are more, linked to at the bottom of the second post linked to here, which I wrote]

The type of behaviour women in that industry find annoying is the regular involvement of Playboy strippers at an annual SEO conference in Munich, the expectation that women attending SEO conferences must be available for a night of sex, the feeling that men hold women presenters to a higher standard than their male colleagues and vapid male comments women endure such as, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing at a conference like this?” All of these examples are discussed in the links above.

I agree with the SEO women. It must be impossibly frustrating; maintaining professional standards when male peers can’t get past the fact that women are an inferior species, available to provide for male sexual demands.

In my coaching career I have been fortunate enough to help some outstanding female athletes. So far ten have been national representatives and five won medals in international competition. One of the ten is SEO Consultant, Jane Copland. Because of their gender, I have seen these women subjected to the most outrageous behavoiur: behaviour that few males would ever experience. In my swimming career I never had to put up with the stuff I’ve seen and heard dished out to these women, proving it is not a performance thing. Without exception every woman on my list, was or is a way better athlete than I could ever hope to have been. No, the abuse is only because they are achieving women. For many men, women who excel are an attack, an affront to their maleness. Let me give you some examples.

In the pool, the women on this list are so obviously superior, the majority of men simply move into another lane to avoid the comparison, or to kindly make space for a faster swimmer. Even here however there are males who risk permanent physical injury trying to prove their superiority. Most of these women comfortably swim their warm up at 5.00min, 400 metre pace. That is not fast for them but is well beyond anything your average male recreational swimmer can swim. Undeterred by the impossibility of the mission I’ve watched male swimmers increase their stroke rate, burst into a six beat kick and sprint the length of the pool to stall of the spectre of being passed by a woman. Reaching the far wall they stop and let the woman through; hoping the world believes they could have stayed in front if only there swim hadn’t ended when it did. Their red backs and pounding chests put a lie to the idea their stop was pre-planned. I’m delighted our pool has a pretty sophisticated heart defibrillator to attend to men that risk it all in the name of masculine supremacy.

I’ve coached several good male swimmers as well. Andrew and Skuba were Florida State freestyle champions. Ozzie held two world master’s butterfly records. I have seen the same male recreational swimmers who fought so hard to avoid being passed by Rhi or Missy or Jane happily move over and let Andrew, Skuba and Ozzie swim quietly by. The male ego knows little logic.

But it is in the gym, doing weights, that the male ego knows no limit. This is man’s work. Pumping iron is the measure of a man’s worth. Just look at Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger – three real men, men of “heart, soul, blood, guts, perspiration and plenty of muscle.” They would never be out lifted by a girl.

But – and I love it – it does happen; every day in fact. By any standard these women lift some very heavy weights. Jane did 3×7 sets of elbow raises with 46kgs. Toni did 3×7 dips with 20kgs strapped to her waste, Nichola did 3×7 Lat. Pull Downs with 102kgs and one of my current female sprinters does 3×7 chin ups with 10kgs on her waste. Certainly the gym work of these women is well in excess of the average male gym junkie. So how do the male egos respond?

The answer is – in two ways. One style of male rush over, full of concern. Being a woman, the swimmer won’t realize that the technique she is using is so wrong it will likely cause serious injury. Her health depends on lifting a lighter weight; a weight just a little less than he is lifting. He will show her how it should be done. Of course, he is unaware that the woman has been lifting weights for years without injury. The second type of intervention is more confrontational. One guy, who had been lifting seven plates on the Lat Pull Down machine, simply walked across to my swimmer and shifted the pin from the eleven plates she was lifting and put it back in seven plates. He exclaimed, “That’s all you should be lifting.” Another hero demanded to know why my swimmer was putting her chances of child birth at risk by doing chin ups. They would never say this stuff to a male. But they assume a God given right to order and instruct when a female is doing the lifting.

We’ve come a long way since Emmeline Pankhurst chained herself to fences in support of women’s suffrage. From what I’ve seen of the life of some of the world’s best female athletes and SEO business women, we still have some way to go.

PS – I’ve just heard Swimming New Zealand may have decided to shift Pelorus House north to Auckland. That’s good. When they are all in the same place, with their Millennium mates, it will be easier to hold them to account.

[The most ridiculous thing ever said to me personally was that "I'd end up in a wheelchair by 30" by lifting the sort of weights I lifted as a teenager. To be fair, he might end up being right. I'm still walking, but I've only just turned 29. - Jane]