Time To Go Walkies

Women are subjected to some terrible decisions; almost always decisions made by men. Nine times out of ten we, I say we because I am male and have the same flaw, have no idea that we are being sexist morons. Women, who smile and say, “Boys will be boys,” do nothing to stop our bad behaviour. Take for example:

  1. The decision made by Dick Quax to tear into the track career of the South African, Caster Semenya. Quax callously set about trying to end her running life. As a very good runner himself, Quax should have been aware of the pain that would cause. But perhaps he just didn’t care. Semenya had the good fortune to be born a female with an especially high level of natural testosterone. She is a female with a natural advantage. But, oh no, that’s not okay at all for Quax. Like all good sexist bigots he wanted her banned. Competing in international sport meant all women must comply with his kitchen and bedroom stereotype. Sadly, the Tsar of the international track federation, Sebastian Coe, agrees with Quax and is in the process of trying to have Semenya banned from her best events. Quax and Coe; two bigoted old buggers with reactionary opinions quite happy to impose them on half the world’s population.
  2. The decisions made by the Iowa state government to ban abortions for women who are raped or are victims of incest, if the crimes are unreported for 45 and 140 days respectively. Clearly that is a sadly typical American special, made by men with no thought for the horrible difficulty women, who have been raped or are victims of incest, have in reporting the crimes. Operating from a base of male values, they impose callous conditions on the most female of problems. Yet again, bigoted old buggers with reactionary opinions quite happy to impose them on half of Iowa’s population.
  3. The decision made by a Saudi dictator to allow women to drive and attend football matches. This is simple sexism in reverse. Some over paid, self-centred, chauvinist pig called Prince Mohammad bin Salman is prepared to allow women to do something or go somewhere that are basic rights in the rest of the world. The Saudi royal family sells this stuff as a liberal step forward. But doing what should have been done a hundred years ago is not liberal anything, especially when the Saudi female population still cannot open a bank account or swim or compete in the Olympic Games or work in paid employment without the approval of a man. The reason Salman and Trump get on so well is clear. On the subject of women they share a common bond.
  4. The decision of building-site morons and others to throw sexist abuse at female athletes. I’ve coached a number of very good female runners and everyone has a story of running past a building-site or being passed by a truck and having the line, “Hello luv, doing anything tonight?” yelled at them. The same thing happens to good female swimmers who are challenged to a mini-Olympic competition every day by slower males desperate to avoid being passed by a woman. And in the gym, it’s even worse. Men will frequently instruct women to reduce the weight of an exercise, especially when the women’s lift is heavier than theirs. Even senior coaches indulge in this sexist behaviour. I am forever reading sample schedules that set one level of work for men and a lesser amount for women. Of course that is ridiculous when, in my experience, women can often out-train their male team-mates. Without question the road to the top is harder for women than for men.


Even “good” behaviour can be bad. You see it most dramatically in a country like Saudi Arabia. But the Arabs are not alone. Western countries have their share of well-behaved morons. The text books call it “benevolent sexism”. It refers to condescending protective and “gentlemanly” behaviour. Women are objects to be cared for and looked after. This is the Arab justification for insisting women walk around with only their eyes peeking through layers of black material. But the west is not exempt. It has its versions of burqa culture. There is a deep seated belief that women are weaker and need special protection and love because of that weakness. Protection and love among equals is a good thing. Protection and love based on the male gender’s belief in their dominance is far from that.

Those are examples of the behaviour of males to females that have made the life of athletes; I have coached, more difficult. I call it the “pet syndrome”. Women are little more than pet objects owned by men who want to control every feature of their life; when to play, when to sleep, when to exercise and even when to reproduce. There is frequently little difference between a female partner and a pet Labrador. With the exception of reactionary outposts like Saudi Arabia things are improving. We still however have a distance to go.

The Swimming New Zealand Board, for example, has six members, four men and two women. Why are there twice as many men as women? There is no justification for that; especially when more than 50% of the members are women. That is simply not right. Cotterill, Brown, Tongue and Perry cannot fully represent over 50% of the members. McKee and Tootill can, but are in a disenfranchised voting minority. There are issues in swimming that are particular to women, that they are best able to rule on. At the very least one of the current male members of the Swimming New Zealand Board needs to be replaced by an additional female. But the hope that Dick Quax, Mohammad bin Salman, Sebastian Coe, the Iowa congress or Bruce Cotterill will initiate or approve that sort of change is slim to none.



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