Friday, July 26, 2013

Female sport as parasite

The call for a women's Tour de France is one demonstration of how women in general tend to be parasitical with regards to male creativity:
 'What came first, the chicken or the egg?' Bear with me, for it seems this well-trodden phrase can apply to women's cycling too. For years critics have argued that a female Tour de France would have no audience and no sponsorship. Without one (the chicken), you certainly won't get the other (the egg). And vice versa.

But just look at what's happened in the last few weeks, and the first 'reason' critics give for not staging a women's race – a supposed lack of audience – is almost certainly not true.

A petition calling for a women's Tour de France launched earlier this month, now has 70,000 signatures and counting. Surely, if campaigners can prove there is an audience, the egg – sponsorship – will inevitably follow?

That's enough chicken and egg comparisons for now. My point is simple. The petition in question was launched by several key women in cycling – including Britain's former world champion and 2008 Olympic time trial silver medallist Emma Pooley and Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos – and has gained huge momentum in a short space of time.

With Chris Froome in the news for pedalling his way to glory in the Tour de France over the past few weeks, now seems the time to act for a women's race. 
Now, what is there stopping any of these 70,000 petitioners from holding a women's Tour de France at any time they like?  They can do exactly what Henri Desgrange did in 1903, obtain a newspaper sponsorship, attract 60 entrants, and hold a race.  There is absolutely nothing preventing anyone from doing that.

In fact, there are already many women's races which have more entrants than the original Tour de France did.  They tend to be shorter, but then, any of those race directors can simply extend the race if they want.

Instead, what the women want to do is force the Tour de France to hold a women's race, pay it equal prize money to the men, and pretend that it is of the same interest to bicycling enthusiasts and worthy of the same respect.  The Tour is doing the right thing by simply ignoring the parasites, but an even more effective response would be to call their bluff and announce that the Tour de France is neither a men's event nor a women's event, but a race that is equally open to all men and women who qualify.

If they want to be particularly cruel, they can allow one token women's team and demonstrate just how far from equal they are.  The NBA could have saved a lot of money if, instead wasting millions on the WNBA, they turned one franchise into an all-star all-women's team to serve as the Washington Generals of the league.  That would have been hilarious and probably sold more tickets in a season than the entire WNBA ever did. 

The most defensible way to deal with equalitarians is to force them to deal with true equality, thereby rubbing the fact of nature's inequality in their faces.  This won't stop them from babbling about disparate impact, nonexistent privilege and the esoteric fairy tales concocted in women's studies programs, but that's just a fighting withdrawal.  The best way, of course, is to simply tell the parasites to go to Hell and start their own organization.

The fact is that there was a female Tour de France from 1984 to 2009.  And it failed, like most leagues that involve women playing men's sports do.

34 comments:

meerkat said...

woman's tennis is the biggest winner of this principle. as a woman, i would rather watch men's tennis when talking about equivalent matches. if i could get tickets to both, I would choose to watch wimbledon men's tennis final over the women's. of course there are cycles and sometimes the quality of women's tennis is more interesting than it is now. but even so, they get huge prize money and coverage for essentially a inferior product and for much less effort.

recently heard billie jean king on radio and talking proudly about how they managed to align men and women's tennis together and how she is all about equality, except it is not really equal. I think this has caused the women's sport to deteriorate as the players of this era (with the exception of williams sisters) are pretty much anonymous and not particularly good.

WendyRaf said...

For a while, women's tennis was more entertaining to watch because an awful lot of men just served and volleyed (thank goodness there was Agassi). Now, the men's game is better to watch again, and of course, who would choose a best of three set ticket over a best of five ticket?

Tennis is the most tolerable, but with any other sport, it's hard to watch because the physical inferiority is so terribly apparent. Hockey, especially. I play(ed) it, but hate watching women's games.

Yeah, if 70,000 (which really isn't a big number) want a women's Tour de France, start their own race. I'm guessing they know it was already done, but failed and don't want to shoulder any risk.

Conscientia Republicae said...

If I am going to watch women's tennis/swimming/beach volleyball/figure skating it ain't to see athletic performance.

Hint: lingerie football league.

Booch Paradise said...

You wouldn't even need the WNBA to play against an NBA team to make the point. Any boys state champion high school team would do.

Amy said...

Just what I want to see more of: Bitchy Aggressive Face on loads of women who attack and attack and attack only to be forced to the back of the peloton over and over again.

If they want to be particularly cruel, they can allow one token women's team and demonstrate just how far from equal they are.

I would love to see this in next year's Tour, or in any European Classic. It's got very high entertainment value. Where's the popcorn?

Doom said...

I was just thinking about the misnomer of putting the words women and sports together earlier yesterday. You must have been reading my mind. Oh, there is gymnastics, but more for the art of the female body than the physical aspect of the sport. The rest of women's sports can be summed up as funny creatures trying to be men and failing grandly. It isn't even cute to watch. Pole dancing, okay, so there are two women's sports that are worth watching... if the participants are worth watching. You can keep ballet. That's silly. Can't do ballet without men and all the men are queer, not worth watching.

Amy said...

If sport is undertaken for the sake of its physical and psychological benefits, and for the social aspects, most women do fine. I used to race my mountain bike in a local friendly competition. Men and women were divided into age groups and we'd ride the course.

For me and my husband, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning with friends and work off enough calories to eat barbecue later in the day. But as the events grew and it became more formal, the categories were more formally defined and the Heavy Hitters began to show up. Fine, I could still ride or support my husband's efforts. The female riders of all ages were the most difficult to deal with, either on the trail or before/after the events.

Everything about the female athlete is loud and aggressive. They shout out commands for tools, use brash innuendo when walking around the race site, emphasize how "in" they are with the techs and organizers, trying to telegraph their advantage due not to physical prowess but social clout.

One female racer talked about how she likes to "race like a man" and told my husband the Wilderness 101 is a "wimpy" course that isn't worth her time. The W101 is a 101 mile ride through the Shenandoah Mountains. My husband finished it in less that 10 hours. Wimpy, sure.

I stopped racing long before kids because of this nonsense. Women acting like men, in any situation or for any reason, is a huge turn-off.

bearspaw said...

I have been watching the Women's Euros from Sweden (couldn't sleep). They are capable of stringing together some passes, a tackle here and there from the, ahem, less feminine players, but over all a slow motion bore.

WendyRaf said...

I stopped racing long before kids because of this nonsense. Women acting like men, in any situation or for any reason, is a huge turn-off.

Yeah, especially when said women are overly emotional, hold grudges far too easily, and have blades on their feet and sticks in their hands. I'd rather play with guys anytime. The only worse group to play with are high school boys, and only because they are reckless and generally not able to transition between checking and non-checking well.

To answer the women sports = haha comments. Women playing sports is fine. It's for fun. It's to stay active. It's better than getting fat. It's the equality pushers who are a problem and idea of professional women athletes being equal to men in ability in their respective sports that's laughable. "Pretty good for a girl" is no insult.

Vox said...

I actually like watching women's soccer. The men's game has gotten too fast for the field, much like basketball. And virtually no one can beat a defender one-on-one anymore.

Stickwick Stapers said...

To answer the women sports = haha comments. Women playing sports is fine. It's for fun. It's to stay active. It's better than getting fat. It's the equality pushers who are a problem and idea of professional women athletes being equal to men in ability in their respective sports that's laughable. "Pretty good for a girl" is no insult.

Well said.

I was a competitive athlete in the least "artful" sport there is -- powerlifting -- and didn't do it to feel macho or to try to be a man. I did it because it was the best way to push my physical and mental limits, and for the sheer exhilaration of competition. I liked to train with men, but I had ZERO illusions about competing with them. There's nothing like raw numbers to convince a woman that it ain't never gonna happen: my coach could bench three times my best competition bench for reps. (I was invited to join a team of male powerlifters at the serious gym where I worked out, and they were happy to include me, because I was sweet and demure and followed their rules and instruction without any complaints.)

As for watchability, there were men at the gym who liked to watch what I was doing -- I had one describe my squat as being as graceful as a plié, only with six 45-lb plates on a bar across my back -- but that may also have had to do with the fact that I had long blonde hair, was in superb shape, and had a sense of fun about it all. There's a novelty factor with women in sports that can be appealing to men when a female athlete retains her femininity and a sense of playfulness. It's the hard-charging, wanna-be-men types who ruin it for everyone.

Eric Wilson said...

I actually like watching women's soccer.

I'm kind of this way with golf. The men are amazing and hit unbelivably good shots, but they are just shots that I (a formerly scratch golfer) couldn't have dreamed of hitting at my prime. The women's game just has shots thatare more relatable. The problem is, Koreans have infiltrated the LPGA.

River Cocytus said...

Baseball.

Conscientia Republicae said...

The Telegraph commenters are not giving the author much sympathy.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

Amazon: "Here's where we play basketball. We can't dunk but we have good fundamentals."
Bender: "Translation: Boring."
Bender gets kicked in the head

mina smith said...

Equestrian sports welcome both women and men competitors and they are expected to compete against each other.

Back in the day, they used to make women carry additional lead in their saddle bags to make their weight more equivalent to men (3 day eventing) but they don't do that any more as it turns out the weight of the rider isn't much of a factor in who wins.

Women and men are pretty even, competitively, in most horse sports. Except probably Polo which is more a man's sport and the women don't really try to insert themselves.

The last ten 4-star horse trials I have been to (The 3 Day Event sponsored by Rolex in Lexington KY) has had a pretty even number of women and men winners and top 20 placings (10 year period.)

I am sure the major part the horse plays in the sport is probably most of the reason for the level playing field.

I have no idea how the Western riding things work, probably pretty much the same I'd guess.

Conscientia Republicae said...

Mina,

You could say the same about car racing, but women still aren't doing too well there.

mina smith said...

Pippa Funnell is a young woman who won the "grand slam" of eventing in 2003 - the only person in the world to ever do so.

One has to win the three 4-star events over a period of one year (and on the same horse) to win the Grand Slam - Burghley, Badminton and Rolex. They are about 2 months apart one is in the US and the other two are in England. They draw competitors from all over the world and are the only 4star competitions.

here is Pippa riding cross country at one of the 4 star events: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToII1h9Etsc

(the course is probably about 4.5 miles long with 30+ jumping obstacles; eventing also includes a dressage phase and a stadium jumping phase - all three phases are completed over 3 days)

mina smith said...

I don't care about car racing. :-)

I do care about eventing and in eventing women and men compete on a completely level playing field.

You all wanted examples. This is one.

JCclimber said...

There is only two things about this which would make it worthwhile.
1) more women training in, and racing in lycra tights. Who aren't obese. And are likely young.
2) More women getting off their fat behinds to ride and train, means less ugly fat to disgust my eyes and less strain on my wallet in paying for their fatty medical fees.

Oh, and it's for the children too. Somehow.

mina smith said...

Riding garb, just for reference: http://www.ridingright.com/mm5/graphics/00000001/arctics_lg.jpg

WendyRaf said...

You could say the same about car racing, but women still aren't doing too well there.

A well trained horse is very different from a car.

WendyRaf said...

Oh, and it's for the children too. Somehow.

Of course it is. It's better to be in decent shape for pregnancy and birthing.

Conscientia Republicae said...

Wendy,

You are right. It is much harder to put ads on the side of a horse.

mina smith said...

"You could say the same about car racing, but women still aren't doing too well there."

You pretty much skipped the part where I stated that men and women compete equally in eventing - their top placings and winnings are distributed pretty evenly as well as their being a fairly equal overall distribution in the sex of the participants.

Meanwhile the sport was not dumbed down to accommodate women. Men and women have always competed head to head in the sport since the early 1940s (when it became available to the public.)

So your entire point in trying to compare eventing to car racing is inapplicable. There is no comparison.

mina smith said...

"It is much harder to put ads on the side of a horse."

Not really. The saddle pads, the coolers, the blankets, the rider's top, helmet are all for sale for sponsorship.

There is very big money in eventing. Since the Royals still participate at some level, we get the Queen and Prince Phillip in attendance once in a while and Zara Phillips is a top placing rider. She won a medal in the last Olympics. Her mother, Princess Anne, was a mean competitor back in the day as well.

Having said all of that, I think I can sum it up as: people who are into horses are simply different and better than the rest of the population. Whether they be men or women :-) and I think I'll just leave that right there.

JCclimber said...

One of my female roommates in college (blonde, in good shape) had several run ins with the local boys in blue while driving home from riding her horse.

They would keep her at the side of the road for 30-60 minutes each time, even having others pull up for "backup", because she was wearing her riding tights. She was really steaming mad one time especially, because they made her miss an important lecture.

mina smith said...

tights. tights?

riding breeches.

thankyouverymuch.

River Cocytus said...

@mina

Horse riding is something our family traditionally was involved in (I was trained to ride myself, and my mother did some jumping competitions) and I can say it's totally cultural. Horse maintenance and raising is expensive these days, while every joe schmoe has driven a car. Back before cars' ascendency everyone had a better reference for horse riding. Now? It has the aura of stuffiness to it.

The solution I think would be to someone finagle equestrian clubs into all of the high schools... the groundswell of support for football and baseball doesn't come from everyone and their brother playing it all the time, but from the local clubs. Given that the schools have their own 'clubs' (JV, Varsity) everyone has a point of reference for baseball and football (and basketball) even if they consider those sports lumpen.

Jeremy said...

Why have a female tour? Why not just let the women ride in the tour?

Before you point out that they can't keep up...that is actually my point.

See, the point of the race is to find out who's the fastest. The point of a beauty contest is to find out who is the prettiest. I would never sign up for a beauty contest, because the only thing beautiful about me is probably my... well probably nothing at all. I am, quite understandably, fine with this fact. Why can't women be fine with the fact that endurance races are the domain of men because of biology?

Oh wait, you say they were told as children that they can do anything? Well who told them that ridiculous lie?

cailcorishev said...

I'm kind of this way with golf. The men are amazing and hit unbelievably good shots, but they are just shots that I (a formerly scratch golfer) couldn't have dreamed of hitting at my prime. The women's game just has shots that are more relatable.

I'm the same way with billiards. (I consider it a game, not a sport, but the parallel fits here.) The men almost never miss and the ball always ends up where they intended, so it barely seems like the same game I play. The women are certainly better than me, but they're fallible enough that I can relate to their play and occasionally feel like I might have made a shot they missed or made a better shot choice.

Tommy Hass said...

"For a while, women's tennis was more entertaining to watch because an awful lot of men just served and volleyed (thank goodness there was Agassi)."

You are a fool.

Serve and volley was what made tennis interesting (and btw it pretty much never dominated the sport. there have always been baseliners.)

Men's tennis was more boring than women's tennis AFTER serve and volley died

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