Anything He Can Do, Can She Do Better?

Chanel Murff

Section 9

Blog #2

For every men’s basketball game, how many women’s basketball games have you been to? If you follow sports, you can came the starting five on our own Michigan boy’s basketball team, but can you name at least one women’s basketball team member? It’s the same sport and America considers basketball to be one of it’s “pastimes” yet, men’s basketball gains much more attention and support than women’s sports in general, specially women’s basketball. How can the competitiveness within the same sport be any different? The argument that “men’s basketball has the NBA” could arise, but there’s also the uncredited WNBA and the opportunity to play overseas; while another argument that “men’s basketball is more interesting with dunks, but women’s basketball displays the same skills”.

She may not be Lebron, but she sure does have hops too!

She may not be Lebron, but she sure does have hops too!

If women and men have the same potential to do the same thing, why aren’t they looked upon as equal? The idea built upon America itself, but has equality really been reached if we can’t even get equal respect between something as simple sport. If we take this year for example, women’s tickets are $40 for the whole season in basketball. Yet that’s the price of ONE student men’s football ticket, if you get lucky! Not only does society create this idea that men’s sports are better and more interesting than women’s sports, but institutions are degrading women and doing the same thing by putting a worth with lesser value to them. Not only do women’s sports lose credit because they’re “not as strong as men” or “they’re too girly”, but society poses this idea women’s sports are a disability sport.

If inferring from the title “Either/Or”, knowing its about women, you could automatically assume it has to do with being either a female or male by gender classification, or being very girly or not girly at all. In the case of Caster Semenya, she didn’t have her own personal choice for classification, yet society classified her without an option. Although her case was a little unusual with her muscular build and the idea that she had an unusual level of testosterone, it has nothing to do with the training she went through the get to her current athletic level. The article refers to Caster as “breathtakingly butch”. “Her torso is like the chest plate on a suit of armor. She has a strong jawline, and a build that slides straight from her ribs to her hips.” However, there are many female athletes with athletic, in shape bodies. Caster being so “fit” also ties in a gender norm that women are to have “shapely” bodies. Since Caster is so “breathtakingly butch”, does this mean that Marion Jones wasn’t fully a female either?

Marion-Jones

Does her muscular figure make her anything more than an athlete? No.

 Is it wrong to classify Caster as anything other than a female? Yes. First off, they had no rights to balance her testosterone level. In a short term idea, it may have allowed other female runners to be equal with her, but it hurt her as her hormone level is changing in her body and despite the unusual testosterone level in her body that made her “faster than others”, she still was training to become an olympic contender. To make things worse, she didn’t win gold in the 2008 Olympics so why was she “equalized” but the other runners were not?

The situation with Caster is not just wrong, but it goes back to gender equality within sports as well. Yao Ming did not have his legs chopped off because he was a foot taller than nearly half of the players, Michael Phelps did not get his bones reconfigured for being double jointed, nor did Usain Bolt receive controversy for being “too fast”. Instead, these ideas fit within different gender norms such as “men are typically taller than women”, “men are usually more fit than women”, and “men are usually faster than women”.

There are so many gender norms that discriminate against women. But if women don’t have the same strength as men, can men not wash dishes as well as women? The cases of Caster and the respect that the Michigan basketball teams receive are just small cases of the inequalities in gender in sports from a real world current view, but the real question is, what will it take for women to gain the respect as men if they are able to do the same things?

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One thought on “Anything He Can Do, Can She Do Better?

  1. I think the argumentation of those who find Caster Semenya’s high testosterone levels will say that her levels were so uniquely ‘male’ that it was unfair. However, I do agree with you in that the idea of Caster being ‘too good’ means she’s cheating/should compete in a male category is demeaning to women. The underlying message is that women can only be good to a certain extent, and when they surpass the predetermined talent level they’re cheating.
    I really liked your comparisons/analogies in this post- with Yao Ming’s legs, Phelps’s limbs, men washing dishes, et cetera. It brings up a side that maybe some wouldn’t think of.

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