You Hit Like A Girl…In A Miniskirt?

November 4, 2011

Political Theory

In the midst of next summer, a time I assume we are all desperately awaiting, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games will be held in London, England.  The Olympic Games provide a time for storied athletes from over 200 of the world’s nations to come together and compete for the highest athletic honor – Olympic Gold.  The games are intended to be, though not always so, a time where nation’s set aside their differences and disputes, and join together so that we may experience a time of peace and friendly competition, even if only a false sense of it.

2012 London Olympic Logo

Through another one of my classes, I recently learned that there is no such principle as, “Once an Olympic sport, always an Olympic sport.”  In fact, only two days after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), voted to remove baseball and softball from the summer games and to institute women’s boxing.  Admittedly, I do not consider myself a fan of baseball or of women’s boxing so I was not to concerned about the move.  However, I was intrigued about the process of adding/removing sports from the Olympics, and I decided to look into the matter.  While doing so, I ran across an article that opened with the following line, “Boxing gloves, check. Headguard, check. Mouthgard, check. Miniskirt?”  There have been rumors swirling that the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) is going to mandate that athletes competing in Women’s Boxing must wear “miniskirts” as opposed to the traditional boxing shorts worn by the male competitors.  What process could the AIBA have gone through that made miniskirts sound like a logical alternative to shorts.  Their argument is comical at best as they claim, “We wanted the Olympic fans to know they were watching women boxing versus men.”  Apparently the average human is not bright enough to determine one’s gender after watching fighter introductions and listening to announcer’s review stats. Oh yeah, let’s also not forget the fact that the viewer’s ticket or television screen has the glaring title of Women’s Olympic Boxing on it.  While the governing body of the AIBA insists that there have been no final decisions made regarding boxers’ uniform for women, many fighters and fans have publicly expressed their grievances.

World Boxing Champion Katie Taylor

The most prominent voice that has spoken out against the alleged uniform mandate is the Women’s World Boxing Champion.  Ireland’s very own Katie Taylor wanted her voice to be heard and left this comment for the AIBA:

“I won’t be wearing a miniskirt. I don’t even wear miniskirts on a night out, so I definitely won’t be wearing miniskirts in the ring.”

Short, to the point, and incredibly honest.  Although we have moved on from it in class, Katie’s quote brought me back to the issue and gender and identity.  I can’t speak on anyone else’s behalf, but it took me all but two seconds to identify Ms. Taylor as a female.  Personally, I believe the AIBA wants to appeal to the male audience and believes that by making the fighter’s wear miniskirts, more men will want to watch the event.  As has often been the case in female sports, specifically tennis, sex seems to be the main selling point of women’s sport.  So I ask you, what is at risk for female athletes if sports are being “feminized” at even the Olympic level?  Who is at fault for the sustainment of selling sex in sport?  Male spectators or the female athletes who just quietly oblige?  What would Anthony Appiah, the author of the assigned reading on gender identity, have to say regarding Katie Taylor’s stance? Perhaps most importantly, how will the experience of watching women in miniskirts fight each other affect our youth’s perception of gender roles and identity?



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