Gender segregation, and the Wimbledon title


Last Sunday the UK celebrated the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years.

Except it wasn’t. It was 77 years since Fred Perry won the men’s singles title, but the last winner of a women’s singles title was Virginia Wade, a mere 36 years ago in 1977. The Guardian sums up the newspaper headlines:

Times: “Murray ends 77-year wait for British win.”
Telegraph: “After 77 years, the wait is over.”
Daily Mail: “Andy Murray ends 77 years of waiting for a British champion.”

You can argue that it was implied that they were taling about the men’s singles title, but that is as much the point – we forget about our female players because the men’s game is considered more important than the female one.

Many people have taken this is a commentary on how we should reflect on our attitudes about women and care more about the women’s game. But this is a universal problem – nobody cares about women’s football. Or women’s golf. Or women’s rugby. Or indeed almost any sport! The men’s game is almost always considered more important.

The simple solution, therefore, is to stop segregating sportspeople by gender.

Do away with men’s and women’s tennis, and just have tennis, where everyone is allowed to complete on the same terms. No more would a female winner of Wimbledon be related to merely being the “women’s title winner”; she would be crowned the greatest tennis player of them all!

I first wrote about this in 2011 while nobody was watching the women’s world cup final that was being shown on BBC3, instead of BBC and ITV simultaneously as the men’s game is. Japan won, by the way.

Combining the competitions into one would stop the second class treatment of women’s sports and allow them to achieve to the highest heights, rather than being restricted by a very opaque non-metaphorical ceiling.

You can argue that women would not be able to compete with men at the same level, but this is, I’m sorry to say, the very definition of prejudice. You have to treat people as individuals and give them the same opportunities are everyone else. Saying “women are often weaker than men, so we’re going to prevent all women from competing” makes no sense in civilised society. Try telling Venus Williams she is too week and feeble to play against you – she’s 70mm taller than I am!

If you should still insist that it would be unfair on women who never get a chance to win, consider that most people don’t. I’m never going to win a Wimbledon tennis title; I an entitled to special circumstances that allow me to win despite not being the best also?

Switching to a characteristic other than gender quickly makes you realise how silly the split gender argument is. Imagine if we decided to split long distance runners based on their skin colour. Have a black marathon and a white marathon. How ridiculous! But when it comes to gender, we find it perfectly acceptable, almost certainly because that is what we have grown up with.

In the modern day, as we strive towards an equal, fair and just meritocracy, everyone should be allowed to compete in the same competition – regardless of skin colour, sexual orientation, or gender.



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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 at 1:05 pm and is filed under Religion & Politics, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.