Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Racing to Gender Equality

Today, my rowing coach forwarded my team an interesting email linked to a New York Times article titled "In Rowing, Women Catch Up With the Men". It discusses a change in the future that will bring gender equality to one of the biggest rowing events in London.

Oxford and Cambridge have a strong and well-known rivalry, and every March, boats from the schools come together and race each other. This a hugely popular and historic event; with "live television coverage by the BBC, which first broadcast the race in 1938, it is a national institution, watched by millions on TV and by hundreds of thousands along the towpath". However, "the women have a shorter — and separate — history".

The women have not been allowed to race the same course as the men, instead racing a shorter and easier course. "'Like any tradition...there wasn’t really a rational reason for it.” This proves that gender bias does exist, and is actively effecting women's lives without "rationals reason". Women have been discouraged from the start; at the first women’s race in 1927, “large and hostile crowds gathered on the towpath” to heckle the crews.

Years later, not much had changed. In 1962, the response to female rowers illustrated through the words of "the captain of Selwyn College at Cambridge [who] wrote: 'I personally do not approve of women rowing at all. It is a ghastly sight, an anatomical impossibility (if you are rowing properly, that is) and physiologically dangerous.” He added, “Wouldn’t you rather be playing tennis or something like that?!'"

Since such times of disapproval, this gender issue has improved. In 2015, the women are allowed to race on the mens course, on the same day as the mens race, therefore receiving more attention. Although this change is great, I am concerned that it has taken so long until this situation has been resolved, and I realize that much of the sexism that I thought was in the past still perpetuates to this day.

No comments:

Post a Comment