Foul Play: The Colonization of Women’s Sports

By Danielle Whitaker


Apparently, archeology is “TERF” science.

In this extremely bigoted video, Dr. Mary Lewis from the University of Reading illustrates how to examine the bones and teeth of a skeleton to determine its—and I quote—”biological sex.”

All sarcasm aside, you and I and every other sane person alive know that male and female bodies differ in a number of ways. There are hormone levels, of course, which can vary naturally; muscle mass and composition; fat content and distribution; bone structure, density, and size; center of gravity, pelvic shape; skull size; limb length… and so on, and so on.

No worries, though: regardless of sex, both sexes’ brains are gray, not glittery pink or manly blue.

When we discuss the issue of trans-identified males competing in women’s sports, perhaps the first question we should ask is, why do women’s sports exist? Why should they—aside from the obvious benefits of female bonding and the right to establish our own spaces in a world that has branded us the secondary sex?

Despite all that talk of keeping your head in the game, sports rely first and foremost on our bodies. Most institutions do not—education, for instance, has no need for sex separation because men and women’s minds are equally matched.

Sports, if you’ll forgive the pun, are a whole other ballgame.

When I speak of “sports,” I want to be clear I am talking about the physical sports that make up the bulk of competitive and professional athletics: track, soccer, cycling, wrestling, tennis, basketball, and so on. Like most everything else in the world, today’s sports were largely created by men, for men—with no original intention of accommodating women. Women, however, have proved they are more than capable of stepping up to the plate, making tremendous achievements in athletics across the world. That doesn’t, however, erase the reality that men and women’s bodies and abilities are different—neither objectively better nor worse, only different.

Because, like all mammals, male and female bodies are physically different and sport is a physical activity, it is only rational that the majority of sport is separated by sex. Do there exist tall, muscular women who rival the physical prowess of the average man? Sure. But they’re the exception, not the norm—and again, we’re talking about averages. We separate (most) sports by sex because the average differences in the average male and female bodies are specific and measurable enough to make sex separation the simplest way to ensure fair competition. Even regardless of our different abilities, women are a distinct biological class deserving of their own spaces, sports included—free from members of their oppressor class.

What’s interesting is that we already have plenty of other segregation in sports with which no one seems to be concerned, such as weight classes for wrestling. Someone in a higher weight class would never be permitted to “identify” as a smaller person in order to win titles at that level. It does not require advanced critical analysis to recognize that these regulations are intended to minimize unfair competitive advantage. The most talented 10-year-old quarterback in the world would be crushed within minutes at the Superbowl; in contrast, an MLB pitcher would never be allowed to jump into a Little League game to help his kid’s team win. None of us question why, because we know: it just wouldn’t be fair—nor is it fair for females to compete against males.

Why not? Well, as one physicist reminds us, on average, women have about two thirds the lower body strength of men, and only half their upper body strength.

Not five percent less. Not ten percent. Half.

But we didn’t need anyone to tell us that, did we? We didn’t need scientific research to confirm it. We already knew it. We’ve known it our whole lives. We’ve seen it everywhere we look. We’ve felt it in the physical interactions we’ve had with the opposite sex. No matter how much easier it is to ignore it, we know that these glaringly obvious physical differences between the sexes are the very foundation upon which women have been oppressed for millennia: men won because they are stronger. Men have made the rules, controlled the narrative, and oppressed the female class, solely because certain physical advantages have allowed them to do so—and they’re still doing it. While female bodies possess a number of superior strengths in other areas, such as the incredible process of labor and childbirth, men’s higher level of overall strength has enabled them to maintain their dominant role.

We know damn well that women never would’ve stood for any crap if we’d had the means to fight back.

Of course, in order to accept this, we must accept the fact that the female class of humans has been historically, institutionally oppressed by the male class to varying degrees across the globe throughout recorded history—consistently and without cessation. Those who deny this are actively attempting to erase material reality at Orwellian levels. In the name of “equality,” a new ideology is being forced on society that requires us to pretend our sexed bodies have no material significance—that the differences are either unimportant or, even more disturbingly, nonexistent.

Sex separatism as it exists today—in terms of public facilities like restrooms and locker rooms; sports; safe spaces and shelters; eligibility for scholarships; and so on—exists because women, the oppressed class, fought for them to exist, and continue to need and want them. Considering 97% of sexual assault is committed by males, it is only rational that females deserve certain male-free spaces for their own safety and well-being. Because until very recently, women have been historically excluded from participating in politics, pursuing education, and playing sports, it is only rational that legislation should now exist dedicated specifically to counteracting this oppression by ensuring that women have access to dedicated resources within these institutions: female-only political seats (as in the British Labour Party, wherein Liam “Lily” Madigan recently became the first male Women’s Officer), female-only scholarships, and of course, female-only sports. These female-exclusive entities exist as the first step to leveling the playing field, creating parity, and destroying the inequality that women have faced for so long.

Obviously, not all spaces should be sex-separated; in fact, most shouldn’t, and aren’t. And considering males have always been touted as the default human class, there are very, very few spaces in the world from which members of the male class are or have ever been excluded.

When trans activists shamelessly compare sex separatism to racial segregation, they are ignoring one fundamental distinction: racial segregation was not something that protected people of color; it was something that oppressed them. It did not enhance their opportunities; it stifled them. And, most significantly, there are no relevant physical differences between the races that justified this segregation.

There is good separation and bad; there is true equality and something called “equality” that really isn’t equal at all. Realizing which is which requires critical thought—not exactly a hallmark of trans ideology.

Take the image below.

Would we accuse the smallest child of unfair privilege because he has two boxes while the others only have one? Of course not. His two boxes do not disadvantage the others nor give him an advantage over them; rather, it removes the disadvantage he had previously faced, due to his less privileged position of being shorter than the others. That is precisely what women’s sports—and all female-exclusive institutions—have done for women. Men dominated sports for millennia, until women fought long and hard enough to gain teams of their own. This did not disadvantage male athletes nor give women advantage over male athletes; it merely removed the disadvantage women had previously faced. When we allow males to compete in previously female-exclusive sports, that disadvantage returns.

But all of this means nothing without a basic understanding of what our physical differences really are. It seems many are under the impression that hormone levels are the only real determinants of sex. Lower your testosterone levels and poof, you now belong on a women’s track team!

Sorry, not quite.

As mentioned above, secondary sex characteristics exist. They exist, and they matter. Fair Play for Women provides a simple source of reference for these differences that reach far beyond hormones. Not only is there significant difference in average muscle mass, for instance, but male and female muscle fibers are literally structured differently. Men also have about 50% more bone mass, which deteriorates at a slower rate than women’s over the years. The structure of women’s thigh bones puts additional pressure on our knees, and the weight of our breasts makes us more prone to lower back problems—just to name a few.

To put it bluntly, nature doesn’t give a shit how you identify or what pronouns you put in your bio.

Recently, Meghan Murphy also delved beyond the hormone discussion in a conversation with Linda Blade, president of Athletics Alberta. Blade holds a PhD in kinesiology and describes sexual dimorphism as “absolutely distinct,” reminding us that sex distinctions develop far earlier than birth: around the third month of gestation, in fact—debunking the nonsensical notion that sex is “assigned” at birth rather than observed.

“It’s not like it’s up to one hormone to flip a switch,” Blade said in the interview. “It just doesn’t work like that.”

Doesn’t matter, according to the Big Brother of political correctness. The International Olympic Committee, along with many other organizations even down to the high school level, has recently decided any man with the “right” hormone levels can compete against women on the sole basis of womanly genderfeels. Even before this change, trans-identified males had already begun their invasion and, to no one’s surprise, quite successfully—winning a number of titles previously reserved for females, the titles that once sent a message to women the world over: This belongs to us. This was one thing that men couldn’t touch, couldn’t taint, couldn’t have. This success was women’s alone—a ray of sun piercing through the unceasing storm of patriarchy.

But what about trans-identified females competing in men’s sports? Well, unsurprisingly, it’s not quite as popular a choice. With a handful of exceptions such as triathlete Chris Mosier, females aren’t exactly scrambling in droves to compete against males. While even in these cases, I still believe sex should remain the primary basis upon which sports are separated, it would not be fair to argue that females in men’s sports are a threat to male athletes. On the whole, they simply do not present an unfair competitive advantage.

Fair or not, if it doesn’t fit the trans narrative, it must be silenced. “We just want to pee” became a mantra for the bathroom debate, despite the fact that no one was stopping them from doing so. Similarly, claims of “we just want to compete” or “we just want to play” have become the new lie. Again, no one’s stopping them. They are fully entitled to compete on the teams designated for their sex—which most of them did before declaring themselves women.

What they really mean is, “We just want to play where we decide we belong, regardless of how it affects the members of the group we’re invading.”

Men’s womanhood will always take precedence over women’s, it seems.

But hey…

This is progress.

It’s fine.

It’s fair.

It’s equal.

(According to the men who want in.)

So when male cyclist Rachel McKinnon wins a women’s world championship, when male weightlifter Laurel Hubbard sets a new record in women’s powerlifting, when male MMA fighter Fallon Fox breaks the skull of his female opponent, who claims she’d “never felt so overpowered,” we mustn’t name violence against women. We mustn’t name male entitlement. We mustn’t name misogyny. We mustn’t name female erasure. We mustn’t say the emperor has no clothes. We must say yes—yes to men, yes to men’s demands, yes to men’s feelings at any cost. We must celebrate the Orwellian “equality” of 2019.

Keep your head in the game, ladies, because apparently, bodies don’t matter.

But this isn’t new. Men have always tried to invade, belittle, hinder, or otherwise prevent women from organizing, bonding, sharing our strengths and celebrating our accomplishments, individually and collectively. Nonetheless, we will persist. We will continue to create spaces, organizations, teams, events, gatherings, and connections—because when women team up, we are unstoppable.

Don’t miss WLRN’s monthly broadcast the first Thursday of every month! Tune in next week on May 2, when we will be speaking with Linda Blade of Athletics Alberta and Beth Stelzer of Save Women’s Sports, a new organization dedicated to preserving biology-based eligibility for female sports. Thanks for reading, listening, and sharing—your support keeps us going.

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