In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Even Serena Williams

It’s not just the grass courts and the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon that are throwbacks to the past. It’s the payscale, too.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Wimbledon remains the only Grand Slam tournament that pays the men’s champion more than the women’s winner.

The All England Club announced Tuesday that the men’s winner this year will receive $1.170 million and the women’s champion $1.117 million, a difference of $53,000. It’s a four percent increase in British currency.

The French Open announced earlier this month that it would pay the men’s and women’s champions the same amount for the first time, although the overall prize fund is bigger for the men. The two other Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian and U.S. Opens — have paid equal prize money for years.

Okay, so 96% is better than 70%, and it’s a bit hard to cry for millionaires whose shortfall for one tournament is way more than most people make in a year, but there’s still a disparity. Let’s see how the Wimbledon folks justify this.

”This issue is one of a judgment on fairness,” All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said. ”We believe that what we do at the moment is actually fair to the men as well as to the women.

”There is a lot of data around and in the end, you have to make a judgment and our judgment is made on the marketplace and it’s based on what we believe to be fair.”

How so, Tim?

Phillips said because top men rarely play in Grand Slam doubles events, they earn less overall than women. In addition, the men play best-of-five set matches, while the women play best-of-three.

”It just doesn’t seem right to us that the lady players could play in three events and could take away significantly more than the men’s champion who battles away through these best-of-five matches,” Phillips said. ”We don’t see it as an equal rights issue.”

Hm. Well, who sets the rules on how many sets in a match?

Oh. That would be you, Tim. So, Tim, why aren’t the “lady players” playing five sets, like the men?

Phillips said he didn’t think it would be beneficial for women to play best-of-five sets.

”Physically they could, yes,” he said. ”Our argument does go wider. One of the difficulties we have in defending our position is that we are talking effectively to the top women players.”

Well, Tim, if you’re having that much trouble defending your position, why continue to hold it? You’re not concerned that their lady parts might be affected by playing five sets, are you?

Phillips said the WTA Tour paid 63 percent less to players in an average week than the ATP Masters Series did.

”Whereas we’re 87 percent,” Phillips said. ”So it seems to me we are much closer to equal prize money than they are on the rest of the tour.”

You’ve lost me there, Tim. Unless you’re trying to say that overall, what with the extra money women make from playing in doubles matches, it works out in the end, even though the justification for paying the men more is that they play more sets.

You’re making my head hurt, Tim. I think I’m going to have to agree with the person who said this.

”In the 21st century, it is morally indefensible that women competitors in a Grand Slam tournament should be receiving considerably less prize money than their male counterparts,” WTA Tour chief executive Larry Scott said in a statement.

He accused Wimbledon of taking a ”Victorian-era view” on pay.

And let’s talk for a minute about stars, Tim. Tennis is one of those rare sports where the women are more widely known and widely watched than the men. Especially in the past several years, when the Williams sisters were on the rise and the biggest draw on the men’s side was Pete Sampras who, while a terrific player, was less than scintillating. Box-office draw is one of the reasons Hollywood always gives for paying women less than men, but it looks to me like you’ve got the opposite problem here. You’re trying to justify higher pay for men even though they aren’t as big a draw as the women by pointing at the number of sets they play in a match and refusing to acknowledge that you’re the one keeping it that way.

Don’t you think you’d increase drama and draw more TV revenue if you had the top women players playing five sets?

Oh, I see. You might have to pay them more than the men, then. And that just won’t do.

Interesting Idea

From an article in the New York Times yesterday, a creative solution to a problem: how to provide clothing for Somali Muslim girls in a refugee camp in Kenya so that they have freedom of movement while playing volleyball but don’t violate religious norms?

Read More…Read More…

Oh, For Fuck’s Sake

You know why there’s no women’s ski jump in the Olympics?

Both Johnsons are among the best ski jumpers in the world. Alissa is ranked ninth among the top women who compete, about 141 spots higher than her brother sits in the men’s rankings. But only 16-year-old Anders is preparing to compete for the U.S. Winter Olympic team this week in the Alps north of Turin. Not because Alissa can’t fly far. But because women ski jumpers aren’t allowed in the Olympics, for reasons older than the hills.

Because the IOC is worried about jostling the jumpers’ girlie parts.

To anyone acquainted with the history of women’s sports, the thudding excuses the women ski jumpers are given for their exclusion from the Games are sadly, ridiculously familiar. Gian-Franco Kasper, head of the International Ski Federation, has said, “Ski jumping is just too dangerous for women. Don’t forget, [the landing] it’s like jumping down from, let’s say, about two meters to the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.”

The international federation will take another vote this spring on whether women should jump in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. And Alissa said, “So far, we’ve been told every excuse in the book. That it’s too ‘dangerous’ for girls. That there aren’t enough of us. That we’re not good enough. That it would damage our ovaries and uterus and we won’t be able to have children, even though that’s not true. It’s so outdated, it’s kind of funny in a way. And then it’s not.”

Never mind that women are already competing as ski jumpers professionally, never mind that these world-class jumpers are available for examination to find out if this is true, never mind that ski jumping does not actually result in a hard landing if done right, never mind that Olympic officials seem not to mind that women lugers are crashing at an unusually high rate on the Torino track, never mind that women already compete in slalom, moguls, freestyle skiing, skeleton, luge, bobsled, speedskating, snowboarding, and all kinds of sports that result in crashes, injuries and the potential for being impaled with the sharp edges of your equipment.

These excuses have been used for years and years and years to keep women out of sports. It was bullshit then, and it’s bullshit now. The IOC is particularly slow to adapt, too — they didn’t allow women’s marathons into the Summer Games until 1984, 17 years after Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon in 1967 — though she never disclosed she was a woman (since the application didn’t ask), and a race official tried to forcibly remove her from the race when she was found out (see the pics in the link for some ugly rage). Switzer finished the race (though she was afraid of being assaulted again by officials), and her uterus didn’t fall out. Neither have the uteruses of the millions of other women who’ve finished marathons or competed in other sports (the Boston Marathon was opened to women in 1972 — with the backing of the same official who’d tried to eject Switzer — twelve years before the Olympics would allow women to run the same distance).

Via Feministing.

Winter Olympics, How Do I Love Thee?

I love the weird events, like skeleton and biathalon. I love that Torino is playing 70s disco for the Parade of Nations. I love the Canadians and their hats with ear flaps. I love the nations from Africa and the Caribbean that send athletes to winter games, even though they have never seen a flake of snow (which of course means I love the Jamaican Bobsled Team above all others). I love seeing the Alps in all their glory and slavering over places I need to go visit, post haste. I love that it’s more laid-back than the summer games. I love that there are a number of events, like luge, where big wimmins have an advantage. I love the countries that send a grand total of one athlete. I love that North and South Korea are marching under one banner.

And I still remember my mother asking the hairdresser to give me a “Dorothy Hummel” haircut.

Abstain for Better Performance?

From Slate:

Olympians are abstaining from sex to boost their performance, despite evidence that they should have sex instead. Triathletes, skaters, swimmers, boxers, ice dancers, and others avoid nookie before big contests; one says he abstained for 233 days. The Canadian swim team required an abstinence pledge; Pittsburgh Steelers coaches order players not to stay with wives or girlfriends the night before games and enforce this with room checks. Rationales: conserving strength, energy, focus, or your edge. But studies refute all these benefits and suggest sex can actually help by steadying you, increasing your tolerance for pain, and boosting your testosterone levels, which is so performance-enhancing it would be illegal if you did it with dope. Cynical theory: Abstinence rules are a fraud used by coaches to make sure their athletes get enough sleep. (WSJ link requires subscription.)

Well. Given that I’m now a triathlete in training (ha), perhaps I should be doing a more holistic, uh, “training”?

And then I remember that I’m also in law school, which means that my hottest date of the week is with my desk in the library. Alas, at least I would make some Olympic coaches quite happy.

USOC pulls skeleton coach from Olympics

The USOC has ruled that skeleton coach Tim Nardiello, who was recently reinstated by an arbitrator after accusations of sexual harassment from several female sliders, will not be going to Turin after all.

The United States Olympic Committee refused yesterday to allow Tim Nardiello to coach the skeleton team at the Turin Olympics. The decision came after a four-week investigation into sexual harassment accusations against him by several female athletes. The U.S.O.C. said it found Nardiello had violated the coaches’ code of ethics and was guilty of “inappropriate interactions.”

The decision was made by the U.S.O.C.’s senior management, led by the chief executive, Jim Scherr. It came one day after an arbitrator in Albany found that Nardiello had not violated the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation’s sexual harassment policy. That night, the federation reinstated Nardiello to his job.

Looks like the federation dropped the ball in its arbitration proceedings:

The federation did not conduct an investigation of Nardiello before its arbitration hearing. U.S.O.C. lawyers, however, interviewed 12 skeleton athletes, Nardiello and several other people who said they had witnessed harassing behavior.

“Based on the information gathered during our investigation, it is our belief there has been a pattern of conduct on the part of Mr. Nardiello that simply does not meet the standard of what is acceptable for a coach with the United States Olympic team,” Scherr said in a statement.

Broaching a broader topic, Scherr also took aim at the federation for what he said was poor handling of the accusations, which stretch back to 2002, calling it “unacceptable.” He criticized the federation for initially deciding to ask for Nardiello’s resignation, but only after the Olympics.

The U.S.O.C.’s action yesterday put into sharp focus its relationship with its 38 individual sports federations, known as national governing bodies or N.G.B.’s. Generally, they run the gamut from exemplary to barely functional. The skeleton and bobsled federation’s mounting problems have not escaped the ire of the U.S.O.C.

Glad to see that the USOC, at least, is looking out for the athletes instead of focusing solely on winning. It does appear that the skeleton and bobsled federation has been something of a problem child within the USOC (which has come a long way since the 1994 corruption scandal).

Hat tip Broadsheet.