Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

What are your thoughts on men running women's races?

Asked by nikipedia (28080points) September 23rd, 2010

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about men running races intended for women. My initial reaction was to be really irritated—there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of road races that are open to both sexes, so why do men feel the need to show up to these, upstage women, and ruin the tone of the race?

On the other hand, if the situation was reversed (women running men’s races), as was the case when women first began competing in marathons, I would be all for it. So I find myself with a pretty serious double standard. What do you think?

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24 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Did women run in men’s races because they didn’t have their own races to run? I feel like that makes a big difference in how I feel about the two in comparison. Judging by the first article it appears that the guy in the story was just looking for a nicer atmosphere. I think I’m fine with that, as long as the intention isn’t to upstage the female runners. I have never been much of a feminist so I didn’t really feel anything negative in the first place about a man participating in a female sporting event.

jrpowell's avatar

I think you feel the same way as I do. So at least someone else thinks the same way. It is a double standard but sometimes there is a reason for it. Consider this payback for not being able to vote until 1920.

augustlan's avatar

I had the same reaction as you, and the same realization that it’s a double standard. Seems we have some work to do in our brains…

rooeytoo's avatar

A couple of things came to my mind as I read your question and they were validated when I read the referenced article. Men enter to win, they couldn’t win against other men but they figure they can beat the ladies. I thought it was funny that apparently the male entrants were upset when spectators called out “Go girl!” Women have to endure being called “guys” constantly but males find it so insulting to be called by a female name.

The statistic that 53% of road racers were women last year is very intriguing. Women are being given more opportunities and taking advantage of them. Men have always had them so they have a much more ho hum attitude. I actually think all races should be open to all entrants and I am so excited about the day, and I know it is coming, when a woman wins. Women can beat men in ultra marathons because endurance is the key factor there. So come on all you young women, you can do it, you are taller and stronger and have more training from an earlier age than women of my generation did, so get out there and win!

rts486's avatar

Sexism sucks, no matter who does it. And as far as pay back for not voting until 1920, would somebody please name at least one women running in these races who was denied the opportunity to vote prior to 1920. What if an organization started a men only race, would you be opposed to that? Wouldn’t it be nice if people supported or rooted for a runner because of who there are, rather than because of their gender?

Cruiser's avatar

I think it is dumb that a guy would be that desperate for attention or a girl for that matter if the situation was reversed.

Blackberry's avatar

Why make races for one gender anyways?????? Should we start having water fountains that only men or only women can use lol?

nikipedia's avatar

@Blackberry: What if men and women had genetically different water-drinking abilities, and we could make separate fountains that were better suited to one or the other? Would that be unfair?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I like @TheOnlyNeffie ‘s comment – we need to consider how it’s all been historically and why women’s only races were set up, to begin with…there has to be a way to honor that, I suppose…on the other hand, I disagree with separate sexes running anyway, so that’s that.

nikipedia's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: What do you mean by “I disagree with separate sexes running”?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@nikipedia Everyone runs together. That’s how I’d like it. I know people have issues with that. Let’s leave it at that.

Trillian's avatar

You can’t have it both ways. Either you want both sexes to have everything the same or you want separation. You can’t say “Women can join men’s clubs and men have to let them, but men can’t join women’s clubs because of this and this and this…waaaah, it’s not fair! Men can’t run with the women!”
Just sayin’

tinyfaery's avatar

This is a perfect example why equality in theory doesn’t always mean equality in practice. In order for women to have the same opportunities as men (prestige in their chosen profession, monetary reward for their hard work, etc.) women must be able to compete in their own events.

May I say that the philosophy of feminism (which can only be understood by study) is so beyond feminism in practice. Most people simply do not understand. Equality in spirit and equality by letter (much like the law) are two very separate things.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery I agree with some of what you say. But having men’s and women’s races leaves zero space for trans people, especially whose sex can’t be easily pigeonholed – let alone who won’t be ridiculed.

tinyfaery's avatar

True dat.

Blackberry's avatar

@nikipedia If it’s a competition, you simply make two winners: One male first place, and one female first place. Everyone knows there’s biological differences, but it doesn’t mean we have to be separated for it. Everyone can run together : )

Aster's avatar

Simone, I can understand how you couldn’t race at all since I believe you say you “don’t identify with either sex.”
So how could you choose a race? Neither a womens’ only or a mens’ only race would be applicable. So it makes sense you don’t like the idea of “either or” races.
Interesting dilemma.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aster I hate running and am not an athlete where I’d ever be interested in competitive sports so this has no personal dimension. My activism for the trans community often has very little to do with advocating for myself and even less to do with my own gender identity. Incidentally, when I first began trans activism, I was very much a woman identified woman.

Aster's avatar

I’m not either by any means! LOL I meant hypothetically , if you wanted to run a race but it prohibited… it’s so confusing I can’t even think.
I think it’s great you advocate for transgendered persons, though. They need all the support they can get and it’s probably pretty rare to receive any.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aster You’re right on all counts – and if I wanted to run, it would be difficult.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. Is that not what men and women who tout feminism want? so why do men feel the need to show up to these, upstage women, and ruin the tone of the race? Maybe because girls say it fit to not be content with the Girl’s Club and wanted in the Boy’s Club, or any sports league that was for boys. The same reason young women was not content to go to women’s colleges and sought to go to male only schools like the Citadel or West Point when they had perfectly good schools like Wellesley, Rosemont, and Rutgers.

I personally believe you can have equal events, schools, etc while still allowing males and females to have their own. I think women and men in many cases would benefit being in their own arena. As illustrated here and in other things just trying to force fairness or flaunder in those emotions because you can’t face the inevitable of nature, Creation or whatever. There are some things women will never be able to top men at. You can have a very skilled female boxer but she can still and more often than not, loose to a mediocre male boxer. She can duck and weave and pop him all day but let her not be perfect and take a right cross or an upper cut it is good night sweet princess. Champion female rowers would still have a hard time beating very good male rowers because the men can simply row quicker and with more power. But since women want to invade the domain of men them gettign a dose of their own medicine and showing the folly of such, I can live with it,


Men should not run in races for women, and women should not run in races for men. Just like they should not allow girls to play with boys in hockey or other physically rough, competitive sports. That’s all I have to say.

dabbler's avatar

Whoever’s game it is sets the rules as long as it’s harmless I say.
No problem with women-only races and the men are buttheads for jumping into them.
There are plenty of mixed-gender racing opportunities at longer distances, and there are men’s only races too (esp. at short distances). Define the rules and turn ‘em lose it’s all fine with me.

Nullo's avatar

Races are to establish, all other things being equal, which among similar participants is the fastest, or has the best endurance. It’s structurally similar to an experiment, where variables are isolated and outcomes observed. Men and women are, categorically, less similar than men and men, or women and women, so there are some loose variables in there already.
We have men’s and women’s events; we ought to keep it that way. I am a race-ist!

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