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 It’s so outdated, it’s kind of funny in a way.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.

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14 comments for “Oh, For Fuck’s Sake

  1. togolosh
    February 18, 2006 at 12:16 am

    The official argument seems like an excellent justification for banning women’s gymnastics. Of course that would cost the IOC big money, but hey – think of the children.

  2. zuzu
    February 18, 2006 at 12:29 am

    Seriously. The dismount from the uneven bars is a lot more jarring than sliding down a hill.

    But then, gymnastics and ice skating have little women in skimpy outfits, so it’s not really like sports or anything.

  3. February 18, 2006 at 12:59 am

    Well, to be fair, when I was 12, I was ski jumping and my uterus fell out. It not only fell out, but apparently became unattached because it landed in the snow. Everyone was terribly upset.

  4. Magis
    February 18, 2006 at 1:23 am

    spotted elephant:

    DO NOT ski jump naked.

  5. Magni
    February 18, 2006 at 4:30 am

    Norwegian ski jumper Anette Sagen has had fights with the IOC bosses and the international ski federations folks about this over the last years. She also get this “it’s too dangerous” argument.

    The funny thing is that Anette is also a pretty good skydiver, which is, at least by insurance companies, considered a Very Dangerous Activity. Apparently 200 km/h from 3km above the gorund is ok, but 125 km/h from 100 m is not.

  6. February 18, 2006 at 9:33 am

    Hey cool. We can get rid of women’s hockey because it’s “boring”: after all, there are only two good teams, right? (I guess Sweden doesn’t count.) We can get rid of most of the other skiing and snowboarding events because they’re dangerous, and the sledding events — women get concussions! Can’t have that! Apparently the number one accident in skeleton is cutting off your fingers (not at this level, though), too.

    I can’t figure out why we should get rid of curling, yet, maybe they should just have to wear more revealing clothing.

  7. February 18, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    But it’s ok to figure skate and let some dude thrust you up in the air possibly breaking your face open as long as you’re wearing a cute skirt.

  8. piny
    February 18, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    Seriously. The dismount from the uneven bars is a lot more jarring than sliding down a hill.

    But then, gymnastics and ice skating have little women in skimpy outfits, so it’s not really like sports or anything.

    Uh, don’t forget being forced to stay twelve until you’re twenty. I can’t see how long-term amenorrhea is good for your girl bits if ski-jumping is supposed to be so bad.

  9. Frumious B.
    February 18, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    Considering that female atheletes still have to endure physical exams to prove they are female to compete in the olympics, further examples of misogyny do not surprise me.

  10. Peter
    February 18, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    Somehow, the fact that a uterus is INSIDE the abdominal cavity would seem to be an advantage when it comes to protecting one’s reproductive system, as opposed to having it hang in a little sack in between one’s legs.

  11. zuzu
    February 18, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    Yeah! We should ban men’s cycling because it compresses their nuts!

  12. Laurie
    February 18, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    Several random thoughts on the whole Olympic women’s events thing:

    Well, shit! There’s no *checking* in women’s hockey?!? I obviously need to actually WATCH the sport sometime and not just think it’s totally cool that they are finally LETTING girls/women play hockey and that my alma mater has won the women’s collegiate hockey tourney a couple of times. *cough* *self-conscious grin*

    zuzu — really good point. After all, if we girls might shake our uteruses (uterii?!?) up too much landing ski jumps, it’s only fair to protect the boy’s tender parts too. Right? Hmmmmm, that might let out other sports too. Anything where they need to wear an athletic supporter….

    Short skirts in skating competition for the same reason that classic tutus came into being: yes, partly to show off women’s legs, but *also* because longer skirts hide the flashy, show offy leg/foot work. Also, longer skirts (well, longer than just above knee length) would just be *dangerous* in skating. That said, I’m really glad they are letting them wear unitard type things now, too.

    So, when are female athletes going to storm the IOC and demand that they enter the 21st century with the rest of us? I honestly did not know that women were not allowed to ski jump, given the other very risky sports they compete in now. And that’s just a stupid, non-scientific hold over that needs to be challenged. Not by me — I’m a dancer, not an athelete, and can’t make a good argument for dangerous sports to save my life. :) But that doesn’t mean I won’t support young women’s right to participate in them.

    ‘Nuff said. Must go grocery shopping now. I’m hoping this one actually goes through — I’ve had a couple of comments just … disappear over the last couple of days. I haven’t pissed anyone off, have I? I don’t mind needing to be moderated, I’d just like a warning if I’ve crossed a line somewhere.

  13. February 19, 2006 at 1:18 am

    Argh, I hate having to be on Zuzu’s side. This is absurd. There’s no reason for women not to play ANY sport. There are sports where perhaps different handicapping or slightly different rules might be appropriate in the interest of promoting collegial sportsmanship between genders – (the staggered starting tees in golf come to mind) – but saying “no chick ski jumpers” is just retarded.

  14. February 19, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    Just to be fair, it is not specifically the IOC that is denying women’s ski jumping but the International Ski Federation. Just like the Canoeing Federation doesn’t allow women’s canoeing in the Summer Olympics.

    There is a new rule that for any sports to get admittance into the Games, both males and females must be involved. However, this is obsolete when the IOC has not done anything to ensure that all events in the Olympics already are open to both sexes.

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