The Thinking 

The “Special” Olympics

August 3, 2012


JAMES P. writes:

The International Olympic Committee browbeat the Saudis into including women on their Olympic team, according to CNN. In Saudi Arabia, women are, for all practical purposes, forbidden to participate in sports. Therefore, the Saudis had trouble finding any female athletes to take part in the IOC-mandated charade. Finally, the Saudis nominated an 18-year-old judo fighter who “is a virtual novice, a blue belt who has only been at the sport for two years.”

Her first opponent will be a Puerto Rican girl who is “a powerful 187-pounder who is the 24th ranked judo fighter in the world and is skilled at groundwork and aggressive grappling” and “who holds a black belt and has honed her skills by training with men.” The Puerto Rican is expected to crush the Saudi — the fight is “the approximate equivalent of the New York Yankees playing a strong high school team.”

The Left’s crazy athletic affirmative action program has placed someone totally unqualified at risk of serious injury so that she can participate in a sport that is entirely unsuitable for women to begin with. What a triumph for freedom and women’s rights!

—– Comments —–

Izzy writes:

The Puerto Rican sounds like a tank of sorts. And she trained with men? Well, obviously any man, regardless of size, could easily defeat any black belt woman. I remember watching a video on YouTube where the “strongest woman in the world” was beaten in an arm wrestle competition by an average man. A man with a black belt in judo could easily defeat this Puerto Rican Amazon. I can’t imagine what the strain and ruin will do to the woman’s body in the future. She likely will be infertile, as so many athletic women are.

I do feel bad for the Saudi Arabian woman, though. It’s disrespectful and downright disgusting how feminists and the Olympic Comittee will essentially force a woman against her will to fight against someone twice the size of her. Saudi Arabia recently got heat for not letting women drive – and we all know how easily women get distracted while driving – and now they’re getting criticism for this.

I actually feel bad for Saudi Arabian women. Well, the ones that aren’t tempted by feminism, that is.

Adriana writes:

I would like to respond to this comment from Izzy:

“The Puerto Rican sounds like a tank of sorts. And she trained with men? Well, obviously any man, regardless of size, could easily defeat any black belt woman. I remember watching a video on YouTube where the “strongest woman in the world” was beaten in an arm wrestle competition by an average man. A man with a black belt in judo could easily defeat this Puerto Rican Amazon.”

Actually, it’s not true that “obviously any man, regardless of size, could easily defeat any black belt woman” in judo. Judo is a sport of momentum, which means that smaller, traditionally “weaker” competitors often have a huge advantage. This is because judo relies heavily on the ability to use your opponent’s weight/strength against them, and so a traditionally “weaker” competitor will have the advantage of having more weight/strength to use against [their opponent], as well as the advantage of not having as much weight/strength that can be used against them by [their opponent].

So it’s actually quite ridiculous to claim that men would, by default, best women in this particular sport.

That said, it’s also ridiculous to compare men and women in arm wrestling, of all things, since that particular competition is one of the purest examples of an “unfairly weighted” competition. It requires a completely different skill-set and relies almost entirely on an area of the body in which men have muscles and women have, well, breasts. Note that I’m not calling it “unfair” because men win, it’s just unfair to use it as an example of men’s superior strength, since it is one of the only exercises in which there is such a large discrepancy between male and female athletes. To call out this exercise as an example of male vs. female strength is thus very misleading, and you don’t need to mislead to point out men’s strength.

 Laura writes:

Adriana makes a good point and an important correction. It’s definitely not true that any man could defeat a woman with a black belt. In fact, many men could not overcome a woman highly trained in judo.

I don’t see why arm wrestling, however, can’t be used as one example of the differences in strength between men and women even if women perform closer to men in other areas.

Adriana responds:

Thanks for your response to my comment. I suppose I didn’t make myself very clear with that last part about “not comparing men and women in arm wrestling.” What I meant was, it’s unfair to use one exercise — especially one that focuses on a muscle group women virtually do not have — to demonstrate how absurdly superior in strength the male body is to the female body. Using it as “the example” misleads the audience into thinking that male and female bodies are that drastically different, when they are in fact not. Using it as “an example,” on the other hand, is perfectly acceptable, since its significance is tempered by context.

Also, one more thing to Izzy — do you think that women are more easily distracted while driving than men are? Because this is simply not true. It’s interesting that you would pick out an area in which women have a significant advantage over men (multitasking), instead of pointing out something that actually does detract from female driving, for example, spatial awareness.

Laura writes:

Even if arm wrestling shows the gap between male and female performance at its greatest, I would still call the difference between male and female bodies “drastic.” In The Tinder Box, his book about the U.S. Forest Service, Christopher Burchfield reviews numerous studies and concludes that the average woman possesses 61 percent of the body strength of the average man.

 Adriana writes:

It’s misleading because we are not talking about average people. We are talking about a female Olympian (or similarly athletic female) against an average man. The average man is not 60 percent plus stronger than the average female Olympian in her event, though the average man might be able to take her on in an arm wrestling competition. Presenting examples such as these in a deliberately misleading manner (i.e. without the additional context) perpetuates the ridiculous notion that female athletes are less competent in various sporting endeavors than the average man. This is quite obviously untrue. Note I’m not saying that female athletes are equally, or more, competent than male athletes — that’s an entirely different comparison. It is not a question that men will be stronger than similarly-equipped women (whether they are equipped in an “average” or Olympian-style manner). Though men are stronger than their female counterparts, this does not in my mind support the ridiculous notion that women should not participate in sporting events, or the Olympics, at their capable levels against other females. Were we to use the logic that “because men are stronger, women shouldn’t compete,” we’d have to force lightweight wrestlers fight heavyweight wrestlers, and make sprinters run marathons.

Plus, there are different types of strength. I am quite certain that a slightly-above average male wrestler would easily be able to take, in arm wrestling, the strongest man in the world — where strength is determined by lower-body and core strength. So yeah, it’s misleading no matter how you paint it.

Laura writes:

Adriana is now inventing objections out of thin air.

Izzy made a passing reference to the difference between men and women in arm wrestling and was not building an entire case against women in competition based on that reference. She never said women should not compete nor was she misleading anyone, let alone deliberately misleading. Her main point involved a comparison between a woman athlete and the male athletes she was training with, men who were also training for the Olympics. Izzy’s point was that this was possibly harmful for the woman. It was a valid point.

No one has suggested that women should not compete because they are not as strong as men. No one in this discussion has advocated that women not compete at all. The original entry was about a  woman who was placed in competition out of apparent pressure.

In another recent discussion, one commenter voiced the view that women should not participate in public sports competitions, but he did not base that view on the difference in strength between men and women. Other commenters argued for moderation. I do not agree that it is a “ridiculous” notion that women should not compete in public sporting events. There are reasonable grounds for disagreeing with that view, but it is not ridiculous. If that were true, then the world was ridiculous for a very long time.

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