Perpetuating the Gender Myth in Sports

On Saturday, September 8, 2018, Serena Williams had a mental breakdown at the US Open women’s finals. Her behavior was inexcusable and demonstrated a great disrespect for the game, the officials, and her opponent, Naomi Osaka. The umpire, Carlos Ramos, issued her three code violations: first, a warning for receiving coaching (which her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, admitted to); second, a point penalty for breaking her racket, and finally, a game for verbally abusing Ramos by calling him a liar and a thief. Ramos was doing his job and strictly followed the Grand Slam Rulebook Code of Conduct. This is not the first time Williams has been out of line at the US Open. In 2009, she threatened to shove a ball down the throat of a lines woman who called a foot-fault on her. This does not sound like very lady-like conduct.

Good Ol’ Identity Politics
After the match, in an attempt to justify her narcissistic behavior, she accused Ramos of sexism. Many articles have come forth backing up Williams. The Women’s Tennis Association and the United States Tennis Association also backed up Williams, while the International Tennis Federation and Roger Federer (the greatest tennis player of all time) backed Ramos. What is worth noting is that Williams’s claim is at odds with the evidence, as tennis correspondent, Simon Briggs, affirms: “there were 86 code violations handed out to male players at the US Open, and only 22 to women. Now, a more detailed analysis of the past 20 years of grand-slam events has revealed a long-term split of 1,534 to 526.”

Bob Christianson, a 67-year-old umpire who has worked 38 consecutive majors, had the following to say about the allegation of sexism: “That’s the worst brouhaha I’ve witnessed in my 40-plus years of tennis officiating… I did a lot of McEnroe matches. He wouldn’t go on and on, minute after minute. He would have, at some point, calmed down because he feared a game penalty. But [Williams] didn’t.” It is also worth noting that Fabio Fognini, a top Italian tennis player, was rightfully kicked out of last year’s US Open for spewing profanities at a female umpire after a bad loss to a fellow countryman. This took him out of the third round of doubles at the US Open. Again, contrary to Williams’s allegations, this clearly shows that there are strict consequences for both male and female tennis players.

It seems the ideologues call sexism being treated equally to men (and perhaps being treated with more leniency). It is the tiresome tactic that the politically correct and ideologically possessed left always utilize when things don’t go their way. It goes something like this: “disagree with our ideology and we will call you a sexist, bigot, racist, fascist, Nazi, xenophobe, transphobe, homophobe, etc.” It is merely a tactic to create fear for expressing opposing viewpoints and stifle any constructive dialogue. It is the toxicity of groupthink. Ironically, what is often revealed is that the ones laying the accusations are typically guilty of them, an example of psychological projection.

 

We know the sexist charge against Ramos is a dishonest attempt to cover for abhorrent behavior since a 30-plus year veteran of the sport cannot possibly claim to be ignorant of the rules. If we really want to talk about double standards, why is it that the payout for men and women is exactly the same at the Grand Slams? Men have to play best of five sets, whereas women only have to play best of three. How is that fair? This is a clear example of equality of outcome (or equity) even though the playing field between men and women is unequal in favor of female players. This injustice in pay ignores the fact that men’s tennis attracts way larger crowds and generates much more money for the sport. Nevertheless, 14 out of the 30 top-paid tennis players of all time are women.

Biological and Psychological Sex Differences
The social constructionist position promoted by the postmodernist left denies biological differences. The breathtaking inanity of university instructors, such as Nicholas Matte, in a panel discussion in 2016 with Jordan Peterson on Steve Paikin’s Canadian public television show The Agenda, who claimed there is no such thing as biological sex, is quite widespread. Regrettably, this is the sort of falsehood that has been instantiated into Canadian law with the passage of Bill C-16 which deals with gender identity and expression. According to it, anyone can be either male, female, both, neither, or whatever they wish at the time they wish it.

What is worth noting is that in more gender-equal countries, the sex differences with respect to personality become wider. Authors of a recent scientific paper in the International Journal of Psychology “speculate that as gender equality increases both men and women gravitate towards their traditional gender roles.” This is not at all what one would expect.

So, what are we to say about biological differences between men and women? In our climate of political correctness, it is a huge faux pas to state what is scientific and commonsensical. It is what one philosopher and critic has said about Jacques Derrida’s postmodern philosophy of deconstructionism: “the world turned upside down.” Most recently, professor of neurophysiology, Germund Hesslow, at Lund University, was accused of making “transphobic” and “anti-feminist” statements for merely stating that men and women are biologically different. Scientific fact is consistently being questioned to advance political agendas. There are undeniable scientific differences between male and female. These facts need to be established and accepted first before there can be any legitimate philosophical analysis of, or political debate over, those sex differences. The differences are real, as Melvin Porter, a scientist, explains:

The physiological differences in the sexes are biological as well as chemical-driven. It is the quantity of the testosterone and estrogen in the blood of both sexes and the ratio of the two hormones present that affect the physiological activities in both sexes as well as the physical attributes of the male and female human body.

This flies in the face of the social constructionist agenda.

Sex Differences in Tennis – the “Battle of the Sexes”
Charges of sexism have not been confined to code violations but have also been made about the differences between men and women in sports. This is largely due to the second- and third-wave feminist movements. Early feminism, which fought against inequalities in the law such as the suffragette movement, is quite distinct from the second- and third-wave feminist movements of the 1960s to the 1990s which sought to upend cultural inequalities, gender norms, and the role of women in society. Depending on how far second-wave feminism and later modes of it are taken, they can have both positive and negative effects for society. Modern women are increasingly avoiding the feminist label because of the term’s extremist connotations and prefer instead terms like “equal opportunist” or “egalitarian” that reflect the movement’s earlier mainstream agenda.

As a consequence of modern feminist agitation, there has been a lot of attention paid to differences between male and female athletes, especially in tennis. This has been particularly true since the 1970s.

The first battle of the sexes was between former world number one and Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs, who was 55 at the time, and the number one female player, Margaret Court, who was 30-years-old. Riggs won that match easily 6-2, 6-1. The second battle of the sexes involved Riggs again, now against Billie Jean King, who was 29. This match had a lot of hype around it. King won the best of five sets in three relatively easy ones. At the time, King was considered an advocate for women’s equality. Nevertheless, it has been argued that Riggs threw the match away because of gambling debts owed to the mafia. King wisely refused a rematch. A huge deal was made of her “victory,” despite the 26-year difference and the fact that Riggs was not competing professionally nor training like King. (Last year, a motion picture was made about the King-Riggs match featuring Steve Carell.)

Other examples are lesser known, for example, in 1992, a third battle of the sexes occurred between Jimmy Connors, who was 40, and Martina Navratilova, 35, where Connors only had one serve and had to cover the doubles alley. Connors won 7-5 and 6-2. More recently, in 1998 the Williams sisters claimed they could beat any man outside of the top 200 in the world. This did not end well for them. Karsten Braasch, who was ranked 203 at the time, took on their challenge. He beat Serena 6-1 and Venus 6-2, after having a couple of drinks and smoking on changeovers. Braasch stated after the match that: “They wouldn’t have had a chance against anyone inside the top 500 because today I played like someone ranked 600th to keep it fun.” Last year, the politically correct (PC) police were upset over the legendary, and seven-time Grand Slam champion, John McEnroe’s comment that Serena would be about 700 on the men’s circuit. The PC lynch mob expected McEnroe to say that Serena was the best of all time, instead of just female. McEnroe rightly pointed out that such an expectation is outright ridiculous. An apology was demanded from McEnroe and to his credit he refused. I also believe that McEnroe was generous with the 700 number. Some Ottawa players I know could very well beat her. Despite displaying indignation at McEnroe’s comment, she, herself, has admitted that she has zero chance to win a single game against top male players such as Andy Murray.

The radical feminists believe, as a consequence of their shoddy logic, that men and women are the same in every way, which is not only unscientific but unjust to females. For example, consider cases in which transgender females and males are allowed to compete in categories outside of the sex they were “assigned” at birth. Either way, biological women end up on the losing end. Perhaps the PC mob should take heed from the words of the professor of marketing psychology at Concordia University, Gad Saad:

From the onset of the movement, many radical feminists rapidly converged on the erroneous idea that if women are to be treated equally in all walks of life, it is important to demonstrate that men and women are indistinguishable beings. Hence, all sex differences short of one’s genitalia were attributed to socialization. An average three-year old knows this position to be laughable yet this is a central mantra in Women’s Studies programs and related feminist literature. See Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women’s Studies by Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge for endless examples of irrational and blatantly falsifiable feminist positions.

Men and women should be equal under the law albeit they are distinguishable biological beings. Wishing away sex differences, and creating imaginary narratives about the power of socialization in shaping all sex differences, is idiotic. It does not take a sophisticated Darwinist to recognize that we are a sexually dimorphic and sexually reproducing species. By definition, this implies that men and women possess some innate biological-based differences.

Instantiated into evolutionary development within the universe are fundamental differences, in most examples, between the male and female species (as shown between men and women), in order for the proliferation of organisms and their distinctive features which are crucial to adaptability and survivability. This was all planned by the sovereign Creator, ever since the incipient moment of creation. To ignore these differences will be perilous to the survival of humanity.

Scott Ventureyra

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Scott Ventureyra earned a doctorate in theology from Dominican University College in Ottawa, Canada in 2017. He has published in academic journals such as Science et Esprit, The American Journal of Biblical Theology, Studies in Religion and Maritain Studies (the journal of the Canadian Jacques Maritain Association). He has also written for magazines such as Crisis and Convivium and newspapers such as The National Post, City Light News, The Ottawa Citizen and The Times Colonist. He also has a forthcoming book titled: On the Origin of Consciousness: An Exploration through the Lens of the Christian Conception of God and Creation to be published with Wipf & Stock by early 2019.

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