It was good to read an honest account of the positive as well as the imperfections of female athletes bodies last week.
Whether it is politically acceptable or not, one of the turn offs for young women signing up for Games after school is developing muscles in the wrong places, like swimmers shoulders or hammer throwers’ hips. So it is good to discuss these issues.
Despite that, girls are starting to play well. Along with the England women’s football team getting to the world cup semi-final and the women’s Ashes squad doing a pretty good job at cricket, it is been a brilliant year for women’s sport in this country.
‘I actually shed a tear or two of sheer delight this year as I watched the first-ever Women’s Boat Race,’ Chris Meaken of the Goodchild Press told me when we were chatting about the book I’m writing on feminism. `My old economist chum Geoffrey Gardiner watching it at their home in Swindon did the same, and he’s 86. He went to Cambridge, I went to Oxford. He and I were straight on the phone as the race finished.’
“Chris, those Oxford women won that race in a faster time than our men’s eight rowed the course when I was at university in the early 1950s.’ said his friend, ‘And far from being knackered at the end, they looked fresher than the men. Absolutely brilliant.’
Since the early 20th century, the feminist movement has made enormous strides to improve the status of female athletes. It was one of the primary aims. Before, female athletes had to play in much poorer facilities, under different rules, and with stricter dress codes than male athletes.
Society also largely ignored and discriminated against female athletes, portraying them as masculine and homosexual and further deterring women from participating in sports. Maybe it’s still the case. On the pitch some of our rugby players for example appear positively scary. In reality they are complete pussy cats.
There are also other hazards which should be mentioned. My daughter has broken her collar bone twice playing what was once just a ‘man’s game’.
However, with girls at school still preferring to apply nail polish and chat on Whatsapp than run up and down a hockey field getting muddy, let’s promote women in sport. Git fit, look fab. Feminism has done a great job in this respect.