When Caitlin Jenner was ‘unveiled’ with a front cover on Vanity Fair, it didn’t take long for a petition to emerge saying that the gold medal won by Bruce Jenner should be taken away.
Jenner won Gold in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have said the medal won’t be taken away, and despite the petition getting many thousands of signatures, I can see problems with the petition.
Two big problems actually…
The first problem is comes from one of the sections of the petition, namely:
“It is only fair to all involved that women receive their credit as champions of the decathlon and that men racing Ms. Jenner are not expected to compete with a superior, streamlined being such as herself.”
That sounds like it was written by a woman being funny I think, not a serious suggestion. It also brings me to the second problem with the logic of the petition.
The suggestion is that it wasn’t fair on the other athletes, because she was a woman competing against men. Hang on, surely it would need to be the other way round for it to be a problem?
Women don’t even *do* the decathlon at the Olympics, which harks back to the crusty old view of women simply not being capable! So surely if it was a woman competing against men, the advantage would be with the men?
Unless the idea behind the petition is that it’s an embarrassment for the men to have been beaten by a woman, particularly since the world record was broken in the process!
No, it’s a nonsense argument.
If you take account of the fact that Bruce Jenner has been a reality star and tabloid celebrity for years, I think that gives a better flavour behind the petition, i.e. publicity.
If we look at another high profile case, famous at the time, but largely forgotten since, it shows that the issue is a serious one (when it’s the other way round), and it’s that of Caster Semenya.
South African Semenya won gold in the women’s 800m at the 2009 World Championships. She had been making vast improvements in her time in the lead up to the championships, raising suspicions of doping, but the IAAF leaked details of gender testing *3 hours* before the world championship final.
It took a year for the IAAF to ‘clear’ her, meaning she had been dragged through the mud and humiliated for that year.
No reality TV show. No celebrity magazines. Just accusation and a sullied reputation.
If you add to that the proven systematic doping programmes of the East German female athletes in the 70s and 80s, and you can see that it’s obviously a problem in women’s events when competitors exhibit male advantages.
I can’t think of a single case with it the other way round, that an advantage is gained in men’s events if you sneakily take part when you are a woman. If there are cases, I’d be interested to hear of them, but until then the argument is null and void for me.
It’s quite possible that with the issue of gender and gender changing becoming ever more mainstream, the subject of ‘fairness’ will crop up again, but in this case? No, I’m not buying it.
It was Bruce Jenner that won Olympic gold 40 years ago. I don’t think the unveiling of Caitlin Jenner changes that, does it?
Do let me know what you think – I love the feedback!
‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,
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