Sooner or later reality catches up with the intellectual schizophrenia of the gender identity politics and beats it to the line. And sometimes, as in the case of a dispute over prize money for a recent running race at Queensland University of Technology, it actually beats it to the line.
As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports, the university had to perform a backflip, over its decision to award prize money to the first three athletes in the 5km event at the QUT Classic last weekend.
The problem arose when the first female across the line, Alexandra Blake, was told that the rules of the race and prize money had been made clear; and that they were indiscriminate with regard to gender. The university had already awarded first, second and third to three male athletes who had crossed the line in those positions.
The rules of the race and prize money had been made clear; and that they were indiscriminate with regard to gender. The university had already awarded first, second and third to three male athletes
Blake was incensed. So was her dad Mark, who took to social media to say this:
“This is a pure disgrace and sexist in the extreme. It’s not about the money—it’s about the simple concept of equality,”
Alexandra herself had this to say:
“I train just as hard as those guys. I come here thinking that if I do well I can get something out of it to support my running and I don’t see how I’m any less valued than the men.”
To which I say “Amen”. “Go you good thing!” For, despite all her training—which for Alexandra was of equal effort and equal intensity to the guys—the term “regardless of gender” means she will never take away the prize money.
There should be equal prize money for the women in a mixed racing event. Why? because on most sporting fields, and starkly so in athletic running, if all things are equal, men will take all three podium positions every single time.
Every. Single. Time.
The world record holder for women in 5000m is Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibeba’s 14:11—a truly great athlete of astonishing ability. Yet a 5000m race held in my home town last year saw a young bloke run 14:07 in a race that was an attempt to get a local runner to go under 14 minutes for the first time in Perth. You’ve never heard of him and never will.
At the risk of laying that on too thickly, if you saw the Rio Olympics 10,000m for women, it was an incredible—truly incredible—race by another amazing Ethiopian athlete, Almaz Ayana, Her time? A world record 29:17. Breathtaking. Yet, once again, a young up-and-coming male athlete from my city, who has an outside chance of reaching the Olympics in 2024, recently ran a 10 mile race in Japan, in which he ran the last 10 kilometres in 29:48. Once again, you’ve never heard of him.
Here’s what the problem lies. The universities of our fair culture are leading the charge in saying that gender is purely a social construct. The intellectual battle of our day over identity was birthed in the academy, is fostered and championed by the academy, and is funded by the academy.
The intellectual high dive required to assert this foundational plank of our Sexular Age has a 3.2 degree of difficulty, with a half twist and a double pike. But they’ve managed to convince a large swathe of the population.
The universities of our fair culture are leading the charge in saying that gender is purely a social construct. They’ve managed to convince a large swathe of the population.
But not on the sporting field. There you can see and hear the anger and frustration of female athletes taking silver and bronze in events behind people who were born as males—people for whom seventeen or eighteen years of testosterone (despite the blockers they’ve recently started taken) represents an enormous advantage in the sporting arena. Women—constantly the victims of testosterone-fueled men off the sporting field—are now becoming victims of testosterone fueled men self-identifying as women on the sporting field .
And that is where sport is going. It can scarcely go anywhere else, given the momentum in the cultural wrecking ball of sexual identity politics. Our culture has lost its collective nerve to call this out.There’s real anger, but it has to be muted by women, lest the culture warriors who promulgate the Sexular narrative hunt them down.
Of course QUT was left scrambling in the wake of all this.
Hence how the ABC reported the QUT response:
QUT described the decision to the ABC as an “oversight” and said its “intention was to award prize money to the first three runners over the line, regardless of gender”. “We apologise for this and given QUT’s oversight we have restructured the winnings and will now be awarding cash prizes to the top three female and male runners,” QUT said in a statement.
Maybe they should have checked with the Humanities and Social Science departments before making a statement like that. Because the reality of sport sits at odds with unreality that passes for intellectual rigour.
You have to feel sorry for the university’s athletics club. It’s going to spend a lot of time looking over its shoulder at the academics who work alongside it, as it navigates this increasingly torturous path. Just when they thought they were doing the right thing with the “regardless of gender” rule, they realise that some rules are more equal than others.
I’m not surprised at the ABC’s genuine lack of curiosity over this one. The organisation has been playing it both ways—a champion of all things identity politics for some time. But when it comes to the bravery of a university club putting the ideology into action, it baulks.
I am surprised, however, at the message coming out from the university’s vice chancellor. VC Margaret Sheil has since addressed the media saying it was the first time organisers had offered a cash prize.
“Unfortunately they didn’t think through the gender implications of just offering it as a first across the line. As soon as QUT management was made aware of the situation we moved to rectify it.
I applaud the move, but question the reasoning. The university is now, publicly, letting the reality of actual gender difference between men and women be celebrated. As rightly, but hypocritically, it should do.
Why hypocritically? Because universities like QUT will happily bankroll any department that asserts there is no public difference between gender that is not socially constructed, yet find themselves unwilling to stand by that theory in the cold hard reality of the sporting world.
Universities like QUT will happily bankroll any department that asserts there is no public difference between gender that is not socially constructed, yet find themselves unwilling to stand by that theory in the cold hard reality of the sporting world.
Could it possibly be that men and women are deeply and irrevocably different in many areas, and that sport shows this to not only be true, but to be good and true at the same time?
Could it be that sport will be the front-runner, so to speak, in alerting us to the fact that gender is not merely a social construct. Could it be that QUT is putting its money where it increasingly finds it impossible to put its mouth, for fear of bringing fire and brimstone down upon its head?
This is exactly the point made by the tennis great Martina Navratilova, who was scornfully and shamefully treated for calling out the obvious differences between men and women on the sporting field, and saying enough is enough with the social experimentation.
Alexandra Blake is a good, strong runner. The 2019 QUT Classic results are not up yet, but she ran the same event at last year’s race. In 2018 she was first female in a time of 18:26. Good enough for ninth place. She ran in the 18-39 age category and she’s at the young end of that age. So a good strong run.
My best 5km time in 2018 was at a local Parkrun. At the age of fifty one, coming off a marathon two weeks prior, I ran 18:23. And I came sixth. The winner, who you’ve never heard of, ran 16:16, and last week at the same Parkrun, he ran 15:41.
None of this is to say how good an old geezer like me is. Nor is it to belittle Alexandra in what was probably a slower time than she’s capable of, and who over the next couple of years will probably get a lot faster than me.
But it is to say this: sport is a great leveller. It finds you out. It finds out whether you did the training. It finds out how good you are compared to how good you say you are.
And it finds out where real difference lies. It shows the distinction between elite and non-elite, which is why I was in awe of the young woman who ran over a minute faster than me at Parkrun last week. And she made it look easy in the process!
Sport shows the distinction between men and women. Which is why it’s going to become an ongoing battlefield for the increasingly hostile gender agenda.
Alexandra’s dad, in his Facebook post, is right in one sense. It is about equality. It’s about levelling a completely un-level playing field. But not by denying there is deep difference, but by admitting there is, and by celebrating it nonetheless. Meanwhile, I fear that, over time, strong, athletically brilliant women like Alexandra Blake are going to be the also-rans in this war.
First published at stephenmcalpine.com