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Boxing Association may force female boxers to wear skirts

Savoy Howe, first lesbian in boxing

Imagine gay athletes having to wear pink tutus when they play, or a black athlete being forced to wear a do-rag when they participate. That's what the Amateur International Boxing Association is trying to do with women, floating the idea that women may soon have to wear skirts in the ring. Women have long worn shorts, just like the men. According to the BBC:

AIBA asked boxers to trial the skirts, which they said would allow spectators to distinguish them from men, but at last week's European Championships in Rotterdam only two nations - Poland and Romania - had taken on the alternative outfits.

Distinguish them from the men? Who's confused? The difference between men and women is pretty clear. And even if it weren't, what's the need to distinguish them? They're not boxing against one another. And if you sit down at a female boxing match you's a female boxing match.

Some great strides have been made recently in the sport. The Olympic Games in 2012 will include female boxing for the first time. But Helen Carroll, head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights sports project, says this is blatant sexism:

This is the most flagrant example of sexism in sports, especially on an international scale, that I have seen in years. To say that a woman boxer must wear a skirt to be able to tell the difference in the ring between men boxers and women boxers is completely untruthful and absurd. Let’s recognize what is truly happening in this situation. Coaches and organizations often promote an ultra-feminization of strong women in sport to market women as sex objects instead of great athletes and to attempt an image of no lesbians, bisexual or transgender athletes in sport. Let me ask you, “Who REALLY wants to see a woman box in a skirt?” The answer to that question tells it all.

It's one thing to make the skirt an option for athletes; I'm all for putting more decisions in the hands of the athletes. But to force a uniform change on athletes who have been participating in shorts all their lives is horribly sexist.

Hat tip to Helen Carroll.