When the HPV vaccine came out, a lot of religious nutjobs opposed it because if we don't let God punish sluts with cancer, how will they get their comeuppance? Knowing that not all of us view sex as a capital offense, some of them phrased some of their objections as questions about the medical value of the vaccine. And so another group of people said "fuck you, sex is awesome and even if it wasn't, cancer is bad. we're going to promote this vaccine like woah." Many years later, I heard rumors the manufacturer had suppressed some evidence of adverse effects, which were possibly more frequent than seen in other vaccines. Any attempt to investigate this was drowned out by proponents so used to hearing bullshit criticism come from people who wanted to control women. Now, I don't know if the story of excess adverse effects is true or not (and I got the vaccine myself), but it's certainly a good story illustrating how you can get so used to tuning out the voices of your clearly wrong
opponents that you miss legitimate criticisms.
My current book Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women's Sports
suggests that the same thing is happening with girls' and women's sports. As Hugo Schwyzer says
, any book with the phrase "protecting our daughters" in the title is suspect, but the author, Michael Sokolove, really does seem to care about women's and especially girl's sports for the value it brings the participants, and simply wants to make these incredibly valuable activities not perform the equivalent of bringing down a hammer on the knee of one girl in twenty.
I'm of the opinion that even if there were no environmental effects, the range of men's behavior would differ from that of women's behavior. I'm still opposed to gender essentialism because humans are unbelievably varied and the fact that a trait is highly predictive for a group doesn't mean it's useful for predicting the behavior of an individual. But this fact was brought up mostly by people who didn't want girls to play sports because they thought it was bad for their uteruses, so the pro-sports people got used to tuning it out. Now, my personal opinion is that our training programs for high school athletes are abominable for both genders and aren't based on the slightest bit of research, but it appears to be even worse for girls than for boys, judging by rate of injury**, and this needs to be worked on. And while I think the training programs for male and female athletes, I think our pursuit of a one-size-fits-all approach is really part of the problem, and we need to focus more on how to teach kids to distinguish good pain from bad pain, how to track what exercises are most productive for them, and to respect the limits of their body.***
Meanwhile, there's the sexualization of female high school athletes
.**** For years I assumed that the cheerleader bikini car wash was made up by hollywood and/or porn. The first time I saw one for real, I went apoplectic. I'm assuming I don't need to explain to any of you why this is bad, or why it was bad to illustrate the story with a picture of what a sexualized high school athlete might look like*****, so please just join me in being angry.
*while I have to work for every pound of gain. Bastards.
**I'm only a few pages in, the statistics given were for soccer, where girls have 8x the risk of ACL tears. If you count cheerleading as a sport, and you should, the discrepancy is worse, because they get no padding while risking considerably worse impact than football players.
***Which would have all kinds of side benefits too.
****I'm a bigger fan of this Schwyzer's blog than his officially published work- one of the reasons I don't do a lot of editing here, possibly too little, is that I've seen several bloggers I really like get more professional gigs and polish everything interesting out of their work. This article is saying valuable things, so I'm glad it was published, but it doesn't have the same sense of watching someone learn that his blog does.
*****I'm annoyed by the trend of including an on-theme but zero-information picture along with articles and blogs in general, but this one in particular.