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Omphaloskepsis: It seemed like a good idea at the time

I was deep in thought deciding on what to write about when I was brought back to reality by the unholy sound of a ram’s horn blast. I desperately need to find a better alert sound for my iPhone. The blast informed me of a tweet from The Vancouver Sun reporting that for the 2012 Olympic games, the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) was considering requiring female boxers to wear miniskirts while fighting in the boxing ring.

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By James Inglis (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: November 9, 2011

I was deep in thought deciding on what to write about when I was brought back to reality by the unholy sound of a ram’s horn blast. I desperately need to find a better alert sound for my iPhone. The blast informed me of a tweet from The Vancouver Sun reporting that for the 2012 Olympic games, the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) was considering requiring female boxers to wear miniskirts while fighting in the boxing ring. I thought, well that certainly sounds more interesting than a column on the social and political ramifications upon society of the “Occupy” movement.

For those who don’t know and really why would you, after years of furious lobbying, women’s boxing will be making its first Olympic appearance at the 2012 games in London. I’m sure the AIBA only has the best interest of the sport in mind when the first order of business in getting the Olympic community to look upon Women’s Boxing as a worthy addition to the games seems to be somebody saying, “hey, I know how we can get the Olympic community to look upon Women’s Boxing as a worthy addition to the games. Let’s make the boxers wear miniskirts.”

Of course this isn’t the first time a strange suggestion has appeared in women’s sports. In 2004, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) president, Sepp Blatter suggested that it would be a great idea to have female soccer players be required to wear really tight shorts in order to make the sport more popular. Strangely, the suggestion was not adopted. As an interesting digression, Mr. Blatter is currently in his fourth term as president. I think that speaks volumes to the forward thinking nature of that governing body, but hey what do I know?

To be completely fair it’s not that wearing a miniskirt in the ring is a totally new thing. Modern bastions of gender equality like Poland and Romania often have their female fighters wear miniskirts. Proponents suggest skirts bring a greater level of femininity to the sport. I suggest that if its femininity they’re looking for watching a sport where the goal of the participating women athletes is to beat each other senseless might not be the sport they should follow. Perhaps the Lingerie Football League, synchronized swimming or men’s figure skating might be better choices.

While I was researching for this article (Hey, that’s not nice, I do research. It’s not like I make it all up. Okay, I’ll admit sometimes it may seem that way.) I was surprised at the amount of women’s boxing gear that’s available out there. There’s pink boxing gloves, pink mouth-guards, pink hand-wraps, pink headgear and pink female groin protectors (who says there’s no femininity in this sport?). Oh yes and pink 100 per cent polyester boxing skirts shipped direct from the boxing gear capital of the world, Pakistan. Did you know that there is a website for women’s boxing? Yup. The website has lots of info and photos on the sport and the fighters. I didn’t know that the mullet hairstyle was still so popular.

The AIBA is not the only group promoting femininity in sport. With absolutely no ulterior motive whatsoever that I can find, the cosmetic industry has devised whole product lines of “Sport Makeup” to create, excuse me, to meet this demand. The best promotional marketing slogan I’ve seen was from a company that shall remain nameless, “Sport proof makeup for action packed chicks.” If that doesn’t bring credibility to women’s sport I don’t know what will.

The AIBA believes that having female boxers wear skirts in the ring would make it clear to the spectators they are watching women’s boxing and not men’s boxing. I would have thought the spectators having purchased tickets for women’s boxing might have indicated that. If that’s all the AIBA wants then let me draw the association’s attention to the fact that in the ancient Olympic games the participants competed in the nude. Just saying.

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