SHOULD MEN AND WOMEN COMPETE AGAINST EACH OTHER IN SPORT?: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF MIXED COMPETITION
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Although a widely accepted phenomenon in sport, sex categories are problematic since they have the potential to exclude females from sport and reinforce sexist gender stereotypes. Much debate therefore surrounds the legitimacy and necessity of single sex competitions as national governing bodies exercise their right to legally sexually discriminate. This dissertation aims to contribute to the debate by determining whether there are any good philosophical reasons for sex categories to exist in sport through critically evaluating the arguments currently offered in support of them. The arguments for sex segregation in sport surround three key themes: (i) the prevention of harm; (ii) the prevention of predictable results; and (iii) the need to achieve a level playing field. Biological assumptions underpin the development of these arguments. Therefore in showing the falsity of these assumptions I also show that even the most persuasive arguments for sex categories are flawed. Although the logic behind sex integration may appear to make sense, it is important to recognise that we cannot make decisions detached from reality. In today’s society women would face a significant and systematic loss in mixed sport, not because of physiological differences but because of society’s inherent male bias. Since sex integration would only disadvantage women further in sport, I do not propose enforcing sex categories. Instead I propose simply lifting the ban on mixed competition to challenge the gender bias and to encourage mixed competition in sports where there are no good reasons to maintain sex segregation.
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