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Swimming Rage. July 19, 2005

Posted by Winter in personal political.

Nothing like an early morning rant to kick start the day. OK I don’t know how many readers swim regularly but this is something that is really beginning to irritate. I used to swim competitively as a kid, and although i was never going to be the next best thing, I can still hold my own in a swimming pool. I try and swim at least twice a week now but I’m beginning to think that it doesn’t exactly bring out the best in me. The reason is that everytime I swim there is some guy, and it is normally a guy, who doesn’t like the idea of swimming slower than a girl and insists on swimming infront, cutting me off at the turn or waiting just until i’m about to go and pushing off infront. For those of you who don’t swim it’s like being stuck behind a sunday driver who insists on going 50 in a 60 zone. I’m sorry to report that these approaches to swimming etiquete don’t bring out my most polite or soothing side, and I have found myself swiming straight into a few such swimmers, and cutting up a few others. Although they do seem to give me my space now, surely it would have been more pleasent on all sides if they could just take the time to judge the speed of all the other swimmers (I am not the only woman to fall foul of this phenomena) in the lane and find a spot that suits their speed rather than their ego.

Ok, it’s annoying but what does it have to do with feminsim? Well directly, not a huge amount, but indirectly it’s annother one of those huge areas where implicitly, women just arn’t expected to be strong or skilled on an everyday basis. The number of times I’ve seen guys get all het up, racing up and down the pool in attempt to beat one of the other girls that swims at the same time as me, only to have to rest for a few minutes at the end of each length is laughable. What is it achieving? Not a lot as in the end this girl swims twice as far as anyone else in the pool. What it comes down to is that boys are taught from a very young age that the have to be faster, stronger, fitter or face the consequences of being called a girl. Maybe if we were taught from a young age that girls can be just as agile and athletic as boys, and that the word ‘girl’ was not derrogative we would all be able to have a better time in the swimming pool. What’s more women’s sports may given the same media attention and rewards as the same sports played by men currently are. Even if women do pursue sport now, they have to be appologetic about being good, and surprised by any success that comes their way, and preferably pretty and slim, not muscular and skilled and passionate and robust. Young girls should be encouraged, as young boys are to think of sport as a possible career, not just something you do to keep your body thin. Maybe then more women would feel it was their perogative to pursue sports with the same ambition and drive and passion as men are currently encouraged to do.



1. Winter - July 19, 2005

This is definitely a feminist issue! It’s also partly about male privilege – men believing they have a right to hog the swimming pool and get in the way because what they want is more important than any other consideration, such as annoying or causing discomfort to female swimmers. This puts you in the position of having to respond assertively, because otherwise they’d just get away with it. Also, this love affair between men and speed is just so entrenched in current notions of masculinity!

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