In a world riddled with underlining gender biases, it seems that talent is one of the only aspects of life which doesn’t come with a gender label.
With this in mind, I thought I’d write an opinion piece on this topic and why, in some respects, I feel ashamed to be part of a society which still exploits gender biases.
It’s no secret that sexism, sadly, still exists in the 21st Century. Aside from the ongoing gender pay gap which continues to plague many professions, sport has mostly eliminated the idea of gender inequality.
Let’s take gymnastics as an example.
If I asked you to name a few of the great gymnasts of our time, you’d most likely name Max Whitlock, Nile Wilson and Beth Tweddle, to name a few. In a sport which requires precision, balance and an insane amount of core strength, gender seems to be of no importance.
Gymnastics focuses on the sheer talent of those involved, their perseverance and hard work, instead of making leeway for narrow-minded perceptions that the sport is for one gender, and one gender only.
I admire many of the greats from this sport, I can just about touch my toes let alone do flips and tricks from parallel bars!
It’s refreshing to be able to escape in the world of gymnastics where talent is appreciated, and gender isn’t criticised.
Another sport which supports this ideology is horse riding.
Ah, the absolute art of trying to control a 750-pound animal with it’s own mind. And no, don’t even get me started on the “you just sit there” stereotype – I will personally come and lecture you on the work us riders put in to look flawless and get our horses working correctly.
Like gymnastics, horse riding is a sport for all. From popular figures such as Mark Todd, Ben Maher and Ellen Whitaker, to those sitting on a horse for the first time, the only thing that matters is the partnership you have with your horse – not what gender you identify with.
Yet, there are some sports which focus on gender, instead of the talent their competitors hold.
One of the most recent examples was the controversy surrounding South African middle-distance runner, Caster Semenya.
She caused concern amongst fellow athletes that her condition, hyperandrogenism, gave her an unfair advantage.
Hyperandrogenism is a medical condition characterized by excessive levels of androgens (male sex hormones such as testosterone) in the female body.
Yet, the fact it occurs in the FEMALE BODY was overlooked by the ethical debate regarding Semenya’s biological gender.
For me, this is definitely a face palm moment…
The Daily Mail published in their article: “Semenya, 25, has testosterone levels three times the normal level found in women and approaching those of a man. Furthermore, she has no womb or ovaries, and instead, owing to a chromosomal abnormality, internal testes. As a result, her appearance is startlingly masculine.”
If it’s all about appearance then please start calling me Andy because I probably share “startlingly masculine” aesthetic characteristics with my Dad!
Why must we always look upon gender as the ‘be all or end all’?
Yet (aside from the odd blip) talent remains genderless, and that’s the beauty of it.
Speaking of beauty, the make-up industry is an absolute gold-mine for the celebration of talent. I know I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.
YouTube is a hub of make-up artistry, from NikkieTutorials, James Charles, Zoella and many others, talent is shared across this platform. Make-up is celebrated for what it is – a form of art open to interpretation and personal preference.
Men and women alike are celebrated on YouTube and other social media platforms for their artistry and talent. That is a real step in bridging the gap between gender stereotypes surrounding make-up.
As a society, I believe we should live and let live, encourage others to follow their passions whilst striving to bring out the best in ourselves.
In sports like gymnastics, horse-riding, rugby and football, where both men and women can compete (granted, in separate competitions/matches) is a fantastic advocate for equality.
Talent is a gift. Afterall, achieving Olympic medals and competing in world class competitions doesn’t happen at the click of a finger and shouldn’t be overlooked by one’s gender.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog! Please note, all opinions expressed are my own!