The same “sexist” attitude that keeps men out of church may ultimately keep them out of women’s sports.
More on that later. First, the backstory.
In March, the United States House of Representatives passed the Equality Act of 2019. The proposed law would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Senate is not expected to take up the measure, dooming it for now. But if Democrats flip the Senate and win the White House in 2020 the law is likely to pass, with the unintended consequence being the death of women’s sports.
Under the Equality Act, every sports team in America would be legally bound to open its women’s teams to any athlete who identifies as female. Schools that refuse to offer scholarships to transgender athletes or require them to undergo medical transitions would be subject to costly litigation or the loss of federal funding.
The controversy is splitting the left into two camps: Gay rights activists who dismiss these concerns as “trans-hopbia”, and radical feminists who fear an influx of male bodied athletes crowding out female-born competitors. Well-known feminists and parents of girls are sounding the alarm after a series of male-to-female athletes crushed their competitors and smashed records with relative ease.
Here’s a hypothetical: this April my alma mater’s women’s basketball team, the Baylor Lady Bears, won the women’s NCAA national championship over the Notre Dame women’s team. Baylor won the hard-fought title game between two evenly matched squads by a single point.
But if the Lady Bears had played against the Notre Dame men’s team, they would certainly have lost – even though the Fighting Irish men had a terrible season, finishing dead last in their conference. A mediocre men’s team would easily beat the best women’s team in the country, because men are taller, stronger and more muscular than women. This is not sexism; it’s science.
If the Equality Act passes it’s not hard to imagine a future in which second-tier male athletes change their gender identity in order to snap up women’s athletic scholarships. Or a coach, hungry for success, could stock his team with men who call themselves women. Such a team would run away with the national championship, and be hailed as trailblazers by the adoring media. Every other team would be forced to follow suit. Within a decade “women’s” sports would be dominated by male-bodied athletes, with female-bodied players serving as benchwarmers (if they even make the team).
So, will this come to pass? Maybe — but I have my doubts, because thankfully, men are sexists.
Let me introduce you to an axiom I call “Murrow’s Iron-Clad Rule of the Genders”:
Women do masculine, but men don’t do feminine.
Women delight in taking on traditionally male roles, but men are deeply embarrassed to take on female roles. This is true in varying degrees the world over.
Women are perfectly comfortable working in male-dominated fields like construction, aviation and law, but men tend to avoid female dominated careers – even those that pay well. For example, women now predominate in America’s medical schools and are the majority of America’s doctors under age 45. Meanwhile, fewer than 8% of registered nurses are male.
When a woman breaks a “glass ceiling” she’s lauded by her peers. But men who do womanly things or assume feminine roles are scorned by other men. Miller Beer capitalized on this five years ago with a series of TV commercials titled, “Man Up!” The clever spots satirized men who wore skinny jeans, who went to the bathroom in pairs, or who sported “tramp-stamp” tattoos on their posteriors. Here’s one starring the future Duchess of Sussex.
For all its liberal tendencies, Hollywood reinforces the one-way barrier. Male movie stars who dress as women are portrayed as laughingstocks (Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire), but women who take on male roles are heroic (Mulan, Yentl, Albert Nobbs).
Feminists may roll their eyes at men’s irrational fear of appearing womanly — but it’s the only thing that may keep them from exploiting the obvious loophole the Equality Act will create.
What has this got to do with church? The same sexist attitude that may keep men from dominating women’s sports is keeping them from coming to church. Churchgoing is perceived as a womanly activity – particularly among young, masculine men. Men are loath to do anything that calls their manhood into question.
Judging by the trajectory of society I would guess the Equality Act will eventually pass. It will be interesting to see how many male athletes will game the system to win games, set records, and gain scholarships. Even more interesting will be society’s reaction to a 6-foot-9-inch tall “female” basketball star with a beard.
But of course, there is an upside: if transgenders flood the WNBA, somebody might start watching their games.