I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar, Just not at the Olympics

Helen Reddy sang a Grammy Award-winning hit in 1972 called “I Am Woman,” an ode to the newly blossomed feminist movement. It was a number one song in the US, selling over a million copies.

I am woman, hear me roar

In numbers too big to ignore

And I know too much to go back an’ pretend

What are women going back and pretending about today? How about separate men’s and women’s sports? Remember a time when major sporting competitions, like the Olympic Games, separated men from women, perhaps not in the Olympic Village, but on the track, in the pool, and in the gym.

One time, this was commonsensical as men and women differ greatly in terms of size, strength, and power due to a hormone called testosterone, abundant in growing boys, but not so in girls, leading to higher bone density, larger muscle mass, and more efficient power generation.

In last week’s Olympic Trials, these differences were quite evident. For example, in the 100-meter run, the winning time for men was 9.80 seconds compared to 10.86 seconds for women, a full second, or about 10 percent slower.

In swimming the results were similar. Take the 200-meter breaststroke as one example. The winning men’s time was 2:07.55 compared to 2:21.07 for women, a 14-second difference, again about 10 percent slower.

This is not sexist or misogynistic; instead, it is biology and reality. Except for the left for whom it must mean that evolution (because they don’t believe in God) is sexist.

If men and women competed equally in most of these sports, the Olympic team would be virtually all male, as even some of the slowest men’s qualifying times, posted by those nowhere near reaching the finals, would easily be Olympic qualifying times for women.

What about a sport requiring raw strength and power, like weightlifting? Compare two categories, similar in weight class, at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The winning lift for +75 kg women was 307 kg, combining snatch and clean and jerk. For men in the 77 kg weight class, the winning total was 379 kg, about 23 percent more.

Is this surprising? Or is this considered quite normal when comparing men to women in weightlifting? This was no surprise to Helen Reddy.

‘Cause I’ve heard it all before

And I’ve been down there on the floor

No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Women will be kept down, away from the medal stand, when competing against men. Helen Reddy is Australian, providing an easy pivot across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, where the above differences between men and women will be on display at next month’s Olympics.

New Zealand just named Laurel Hubbard to its women’s weightlifting roster for the upcoming Tokyo games, making Hubbard the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics. As a 43-year-old, Hubbard will compete in the category for women over 87 kg.

YouTube screen grab

He is humbled and appreciative of this opportunity, but his fellow competitors may not be. He went through male puberty, allowing testosterone to make him stronger and more powerful than his competition, who all went through female puberty. While Hubbard’s testosterone levels currently have to be below a certain level, that matters little as his weightlifting engine was built decades ago under high testosterone levels.

Hubbard started taking female hormones at age 35, after spending three-and-a-half decades as a male, refining his strength and power as a man, even setting national records in junior competition. He now brings the 20 plus percent lifting advantage noted above to the women’s competition. Is that fair? Ask Helen Reddy.

And I come back even stronger

Not a novice any longer

‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

Hubbard is no novice and will certainly come back stronger than his biological female competitors. Can his gender transition be considered a “performance enhancing” boost, similar to steroids or blood doping, which are clearly illegal and disqualifying? Ask Lance Armstrong.

Some female weightlifters don’t think this is fair and have spoken out, only to be told to “be quiet” when they raise the unfairness issue. Not all athletes are biting their tongues, however.

Former Olympic decathlon champion and now California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner has strong opinions, reflecting being on both sides of this controversy. Jenner recently told a reporter,

It’s a question of fairness. That’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school. It just isn’t fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova agrees,

It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.

These are not fringe opinions from right-wing fanatics. Jenner is transgendered and Navratilova is a lesbian, both strong supporters of LGBT rights but also of athletic fairness, the latter a concept lost on the woke left.

Where are the feminists? Where are the woke women constantly complaining about gender inequities? Actresses and cable news anchorettes have nothing to say. Rather than complaining about Handmaid’s Tale Trump, they should be outraged over the athletic sisterhood missing out on Olympic medals to men who now claim to be women.

Piers Morgan weighed in with an unwoke column in the Daily Mail saying,

Allowing a transgender weightlifter to compete in the Tokyo Olympics is a terrible mistake that destroys women’s rights to equality and fairness - and will kill the Olympic dream for female athletes.

Such common sense won’t matter to the woke left who see this as more identity politics, defending a victim group, transgenders, even if it destroys another of their victim groups, women.

For the left, it’s “situational victimhood.” The bigger victim is the one who fits leftists’ political needs; in this case, transgenders over women. While black lives matter in a protest, they don’t in terms of whose neighborhoods are destroyed in such protests.

As everything is political these days, another transgendered athlete, qualifying as an alternate on the US cycling team, summed it up. “My goal is to win the Olympics so I can burn a US flag on the podium.” How sweet and patriotic. After the Olympics, Chelsea Wolfe can run for Congress and become the fifth member of “The Squad”, which sounds like a perfect fit.

Helen Reddy might sing otherwise.

Oh yes, I am wise

But it’s wisdom born of pain

Yes, I’ve paid the price

But look how much I gained

The women who paid the price to train and reach the pinnacle of sport, an Olympic team, have little to gain if they are competing on a very uneven playing field. If this is wisdom, it’s not born of pain, but of wokeness and stupidity.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a physician and writer. He is on sabbatical from social media.

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