Monday, March 30, 2009

Grappling With Equality

This is another step in the domestication of the American man, and the de-naturing of us all. Sadly, girls' wrestling is nothing new, and neither is the participation of girls on boys' wrestling teams. But in Minnesota, people are cheering what they call a history making moment because someone has become "the first female to compete at the state high school wrestling tournament" ("Girl Wrestler is Winning Points, Making History," Star Tribune, March 5, 2009).

This caught the attention of Minneapolis pastor, John Piper, at Bethlehem Baptist Church and Desiring God Ministries ("Over My Dead Body, Son"). One of his concerns is broadly cultural, and the other is more narrowly moral, though they are both concerns for men's moral character.

For all those who are concerned about the way men in general treat women in general in our society, he says, "Manly gentleness is not an epidemic in our culture. Rap videos, brutal movies, fatherless homes, and military madness have already made thousands of women the victim of man’s abuse. Now we would make the high school version of feministic nature-denial a partner in this undermining of masculine gentleness."

To fathers who are concerned to raise their sons into masculine maturity, he says, "Give your sons a bigger nobler vision of what it is to be a man. Men don’t fight against women. They fight for women."

Someone offered this comment following the Twin Cities Star Tribune article:

First double standard, where boys are strong than girls post-puberty, the girls are allowed to play on boys' teams in middle school when the girls are bigger. If they get to beat up on the boys in middle school, you can't whine when boys return the favor in high school. Second, in wrestling, this girl has an unfair advantage because she can maintain lower weight classes later in life, thus giving her more experience. Any wrestler worth his or her salt will tell you experience will trump gender anytime. She often ends up wrestling freshman. Not only that, since girls have a lower center of gravity, it's harder to throw her. Third, what about the sexual harassment? Boys are uncomfortable wrestling her and she doesn't care. I wonder how she would feel if a bunch of boys decided to come shower with her. You know, nothing sexual - just a shower. If the coach explains it's just a shower I'm sure she'll be ok with it. God knows the boys can't complain because her right to participate overrides their right not to be harassed.
A Minnesota state senator has introduced a bill to ban girls from boys' wrestling ("Will Wrestling Bill Pin Local Girl?"). Law not only restrains. It also instructs. One way or another, it teaches moral lessons.

As a wrestler myself (you never lose it), I can tell you that I would have to cede any bout in which I was matched against a woman. In general, it is wrong for men to handle women in that way unless the men are wearing badges and the women are resisting arrest. The blindly ideological insistence that boys and girls, men and women wrestle each other in athletic competition abstracts from human sexuality and its significance. This is true in all that a grappler does with his opponant, but it becomes especially clear in a particular pinning maneuver called the "Saturday Night" in which, face to face and chest to chest with your opponent, you hook his arms with your arms and his legs with your legs, and then arch your back, pinning his shoulders to the mat. You get the point.

In Plato's Republic, in the "city in speech" that he constructs to illustrate the requirements of justice in a political community, he has men and women wrestling naked together for the sake of the radical egalitarianism necessary for political unity in the just city (455d-458d). Of course, he understood that this is absurd. His point is that if you press the political relationship to point of trying to perfect it, including the unity and selfless devotion from the citizens that it requires, you end up with absurdity and monstrosity.

In Allan Bloom's interpretive essay that he published with his translation of the dialogue, he says that Book V, with its radical egalitarianism and its communism of women and children, is a comedy. If that is so, our ideologically blinded, egalitarian feminists are pushing our society ever further in this tragically comic direction.

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