Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Equality 1.01: why women have as many rights in rugby as men

Last Sunday the blog reported the expulsion of Canterbury's women's team from its home ground.

The result of this was a reply which, I think, expresses beautifully the views of many in rugby and explains why they behave as they do. If you ever have to defend your game chances are that a version of this will come up (or will be in the back of the mind of those opposing you). At first glance the argument seems almost reasonable - but... well, read on...
Its an interesting point - however I'd like to look at the word equality as in my view in cuts both ways.

Are there any womens teams that have contributed equally to the purchase of any of their clubs playing facilities, the club house, indeed any of the basic infrastructure? (and grants at competitive rates because they are made in the name of the women's section don't count).

I appreciate that NOW most do - but we are talking at most the last twenty years.

Even then, very few women's sections make a significant dent in the running costs of the club, most aim for not costing the club anything and many to their credit participate in fund raising etc - but whether we like it or not, none of us could stand up on our own.

If you want to understand the attitude of many administrators, these basic facts can help steer you.

It might not be politically or morally correct - but if you want to apply equality in its purest form, we are no where near equal and I doubt we will be.
In summary the main argument (let's call it the Argument Based on History - ABH) is that, over many years, rugby clubs have been built and created and run and paid for over the years by men - its therefore not unreasonable then men's teams get priority over women's teams who have only been around for a few years. In addition women members are a small percentage of a total club membership (the Argument Based on Numbers - ABN), so contribute proportionately less, and so again it is not unreasonable for men's teams get priority.

There are two main replies to this. The first might be described as the Standard Feminist Response to almost any argument based on history. And it goes something like this:
Without women - without wives and mothers and girlfriends - working away in the background - either at the club (in the kitchens, or washing the kit, or fundraising, or whatever) or in the home (looking after the children, cooking, cleaning, etc.) - the men would not have been able to play rugby, or create the rugby clubs, in the first place. The fact that this contribution has been largely invisible or unrewarded (in any financial sense) does not mean that it was not essential.
As arguments go the SFR a bit political and has a tendency to raise eyebrows, but its has a lot of truth in it and should not be forgotten.

However, a rather more penetrating reply goes something like this. The ABH is understandable if we think of generations of son and fathers and grandfathers building a club only to have women come in right at the end and demand equal access. 

But hang on a minute - what about a man who moves to new town and joins the club. Would it be reasonable to stop him from using all the club facilities, and playing on the 1st XV pitch - after all prior to his joining the club he and his family would never have made any contribution to it?

Okay, the reply might be, but it balances out. Chances are that he or his family will have contributed to other clubs over the years.

Fine - but what about people who have never done that - people who have moved from other countries - maybe countries with no rugby tradition at all. Would it be reasonable to discriminate against members of a family new to this country is they wanted to join a club? 

Obviously not - it would be immoral even be illegal to do so as it would clearly be racist. 

In which case, why is it not equally wrong and sexist to discriminate against women on this basis?

If that is not enough, then a further knock-down is to point out that many of the girls and women wanting to play will be the sisters and daughters and grandaughters of rugby players who have built clubs. Men have daughters as well as sons!

As for the ABN - the fact that a club has fewer women members is irrelevent. A club will have a small number of ginger haired players and blue-eyed players and members of ethnic minorities, but they have full access - so should women.

In short both the ABH and ABN, applied to any other group, would be seen as out-and-out racism (and probably illegal in every country on the planet). That anyone could see these sorts of arguments as reasonable because the victims are women shows not only how far rugby, but also the world in general, has to go.

But the fact is that this is almost certainly the thinking in the back of the mind of every rugby administrator who questions the right of his club's, or county's, or country's female players to have equal access to the same facilities and resources as the men. To return to Canterbury, where this began. The members of that club's women's 1st XV are playing at the highest level that they can - they are the best players their club possesses - and they deserve the right to access the same level of facility as their male counterparts and fellow club members. No more and no less.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Total Pageviews (since June 2009)

Sport Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory