West Australian Senator Linda Reynolds, formerly an Army Reserve brigadier, makes the case for genderless sporting competitions:
“Like in the military, sport requires many different qualities in an individual player but also in the team,” Senator Reynolds told Fairfax Media.
“We no longer segregate women solely on their gender. Women now have the opportunity to compete on merit in the military, maybe its time to rethink the segregation of women in sport simply based on their gender and not on the talent.“
Women possess many key attributes required for success at the elite level:
“People go and watch women in soccer and AFL,” she said. “All these people who think it’s about physical strength… it is an important characteristic but it is not the only characteristic,” she said.
“Women excel in sport and in the military because they also have the other qualities required: leadership, resilience and strength.
“There are outstanding female athletes, why shouldn’t they have an opportunity? Of course we want things to be judged on merit, but what is merit?”
So, what happens when males and females compete? In 2016 the Newcastle Jets under-15s boys soccer team trounced the Matildas, Australia’s national team, then number five in world, 7 – zip.
Female footy player Kate Lambeski definitely doesn’t want to compete with men:
The physicality of the game is part of the thrill. But if men and women were to play together, that would have to change to ensure players remained safe. We do not tolerate men being physical towards women in any form, and I’m sure men would find it uncomfortable having to eschew that taboo on the field
For me, playing the game in its purest form, without specific rule changes, matters. Women’s AFL isn’t gimmickry and that is why it has been so successful. It has proved the game doesn’t really need to change for women to play it. A mixed competition would require radical alterations to the rules – and that means you’re not playing the same game anymore.
Some sports are, however, ideally suited to genderless competition:
[Marnee McKay, a lecturer in musculoskeletal physiotherapy at the University of Sydney] said tests demonstrated males were stronger than women but females were better at tasks that required fine motor skills. Dr McKay said mixed gender teams could work for sports like lawn bowls.
Females also have a competitive advantage in competitive knitting, embroidery and sewing.