Even Running Magazines Need Feminism

Remember way back in the summertime, when the evenings were much longer, you could wear shorts with impunity, and women on the internet were suddenly deciding they no longer needed feminism because they loved men and weren’t lesbians?

Indeed, a Tumblr site was created, called Women Against Feminism, so that women of all ages and nationalities could show their certain misunderstanding of feminism’s core tenets by announcing that they didn’t need feminism because

  • They love their boyfriends and husbands.
  • They want to promise honor and obedience to their husbands.
  • True equality already exists in the workplace.
  • Being a woman is more advantageous than being a man.

Skimming through the Tumblr site fills me with a bit of despair. Maybe feminists haven’t been good enough at messaging, because the same tired stereotypes about feminism emerges here: that feminists are man-hating harpies, intent on destroying anyone born; they hate children and abhor families; they want women to be better than men, not equal to them. (Because, of course, equality already exists. Pssshtt.)

Mostly, I think those posting on the Tumblr site need to take a gender studies course, just like the amazing ones offered by my colleagues here at George Fox University.

I was reminded again why we still need feminism when reading Runner’s World, a seemingly benign publication dedicated to all things running related. A recent article describes a Colorado woman’s outright win in the Kauai Marathon, meaning Nicole Chyr beat all the men and the women in the field.

The article mentions several other women who have won races outright, an accomplishment for any female or male athlete, and then ends with this paragraph:

“Chyr’s win was partly possible because Tyler McCandless, who’d won the Kauai Marathon three times, decided to devote his energies to raising funds for youth health programs on the island and to running the day’s half marathon, in which he set a course record of 1:01:17.”

In other words, “There’s NO WAY that chick could have won if a faster dude was in the race.”

Okay, so maybe that’s true. But isn’t that true of any race? Or, of any athletic competition? Have you ever read an article about a men’s 100 meter that said “Asafa Powell won the race, made possible because Usian Bolt wasn’t there”? Or, “The Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers, but only because the Rangers weren’t playing the Cardinals.”

(Someone may quibble with the baseball analogy somehow, so yes, I know the Rangers and the Cards are in a different league.)

So, if any race is decided by the people who show up that day—and not some imaginary competition not in the race—why would it be important to point this out in an article about a woman’s victory?

Probably, because a whole lot of male runners didn’t want to get chicked. And also, because “chicked” is a derogatory term for getting beat by a woman in a running race (as if, heaven forbid, this is the worse thing possible), I would argue that we still need feminism.