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Gender Equality Uber Alles
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August 21, 2008, 04:13 PM
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One contributor to the unwieldy giganticism of the Olympics is the perceived need to hold a women`s event for every men`s event, no matter how unpopular the sport is with women, or, in many cases, with both sexes. For example, modern pentathlon (in which you pretend to be a courier during the Napoleonic Wars and swim, horseback ride, run, shoot, and fence your way to delivering your secret message—okay, in theory, it sounds pretty cool, but in practice, nobody cares) hasn`t been all that big since George S. Patton finished fifth in it back in 1912, but, nonetheless, the Olympics added women`s modern pentathlon in 2000.

Likewise, walking is the all-time dorkiest-looking sport, but sure enough, we`ve had a women`s walking race in all the Olympics of this decade.

Weightlifting is a fun sport to attend, with a professional wrestling vibe as the big galoots try to psyche each other out, but it`s hopelessly snarled up by steroids. Nonetheless, the Olympics added women`s weightlifting in 2000. Women`s wrestling was introduced in 2004.

Of course, gender equality in sports almost always means "separate but equal."

Shooting at the Olympics became sexually integrated in 1968. Women won a number of medals over the next few decades, although men won the great majority. By 1996 it had split into segregated men`s and women`s events.

The only Olympic sports where men and women compete against each other is in equestrian (where the horse is doing most of the work) and some of the sailing events.