Women at the Olympics

Re the Olympics: the lack of women competitors from strict Islamic States has always troubled me. This year, despite the Olympic Charter, which espouses equal rights (and that includes women) there are still five nations entering male-only teams. (in 2000 there were around 34 – so things are improving, but there has not yet been a total ban o­n restrictive practices such as there was for Apartheid.) The women have to wait for special Muslem Women Olympics which are closed events.

It is hard in this time of racial tension to be seen to appear intolerant of cultural practices, however, customs which seek to keep women subjugated are not something I can condone. This is all highlighted by the burka-debate. Moderate Muslems will no doubt claim that the burka engenders respect for women, but I am with the Sunday Times reporter who sees any device that hinders freedom of movement and expression as being a restrictive practice that makes women invisible or insignificant. To be fair, I have to include high-heeled shoes and tight underwear in that category. Interestingly, I understand that in Iraq, shoes and the more extreme the better, are a sign of emancipation. A semi-hidden snipe at authority.

When I was twelve years old I realised that life for women was not fair. The wonder of it is that I am pleased to be a woman. Even an older woman.

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3 Responses to Women at the Olympics

  1. Anonymous says:

    I laughed out loud at your inclusion of high-healed shoes as a restrictive practice and the note that Muslim women wear them beneath the burka. Yes, they are restrictive and kinda dumb and hard o­n the feet, but how can a woman resist? I wore them for decades because they are beautiful and made me feel sexy and feminine and womanly. I even wore them running up and down the hills of San Francisco when I lived there.

    One day, a few years ago, I asked myself if my feet had always hurt this much or if it was a result of all those years of high-heeled shoes. I couldn't answer the question then nor now, but my tolerance for foot pain was permanently gone and I wear flat shoes or o­ne-and-a-half inch heels if it's a dressy occasion and I won't be walking much. But oh, how I miss them and envy the young girls who can still ignore the pain.

  2. Anonymous says:

    OK, o­ne more about high heeled shoes.  My first experience with them, over 40 years ago, was a beautiful pair of elastic topped white high shoes with the little holes punched into the leather to make a pattern.  I was with my grandmother, her sister and my great uncle watching a July 1st parade in Westville, Nova Scotia, Canada, where I grew up.  I spent most of the parade looking at my shoes and admiring them from every angle.  I truly do not remember my feet hurting but then it was a long time ago.  Being a farming community there were lots of animals in the parade, particularly the big Clydesdale horses drawing various entries.  Inevitably, o­ne of the horses did his thing directly in front of me and as it plopped o­nto the pavement it splashed my beautiful new white shoes. 
    Years later, I mistakenly told my husband about my first pair of high heeled shoes and I have yet to hear the end of it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why do you wear a burka on a Sunday then?

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