Wimbledon introduces equal prize money for women and men – finally

// 22 February 2007

The BBC reports that women players in all rounds of this year’s competition at Wimbledon will receive the same prize money as men, bringing the tournament in line with the US and Australian Opens.

And guess what? The misogynists, the “it’s political correctness gone mad!” and the “sexist against men, pendulum’s swung TOO FAR” brigade have already started whining:

People are complaining about inequality. What on earth is “equal” about women getting paid the same for doing less work?

It’s simple – the longest a women’s match can be is 3 sets. The same as the SHORTEST a man’s can be.

If they want equal pay, then they can play best of 5. It’s NOT sexist that way, it’s sexist to pay them the same for doing less.

asserts Tartanunarmed on the BBC’s sport debate page, while lutherisalegend claims that “all women’s tournaments are uncompetitive until the semis, so how can you justify equal prize money before the semis?”

S/he goes on to complain that “if I wanted to hear an hour of mindless grunting I would go to the local pig farm!” It’s “another pathetic cave-in to the PC brigade” claims The_Uncredibles.

What these lovely people (anyone wish to take a stab at which gender they are?) seem unable to comprehend is that both professional male and female tennis players devote all their working hours to training for these tournaments. They may not have the same amount of time on court, but they DO put in the same amount of work, and they deserve the same pay for this effort.

I’m not a professional tennis player so I don’t know whether it is feasible for women to play five set matches, but while I am loathe to bring out the biological essentialism argument, if we look at top athletes it is clear that women at the peak of physical fitness are slightly less strong than men, so I don’t think it is unreasonable that women’s matches contain fewer sets than men’s. What’s more, fewer sets doesn’t necessarily translate into less time on court: in 2005 the ladies’ singles final was 45 minutes longer than the men’s.

As for complaining that women’s tennis is uncompetitive until the semis, well I think we can file that with the same sexist arguments we get from men who claim women’s football is less skilled, women’s rugby is dull, etc, etc. Some people just don’t want to accept that women can – and do – play sports just as well as men. And some people, like the delightful lutherisgod with his/her (just being fair here, but I’d hazard a guess it’s the former) pig farm comment, are just plain sexist.

But let’s give the last word to equality campaigner Billie Jean King:

Women’s tennis is the leader in women’s sports. Equal prize money is a no-brainer.

Photo by notorious d.a.v., shared under a Creative Commons license

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