Posted: 24/05/2013 at 13:08
Interesting thread (and I know it's a bit old but here's my (very long) two penneth anyway).
As my starting point, I think it's useful to acknowledge Cancer Research UK's stated reason for keeping RfL women-only. Apparently they've done "research" which indicates they would have fewer participants if they allowed men to take part. As I understand it, this means they asked some previous participants and the majority said they'd prefer it to stay women-only, and that's good enough for CRUK.
If my understanding of their research is correct this seems shortsighted to me - they would need to also survey potential participants (many of whom are currently excluded). If considering whether to turn a carpark into a playground would you just ask the drivers who use it at the moment, and make a decision based on their views?
Of course the fact that many women, in their survey and on this thread, have been quite clear that they found RfL a non-intimidating event. Without that they may never have taken part, and in some cases it encouraged them to start running elsewhere. This is positive and shouldn't be ignored.
But I think that rather than concentrating on the restriction of gender it's more useful to consider the focus of the event.
- Is it a race where everyone wants to win, or at least concentrates on their position?
- Is it a slightly less competitive event which still focuses on getting a good time, or beating a PB (like parkrun)?
- Or is it completely non-competitive, a purely charity event where time doesn't matter at all; the important thing is to finish, hopefully raise some money and awareness, and perhaps serve as a kind of tribute to a friend or family member who has been affected by whatever it is the charity is about?
Despite often being called "races", many mass participation events these days are a combination of the above, with internationally famous atheletes at the front, and one-time charity "runners" in fancy-dress at the back and everything in-between.
I would suggest that the important thing for RfL to ensure it remains non-intimidating, is that the focus stays non-competitive. It's about charity, cameraderie and having fun, none of which are exclusive to either gender.
Notably RfL is about all kinds of cancer, but I would point to the example of the MoonWalk which is specifically for breast cancer. Of course men can also get breast cancer, but MoonWalk has been marketed as a "girl's night out". Their "thing" is that everyone wears a bra. They are very clear that there is no focus on going fast, no prizes, and in fact, no running. And yet, they are happy to allow men to take part - apparently men are about 1% of the participants. And I have to ask whether a small percentage of male participants dressed like this guy:
...would really ruin the entire event for all the women involved? Because if not, to object for the sake of is just unreasonable.
So is any of this important? And if so, why? Aren't there bigger things to worry about?
Well I don't buy the idea that because there are bigger issues we can ignore the smaller ones, should we only ever care about one thing at at a time?
I don't buy the idea that if you are raising money for charity you can behave how you like because it's for the greater good.
I don't understand why it might be OK to discriminate based on (either) gender any more than it would b