Dainty boxing

A couple of months old, but too stupid and bad to overlook.

Women will be boxing at the Olympics for the first time this year. And…can you guess what follows?

Geniuses in the International Amateur Boxing Association think maybe they should wear skirts.


For boxing.

Really? Really? It’s so important that everyone should have easy access to women’s Little Special Place that they have to wear skirts even for boxing? So that when they fall down everyone can check for visible pubic hair?

What’s next? Rules requiring women to wear high heels, a plunging neckline, lipstick, earrings, long hair?

Adults and Tiaras.



  1. lordshipmayhem says

    They’re not skirts, they’re kilts. And Granddad wore one in World War I. Showed those Germans a thing or two – “Ladies from Hell”, the Jerries called them.

    Now put on a kilt & sporran, ladies, pick up those claymores, follow the bagpipes and storm the offices of those idiots who expect you to box in those ridiculous outfits.

    Boxing in skirts, indeed. *snort*

  2. says

    I don’t remotely understand the thinking behind this. Not a little, not a hair, not a mote. I don’t even know how the conversation could possibly happen. How does someone suggest something like that, and not get laughed out of the room?

    Maybe everyone at the IABA is 100+ years old, and the initial suggestion involved petticoats like mom used to wear?

  3. sailor1031 says

    WTF? didn’t we just go through this with the Badminton Federation? Is this going to go sport by sport? what about womens ski jumping? or dressage sidesaddle? Who the fuck appoints these idiots? and can’t they be got rid of?

  4. Didaktylos says

    … because women can only be allowed to play sport if they conform to male standards of visual sexiness.

  5. Foob says

    An AIBA spokesman said: “It has never been AIBA’s intention to make skirts compulsory for women’s boxers.”

    Story invented out of whole cloth by some hack with a deadline. Not that it’s unbelievable…

  6. piero says

    I’d rather neither women nor men practised that so-called sport. Doing the same stupid things men do is not a sign of emancipation, but a sign of comparable stupidity.

    Boxing should be banned. Instead of fostering the healthy development of the body, it leaves sequels that I can only describe as horrendous.

  7. says

    Yes I agree with you about that, piero.

    Once when I was working for the Parks department we had to listen to a fellow employee tell us about how his ambitions to be a boxer and how well he was doing at it. It was supposed to be an inspirational story of a kid working his way up from the ghetto or something. I thought it was infuriating.

    Foob it wasn’t invented – the boxers themselves were annoyed by this development.

  8. willv says

    I wasn’t even aware skirts were an option, as far as boxing attire. Google image results are not exactly… dignified.

    @piero I can understand why you find boxing distasteful, but that’s not sufficient reason to make it illegal. Adults have the right to take risks with their own bodies.

  9. says

    Oh come on – the fact that boxing is lethal is indeed sufficient reason to ban it as a commercial organized enterprise. Adults don’t have the infinite absolute right to take risks even with their own bodies.

  10. willv says

    Adults don’t have the infinite absolute right to take risks even with their own bodies.

    Why not? Every sport involves some amount of calculated risk. Plenty of people die swimming, cycling, or skiing, but nobody calls for outlawing bicycles.

  11. Beauzeaux says

    Every sport has risks. However, boxing has the specific purpose of bashing on another person to unconsciousness.

    That’s not a “calculated risk” — that’s what the sport is all about. Yes, crashes and injuries are a risk of cycling. But you win in cycling by getting to an end point first. You don’t win by injuring another person (or yourself).

    Other risky sports exist. I’m only opposed to those whose whole reason for existing is to injure people or animals.

  12. Irene Delse says

    Sure, making skirts mandatory for women in sports is sexist and outdated. But pretending that it’ll make their pubic hair visible to spectators? Hello? I don’t see the International Amateur Boxing Association allowing women to go on the ring without underwear, you know!

  13. julian says

    Heh, what timing. I just got done signing a petition against this on Change.org.

    Of course I’m not opposed to women having to wear skirts. So long as us men folk are afforded the same right to look pretty and elegant while getting our jaws rocked.

  14. says

    will – what Beauz said. A calculated risk that’s a side effect is one thing, a certain risk that’s what the sport is all about is another.

    Plenty of people, or at least some people, die early from traumatic brain injury in hockey and football, and the rules are being tightened up.

    And then there’s the spectator aspect. Watching people bash each other in the head.

    Granted, I’d rather see it die out as opposed to being banned, but I can’t get outraged at the suggestion of a ban. I think it’s a sick “sport.”

    Bullfighting, on the other hand, should be banned.

  15. says

    Irene – oh, that was just a crude joke. But then again skirts are kind of crude. I like to be blunt about that. It’s not that they’re “elegant,” it’s that they open the door.

  16. willv says

    @Beauzeaux I see your point, I just don’t think anyone has the right to tell an adult what they can and can’t do with their own body.

    @Irene Delse You can’t picture some tabloid blog posting close-ups of a competitors unkempt bikini line? Maybe I just have a vivid imagination.

  17. says

    will – so people can box privately. But the industry? That’s not just a matter of what adults do with their own bodies. I don’t think people should be forbidden to box, but I think there’s a case for shutting down the industry.

  18. julian says

    What argument would that be? If someone can compete (in an admittedly violent competition) with another person legally, what’s to stop them from doing this for money or for greater publicity?

  19. willv says

    I was mostly neutral on the subject before, but having done a bit of research, I have to agree it’s a barbaric sport (and I’m a hockey fan.) I find it distasteful that people make money off of it, but I can’t support any kind of ban unless somehow non-consenting parties are being harmed. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  20. willv says

    I do think they ought to get rid of the gloves if they’re going to do it since they just increase the likelihood of a concussion.

  21. julian says

    I do think they ought to get rid of the gloves if they’re going to do it since they just increase the likelihood of a concussion.

    One of many reasons why I prefer MMA despite it being more barebones fighting. Boxing, however fun it might be, seems set up to screw up your body in the long run.

  22. says

    Well we’re not totally disagreeing – as I said, I would rather see social disapproval and changes in morality and the like cause it to fade away (quickly) instead of a ban. I just think it’s too hasty and too easy to make it about what adults do with their bodies and leave it at that. (The people who profit from the business are doing it to other adults’ bodies, for one thing.)

  23. Rudi says

    Half of me despises boxing as an anachronistic throwback to medieval death sports; the other half quite enjoys the raw excitement of a decent scrap.

    While I don’t see how or why it should be banned – free society and all that – I do think there should be far greater restrictions (e.g. Possibly banning under-18 boxing)

  24. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    The goal in boxing is to either give the opponent a concussion or to injure them so badly they quit the fight.

    I race sailboats. Occasionally sailors get injured or drown. But that’s not the goal of a sailboat race. The goal is to get your boat from the starting line to the finish line faster than everyone else.* Injuries and death in sailing are both accidental and incidental. The same cannot be said of boxing.

    *I’m being nice and not explaining the handicapping involved in sailing. It’s quite common for a boat to finish before another boat but to lose on what’s called corrected time.

  25. Foob says

    Just to reply to #7, this story read to me like a journo calling round a bunch of people with a leading question hoping to get an annoyed quote from one of them, then running with that quote. There’s no source for the idea that AIBA want to make skirts compulsory, just the people reacting to the idea. The only AIBA representative agrees with the quoted boxer that skirts should be optional.

    Anyhow, I did a little more googling. Turns out AIBA had suggested a few months ago that they’d prefer women to wear skirts in the ring. That produced the predictable outcry, except in Poland where the coach did make skirts compulsory, and produced some lovely quotes for the press about how skirts produced a “good impression, a womanly impression”. I reckon AIBA’ve backed off from that position (if only because of the mediapathic Polish coach), hence the lack of outrageous quotes in the linked article.

    So, fair enough, I was wrong. It wasn’t a non-story, just an old one being dug up. I will make the prediction that AIBA will not make skirts compulsory at this Olympics.

  26. karmakin says

    I don’t have a problem with combat sports per se, but boxing in and of itself is just messed up, as other people have mentioned. Mostly due to the structure and the gloves.

    I’m surprised nobody brought this problem up with skirts in a ring…rings are usually elevated. Quite frankly, the judges/other people at ring side are going to be able to see right up said skirts.

    Maybe that’s the point behind all this. Which I personally think is its own level of twisted. (This really indicates that some of these people probably get off on women’s boxing….ugh)

  27. willv says

    Yeah, a big part of the aversion to boxing I’ve developed in the past few hours of reading is that it seems to be extraordinarily risky even among combat sports. The addition of what is essentially a weapon (boxing gloves) to a format that already rules out every tactic except for blunt trauma to the head and torso is a recipe for catastrophe.

    @’Tis Himself A bit of a correction,

    The goal in boxing is to either give the opponent a concussion or to injure them so badly they quit the fight.

    Feel free to refute me with stats if you can find them (it looks like it’ll take more effort than I care to exert to prove), but I think the majority of boxing matches do not end in KO or forfeit (in fact I’m pretty sure that surrender is a very rare outcome). There is actually a fairly complex judging system by which each fighter scores between 8 and 10 points per round depending on the number of blows landed, aggression, control of the ring and so on. When the set number of round are over the fighter with the higher score is declared the winner.

    Still, the fact remains that the primary method is scoring points is inflicting blunt force trauma on your opponent. I suppose at least in MMA there are many more options that can be used to force a surrender.

  28. willv says

    And I may as well add that from my limited experience in martial arts classes and my (very) limited experience in actual fights a submission move (joint lock, sleeper hold) is often a much easier (and less dangerous to everyone) way to end a fight than bludgeoning the other person senseless.

  29. julian says

    I suppose at least in MMA there are many more options that can be used to force a surrender.

    It isn’t just that. In boxing when you get knocked to the ground you have a ten count to get back up. Your opponent has to walk away and give you the breathing room. This may sound benign but in reality leads boxers to just keep hitting that magic place that sent their opponent to the ground. Again and again because no one ever throws in the towel or admits their insides are likely bruised beyond recognition.

    In MMA a downed opponent is still a legitimate target. You can follow him to the deck and keep sending blows. This sounds cruel but all it ends up as is the ref declaring a TKO as the downed man cannot defend himself and is going to be (if it were a real fight) beaten senseless. So the only damage you take is from that first hit.

  30. Svlad Cjelli says

    Not sure why boxers wear helmets sometimes and not other times. Haven’t looked into it.

  31. says

    Dueling is not allowed in any civilized country that I know of, so the “consenting adults” arguments doesn’t really hold water. I guess the more general prohibition is against harming another human being, even if said being agrees to the harm. I am not at all sure what the argument is for boxing and other fight sports to be exempt from this rule.

    But back to the topic at hand: Why not require female participants in any sport to wear wet T-shirts? I am sure it would draw male spectators in droves, if that is the main goal.

  32. says

    On second thought, one argument is the anti-prohibition one: If we outlaw it, we will only drive it underground, where it cannot be subject to public scrutiny and regulation, hence perhaps leading to worse abuses. It’s a pretty powerful argument, actually.

  33. S Mukherjee says

    What is this bloody obsession with making sportswomen look ‘feminine’!? And such a narrow definition of ‘feminine’ at that — skirts, long hair, etc. It’s just nauseating.

  34. says

    S Mukherjee, you’ve got a good point there. Who gets to define what counts as attractive? Of course, that’s secondary to the problem of insisting that women have to be “attractive” in order to be taken seriously. If a woman is the best there is at what she does, and that happens to be a sport, why does her appearance matter at all?

  35. piero says

    I agree with Harald: consent is not relevant here, and that’s why we happily accept duelling to be forbidden. In addition, boxing is a spectator sport, so it stimulates aggression and eradicates compassion on those who watch it.

    I know this will sound like a provocation, but it’s not: I fnd all competitive sports ludicrous, and more fitting for creatures with no cerebral cortex. What have you actually won by scoring more points or running faster than your opponent? I used to watch the Olympics, but I do it no longer, because it saddens me to see right there on my screen so many lives, mainly very young ones, wasted in the name of “winning.” Yes, I know about the excitement and the adrenaline rush, bur isn’t it time we started living our lives on something better than hormonal rushes? (Except sex: I wouldn’t give that up, but only because when coupled with love it amounts to the most fulfilling and glorious experience a mere mortal can ever hope for).

  36. says

    piero – I once thought more or less that (and I still think competitive sport shouldn’t dominate higher education the way it does in the US), but having very belatedly discovered that I love watching football [soccer], I don’t any more. It’s like ballet or rock climbing or any other demanding physical skill, and in a way like art: it’s good to see what people can do. Football obviously has to be competitive because that’s where the skill comes in – evading all those obstacles. (Same applies to other sports, of course, but I don’t enjoy watching them as much, i.e. at all.)

  37. says

    (So in other words the rush isn’t all there is to it. It’s the art of it.) (I’ve had people try to explain this to me in the past, but it wasn’t until local tv started showing Sounders games that I saw what they meant.)

  38. Sithrazer says

    Speaking of “making sportswomen look feminine”, here’s a blog post (and gallery) of a photoshoot of Olympic Athlete body types (I hesitate to call what the athletes are wearing ‘underwear’ but the point was to display their bodies, just not the “naughty bits”). There’s both men and women, and body size/shape runs the gamut. There’s even a longjumper with both legs missing below the knee (with some high-tech looking prosthetics).

    Athletes are diverse and don’t conform to one set standard of ‘look’, putting them in a skirt won’t make them more or less feminine.


  39. piero says

    S Mukherjee said:

    “What is this bloody obsession with making sportswomen look ‘feminine’!? And such a narrow definition of ‘feminine’ at that — skirts, long hair, etc. It’s just nauseating.”

    You are missing the point. Men find women’s breasts, buttocks and vulva attractive. That’s just our biological make-up. So it is not a “narrow” definition of femininity, but simply the one that happens to be the most widespread. Adopting a more “encompassing” definition of femininity would not change anything. The issue would still be the same: a group of men want women to dress in such a way as to give them an erection, while trying to make their wishes pass as sport rules. That’s degrading whatever the stereotype of femininity happens to be in any given culture.

    On the other hand, I’m sure some women watch football (soccer, for you Americans), boxing and other sports where men are scantily clad because they find muscular and strong men attractive. I don’t find anything wrong with that. But in the case at hand, some men are trying to abuse their authority in order to get sexually excited. And that’s unacceptable.

  40. piero says

    Ophelia said:

    “It’s like ballet or rock climbing or any other demanding physical skill, and in a way like art”.

    Of course. Some of the things skilled soccer players can do are absolutely amazing. The game is entertaining, and rarely does anybody get seriously hurt (though sometimes you get things like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqYEpVjpinI)

    The point, however, is what price for skill? Most top-class footballers have no time for anything but playing and training. They’ve relinquished their right to become educated human beings. Once their stamina and speedy reflexes wane, whaT is there for them to do? If they are indeed world-class players, they can live off the interest on their savings (which I find shameful, anyway). But if you are not? When you are no longer able to kick a ball around, what are you good for?

    Think of Roman chariot drivers: some of them achieved fame and fortune, some of them died in the arena, some of them died of old age and in misery. None of them left anything worth rememebering.

  41. piero says

    No, I haven’t. But now I’ll have to. Damn you, Ophelia: I can never muster the strength to resist your suggestions.

  42. piero says

    Sithrazer said:
    “Athletes are diverse and don’t conform to one set standard of ‘look’, putting them in a skirt won’t make them more or less feminine.”

    I disagree. The range of body types exemplified by those pictures just shows that different sports require different physical abilities. For example, a tall basketballer might not make a good jockey.

    The problem with forcing women boxers to wear skirts is that in our culture skirts are exclusively worn by women (save some official ceremonies or parades in Scotland, and even then a Scotsman kilt is considered quaint by most Westerners).

    So effectively women are expected to conform to the sterotype instead of using the most adequate clothing. Can you imagine a climber, or a diver, wearing a skirt? Ludicrous, isn’t it? Then why is it not ludicrous for boxing? I’ll tell you why: because those in charge of enforcing the rules would love to have a stare.

  43. Sithrazer says

    “because those in charge of enforcing the rules would love to have a stare.”

    That much I agree with you on, and women’s swimwear used to have skirts on them (depending on how old you are, it was probably back in your parents or grandparents generation).

    That post was mostly to show that there isn’t a gold standard, one-size-fits-all to athletic body shape. Some athletes are, in fact, ‘overweight’ for instance (but they are, indeed, athletes, regardless of sport). In a round about way I was trying to get at the point that an article of clothing shouldn’t define femininity (or lack thereof), and it’s those that do think that who are the problem (referring to the people who want to enact said skirt rule), IMO.

    For the record, I live in the US and the extend of my international travel is 2 trips into Canada and I own a kilt (and even wear it occasionally). I do realize I’m in a minority on my positive view of kilts, though.

  44. piero says


    I think we agree on the fundamentals. Clearly, an item of clothing should not define our sexual or gender identity. Unfortunately, in our culture it does.

    I’m not sure about the relevance of body shapes to this discussion, though. And I especially take issue with your take on femininity: it seems to me that you have a pre-defined notion of femininity (and please correct me if I’m wrong). In my view, femininity is just the ability to sexually stimulate a heterosexual male or a homosexual woman, and this can be accomplished in an almost infinite variety of ways.

    I don’t want to sound unfair, but your post reminded me of some of my school teachers, who insisted that girls “should be feminine”, by which they meant that they should wear skirts without letting their knickers show. Obviously, us guys understood that being a man meant trying to get a glimpse of the girls’ knickers. Indeed, this became something of a competitive sport: the winner was the bloke who could tell the colour of the knickers of the most girls. Silly, isn’t it? But not sillier than forcing women boxers to wera skirts.

  45. Sithrazer says

    Failed comparisons on my part, then. I’m not as good as I used to be, or should be, in expressing what I mean in a clear manner.

    I guess I do have a kind of preconceived idea of femininity, but I don’t believe that females “should be feminine”. At least, not in the way your example implies.

    I think we’re also talking about two different approaches to femininity as well, there’s the traditional patriarchal society view (with the skirts and whatnot) and then there’s …I’m not even sure how to put it, perfect non-discriminatory utopia?

    Unfortunately, the dictionary isn’t being very helpful to me at the moment, so I’ll just put my thoughts like this: I think that, while there’s nothing wrong with a skirt (for those who like to wear them), it should not (among other things not specific to the skirt topic) be what defines femininity, and no matter what is considered ‘feminine’ women should not feel or be forced to conform to it.

    I hope that makes it more clear.

  46. piero says


    It does make it clearer. Thank you for taking the time to dispel my misunderstanding.

  47. Joven says

    I could understand allowing them to wear skirts if they wanted to (dont think you could really grab onto them in a boxing match, and probably wouldnt get in the way any more then in tennis. I know I used to play a foam weapon fighting ‘sport’ (a poor mans SCA) and wore something which was effectively a long dress and it never hindered me. Would have to leave that up to each athlete if theyre comfortable with them or not.)

    But don’t really get making it mandatory. Do other olympic sports have uniforms (other then swimming where drag reduction would be regulated)? If you showed up to the javelin throw dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, or as a Roman soldier would you get thrown out?

    Still, they’d have on more then most male wrestlers, or gymnasts, or swimmers. Its just stupid, either the board is run by people with a pretty specific fetish, or some athletic clothing maker accidentally forgot to sew crotches on a bunch of shorts and wants to create a market to offload them as sports skirts.

  48. Godless Heathen says

    Here’s how femininity is defined by Wikipedia:

    Femininity (also called womanliness or womanhood) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Though socially constructed, femininity is made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors.[1][2][3][4] This makes it distinct from the simple definition of the biological female sex,[5][6] as women, men, and transgender people can all exhibit feminine traits.

    Traits associated with femininity include a variety of social and cultural factors, and often vary depending on location and context.[7] Behavioral traits that are considered feminine include gentleness, empathy, and sensitivity.[8][9] The counterpart to femininity is masculinity.

    Femininity is not related to sexual attraction-it’s not about one’s ability to sexually stimulate another person. It’s about performing gender, so to speak. Acting and in a way that’s reflective of society’s idea of how woman should act and looking how society thinks a woman should look.

  49. Ferrous Patella says

    I haven’t watched Olympic boxing in years but IIRC, it is a lot less brutal and dangerous than pro boxing, with its headgear and quicker calling of a TKO

  50. Svlad Cjelli says

    @ “People wasting their lives.”

    Yes, of course. People should all go back to the kitchen, where I would prefer to have them. My sammich is clearly of greater value than whatever silly thing their little brains are trying to accomplish.

    (If you’re talking about abusive coaches who can pressure and blackmail their athletes, I’d agree with you.)

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