By Peter Baofu, Ph.D.
The recent two controversial cases about the decision of the European Commission to propose the 40% quota for women on company boards by 2020 and about the call by some female tennis players to ask men to lower their level of play from 5 sets to 3 (for gender equality) reveals how far the contemporary campaign for gender equality has gone to the extreme and contributed not only to the perpetuation of "old" sexism against women but also to the creation of "new" sexism against men (or what I called "reverse sexism" in my previous publications), with both oppressive and suppressive impacts on society in the longer term.
Let me consider first the case study about the 40% quota for women on company boards in the EU and then the second case study about the lowering of male tennis for gender equality, in what follows.
(a) First Case Study: At Least 40% Quota for Women on Company Boards in the EU
In November of 2012, the European Commission under justice commissioner Viviane Reding, herself a feminist, approved a plan for "at least 40% of women on company boards by 2020," and Reding's plan also includes aggressive measures like "mentoring and peer-learning programmes" to train women to be leaders and "attracting them...to the workplace" for leadership, but this plan did not offer the same support for men, in a discriminatory way, as reported by Raymond Doherty on November 14, 2012. This is a follow-up to the 50% quota for women in the United Nations (as proposed in 2001).
But major EU members like the UK and Germany have opposed the plan; for example, "Germany opposes the mandatory, EU-wide requirements in favor of having individual nations devise their own strategies to boost the number of women in leadership positions. Family Minister Kristina Schröder and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle have warned against 'overregulation,'" as reported in the March 06, 2013 issue of Spiegel.
In any event, this plan reflects how far the contemporary campaign for gender equality has gone to the extreme and contributed not only to the perpetuation of "old" sexism against women but also to the creation of "new" sexism against men (or what I called "reverse sexism"), for 2 major reasons.
The first reason is that there is no scientific evidence presented by the feminists like Viviane Reding and her supporters that men and women are biologically equal (as implied in the plan). On the contrary, there have been different scientific studies over the decades on the biological differences between men and women, which do affect different talents and abilities between women and men. In my book titled "Beyond Nature and Nurture" or BNN (2006), I already documented different research findings about them (e.g., differences in physical strength, in chromosomes, in intellectual abilities, in mutation rate, etc.).
For instance, "boys have two 'XY' chromosomes (an 'X' chromosome from their mother), whereas girls have an 'X' chromosome from each of their parents, with many different genes in each which make men biologically different from women" (BNN 80). Also, Stephen Edelson (1999) found that "autism is three times more likely to affect males than females....About 10% of autistic individuals have savant skills" which are spatial and mathematical in nature" -- just as British psychopathologist Simon Baron-Cohen "has spent nearly two decades studying the topic" and argued in "The Essential Difference: The Truth about the Male and Female Brain" (2003) that "the average female brain is better at empathizing with others, while the average male brain is better at systemizing and predicting outcomes." And Paul Irwing and Richard Lynn "confirmed in their research (published in The British Journal of Psychology) that men tend to have higher IQ (intellectual intelligence), on average of course, than women, albeit not in EQ (emotional intelligence)" (BNN 80).
It is no wonder that historically, men have been able to outperform (or outcompete) women, on average, in leadership around the world at different historical times. In a recent TV program on NHK (in November of 2013), there was a debate on this every issue, and an European researcher presented some research findings that when some European companies tried to implement the "quota" for gender equality and aggressively recruit women to meet the quota, they could not find sufficient qualified women for the jobs (and had to hire less competent ones), ended up also hiring a few qualified women to hold multiple leadership positions in different companies at the same time (without working full-time in any of them), and, in addition, many of these few successful women were found to behave aggressively like "men" but did not any attractive "female" qualities to "diversify" the workplace.
In fact, the same can be said in the world of animals, where males (as in elephants, lions, etc.), on average again, often lead in packs. The words "on average" here are important, since there are exceptions to any rules, in that there are exceptional females (e.g., Margaret Thatcher, Aung San Suu Kyi, etc.) who do lead better than the average males, but at the "group" level, men outshine women in this area.
And the second reason is that the feminists like to blame their failures on men, that is, on "social" and "cultural" factors for male overachievement, but "such factors have not been found to have an effect...that lasts to adulthood" on a permanent basis (BNN 79). This then means that whenever women do not do well in certain areas (like leadership, mathematics, martial arts, construction works, elite commandos, etc.), they do not focus on their own "self-responsibility," quickly use men as the "punching bag," and then go on to beg society for "entitlement" (or "preferential treatment"). But when women do better than men in other areas (like nursing, social counseling, child care, etc.), they take all the credit for their successes. If any man disagrees with them, the feminists would automatically label him as "sexist" without bothering to defend it in a rational debate. And when a man presents scientific evidences to back up his argument, these feminists would simply dismiss them as "socially constructed" while immediately accepting their feminist (often polemic) version of so-called evidences as "true" without any critical question asked.
In the end, this heavily ideologically charged "quick-fix" solution in Reding's plan (and, for that mater, in the "50/50" quota for women in the United Nations) does not address the deeper problem of biological differences between men and women. As a result, there are two negative consequences here.
First, one negative consequence is that it perpetuates the negative stereotype against women, in that women are not as capable as men in these areas, because they simply cannot do much of anything without receiving "preferential treatment" from society. After all, Reding's plan does not focus on any "self-responsibility" by women when it one-sidedly blames men (as the scapegoat) for the failures of women in certain areas and is thus an insult to all those exceptional women who work their way up and stand on their own (without "preferential treatment"). In other words, it perpetuates the negative stereotype that women are not natural leaders (as men are), as they cannot survive in the competition without "preferential treatment" and other massive "measures" from society to help them out.
And second, another negative consequence is that it creates a new form of sexism against men (or what I called "reverse sexism" in my previous publications), since, when women are given "at least 40% quota," there will be some more competent men who have to be forced out of certain jobs or opportunities only to favor the less capable women because these men are in the "wrong" gender, so this will contribute to a new form of corruption which distorts the natural allocation of human resources and prevent them from their best use for society in the long term.
(b) Second Case Study: The Lowering of Male Tennis for Gender Equality
And this new form of corruption occurs in the world of sports like tennis, albeit in a different way. As an illustration, recently, some feminists in the tennis world have asked that male tennis players should go down to the lower level of female tennis and play only the best of 3 sets, not the best of 5.
For instance, Martina Navratilova, one of the best female tennis players in history, argued that "tennis matches shouldn't be a physical marathon....People who disagree with women receiving equal pay at the grand slams keep making the argument that women don't play three out of five sets....But maybe the point should be that the men should be playing two out of three," as reported by Mark Hodgkinson for Tennis Space on June 22, 2013. And Victoria Azarenka, the current #2 female tennis player in the world, thus made the same point: "I think there has been a lot of talk about (women playing best-of-five)....I actually think men should play three sets," so "it is the men that should come down to the...level" of women.
Again, this call for playing the best of 3 sets reflects how far the contemporary campaign for gender equality has gone to the extreme and contributed not only to the perpetuation of "old" sexism against women but also to the creation of "new" sexism against men (or what I called "reverse sexism"), for 2 major reasons.
The first reason is that there is a good rationale for the difference in playing the best of 5 sets, because it can challenge human abilities to their limits in grand slams, in terms of physical strength, endurance, power, speed, versatility, etc.. Precisely here, male tennis players outperform female tennis players, who simply cannot compete against men, because of their "weaker" physical abilities, on average. As one tennis player put it, "one of the things separating the top players from the bottom is the physical part of the game. Playing at a high level consistently while also having the stamina to go 5 sets is a big part of the game. It would also take away epic matches, like the Nadal vs Federer Wimbledon classic, and the Nadal vs Djokovic Aussie and French Open classics," as reported by Shane Bacon on October 23, 2013.
It is thus no wonder that many female tennis players are too envious of male overachievement to accept the fact that all the best matches in the history of tennis have been ranked and that they are often played out by men in the best of 5 sets in grand slams, as shown in the following ten most brilliant matches in the history of tennis as reported by Tomas Hegedus on January 30, 2012:
1. Australian Open 2012 Final -- Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5) 7-5
2. Wimbledon 2008 Final -- Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7
3. Wimbledon 1980 Final -- Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe 1-6 7-5 6-3 6-7 (16) 8-6
4. US Open 2001 Quarterfinals -- Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi 6-7 (7) 7-6 (2) 7-6 (2) 7-6 (5)
5. Wimbledon 2001 Final -- Goran Ivanisevic vs. Patrick Rafter 6-3 3-6 6-3 2-6 9-7
6. Australian Open 2005 Quarterfinals -- Marat Safin vs. Roger Federer 5-7 6-4 5-7 7-6 (6) 9-7
7. Roland Garros 1984 Final -- Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe 3-6 2-6 6-4 7-5 7-5
8. Australian Open 2003 Quarterfinal -- Andy Roddick vs. Younes Aynaoui 4-6 7-6 (5) 4-6 6-4 21-19
9. Wimbledon 2009 Final -- Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick 5-7 7-6 (6) 7-6 (5) 3-6 16-14
10. Rome Masters 2006 Final -- Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer 6-7 (0) 7-6 (5) 6-4 2-6 7-6 (5)
In fact, as one tennis fan thus reminded us in the article "Why Do Women Play only 3 Sets in Tennis and Men Play Five?" (2008), "physically it is considered inappropriate to do 5 set matches for women. It was tried a few times and wasn't entertaining, so it's now 3 sets only for all matches. Even for men, it's only the Grand Slam events which go to 5 sets." For this reason, Cheri Britton aptly observed that "a best-of-five-sets Slam match would gain the extra respect and gravitas" that these male tennis players deserve, as reported by Jane McManus on September 03, 2012.
And the second reason is that there is the selfish feminist politics for "equal pay" behind the call, since many female tennis players understand that one of the best ways for them to achieve the goal of "equal pay" is to force men to lower their level of play so as to be equal with the lower level of women.
For instance, in 2012, "the French player Gilles Simon provoked the tennis world when he said that female players should earn less than their male counterparts in the Grand Slams, in part because 'male players spent twice as long on court,'" as reported by Jane McManus on September 03, 2012.
In response, Martina Navratilova offered this blunt solution on June 22, 2013: "People who disagree with women receiving equal pay at the grand slams keep making the argument that women don't play three out of five sets....But maybe the point should be that the men should be playing two out of three....I knew the other girl would get tired." as reported by Jane McManus on September 03, 2012.
One of the often cited myths perpetuated by feminists in tennis (and elsewhere) is the exhibition match tiled "The Battle of the sexes" between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973's, but this match was "fixed" due to 2 problems. The first problem is that Bobby was already too old at the time to play tennis as a professional, since he was a retired 55 years old man at the time when he played Billie in 1973, who was only 29 and in her prime at the time (#2-ranked). And the second problem is that Bobby accepted the match anyway, not for tennis but for "money" to pay off his debts to the mafia at the time, because "Hal Shaw, who was at the time working as an assistant golf instructor in Tampa, Florida, has come forward to offer new evidence that the match was indeed thrown," because "Frank Ragano, a renowned mob attorney, discuss[ed] the match-fixing plan with the crime bosses Santo Trafficante Jr and Carlos Marcello one night at his golf club." Shaw told ESPN that "Ragano was emphatic. Riggs had assured him that the fix would be in" so "he would go 'in the tank' against King," and "the mobsters made clear Riggs wanted his substantial gambling debts with them paid off in return for throwing the game, which would allow them to confidently place a lucrative bet," as "Ragano says, 'Well, he's going to [get] peanuts compared to what we're going to make out of this, so he has asked for his debt to be erased,'" as reported by Jon Swaine for the Telegraph on August 27, 2013.
Of course, King denied the story but did not offer any evidence to prove it wrong. But Serena Williams, the current #1 female tennis player in the world and one of the greatest female tennis players of all time, had this to confess in 2010: "I honestly think men's and women's tennis are completely opposite. Men are just stronger than ladies. I even have trouble reading my hitting partner and he is not professional, although he would make a good professional player. It really is comparing apples to oranges," as reported by Khalid A-H Ansari on July 06, 2010.
As a tennis fan said it bluntly in the article titled "Can a First Class Woman Tennis Player Beat an Average Man Tennis Player?" (2008), "men are more athletic and just better at sports than women. take the best woman and best man in any sport and the man will ALWAYS WIN. That's just the way things go. Sorry"; this is true, even though a first class woman tennis player can beat an average man tennis player.
For this reason, in tennis (and more generally, in sports), women are often separated from men, because women are the "weaker" gender and cannot compete against men, on average. Should this segregation in sports disappear, women would not win much of anything at all. Both Navratilova and Azarenka understand this female inferiority well and therefore ask men in tennis to go down to the lower level of women instead (for gender equality), but women cannot even compete against men in 3 sets (not alone in 5).
In the end, this feminist politics to lower the level of male tennis play to the best of 3 sets is a "quick-fix" solution which does not address the deeper problem of biological differences between men and women. As a result, there are two negative consequences here again.
First, one negative consequence is that it perpetuates the negative stereotype against women, in that women are not as capable as men, because the top female tennis players simply cannot beat their male counterparts, unless the men are either too old in their 50s and already retired (like Bobby) or the match is "fixed" (like the myth surrounding "the Battle of the sexes" between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973).
And second, another negative consequence is that it creates a new form of sexism against men (or what I call "reverse sexism" in my previous publications), since female tennis cannot be favorably compared with male tennis, unless men are forced to lower their level of play for gender equality, because many female tennis players are too envious of male overachievement to accept the fact that all the best matches in the history of tennis have been ranked and that they are often played out by men in the best of 5 sets in grand slams.
These two cases studies (the first about the 40% quota for women on company boards in the EU and the second about the lowering of male tennis to the best of 3 sets for gender equality) are illustrative, not exhaustive, of course.
But the important point to remember here is that the contemporary campaign for gender equality has degenerated over the decades to the point of contributing not only to the perpetuation of "old" sexism against women (as the "weaker" gender) but also to the creation of "new" sexism against men (or what I called "reverse sexism," as shown in the two tactics by forcing more qualified men out of certain jobs or opportunities in favor of less competent women, or by forcing men to go down to the lower level of women for gender equality). In the end, the results are not only oppressive (as shown in the first case study on 40% quota) but also suppressive (as shown in the second case study on leveling-off).
What separates humans from animals is that the former can come up with new ideas (ideals) to create a whole new world, but all too often in history, in the name of these ideals, both society and culture end up being so messed up to the point that the promised new world becomes so oppressive and suppressive instead, to the indignation of the posterity in future history.
Does anyone still remember "the Cultural Revolution" for equality in China during the 1960s and 1970s, when men and women even dressed alike, to the point that this chapter of Chinese history is now known as "the lost generation"? When ideology goes to the extreme and denies all relevant facts or evidences (as "socially constructed"), people and society will suffer in the longer term -- as reality can only be ignored or dismissed for so long, before it will return with a vengeance in the future.
Dr. Peter Baofu is the author of 64 books, all of which provide a visionary challenge to conventional wisdom in the social sciences, the formal sciences, the natural sciences, and the humanities, with the aim for a unified theory of everything-together with numerous visions of the mind, nature, society, and culture in future history. For more info about his vision about the future of equality, see his books titled "Beyond Nature and Nurture" (2006), "Beyond Capitalism to Post-Capitalism" (2005), "Beyond Democracy to Post-Democracy" (2004), and "The Future of Capitalism and Democracy" (2002). His email is.