Liberty's Only Equality

Merely to ask certain questions is to invite scorn and ridicule but what the heck. Bothering me for some time is the question: in what sense are women equal to men? Here's why I ask. I've never seen sexually integrated professional: boxing matches, football games, basketball games, 100 yard dashes, or ice hockey games. Is that because male chauvinists deny women the chance to compete?

The military response to the conspicuous absence of women in male dominated areas suggests a remedy for professional sports. Army fitness standards call for 80 push ups for men and 56 for women. Male soldiers ages 17-25 must run two miles in 17 minutes and 55 seconds. Females are given 22 minutes and 14 seconds. Male Marine trainees must climb 20 feet of rope in 30 seconds; women are given 50 seconds.

The military's "gender-norming" might be implemented in sports. In football, new rules might allow the offensive team's female pass receiver to take up an uncovered position one-half the distance to the goal behind the defensive team's line. In the 100-yard dash women could get a 25 yard head start. In baseball, a mid-field hit might count as a home run. I'm at a loss for what can be done to gender-norm boxing. All that I come up with to level the playing field between a woman and George Foreman or Mike Tyson is to give the woman a gun.

Some might be offended by these musings, but I ask why? If gender-norming tactics are acceptable for something as critical as national defense, why not obtain their benefits for less important activities? Feminists themselves wouldn't want sports desegregated and gender-normed. The folly and disastrous consequences would be obvious to all. For them gender-norming is best left to areas here its effects are more readily concealed.

The fact of business is that we humans are not equal. Some of us are women and some are men. Some are smart and some are not so smart. Some are colored, others are uncolored. Some are tall and some are short. Some of us are poor and others wealthy. The differences (inequalities) are endless.

Equality before the general rules of law is the only kind of equality conducive to liberty that can be secured without destroying liberty. It is an equality that neither requires nor assumes people are in fact equal. Our attempt to make people equal in fact by rigging law to produce equal results destroys civility and generalized respect for the law. Government cannot create an advantage for one person without simultaneously creating a disadvantage for another.

Unfairness to women and minorities is a part of our history, but we shouldn't make the cure more destructive than the disease. We should use common sense. Take the trucking industry as an example. For decades minorities and women were conspicuously absent. It was a result of a government-sponsored transportation collusion managed by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Greater fairness came when trucking was deregulated. Afterwards, the number of minority and women-owned trucking firms exploded.

Very few Americans are even aware of the progress. It occurred without the rancor, conflict and bitterness had quotas and setasides been employed to address the unfairness. We simply eliminated the government-sponsored unfairness and allowed each person to compete.

This is the kind of inequality - privilege granting - to which we should give greater attention. Government agencies have no right telling one American he or she can go into a business and another just as able he cannot.

Walter E. Williams
July 21, 1995
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