Do Women Really Need Separate (Pink) Races?

by Charlotte on March 18, 2012 · 52 comments

Air out your shoes! Get your bike out of the garage! Locate that tri suit that you got on a great sale and then felt too pretentious in it to wear it in a real race and so now you have guilt every time you look at it! ‘Tis the beginning of race season! While I’ve mostly sworn off of exercises I have to pay extra for (sorely limited budget + workout ADHD = drastic measures) there is a new race on the roster that caught my eye: The Women Rock Minnesota marathon/half/10k. Sure I like the timing (September is perfect running season here) and the choices of distances is nice (I love me a good half) but what really caught my eye? The race bling. Winners get a pink women’s cut* jacket and a pink diamond pendant for a finisher’s medal! Squeeee! (*This is a big deal since the last race I ran assumed that women = children and gave everyone who ordered a “woman’s sweatshirt” a youth XL. I look like I have monkey arms in that thing the sleeves are so short.)

Women Rock certainly isn’t the first ladies race – the Disney Princess Half Marathon and the Danskin Womens-Only Triathlon Series are staples on many must-run lists – but it is the first one I am seriously considering doing. Which makes me simultaneously excited and wary, igniting my natural cynicism of course. This race ain’t cheap – is this just another low appeal to my girliness in order to sell me something for more than I’d normally pay? (Case in point: pink women’s weight lifting gloves cost $5 more than the black “unisex” pair that is otherwise identical.) Moreover, I’m not sure how I feel about running a race that specifically excludes dudes. With the plethora of races on the calendar do we really need a “girly” race?

Girliness is a hot topic among women because – ready for your flashback to theorems in Geometry? – merely being in possession of lady bits does not make you girly. And thanks to Ru Paul I think I can also say that neither does being girly require a muscle that is only doing its assigned duty for 0.02% of its life and the rest of the time just makes you miserable on a 28-day cycle. (Is it too late to decide I want to be a Drag Queen?) You wouldn’t think that being a girl would be such a contentious issue and yet:

“PINK?! You want me to wear pink?? I hate pink! It’s so… froo-froo!” – my 16-year-old sister (Yes, I have one! We’re 17 years apart and no my parents aren’t pretending to raise her because she’s really mine. We look alike because we’re sisters.)

“I’m not into this whole ‘girl power’ thing. If I want to do something a man does I’m just going to do it and I don’t need a pink parade to feel good about it.” – paraphrased from two of my girl friends

“I AM NOT A GIRLY GIRL.” – my college roommate, replying to a male neighbor who asked her why her new car wasn’t pink.

Ah, it all comes back to pink. There’s a reason that Victoria’s Secret has a whole line of clothing and undies named “PINK.” You can buy football team jerseys in pink for any team, regardless of the real team colors. And there’s even a new shade christened (by marketers) as “breast cancer pink” thanks to all the awareness merch on the market.  Pink is supposed to epitomize the doe-eyed innocent cuteness of girlhood. What’s more girly than panties and boobs?!

But is pink weak? Given the previous examples it certainly can be infantalizing. Yet I’m guessing P!nk the singer did not choose her stage name because she secretly wants to walk in the Victoria’s Secret show. There is also serious strength in the community of breast cancer survivors under their pink umbrella. And hey, remember the pink Power Ranger? She kicked butt.

I happen to really like pink. (Hot pink or fuscia, please, I look rancid in pastels.) I wear a lot of running/tennis skirts to work out in. I own a lot of shoes. I love dressing up. I have at least 10 different lip glosses. I own a push-up bra. I specifically picked my wedding dress because it made me feel like a princess. I do self-identify as a girly girl.  On the other hand I also like getting really sweaty. I don’t care if my makeup runs (or even if I’m wearing any). I’m not dainty. My husband has seen me poop. And – am I allowed to admit this? – while I love running with my girls I also like running races with men. I push myself harder to pace with them. I get kind of a thrill when I pass one.

Honestly it feels a little sexist to exclude them. (Is there such a thing as a men-only race? If there is, they certainly don’t advertise it as such.) In the past people have explained it to me that women-only races give women who might normally avoid racing a less intimidating place to start. I can understand this. This is why Curves exists, right? But in my mind racing is already a safer place for women than, say, the weight floor. While I can cite numerous examples of women getting harassed at the gym (just happened last Tuesday night actually), I have never once seen that kind of behavior in a race. But maybe I’m sheltered?

So where do women-only races – often defined by their pink swag – fit onto the “girly” spectrum? Do they honor our differences or highlight our insecurities? Does giving us a no-boys-allowed club segregate or empower us? Marketing ploy or girl power? I’m still not sure.

How do you feel about pink? Have you ever done a girls-only race? Why? Should I try this one?? Have any of you seen bad behavior in a mixed gender race? Does pink swag entice you or repel you? Men – are you bothered by women-only events? Has your significant other seen you do a #2?? (I know. SO MANY QUESTIONS. I’m sorry, I can’t help myself.)

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

M. Lindsay March 18, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I’m registered to run City Chase in June, and I’m so very excited. It’s not a girls-only race…it’s more like an awesome city-wide scavenger hunt. Squee!!

I absolutely love pink (because I’m actually super gender-normative, though I sometimes feel like I have to be defensive about it…I just actually like pink, and bows, and baking, and skirts, alright?!), but, I really dislike pink swag. I feel like it’s just pandering to women- so it repels me, even though I love pink so very very much, because I really hate being pandered to.

I also really dislike the pink jerseys. If you’re a true fan, you’ll wear the real colours. I’m always annoyed at hockey games by the pink jerseys. Ick.

However, for the women who feel most comfortable in a lady race, I think this is great. Anything that encourages women to be more active is okay in my books, even if they have to pander with pink.

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Charlotte March 19, 2012 at 11:24 pm

HOLLA! “I also really dislike the pink jerseys. If you’re a true fan, you’ll wear the real colours.”

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Kat March 18, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Here’s my thing about this… Semi-recently – in the running world – they came down with the ruling that women cannot place records in races that men run in. They claim it an unfair advantage – by having men always there to be a pace setter… which makes NO sense to me as men also have pace setters (people on bikes. in cars. etc)… but due to that? I think it is fair…. because men don’t have that sort of stipulation (there’s no, “if there’s women in the race, you can’t place a record”

Besides whenever I run a race I have a distinct habit of trying to ensure no woman in a running skirt (not tutu) passes me. More women running, more running skirts to pass, quicker I run. (no I’m not kidding)

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Charlotte March 19, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I did not know about this but thanks to your tip, I’ve been reading about it and it sounds INSANE. How does this make any sense?!

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Kat March 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm

oh and RE “pink” — I think with regards to a lot of that pink merchandise you’re better off just donating the money to the cause itself, since oftentimes it’s an incredibly small percentage donated (see: http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/?page_id=13) — and there are other just as worthy causes out there that mainly affect women. Where’s the ovarian cancer awareness? Ovaries are what keep our species alive… wow, I’m getting tired.

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Kristin March 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm

I love pink. It’s such a beautiful color, it makes me happy to have it around me! (My dining room and living room walls are a deep pink as well.) And I wear skirts and dresses a lot…but I don’t think I am a girly girl at all. Weird. I have run a couple of women’s races, and they were fine, but neither had especially feminine swag. The jacket in your race sounds awesome, though! The pink diamond pendant, meh…(see above, not a girly girl :).

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Tahlee March 19, 2012 at 4:20 am

It’s 2012. TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE people!

It is time to integrate and connect as humans and STOP creating separation between
* sexes
* genders
* sexuality
* races (the human kind, AND the running kind)
* etc etc

It’s time to recognise that women and men can coexist peacefully and the best way to do that is through equal running rights. :D I mean isn’t that what women’s liberation and the suffragette movement was all about? To stop the exclusion of women from participating equally in society?

To create anything that separates women (even if it’s by excluding men) is unhelpful, unproductive, and quite frankly keeps perpetuating stereotypes for both men and women.

If a woman feels as though she’ll be harassed at a sporting event because of her gender, then it is up to the community as a whole (women AND men) to help her integrate and see that participating is and can be safe. And if young men continually see women participating in all the things they do (weight lifting, marathons, sport etc) then they will be more conditioned to accept that women can do anything.

And if on the totally crap chance that a woman is harassed in the weights room because of her gender, then it’s up to all of us (women AND men) to defend her and educate the moronic male.

You can imagine my views on pink as a reward for being a girl :/

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Tracy March 19, 2012 at 4:23 am

Preach it!! (as a side: I’m definitely not a typical ‘girly-girl’ but for some reason, I love me some pink.)

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Kat March 19, 2012 at 6:25 am

Don’t you think that part of those races is binding women together. Empowering them?

I do.

Women have been binding together for various things for years.

When a PhD (I forget her name) bought ad space in the New York Times saying that women are binding together (who had been a sleeping giant) in order to come after Rush Limbaugh and those ideologies did people say that was ridiculous? No.

There’s nothing wrong with something that empowers women… and I would guarantee those races do empower some of those runners… and I don’t image it dis-empowers any.

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Tracy March 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

I like the IDEA, however the vast majority of my experience with women-only groups of all kinds has been women tearing each other down (sometimes upfront but more often in a sneaky way). If we stop hurting each other first, the boys will follow. They always follow! LOL!

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Tahlee March 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Not really. Why can’t a woman feel empowered to finish running a race? Why does it have to be a female only race?

Plus, all female professional sports teams get fewer sponsors, the players get paid less, they get less media coverage, play smaller arenas and get smaller audiences than the exact same sport played by men. Where’s the empowerment in that?

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Kat March 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm

What does your last point have to do with female only races?

and for some women – ones that don’t feel comfy running with men — it clearly empowers them enough to run a race… perhaps a gateway race into feeling comfy running with men (I know that’s the case for a friend of mine)

Have *I* ever ran a female only race? No… Have I placed in races? Yes. Do I find it necessary to tear down something that makes others comfy or say it’s not empowering them? Nope.

It’s not a matter of them not being able to feel empowered in a co-ed race.. it’s a matter of whether or not a female only race CAN empower… which, based on the fact that some that DO run those races says it DOES cannot be discounted.

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Kat March 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm

What does your last point have to do with female only races?

and for some women – ones that don’t feel comfy running with men — it clearly empowers them enough to run a race… perhaps a gateway race into feeling comfy running with men (I know that’s the case for a friend of mine)

Have *I* ever ran a female only race? No… Have I placed in races? Yes. Do I find it necessary to tear down something that makes others comfy or say it’s not empowering them? Nope.

It’s not a matter of them not being able to feel empowered in a co-ed race.. it’s a matter of whether or not a female only race CAN empower… which, based on the fact that some that DO run those races says it DOES cannot be discounted.

And by this line of thinking… why have separated award categories?

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Tahlee March 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Kat – my last point is to showcase why I think segregated races / sports is unhelpful. Why segregated anything is unhelpful. I also disagree with non co-ed schools…

But I’m certainly not trying to tear anyone down for wanting to participate in something, and I’m sorry if that’s how it came across.

I’m trying to encourage humans to participate as humans together. I think it’s really sad that someone wouldn’t want to participate in a race because they feel intimidated by men.

A dominant patriarchal society doesn’t just hurt women, it hurts sensitive men and transgendered people. But I don’t think that having separate races help us achieve equality, we should all be coming together to participate as one.

T. March 19, 2012 at 4:54 am

Never liked pink, at all, and never wear any. I’m still tickled by the fact that it used to be a boys’ colour, though (http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2009/dec/12/pinkstinks-the-power-of-pink). But while we’re on the subject of girly, my trip to the gym this morning made me fume: they have a supplement display with black brochures for men’s fitness and white/grey ones for women. On offer for men: strength, power, endurance, that sort of stuff. For women? Weight loss, toning, energy. Excuse my French, but WTF?

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Miz March 19, 2012 at 5:05 am

I wonder if it is because Im a NONRUNNER I think “Id love women only races. GIRL POWER and being surrounded by my sisters”

probably.

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Sue March 19, 2012 at 5:06 am

There is also a ladies-only run in my area. I couldn’t make it last year, but I hope for better luck this year. It looks like a lot of fun, but also very ‘girly’, including pink shirts, a wellness and beauty lounge, etc. I feel like this race is more focusing on the fun aspect, instead of PRs or placing in your age group.
I used to really hate pink, because I thought it was too much of a stereotype. But recently I’ve found out that all shades of pink actually go very well with my hair, eyes, and skin tone. And I’ve been trying to embrace my ‘feminine’ side (I used to be such a tomboy!).
So I’m cautiously pro ladies-only races (ask me again after I’ve tried it), and also pro pink clothes, but I’d never buy a pink phone, notebook, or car. That’s just going too far!

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Jill March 19, 2012 at 5:23 am

First off, let me just say that you have THE BEST photos accompanying your posts. The. Best. And today’s might just have been the funniest one ever! Totally stole it for my FB page :)

Regarding women-only races – I think there are some that are less pink & girly than others. I’ve done the SheRox sprint triathlon for the past 2 years in a row (in Philly), and the swag was a strong & powerful orange. And while some of the athletes may be girlie in their regular life, there was NO girliness on the course, it was all business. That being said, it was an incredibly supportive atmosphere – lots of women cheering each other on, helping with flat tires and just generally putting a positive vibe out that we were all winners just for getting out there and doing our best.

The other thing I really like about the women-only tri’s is that there is less chaos and flailing during the swim start. I’ve done events where there were men & women in the water and I always get kicked in the head. By a guy. That’s not to say that men are inconsiderate, or deliberately try to take the women out, just that they seem to be more enthusiastic & oblivious when in the water than women. But that’s just my 2 cents.

I’ve never done a woman-only 5K or 10K and have no interest in seeking one out. It does feel kinda good when you’re running and pass a man (in my case it’s usually a 70-year old man on crutches, but still)! But I do think there’s value in the woman-only triathlons because that’s an intimidating sport to begin with so it’s nice to have a supportive atmosphere in which to be your competitive and non-girlie best!

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katspeakz March 19, 2012 at 7:09 am

Women do women only races because they seem less threatening and intimadating, IMO. For the most part I look at them as either 1) girl weekends or 2) women doing things they’d be scared to do in a more competitive environment. My city hosts a ramblin’ rose every year. It’s a woman’s only tri. I’ve never done it, but loads of my friends have. Some of them have gone on to do regular tri’s, but most of them stick with the ramblin’ rose. These are not hardcore athletes and, to be honest, most of my friends who have done it would be very out of place in a competitive tri.

I’ve competed in a lot of races from 5ks to marathons and I’ve never been harrassed because I’m a girl in a running skirt. Yesterday I ran a marathon and everyone was incredibly supportive of each other.

But I also have signed up for a half in the run like a diva series. My (non running) sisters and oldest niece are training for the girls 5k and my mom is coming to watch our little girls. We’re making it a long girls weekend at the beach and I can’t wait. This race is pink to the extreme. There’s a feather boa and a tiara station. Our bibs all say “diva ____” on them and (presumably shirtless) firefighters give us our medal and a flower on the finish line. To me this just sounds like fun and as its a flat course I’m hoping to pr and then hang our with my states away sisters.

So I guess the point of my long rambling post, is that although I don’t think mixed races are intimidating, I can see how they could be to a newbie and I hope it doesn’t make me sexists to think a girly, pink race sounds like a blast.

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Dr. J March 19, 2012 at 7:57 am

I have several articles of clothing in various shades of red, but nothing in true pink! Maybe this year :-)

I know several world class female runners who can out run almost every man except for the rare world class male runner.

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Meg March 19, 2012 at 8:00 am

This is so funny because I just ran a race and at the end found some flyers on my car for a “Diva Run”. I thought it was hilarious and almost signed up…but running gets expensive! You have to let me know if you end up doing this race…I’ll be curious!

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Raeesa March 19, 2012 at 8:08 am

I have never done a girl only race because I don’t like the idea of ‘for women only’ events. Reminds me of “girl push-ups.” I guess it doesn’t sound empowering. And yet pink swag entices me…

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Sam March 19, 2012 at 9:09 am

Women’s-only races: I see no issue with it. I mean–track races are broken up into men’s and women’s heats. I like it! It makes the competition fiercer because the competitors are more evenly matched. Simple as that. When I’m racing men, even if I’m beating them, I can feel the unfairness; I think ‘oh, well, but he must be out of condition; if he really trained, he’d be ahead of me.’ And don’t get me wrong, I still race to win–and indeed have come in 3rd overall in a male and female race, neck and neck with a male runner at the end–but there is something satisfying about running against an evenly-matched field.

If we do it in track, why not do it on the roads?

As for race swag, that crap is always ridiculous and beside the point. Give me prize money or a trophy or something if I WIN or PLACE. A bag o’ junk just for paying a ridiculous fee and dragging my butt over the course? Stupid. STUPID. Race t-shirt should be the max.

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Crabby McSlacker March 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

Interesting issue and great post!

I’m not the least bit a girly-girl myself, but I can totally see why some women feel more comfortable in all female environments. And just like when there’s an ethnic or other minority subgroup of something with no corresponding “white only” counterpart, I do think that power/privilege differentials sometimes figure in for the need for one kind of exclusion and not the other.

But I’m looking forward to a time where everyone’s needs and concerns are considered equally important and we don’t need to have as many separate subgroups!

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geosomin March 19, 2012 at 10:02 am

I am slowly making my peace with pink. I grew up a pudgy tomboy with a mum who desperately wanted me to be more girly. Enforced pink…blech. I’m at the point now where I could wear pink I think, but luckily for me it is a terrible colour for me, so I don’t need to. I get rather annoyed when something in branded girly simply by making it pink (I mean there are a line of pink carpentry tools…lame) Purple I can get behind…pink? Not so much. The only exception is the breast cancer run-that is the one time when I’m pinked up to the extreme. And my horrid 70s style bathroom (complete with a pink toilet and sink. *sigh*)

Truth be told, I don’t mind girl only events. If someone is self conscious and they need to know they can go out for something where they’ll feel more confident with no guys there, I’m fine with that. Being a tomboy it really doesn’t buy me.I do mind if it is condescendingly girly or a lower quality event? I get angry when any easy variation of an exercise is a “girl” one. THAT I take offense to. In the end, I don’t think it’s wrong to have different levels of intensity for guys and girls. Guys and girls really are different – not better or worse than each other, just different. I just don’t see how a fitness event needs to bring that up. All I can think of is that guys hate getting their butts kicked by girls? :)

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geosomin March 19, 2012 at 10:04 am

bother me, not buy me…

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Quix March 19, 2012 at 10:33 am

I don’t ever seek them out, but my first tri was a women’s only (a friend suggested it to me as a nice, friendly, 1st time experience and that it was). In general, I don’t care what sort of private parts the peeps around me have (in fact, if you’re not in my age group, you aren’t really of concern to me, heheh).

And yes, I have done races purely for the schwag and/or type of race tee (nice tech, women’s cut tees? sign me up! cheapo unisex tees? I better REALLY want to do the race and/or it’s cheap…). Also, not a fan of pink, but a purple race shirt that said “I run for champagne” did get my entrance fee. :)

Other answers… my husband HATES all-women events because he feels its unfair (since they don’t have any men only at that casual level). He also won’t let me sign up for Athena categories since he can’t claim Clydesdale anymore. So unfair! :)

And we share a lot but never, ever, have we pooped in front of each other. That’s our line. :P

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Heather @ Bake, Run, Live March 19, 2012 at 10:53 am

I have always been weird with this issue. I wore dresses everyday to school (not a uniform), painted my nails, etc. But get me into a sport- and man, you better not call me a girl! I loved running with the boys- it made me a better runner. Bowling- I was damn proud that at 5’2″, 100 pounds, I carried 3, 15 pound bowling balls, with a 200 average. I even bowled in men’s leagues (in a skirt!).
I’ve relaxed as I’ve gotten older! I now run in skirts (at a slower pace!) and enjoyed running the Disney Princess half, but I don’t seek out women’s only races.
(P.S. If you like Skirt Sports running skirts, they are having a great sale right now)

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Heather March 19, 2012 at 11:39 am

Charlotte, I’ve had some of the dilemmas in my mind regarding the women’s only races, but decided that it just looks like a good time with my gal-pals! I love pink, too, though I prefer the brighter shades; I also do not look good in pastels.

I’m signed up for the Women Rock MN full marathon, which will be my first marathon. I chose it because the women I run with on a weekly basis signed up and because I think it would just be a really great experience to share with some of my favorite women. Fewer men around also means I might be less embarrassed if at some point during the race, I break down into tears (for any reason!).

Considering I run at least one race per month, running with men doesn’t intimidate me one bit, but once in a while it’s nice to have a girl’s day/night/event, etc. I think it’s more about the camaraderie and getting more women to be active. Honestly, I wouldn’t be offended if the guys had a special race that excluded women; it would only be fair, right?

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Brooke March 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

I just ran the Disney Princess Race this year, and I have to say part of the reason I did it was because it was a “girly” race. I don’t know if it was because it was women focused (men are allowed to run, but women VASTLY outnumbered the men in this race) or because it was in Disney which requires happiness, but I have never done a race where the participants were so supportive of each other. Women along the course cheered each other on, encouraged each other, slowed down to help a lingering stranger who thought she couldn’t finish to get her past the “hump”. Generally when I run, people don’t even talk to or look at each other except to pass them. At the princess race, it was like running with a couple thousand friends that I didn’t happen to know before that day. Just my experience.

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Brooke March 19, 2012 at 11:53 am

Plus the porti-potties at womens races are much nicer. :-P

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Helene @healthyfrenchie March 19, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I love that the pictures you choose always make me laugh, and your articles always make me think..
I am girly girl and proud of it. I love skirts, dresses, high heels and make up. And I don’t mind a bit of pink.
But I hate how pink is used to market things to women. No I don’t feel the need to buy a pink phone or car. Yes I can wear a pink dress and fix your computer (I work in IT).
So I’m on the fence. On the one hand I think it’s great that events geared towards women can get more of us motivated to train and get out there. On the other hand, I don’t like how pink can be used to belittle women (as in, you don’t need to worry about the features on the phone, it’s cute and pink).
Regardless, tat race sounds like fun :)

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Kim March 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I don’t run women only races because I enjoy entering races where I can run with my husband. And I’m just not all “girl power”. Frankly, I think we can do without them. Women-themed races are fine, but I don’t think we should be excluding men.

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Sagan March 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Your comment about “is there a men-only race?” makes me think about what happened when the “sh*t girls say” youtube video came out… people made a HUGE deal over it, but there wouldn’t have been such a fuss over it all if it had been about something else besides women. I’m all for feminism, but sometimes it gets taken to such extremes… if there WERE a men-only race, you can bet that there would be an uproar against it.

Anyway, rant aside, I still think a run like this would be fun to do :) So many different things can be taken as sexist, but I’m interested in knowing what the reasons behind these types of things (such as having a women-only race) are. Maybe there should be a race for men, a race for women, a gender-neutral race, and a race for people who don’t really care? Hmmm. Or, you know, just a race for everyone, to make things simplified.

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Sam March 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm

There are men’s only races! On the track. ALL THE TIME.

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Rebecca March 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I don’t think gender-restricted races are necessarily sexist–in either direction.

It’s kinda like having a Girls’ Night to me–
every once in a while,
I just need to hang out with fellow females.

I think races can be the same way.

Sometimes,
dudes just want to run with other dudes.
Sometimes,
women just want to run with other women.

And pink is badass.

No one looks at my hair and thinks I’m weak,
or if they do, it ain’t for long. :)

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alice March 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Men often (usually?) dominate races, and some women are intimidated trying to compete, so I think there is definitely a place for women’s races.

I’d like society to get to a point where they’re not necessary, but for now, I’ll put women feeling comfortable participating over wishing things were all equal.

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geosomin March 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

He heh heh…read today’s Natalie Dee and thought of you:
http://www.nataliedee.com/031912/does-anyone-have-a-hammer-for-ladies-i-can-borrow.jpg

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Charlotte March 21, 2012 at 12:00 am

Buwhahah! Love it!!

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Katie March 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I’ve never done a race (of any kind really except a couple that weren’t timed with the Girls on the Run), but I see no problem with the “girly” races. I think there are a lot of women out there who are more comfortable doing this sort of thing without men and wouldn’t be signed up for them otherwise. That is obvious, given the success of women-only fitness clubs. So, truly I think they are good.

And let’s be honest – what girl really, deep down DOESN’T like pink. I mean, come on. Admit it.

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Alyssa (Azusmom) March 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm

My first instinct is to say “No way, we don’t need separate races!” But then I think about the women who, after a traumatic event, take their power back by running in a women-only race (or triathlon, century ride, etc), and I have to re-think my original position.
So I suppose we do need them.
But maybe get rid of the pink plethora.

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Tami C. March 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I don’t mind pink, but what I REALLY hate are women’s clothes and shoes that almost always come in varying shades of teal, lavender and light blue. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Makes me think of bad 1980′s interior decorating. This is anecdotal evidence, but when a shoe company comes out with a new running shoe in teal, lavender, pink or black, the black is almost always the first one to sell out. Hello, shoe companies? Why can’t women wear red, blue, black, gray, or yellow shoes? Why are we always stuck with the wimpy colors? (Sorry to rant, I just really hate teal and lavender. Ha.)

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T from TBD March 19, 2012 at 9:16 pm

- i strongly dislike pink.
- i have. my first tri way back in 2007 was the tri for the cure. i did it because i was thinking about doing a triathlon and a few friends signed up for that one. since then, one of the friends has stuck only with that sprint race and i’ve moved on to the longer distances (up to a 70.3).
- my hubby is bothered by women-only events. both of us have actually wondered what would happen if a rare male breast cancer survivor tried to sign up for tri for the cure in the survivors wave. technically, he’s a survivor of the cancer we’re in theory trying to fight here …
- we’ve both pooped in front of the other. neither cares. we’re gross and we admit it.

the girliest i get in training is living in skirt sports stuff, but that’s because it fits well and is functional. i got into their running skirts a few years back because they look cute and hide my large booty. while the nike tempo track shorts that seem like the defacto running short are nice and come in fun colors, they are NOT made for a woman with large thighs unless she wants a serious case of chub rub. i still typically wear a pair of compression shorts under my skirts for said reason, but i like the extra butt-coverage.

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Cley March 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm

whhaha. I like those photos. it’s look before and after. thanks that you sheared this…

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Casey Kay March 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I don’t know much about the world of racing, but might it work the same way gender-specific schools do? That there is less distractions in a girls- or guys-only race? Again, I don’t know if that is a big deal in racing, but that is one explanation I could see.

As for the color pink, I’m wearing a hot pink t-shirt and track pants with pink stripes down the sides so you can tell how I feel. I don’t like the fact that pink is strictly a girl color, though. The boy I babysit loves all the bright colors, including pink and purple, and I think that’s how it should be. Girls should be allowed to like blue without having to be “tomboys” and boys should be allowed to like pink or purple without being “girly.”

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Collette Edge March 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm

In my opinion I love pink, but more importantly is the way the shirts fit. I have a million (well, maybe not quite) race shirts that fit awfully. They are always men size small and look like I was placed in a square flour sack. I always check out the shirts and see if there are women specific sizes or I will pay the lower price tag of the race rather than take home another ugly ill-fitting shirt. Case in point Seattle Rock-n-Roll marathon. Highest price I have paid for a race and the shirt is hideous.
I say all women races would at least provide swag I would more than likely like. I don’t think there is anything wrong with girl-only races, but then again I have only ran co-ed.
I say run it for the cool jacket. Oh, and I love pink. It just looks good on girls!

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Redheadedmama March 20, 2012 at 8:33 am

Another great post Charlotte, although I have to say that I don’t necessarily equate women’s-only runs/sport events with pink. I think they each raise distinct issues. Women’s-only teams I like and support as a general rule, while races/sports that are marketed as “pink” or “girly” just to make a buck are not big in my book.

Thankfully the big local women’s only race here is run in memory of a elite female athlete who passed away unexpectedly and the race is anything but girly. I actually don’t remember any pink swag at all. What I loved most about participating in the race was getting to finish in the top 30 as opposed to finishing my usual top one-thousandish. It was very empowering for me to be able to feel that competitive at a race and not just one of the mid-pack finishers. Also, the elite women there really stood out and were very inspiring to see – very motivational, especially the women much older than me who are still racing at elite levels.

My daughter also plays ringette – a girls’ only form of a sport similar to hockey that has its origins back when girls weren’t allowed to play hockey. At first I was reluctant to have her play a girls’-only sport (why not just play hockey?), but I love that it gives her a chance to shine, learn to work as part of a team of girls, and be athletic in a space separate from young boys (who sometimes seem to naturally take over the ball/puck/whatever when they play on the same mixed gender teams).

I guess I am a big supporter of female-only teams. I know that as an adult the dynamic on my co-ed sports team is very different from my womens’-only team – neither is one is better, just different for different reasons.

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Carrie March 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Your picture is so true to my life and really struck a chord – I honestly laughed until I cried. It is now posted on my desktop. Love you Charlotte!

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Liz B March 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I’m a little late to the game here but I can’t resist commenting on this. I have run lots of races all of them mixed gender and have had wonderful experiences at all of them, but one. The race itself was great, unfortunately, I got behind two men who were commenting very crudely about every woman who passed them. What’s worse is that my pace was just slightly faster than theirs which put me in quite a dilemma. Do I stick with my pace, turn my ipod up really loud, and pass these losers knowing that I will be right in front of them for a while or hold back racing slower than I could be, but avoid putting myself in a terribly degrading situation? That was the first time that I could understand the reasons behind the women only races. Usually I feel a great sense of encouragement and comraderie from the men running around me so this was quite a disappointing experience! I am running that same race again this May and hope I don’t come across those two this time.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, I held back until we came to a group of people then I passed the losers and joined up with the group of men and women and had a thoroughly uplifting and enjoyable half mile!

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Sea__Breeze March 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I vehemently dislike pastel pink, but I’m onboard with hot pink of late. I don’t agree with Women’s ONLY races, but I don’t mind women CENTRIC races. The idea of a Men’s ONLY race is something that was done away with after much protesting, so why do we think we should be allowed a Women’s Only one. It’s a double standard.

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Tracy96 March 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

One interesting example is that the light colored Egyptians called the darker colored Egyptians “the evil race of Ish” while, in return, they got called “the pale, degraded race of Arvad.” Unfortunately, most of the race definitions are based on the color of people’s skin.

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Emily April 29, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I’m a longtime quasi-serious runner, and have very mixed feelings about women’s only races. On the one hand, I think it’s great if the all-women angle lowers the intimidation factor and gets more women to exercise and potentially discover the joys of being an athlete. As the product of an all-girls school, I can attest to the camaraderie and empowerment that can come from participating in women’s-only events. In my mind, races like the More 1/2 Marathon in NYC or the Danskin Tri series are examples of what “good” all-women’s races can be.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are races like the Nike Women’s Marathon/Half, the Disney Princess races, and others of their ilk. I know a lot of these races sell out or are so popular that entry is by lottery, so I’m well aware that I’m likely in the minority, but I find many of their so-called race “perks” (pedicure stations along the course, stations for tiaras and boas, sparkly necklaces from Tiffany’s instead of race medals, etc, etc, etc) downright insulting/demeaning/condescending/pickyouradjective. As though running is hard and sweaty and dirty and icky, and the only way to make it palatable for delicate womenfolk is to lure them with promises of chocolate and pink glitter.

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