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Old 05-06-2013
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Re: Is Sailing Sexist?

Some sexism on a boat is self-reinforcing. An example is something like a winch, it could be made to have whatever mechanical advantage the manufacturer wants to give it based on the diameter of the winch, the length of the winch handle, etc, but because most sailors are men it is designed for a man, for a man's reach, the amount of power a typical man can apply to it. Think about it, it could easily be twice as hard to turn, or half as hard, but it is designed so that an adult male can raise a sail in the shortest amount of time using a fair amount of his muscle strength, it is optimized for a typical male. If it were designed for a woman, sure, it might take a little bit longer to raise a sail because it would require a few more turns, but a woman wouldn't have to work any harder to use a winch than a man does. So you end up in this situation where it really is harder for a woman to work a winch, maybe even beyond her strength, because the winch was never designed for her, and then men use that to justify to themselves that women can't handle the boat. Well, most men couldn't use a winch on a boat if they were designed to be used by professional football players.

We all need mechanical advantage to operate a sailboat, and it would only take just a little more mechanical advantage for women to operate one just as well as a man.

I'm not saying there aren't differences between men and women, of course there are, but that shouldn't matter where winches and windlasses are involved.
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