Here is my letter to The Varsity, a campus newsletter.
306 - 21 Sussex Avenue, November 12, 2010
With regard to the article by Betina Alonso on Muslim women in sports that appeared November 1st on ‘The Varsity’ I would like to commend the effort on raising awareness of this issue. Women in sports have been historically demeaned and overtly sexualized. In productions of sporting events women in sports are enforced by rules to dress scantily and covering up is not given as an option especially at elite levels. This is clearly evident in tennis and beach volleyball where the most provocative angles make it to the airwaves. Female athletes in advertisements are used for their sexual appeal instead of their skill assets.
Practising Muslim women when not provided with the option of being clothed will choose to remain covered and be physically inactive. Those that can, will take memberships at Women only gyms and some may do physical activity at home exclusively. But, we attend a university and these girls pay the same levy fee that everyone else does to the athletic centre, therefore, as stake holders they deserve accommodation. It’s important to be able to access proper equipment and have access to knowledgeable instructors to avoid risk of injury and learn proper techniques.
In the past there has been some uproar when women’s only hours were introduced at the University of Toronto. Some of this commotion was caused by other women who claimed Muslim women should learn to assimilate. But, Muslim women are not the only ones to take benefit from women’s only hours or the only ones who feel more comfortable being covered while playing sports. Such accommodations work for the vast majority of the female population. The goal of the university, the athletic and varsity centre should be that of introducing physical activity to as many people as possible so, that the value of physical activity can be instilled for a lifelong period. The more physically active our population is, the less our future healthcare bills and taxes will be.
The published letter can be found on page 7 on http://hotink.theorem.ca/system/varsity/issues/000/004/873/VARSITY-pp01-20-NOV29-ONLINE_screen_quality.pdf?1291056051