Nike, you are not fit to lead.

An open letter about gender equality inspired by Mary Cain

Dear Mary Cain,

I just read the NYT op-ed about the awful experiences you had to go through. Thank you for being brave enough to speak out against a brutal and abusive system that did you no favours. It’s abhorrent, and entirely (as well as empirically) irrational for Nike, or any coach, or any medically trained professional worth their salt to not acknowledge the massive gender gap in medical clinical trials.

The fact that Nike did not provide a sports psychologist or an experienced nutritionist as part of your training regime demonstrates a negligence that is quite frankly frightening. This is evidence that, while circumstantial, is damning enough. You were (and can still be!) the fastest girl in America and at a record breaking age! Would it not have made more sense for Nike to pick your brains and ask for your input about everything you were doing that was clearly already working?

Alas, bigoted men aren’t used to asking women, or girls, questions since their tiny egos are barely able to handle the prospect that they could be wrong or accept they have made mistakes, let alone that they might not be authentic knowledge bearers of a body they themselves have never inhabited, let alone experienced.

So Salazar, what did it feel like to skip your last period? Oh wait, you have no effing clue, you dingbat, and neither do I — but I at least don’t act as if I do.

That question might come across as insulting or absurd but the fact is Salazar and Nike’s actions demonstrate the sort of dangerous patriarchal ignorance that all too often destroys the physical and mental health of women in sports, in business, or indeed in nearly any public or private setting.

It is the sort of insane, destructive ignorance that falls flat in the face of an alarmingly simple truth: that males are not females — that most men are not women, and thus cannot experience the world as such. An aside: of course some females can certainly be men, and males be women, and all sorts of LGBTQI combinations of sexuality and expressions of gender (binary or otherwise) — and power to us!— but the fact remains that the male and female anatomy are fundamentally different. This is not an expression of gender, but of physicality.

We cannot afford, and nor do we have any good reason, to assume that what works for a developing male human body will work for a developing female one. It’s this ridiculous, patriarchal, unscientific assumption that breaks bones and cripples healthy development. It is this flawed and epically discriminate thinking that derails lives and hurts people time and time again.

We need to smash through the glass ceiling and dismantle this culture of silence. The world over needs more women and girls speaking out, to be in managerial positions — and not only by name — but women in positions where they have actual decision making power in sports/work/policy/everything.

We men need to sit down, STFU, and get comfortable being sidelined for a bit while (some) women (and allies) express their justified disgust and anger at our inaction — at our negligence — and at a history of oppression that goes back to the birth of civilisation.

Thank you, Mary Cain, for marching on despite it all (I’ll be right behind you, in full support, if I’m welcome), for picking up the pieces, and for running head first into this at times ugly race.

Mary Cain you are a heroine and gift to the world, Nike and Salazar don’t deserve you for a second.

Go get ’em girl (source: Twitter)

Ethics driven planet, people, and tech advocate grounded by a fundamental belief that all of these things can (and should) be made to work hand in hand.