The Case Against Case-by-Case


“After publishing an outrageous piece in Cycling Weekly about Olympian cyclist and women’s rights campaigner Inga Thompson, ex-elite cyclist Anne-Marije Rook proclaimed that “fairness of competition should be determined by the athletes that are currently competing”. In the same week Kate Osborne MP, after chairing the Women and Equalities Select Committee meeting on the SRE curriculum, tweeted, “We need to safeguard children and that means education — education enables them to protect themselves from harm.” 

The buzzwords of the moment, “agency” and “empowerment”, are being misappropriated by people whose interests lie in dismantling rules, regulations and boundaries. It is sold as empowering that female cyclists, or children, have agency and should be allowed to make their own decisions. In reality, it can lead to the opposite: needs can get sidelined when each challenge has to be tackled anew, on a case-by-case basis. Without a structure or framework based on what has gone before and what we already know, women and girls are left on their own, continually reinventing the wheel. Some broad-brush rules need to be in place so that basic safety and security exist as a bare minimum, within which it is possible to concentrate on what you do best, whether that is riding a bike or being a child. Without that framework, attention is diverted and energy is wasted, as well as safety and fairness compromised.”


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