Sunday, 28 August 2016

Stroking for Parity

The pool is only 20 metres long, but it can go fast... if no one's blocking you!
There's been a lot of talk in the media about sexual harassment, in light of Fox News' Roger Ailes, which also leads to talk about gender disparity, how women are paid less than men even though they are doing the same job. But if a woman speaks up about wanting more pay or a promotion, she is perceived as being a bitch.

When I was in Vancouver over a month ago, a woman in her 60s asked me if there was sexual discrimination in Hong Kong. I said there definitely was, that there is an old boys' club feel and culturally men feel like they should be the dominant ones, while women are supposed to look pretty and be docile.

There aren't that many women leading large companies here, and we have only one senior female government official.

Why does Hong Kong likes to claim it is an international city and yet how its women and men are treated is still so stereotypical?

However I like to think that I change those perceptions when I'm in the swimming pool. While the men at my gym may run faster and lift heavier weights, I can swim faster than most of them in the water.

It's always the same scenario: The man starts swimming in the fast lane, thinking he will have no problem keeping up with me. But he's dead wrong 95 percent of the time.

I always have to pass him to keep at my pace or to avoid being frustrated tailing behind him.

The rudest part is that he doesn't acknowledge this and doesn't yield to me so that I can keep going.

It is always the case and today was no exception.

A very skinny Chinese man watched me swim for a while before donning his swimming cap and got into the water. I very easily passed him a few times before he got out and I thought that was the end of that.

Instead he sat on a lounge chair and watched me swim several more lengths before he decided to take another stab at swimming again (thinking I was tired). Again I had to pass him a few more times -- at one point my fingers touched his toes because he was slower than I anticipated.

But did he think to yield to me on the way back? Nope. He continued freestyle, while I was forced to swim breast stroke because there were other swimmers in the lane.

He got back out of the pool again, watched as I continued lap after lap and then he went back in a third time.

Again I passed him until he decided to rest in the pool for a bit until I finally finished my laps. Did he think the last one in the pool was the winner?

A few weeks ago two middle-aged women saw me tearing up the pool and were thrilled to see a woman swimming so fast. They wondered if I had competed before and I said no, but I'd been swimming for many years, and enjoyed it.

Perhaps they appreciated seeing someone showing up the men for once...

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