Erasing Men

You might think that the winner of a race would be the first person to cross the finish line, or the person with the shortest time, but that would be naïve.

The November 6 New York Times coverage of the New York marathon, by Lindsay Crouse, begins with the headline “Mary Keitany of Kenya Wins 3rd Straight New York City Marathon.” It celebrates a 34 year old mother of two, who finished in “2 hours 24 minutes 26 seconds, with the second-place finisher [at 2:28.01, three and a half minutes back] nowhere in sight.” Her dominance was shown by the fact that “She was so far in front of her competitors that she could have taken a stroll through the Sheep Meadow in Central Park on her way to the finish line.”

It is not until we are seven paragraphs into this 32 paragraph article that we find that the fastest time was set by a 20-year-old from Eritrea, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, who finished in 2:07:51, almost 17 minutes faster than Keitany. So, presumably, he could have taken almost five strolls around Sheep Meadow before she showed up. In fact, Abdi Abdirahman, who placed third among the men at 2:11:23, could have taken almost four. But that was in what was identified as the “men’s race,” not, evidently, the Marathon itself. To be sure, there is one use, in paragraph 17, of the designation “women’s marathon”, but that was run in 1984, and who knows what’s happened since. In every other case, the term “Marathon,” without modifier, refers to the race among the women.

Overall, less than 300 words of this 1400 word article are devoted to men.

Not infrequently, one runs into the feminist fantasy of a world without men. On the symbolic level, it appears that this has largely happened.

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