Kathrine Switzer Interviewed

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon as an official participant. She didn’t get very far through the race, before she was attacked physically by the race organiser, Jock Semple. She tells the story here:

If you’re tired of much that passes for feminism in the blogosphere – you know, identity politics, endless banging on incoherently about privilege, elevatorgate, banalities about sexual epithets, worries about the trolley problem, etc, etc, – then have a listen to this interview with Switzer (starting about 45 minutes in). Even if you’re not interested in sport, it is kind of inspirational if you’re interested in the history of feminism.

Seriously, listen to it – it’s a very cool story.

  1. Switzer’s story was totally fantastic and inspirational.

    Her experience with Semple, being physically assaulted mid-race, is also a textbook illustration of how a person’s (in this case, Semple’s) sense of privilege can congeal into a full-blown sense of entitlement. What is even more interesting is that they subsequently just made up rules out of whole cloth to rationalize her expulsion — that she needed a “chaperone”, for instance!

    If we draw on Charles Mills’s work in social epistemology, we might refer to this as an instance of the “epistemology of ignorance“. But that description is altogether too anodyne to even scratch the surface of a case like this one. Perhaps a more fitting description of Semple’s attack on Switzer (and his subsequent attempts to justify her expulsion) would be “the epistemology of total bullshit”.

  2. What a person. Here is someone who exercised the limited control she had to effect real and widespread change rather than mutter about her unlucky lot in the Universe. Very inspirational indeed!

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