A reader writes:
Kim Elsesser misses the point. The awards aren't given out on the basis of the actor, they're given out on the basis of the role. So long as Hollywood continues to treat male and female roles as two separate spices, the salt and pepper of screenplay seasoning, it makes sense to give separate awards.
Thinking about the best supporting actor and actress awards should help make this clear.
They aren't given out to support-males and support-females, lesser examples of the gender. They are given out because the role of supporting male is different from the role of lead male, and the same for the female roles. The photos that you posted of Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry make the point perfectly. She should have been awarded the Oscar for best actor in a leading male role. 'Actor in a Leading Role' is shorthand for such a role, because it's one almost exclusively played by a man, but it need not be. If anything should be changed, it's the name of the award.
Contra Kim Elsesser, I think there are a number of sports that should be genderless as well. Any of the shooting sportsarchery, rifle, whatever. But even more, what about ski jumping, which is not currently a winter Olympic sport even though there are some women who actually jump farther than the men. How about half-pipe snowboarding? Or that freestyle jumping thing they do with skis? Why not have men and women compete together in fencing? I competed against women in college; fencing is more about reflexes and speed and eye-hand coordination than strength.
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