Friday, November 23, 2007

Reaction to the Jets

This article is an interesting take on the recent public uncovering of the "halftime show" at Jets games where men line the pedestrian ramps and sexually harass women below.
It puts the situation in the context of women's professional football which the author presents as a more pure version of football than "this hedonistic, misogynistic spectacle the NFL has been giving [us] lately."
And as much as I support women's professional football and believe it is one of the most undercovered women's sports in the country, I am always leery of the implication that some women's sports or female versions of sport can be an alternative to men's sports. This does two things (well probably more than that but two for today):
1. One, it presents men's sports (some not all) as beyond reform essentially letting all this bad behavior by fans, players, owners, coaches slip by because "boys will be boys" and suggesting they are a lost cause because of the excessive commercialism.
2. It limits women's sports. There is the suggestion that women's sports will always be "purer" because of the fact that women play them. This trades on essentialist notions of woman as gentler, less aggressive, less competitive. Let me just say right now that I have no desire to see women's sports conform or fall prey to the same evils some men's sports have. But I also see this "aren't women's sports better because they're pure" as a backhanded compliment that can, in reality, limit women's ways of being involved. For example, many women engage in apologetic behavior to counter criticism that they are too aggressive or competitive when playing or that sports will turn women into aggressive, competitive people which would apparently be a perversion of some kind of natural order.
So, in sum, that stuff going on at the Jets' stadium is beyond bad behavior; women's football is a good thing--you should support it; but I don't necessarily think the two are related in the way the writer suggests.
Oh--and this was not the only follow-up* on the NY Times article. Here are some links:
  • More arrests of the most egregious of fans are planned though the head of the facility said this likely wouldn't help all that much citing finger in the dam situation.
  • The president of the NJ state senate has been making some phone calls to people in the NFL, state police, and those in charge of stadium operations because he is unhappy with the lack of attention paid to Gate D fans.
  • Officials with the Jets have put the blame firmly on Giants Stadium security and are urging them to put an end to the "unruly halftime tradition."
  • Columnist Wallace Matthews critiques this passing of the buck by Jets management.
  • You can see what others think the Jets should do about the situation by viewing current poll results here. (refresh for most current results)

*Unfortunately many media outlets have been emboldened by this situation and seem to think using the term "boobs" in their coverage is acceptable--or at least not as egregious as the harassment itself, keeping them in the clear.

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