Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The f-word and basketball

So it's over. We can all get back to our lives now that March Madness has ended.
But before I put an end to blog posts about collegiate women's basketball, I have a few things to say about...yes, feminism.
I will start with what I am sure many would call the nitpicky: an article in the NYT about last night's championship game, the Big East, and the surprising appearance of Louisville. The men's team at Louisville, of course, did not make it to their Final Four as expected and so that meant, according to one player, that star Angel McCoughtry had become "the man"--a term she had no problem with because, as the writer notes, she's no "raging feminist." And she understands that men's basketball gets more attention, though she believes it's because men's basketball "has been around since the Stone Age."
I don't mean to pick on McCoughtry here. My point is that a smidge of feminist leanings, or heck just a little bit of women's history, would reveal that it's not because men's basketball is older--because it isn't--it's because well there have been some issues over women and sports and women and aggression and basically women and anything that doesn't involve them sitting still and looking pretty.
I have accepted that many young women today do not identify as feminists, but it worries me that so many just have no idea what is going on and what has been going on--you know, since the Stone Age.
Moving on...I saw the several requisite articles and/or blog posts this past season about the use of the term Lady when referring to women's teams. I had thought that I didn't have all that much more to say about the issue.
I was wrong.
Because I got to thinking about how often I read the term lady throughout the season in articles, editorials, blog posts that are simply about women's basketball. Sure, I cringe when I read whether it comes from some jerk talking about how sub par the women's game is or whether it is from Christine Brennan making some excellent point. I never think about the writer's use of the term. I think about how backwards the school remains for continuing to use the term.
But I think that not questioning the use of the term whenever and in whatever context it comes up is a problem. Because it makes it seem acceptable. I even saw some male writer refer to the UConn women as the Lady Huskies!
It's time for us all--the media, the bloggers, and even the water cooler conversers--to stop supporting the use of this term; even when Pat Summitt is using it. It's time to start doing what we do when we refer to that NFL team with the offensive Native American mascot: we just call them Washington. Or use an asterisk. Or come up with something else.
But we have to stop using "lady." Because if you think it doesn't contribute to the continued position of inferiority most women's sports experience--you are wrong. And if you think it does not contribute to a homophobic atmosphere--you are wrong. Because remember a lady cannot possibly be a lesbian.
It is not a coincidence that at Penn State, where Rene Portland was allowed to enact her homophobic crap for years and years, they retained (one of the few schools in the northern part of the country to do so) the nickname Lady Lions.
So let's stop deferring to what schools or coaches want to call themselves--that excuse has never worked on the mascot issue; or taking into consideration how much money they make off of their own and others' oppression.


Diane said...

Thanks for posting that. I sent Araton an email, and I hope others do, too. Because that's the way it goes: Protest discrimination, and you're a "raging feminist."

Pat Griffin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat Griffin said...

Point taken, Ken. I've edited my blog accordingly. Pat

ken said...

Your post was only one of many lady references I have seen of late. I certainly wasn't singling you out and actually saw your post after I had the idea.
Mostly I was inspired by the Ithaca conference to make the suggestion to just stop using it. I think so many people have a problem with it but don't really know how to respond when someone like Pat Summitt says things like, it's part of history and school pride, etc. SO I decided I am going to treat it like the mascot issue and just stop listening to the justifications.