I was going to add a postscript to "10 lesbians walk into a bar" (I have to say I am just dying to see how that phrase affects my hits) based on the recent Graham Hays (of ESPN online) column about Elizabeth Lambert's actions last weekend.
But I thought it was a good enough piece to stand alone as a post. (And possibly because I am feeling a little lazy this morning.) Hays is right on when he writes:
This is how it so often goes for women's sports....Roll tape, ignore the context and let the criticism and mocking commence.
And he is soooo right--unfortunately--that this conference playoff game will get far more attention from the likes of ESPN and other sports networks than the actual NCAA championship game.
And he is right that the outrage reflects the belief that women's sports remain an inferior and less physical version of men's sports. [Please don't take away my feminist blogger's license for all this agreeing with a mainstream source.]
But what was really interesting about this column was the comments of former Alabama player Emily Pitek who said she liked what she saw. Pitek actually incurred an ACL injury when she took (what she felt was) a late hit against UNM. Nevertheless she said: "I'm not going to lie; I loved it....Because, yeah, she was crazy and, probably, I just like physical play. Maybe it does lack official skill, but I think girls in female soccer … they need to hit each other. You need to really show that you're not some dainty little prisspot and just go hammer somebody."
Hmm...so why, why would some female athletes worry about being dainty little prisspots? Geez, maybe because our culture sees them as such. Maybe because we have now nearly officially confirmed that women's sports only make the highlight reel when athletes behave badly. Behave out of character for what we expect of said prisspots. Behave not like women.
And all this really stymies our ability to look at the incidents themselves and reflect on what it means for sport and violence in our culture. (Not that I believe we can ever truly and effectively disaggregate issues of gender and race and class and sexuality--or that we should.) But whenever something like this happens we spend a lot of time having to critique the critics and the coverage while adding the proverbial asterik that reads "yes, we know this was wrong and bad and all that..."
So, yeah, all that.