Friday, April 27, 2012

Poetry Friday

After a little hiatus, Poetry Friday is back--just in time--or rather, half a month late--for National Poetry Month.

I like W.G. Sebald and stars so this one seemed appropriate.

The Sky at Night
A belated excursion to
the stone collection
of our feelings

Little left here
worth showing

Is there
from an anthropological perspective
a need for love

Or merely for
yearnings easy
to disappoint

Which stars
go down
as white dwarfs

What relation
does a heavy heart bear
to the art of comedy

Does the hunter
Orion have answers
to such questions

Or are they
too closely guarded
by the Dog Star

Thursday, April 26, 2012

OMG! There's a trans person in the locker room!

I only found about this story from a FB friend who posted a link to the petition on
And despite my searches for more info--I cannot find any. So I wonder if this is actually making news in Beverly--which, coincidentally, is my home town.
So a woman was told she cannot take her daughter into the children's locker room before swim lessons at the Beverly YMCA--where I once was a little guppy trying to work her way up to dolphinhood.
Why can this mother not take her daughter into the kids' locker room? Because the woman was born a man. And apparently she still has "male eyes" and her gender presentation is confusing to people.
First (though in no particular order), pretty condemning of men, no? All men are looking at little girls with leering eyes is the suggestion here. Of course, the message could (most likely?) be that a transwoman is more likely to be some kind of pervert.
Second, let's perhaps use this as a teachable moment, people of the Beverly YMCA. Biology does not equal gender, trans or male does not equal pedophile.
I have certain issues with the binary gender system--but the mother in question has "complied" with all the requirements for womanhood. Does she not look the part you expect her to play? Or do you not like the version of the gender game she is playing?
I frequently encounter people who confuse me--not in their presentation--in their mindsets. Can I take my white, cisgendered, middle class privilege and ban them from the spaces I occupy?

Here is the petition.
The director of the Beverly Y is Judith Cronin.
Here is her contact info:


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Women's Hockey Worlds

Two weekends ago I headed north to Burlington, Vermont for a quick, last-minute getaway that happened to coincide with the IIHF Women's Hockey World Championships. (Timing is everything!) Here is what I observed:
Nothing indicated as we drove into Burlington that this event was taking place. I did however learn about when the farmers' market was starting and an upcoming parade. So that was a bummer. The store on the pedestrian mall that sells UVM merchandise did have a window display of USA Hockey gear and a poster of Jenny Potter and Angela Ruggiero (who actually "retired" this year and so wasn't playing--oops!).
Also good--the day we arrived was the day of the US versus Canada first-round game. Tickets were sold out--good sign generally. Not so much for us. But thank goodness for iPhones and craigslist and some good bargaining skills. Tickets were scored a few hour before game time.
And the game was amazing--if you were an American fan. I actually was more interested in seeing a good game regardless of the winner since both teams would be advancing regardless of the outcome. But holy crap--the display of skill and fitness that the US team put on was amazing. Harvard's Katey Stone was coaching this team. And though they didn't win the whole thing, I think the way she got this team into incredible form should put her into contention for the job at the next Olympics.

That's a very large jersey!
So, yeah, the US lost to Canada to the finals in overtime. And of course there was plenty of press--not so much about the championships themselves (i.e. reporting on games, players, plays, coaching) but on the state of women's hockey. A somewhat contested state since the last Olympics when we saw quite lopsided scores and heard the higher ups in the IOC saying women's hockey had to get its act in gear (i.e. move quickly toward parity) if it wanted to stay in the games. I think they would encounter huge opposition if they just eliminated women's hockey. Not that the IOC seems to do a whole lot more than pay lip service to gender equity.
This article out of Canada discusses the difference between women's hockey in North American (well Canada and the US) and Europe because of 1) the growth of intercollegiate hockey in the US which benefits both the Americans and Canadians (a few Europeans) and 2) the resistance from the old boys' network in Europe where women's hockey has had some trouble being recognized as legitimate.

Also in the above link we learn, from a Canadian administrator (the GF turned to me turning the game and asked why so many old white guys were running women's sports; she's clearly been hanging with me too long) that at  the beginning of the women's championships (1990) they decided not to have checking because parents--especially mothers--didn't want to see girls being taken off the ice on stretchers.
Grrr....violence and pain is socially acceptable, encouraged even, for boys and men, though. I just assigned Don Sabo's article, "Pigskin, Patriarchy, and Pain" about the social rewards boys and men receive for engaging in violence and enduring pain in the context of sports--and the physical and emotional price they pay for it. I don't want to see checking in hockey--anywhere. But I think the difference in the rules reinforces the various hegemonies at work here: pain and violence is good for me; and the women's game is inferior because they are not as physical.

But observers and participants say progress is being made. Ruggiero noted that countries with historically strong men's teams, like Russia, need to do more, however, to grow their women's program.  But it was a goo sign when Switzerland won the bronze at this year's championships. It was the country's first medal in women's hockey.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Marathon Monday!

It's Patriots Day here in Massachusetts. Many of us natives grow up thinking we get the day off because of the marathon in Boston. But it's an actual holiday here.

Good luck to the all the runners. Sorry about the weather. It was quite temperate last week.
And if you're a female runner, sorry you won't be able to set any world records no matter how fast you run.
As many might recall, the governing body of international track and field decided last year that no women could record world records in mixed gender events because of the potential to be paced by elite male runners.
The critique of this rule has lead the IAAF to reconsider--which they will formally do sometime soon. But as of today, the rule stands. So women running today can only set a "world best."

UPDATE: The women's elite runners went off earlier. Does that mean they can set a world record? (Not that today's conditions are amenable to that.)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Qatar increases women's team

Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, has never sent a female athletes to the Olympics. That will change this summer. Two women had been scheduled to go after receiving wild cards from the IOC. A third has just been added. Bahia al-Hamad, who also received a wild card, will participate in women’s air rifle. She was Qatar's most successful athlete at the 2011 Arab Games.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Jesus, the Masters, the IOC and Misogyny

Maureen Dowd has a column, seemingly in honor of Easter, of the connection between the old boys' network, Jesus Christ (i.e. what would Jesus do about Augusta?), the recent decision by Saudi Arabia to not send women to the Olympics--and what the OBN the IOC will do about it. It's a little stream of consciousness and I was not a fan of her line about the Saudis throwing blankets over their women; but she makes some good points nonetheless.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

More on Augusta

Loved Christine Brennan's column about current Augusta National president, Billy Payne. Earlier this week, Payne refused to talk about the women issue in a press conference noting--as have others before him--that membership issues are not discussed publicly. (Kind of like Skull and Bones--except they started letting women be members in the early 1990s--much to William F. Buckley's dismay.)
As noted earlier, the issue has arisen again (appropriate so close to Easter) with more force because of the appointment of a female CEO at IBM. This position usually garners a membership at Augusta for the holder. But Payne wouldn't comment.
Funny--he had a lot to say about it when he was involved in getting golf into the Olympics for the 1996 Atlanta Games. He wanted the competition--for men and women--to be held at Augusta where he thought women's participation would show those stodgy, old men of the club just what women could do.
So, what happened?
Payne even used the "no comment on membership issues" excuse when a reporter asked: "Don't you think it would send a wonderful message to young girls around the world if they knew that one day they could join this very famous golf club?"
The reporter--correctly--noted that this was not a membership issue. And another added that there seems to be some mixed messages being sent when the president of one of the most famous golf courses in the world is talking about the need to expand the game and then won't talk about how it continues to exclude some people.
Brennan notes that this seems counterintuitive. Golf is on the decline. Why not market it more toward women and bring in new blood? Two things. One, I think golf is a hard sell for women and not just because of its exclusionary history. Women have less time than men to to spend on recreational sporting activities. I like golf enough. But whenever I go out to play--just nine holes, mind you--I think: I could have played four sets of tennis in this time, or ridden 50 miles on my bike--and burned thousands more calories. Cost benefit analysis. And I am child-free, middle class white woman--and a gay girl to boot!
Second, I don't believe (and this is how I know I am not a true Marxist) that financial incentives always trump discrimination. I think people in power will often, in their desire to maintain a discriminatory status quo, work against their own financial interests. In part, because they have the privilege of being financially solvent enough to do so. Billy Payne and Augusta National are not hurting for money. So his speech about growing the game and impeding the decline seem a little like lip service when considered from this perspective.

Friday, April 06, 2012

No Saudi female Olympians

I have been following this story, but not posting about it.
It seems that after some consideration (or not) Saudi Arabian officials, despite some positive encouragement from the IOC, have decided not to send women--or even a woman--to the Olympic Games this summer in London.
The king of gender equality himself--Jacques Rogge, IOC president--nicely asked for some more gender equality worldwide, pointing particularly to Qatar, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is still holding out, sending some kind of enigmatic message about women who live outside the country possibly participating. But this would probably not be as part of the official Saudi delegation and only happen if the IOC invited them--as they did when they asked a female equestrian (the woman who many thought would be going to London as part of the team) to a junior Olympics event.
I am not saying that if the IOC and Rogge were better role models, things would have been different; or that the history of gender inequity in the Olympics is an excuse for the Saudis to hide behind.
The Saudi Arabian government has taken a very active role in preventing women from participating in sports. Women are barred from the country's many sports clubs and most women's gyms have been shut down.
Now--what will the IOC do? Discrimination is a no-no according to the Olympic charter. Will the IOC bar all Saudi athletes from participating?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Not a mean post about Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner, MVP of the DI Women's Basketball Championships, said Baylor officials advised her not to read blogs--because they are mean.
Not hard for me to imagine.
She does read Twitter though and so she's aware of what think about her, her height, her voice, her abilities; how they perceive her sexuality and her gender presentation. She's used to it, which I think shows an amazing amount of maturity. Her one public incident her freshman year when she punched an opposing player seems to be well behind her now--which is good, because things could have gone an entirely different way.
I am not a big fan of Baylor as an institution or Kim Mulkey as a coach, but I think they have done something good with Brittney Griner. Mulkey publicly expressed her anger with the way social media and opposing team fans have treated Griner earlier this week.

Of course the kicker is that the woman Mulkey hugged last night after Baylor took the title--Muffett McGraw--didn't do much better in the post-game conference. She said of Griner: "It's like a guy playing with women." Wow--that's disappointing. And it sounds oddly familiar. Hmm....where have I heard that before?
Oh, yes. Australian Open, 1999, Martina Hingis--also not great in defeat (even though she won)--said of Amelie Mauresmo, a then young and out newcomer on the tour, and her opponent in the final: "she's half a man." Lindsay Davenport, whom Mauresmo beat that year, commented in her press conference that she felt like she was playing a man.
Women who are "too good" and gender non-conforming are frequently labelled men--and not in a good way. Because despite the accolades masculinity receives in our culture, one can only access them if born a man.