Wow! I was amazed to read this article by Jere Longman in the New York Times. I just recently saw this story covered on the Today Show and thought the same thing – double standards (and this feeling that the producers just looove to show the negative side of women – like their “fembot” episode, or their “wife-in-chief” segment, or…)
Here’s the problem:
Lambert, 20, has been suspended indefinitely by New Mexico after she engaged in shoving, punching, tripping and yanking an opponent down by the ponytail last Thursday in a 1-0 loss to Brigham Young.
But the reaction – including airtime on the Today Show – has clearly been blown out of proportion:
Bruce Arena, the coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy and the former coach of the United States men’s national team, said in an interview Sunday: “Let’s be fair, there have been worse incidents in games than that. I think we are somewhat sexist in our opinion of sport. I think maybe people are alarmed to see a woman do that, but men do a hell of a lot worse things. Was it good behavior? No, but because it’s coming from a woman, they made it a headline.”
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Similarly harsh play by men does not seem to provoke the same visceral reaction and incredulous scrutiny that Lambert received, Dorrance said.
“The world has changed,” Dorrance said. “Women play with just as much intensity, work ethic and sometimes aggression as guys.” But although men can be celebrated for extreme aggression, like knocking out a quarterback in the N.F.L., “women are held to a different standard,” Dorrance said.
“I hate to call it a higher standard,” he said. “It’s almost like they crossed a gender line they weren’t allowed to cross, like we want to take them out of the athletic arena and put them in the nurturing, caring role as mothers of children.”
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The Lambert incident has also been sexualized, as was the jersey-removing celebration by Brandi Chastain after she scored the winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Lambert’s behavior has been referred to as “hot” on some blogs. On Monday night, “The Late Show” with David Letterman used a male voiceover to portray the video in a sexy manner.
This is a way to trivialize, or make less threatening, women’s sports, said Pat Griffin, an emeritus professor of social justice education at the University of Massachusetts.
“It isn’t about women’s soccer and how great its players are,” Griffin said. “It’s about titillation, about sexualizing women in a catfight, that weird porno-lesbian subtext: let’s watch two women go at it.”
This article definately looked at the situation with a gender lens – without any backlash to feminism, denial of women’s use of aggression/violence or or any condescension or any of the negativities that can get in the way. Kudos to the NY Times for providing such a clear gender analysis of the subject! Wow! Keep it coming! 🙂