Okay, I realize that I'm the sort of woman who looks at everything through cynical eyes, always on the lookout for the sort of endemic cultural misogyny* that makes me roll my eyes, crack my knuckles, and shut the TV off before I throw the remote straight through it. That said, when something draws my ire, I shut my eyes, take a step back, and wonder if I'd be taking as much offense if I hadn't spent four years immersing myself in gender theory monographs and Sleater-Kinney records. I'm perceptive, and I'm opinionated, but I try to pick my battles, y'know?
But this one? I've taken deep breaths. I've paced around my apartment. I've consumed half a mug of herbal tea. I've looked at the clinching-celebration photos of Jonathan Papelbon in his underwear. I've done everything in my power to distract myself, and it ain't working.Deadspin? We're breaking up.
I've professed my love for Deadspin and the other branches of Gawker Media many times over the last few years. I used to love the weirdly creative blend of snarkery and analysis that seemed to jibe so well with my own perspective on sports fandom. But what's the problem with Deadspin, you may ask? Shit like the entry I've linked to above.Translation: "Omigod, you guys, I'm just, like, this really complicated girl, and you wouldn't understand that because you aren't me. And that's just who I am. So, like, don't criticize us, because what I have with my teammates is, like, soooo special. I luv u chickas forever! [Amy Grant song lyric snippet]"
Riiiiiiiiight. USA soccer goalie Hope Solo makes a MySpace entry about the brouhaha surrounding her recent benching, and this is what Deadspin turns it into. Sure, everyone, let's infantilize and mock an athlete -- who could probably drop most of the Deadspin bloggers with one kick to the head -- because she expressed her opinion on the internet... wait, just like everyone involved with Deadspin.
Like it or not, MySpace has become a bizarrely viable form of communication between the famous and the anonymous. I cringe at the blinking ads and unexpectedly awful music, but Hope Solo's not the first quasi-national figure to make a statement via MySpace and she won't be the last. It's weird, and I'm not quite sure I like it, but we're gonna have to roll with it.
But at the end of the day, what does this all boil down to? That's right, folks, say it with me: Endemic! Cultural! Misogyny! Within the confines of middle-class America, there's no more difficult place to be a woman than within sports fandom. Men who wouldn't dream of sexually harassing a co-worker will scream at a woman in the stands for not lifting her shirt on command, and -- as we see here -- men who are educated, sensible, and fair-minded will mock, infantilize, and harrass a woman who's apparently done nothing more than dare to play a sport while being female and express an opinion about it.
"But Suzie," you say, rolling your eyes because you've listened to my vitriolic rants against everything from The Parents' Television Council to Axe Body Spray commercials, "she was asking for it! Come on, she talked about a team matter in public! She should be soundly mocked!"
Ahem. How many times have we seen players fighting in the dugout? (Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent on the '01 Giants being the most obvious example, to me.) Players fight with managers, players fight with coaches, players fight with each other -- it all gets media coverage, and most of the time, those involved never say a thing about it, leading to bizarre speculation and trade talk. If you read Hope Solo's MySpace blog, it's a simple thing: she didn't want anyone to think she was taking any shots at her teammates. She tries to properly articulate herself, issues apologies, and generally seems to be trying to act more mature than 95 percent of the athletes we see on ESPN every day.
But of course, none of that matters, you guys. Women are just catty bitches, right? None of them ever mean
what they say! Hope Solo's no better than the archetypal (not
typical) 14-year-old girl with complicated friendships and an internet connection! All women are the same, don't you know? I mean, we might call Bonds a self-absorbed nutbag, but we never pretend that he's got the same emotional range as a 13-year-old boy, because that would be wrong
. Infantilization and patronizing speech is reserved for the women who dare invade the sacred male sanctum of sports fandom, regardless of their capacity as either athletes or fellow fans.
It's hard to be a woman, it's even harder to be a feminist, and it's damn near impossible to be a sports fan, too. I used to love Deadspin, but I'm beginning to see it for what it really is underneath the flashy snark -- the new-school version of the old-boys' club where otherwise respectable men "let down their hair" and allow their inner Neanderthals to crawl out, make blowjob jokes, and hoot at Erin Andrews, while the women involved play by the boys' rules and accept their ordained status as second-class citizens in order to gain acceptance. It's enough to make a girl vom.
So it's going to be hard, but Deadspin's coming off my Bookmarks Bar. I don't know what I'm replacing it with yet -- Surviving Grady? Joy of Sox? Plain ol' ESPN? -- but I just can't read the blog entries and comments anymore. It's a total affront to everything I stand for, as a sports fan and as a woman, and I can't keep on reading these posts every single day and wondering what, exactly, is wrong with me that I don't find racist, misogynist humor funny.
After all, I've never been one of the cool kids. Why start trying to fit in now? And anyway, no one quotes Amy Grant lyrics anymore -- this is not a Tennessee high school circa 1995.
* -- I overuse it, but it describes SO MUCH, you guys