Sex­ism hasn’t changed much in 25 years

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION -

The good old boys aren’t al­ways old and they are al­most never good. Carolina Panthers quar­ter­back Cam New­ton was an­swer­ing some ques­tions from the me­dia this week when he got a ques­tion from a fe­male re­porter.

He said through a dis­mis­sive grin that it was “cute” to hear a fe­male re­porter ask­ing about routes. Ob­vi­ously, it is cute be­cause he knows that girls don’t know about foot­ball. Be­cause most women haven’t played foot­ball, how could they ever know about de­tails like routes and tech­niques? The logic New­ton used to get to that grin is pretty funny. I don’t know how many mem­bers of the sports me­dia ever even played Pop Warner foot­ball. I know some re­tired ath­letes get a free pass onto ra­dio shows and tele­vi­sion opin­ion pro­grams be­cause of their name and the fact that they must know ev­ery­thing about the game since they were able to run re­ally fast. But most guys ask­ing ques­tions in those set­tings never played the game. They have been fans and fol­low­ers of the game for decades, but they never took a hit or spilled any more blood on the field than a fe­male re­porter has.

I can’t imag­ine the sex­ist com­ments and treat­ment women re­ceive who be­come sports re­porters. It prob­a­bly isn’t that much worse than women in ev­ery field. You will never con­vince me that Hil­lary Clin­ton lost a lot of votes be­cause she wore a pantsuit and not a suit and tie. n “Women are hys­ter­i­cal.”

— “She will start a war at that time of the month.” n “She is too emo­tional to do the job.”

We’ve all heard these com­ments and most of us have heard much worse. When Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump uses his Twit­ter feed like a petu­lant mid­dle school stu­dent, he is praised be­cause he “speaks his mind” or “tells it like it is.”

A woman tweet­ing the same thing would be show­ing that she was too dra­matic for the job. In 1992 — 25 long years ago — I ran the state Se­nate cam­paign for a friend and for­mer teacher who trusted a 21-year-old col­lege stu­dent to help him get elected. We fell a hand­ful of votes short to a guy who grew seed­less wa­ter­mel­ons. Do I think at least 10 vot­ers checked his name be­cause he was a man? Let me tell a story.

I was young and dumb but I worked hard and didn’t cost much. We had a team of vol­un­teers and we took a group to knock on doors across the dis­trict at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. One evening in Tut­tle, Ok­la­homa, I knocked on a door and an older man an­swered. I told him what we were do­ing and asked if he knew about our can­di­date. “I don’t need to know any­thing about her,” he said. “I think if you got to know her, you would want to vote for her,” I an­swered. “Why is she even run­ning? Is she a power hun­gry (word that we don’t print in our news­pa­per),” he asked. My blood boiled and I had to take a mo­ment to re­mind my­self that the goal was to win votes, not to get ar­rested for beat­ing up old men. “Do you think that Bruce Price is a power hun­gry (re­peated his word back to him),” I asked pretty point­edly. “No. He is a man. We’re meant to be lead­ers. She should be home tak­ing care of her fam­ily,” he said with no hint of sar­casm. “I’ll pass on your ad­vice,” I said as I left his doorstep. I sat in my car for a while after that. I re­ally couldn’t be­lieve that in 1992, peo­ple who lived within 20 miles of my house still felt that way. Then 25 years later, Amer­ica elected Trump. There isn’t much that Cam New­ton could have said to over­shadow Trump’s own com­ments and ac­tions be­fore and dur­ing the elec­tion. But in a way, I am glad Clin­ton wasn’t the first woman to get elected. She is a smart woman and qual­i­fied. How­ever, her rise in pol­i­tics was al­ways be­cause of her hus­band. I don’t want women to need a man to lift them into promi­nence.

Look at Ok­la­homa Gover­nor Mary Fallin. In re­al­ity, even though her pol­icy po­si­tions aren’t aligned with a fem­i­nist move­ment, her story is peak fem­i­nism.

She ac­cepted a mar­riage pro­posal at the Play­boy Man­sion. You don’t see many con­ser­va­tive politi­cians with that on their re­sume. She was elected and served all the way to a seat in Con­gress. She went through a tough divorce while she was the Lieu­tenant Gover­nor, but she still stood on her own two feet, over­came con­tro­versy and a less than ideal per­sonal story to get elected to the of­fice of Gover­nor not once, but twice. She didn’t have to meet spe­cial stan­dards to be a fe­male can­di­date. Just like all men be­fore her, she won warts and all.


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