Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sexist Tweets, OK. Racist Tweets, Not So Much

In the space of two weeks reporters for national media have gotten themselves into hot water for tweets about sporting events. First up – Roland Martin of CNN who was disturbed by the David Beckham underwear ad broadcast during the Super Bowl. His homophobic tweet calling for a little causal violence directed toward men who like the ad was roundly criticized by GLAAD, the LGBT media watchdog organization, as well as others. He was suspended as punishment.

Now, ESPN commentator, Jason Whitlock is on the hot seat for making the following comment about the great play of the New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin: “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight.” After the outrage his stupid and insensitive tweet caused, including an open letter from the Asian Journalist Association, Whitlock offered up a quasi-apology. Apparently ESPN is satisfied that Whitlock’s contrition is genuine and requires no further sanction.

Similarities between these two sports-related tweet uproars are apparent. Both Whitlock and Martin are African-American men. Both, at least initially, had no qualms about posting offensive tweets and apparently didn’t anticipate or care about any negative reactions. Whitlock, who often takes on what he sees as racism in sport, does not seem to get the contradiction of speaking out about racism when it applies to black people, but feeling totally comfortable expressing racist sentiments about Asians.

Both situations say a lot about sports culture, especially men’s professional sports culture. The association of masculinity with violence is a troubling theme. Martin recommends “smacking the ish” out of other men who enjoyed the David Beckham underwear ad. Whitlock, in addition to using an ugly stereotype for Asian men, seems to think that inflicting sexual pain on women is an appropriate way of celebrating a great athletic performance.

The reactions to Whitlock’s tweet focused almost entirely on pointing out how racist the comment was. It seemed to go right over the heads of most commentators that there was also a huge dollop of sexism in his comment also. Whitlock’s comment is offensive to Asian men and all women. Why haven’t more men who object to Whitlock’s racism also criticized his sexism? Here is one exception.

If the answer is that most commentators did not see how his comment was equally offensive to women as it was to Asian men, then we have a mighty long way to go before we can hope for any real change in the culture of men’s sports that incites, accepts and condones violence against women or lesbian and gay people.


Wyman Stewart said...

FLOYD MAYWEATHER! You forgot to include him! In his defense, he does take punches to the head, so...his mouth was open and the words just fell out.

Didn't see Beckham's underwear add, nor did I find the Tweet of Roland Martin. If Beckham posed in or ran around in his underwear, I can live without that. Prefer a lot less of both sexes running around on TV in their underwear or almost naked.

Not sure why, given the number of children in a Super Bowl audience, you would resort to any nudity, but as long as sex sells, they will find ways to pop it into ads.

As for Martin advocating violence, even as humor, that's not a good idea today. Too many loonies, who just may act on ignorant words. Send him to the corner for a timeout.

Jason Whitlock, based on a number of astute comments made at the end of the story linked to from here, shows a lack of awareness of the depth of his error or is trying to weasel out with the least apology he can offer. I'm guessing it is both.

Best thing for Whitlock is an indepth cultural awareness training period, leading to a better understanding of the culture he comes out of, plus the culture he's offended. To fire him is to leave him unaware, with no grasp of a need to change himself for the better.

Both these fellows chose to Twitter to the world, what's usually confined to a locker room or a private group of friends. Yes, it is a Macho Mentality, understood by those present to be male bluster. Psychologists can explain it better than I can.

Twitter has become a tool for revealing human nature. One should think of standing in the street shouting to your personal Psychologist on the other side of the street, each time, before you Tweet. Then realize, everyone has stopped to see if you have lost your mind.

Wyman Stewart said...

A follow-up:

Other than the latest reputed slights to Jeremy Lin, I heard Rex Walters (Japanese-American ex-NBA player and a college coach) admit, despite Jeremy Lin leading his high school team to the state title, he went unrecruited by the many major colleges near where he graduated high school, because Lin was Asian and Asians aren't top basketball players. In other words, there's a prejudice among college basketball coaches an Asian kid can't be as good as Lin appears to be. They would take a Black player of lesser talent over Lin, because of a false perception.

When Blacks began to dominate high school basketball a similar prejudice developed against White players. In fact, as SportsTalk people will tell you, there are code words for white players. For example, "He plays with intelligence." "He's hard-nosed." "He plays solid defence." I think those are some phrases associated with White players. In the mid to late 1970s I spoke with a few good White players who told me the reason they did not play High School basketball was because coaches tended to pick Blacks over Whites, even when the coach was White. Just as in the Lin situation and is only whispered about.

This has led many White kids to abandon basketball and a few other sports, because of this perceived prejudice, which I suspect there is real truth it exists, but goes untalked about.

I believe both in Fastpitch Softball and basketball, at the Middle School and High School level, there is a perception, real or not, that Lesbians tend to play a more physical, tougher game of basketball (possibly Fastpitch too), which leads more artistic-styled players to leave the game or not try out, because that is either not how they perceive basketball or they know coaches will choose the more physical style player, therefore Lesbian, so all their work to make the team will be in vain.

Asking you to consider a post on this topic, since you are both an ex-player and ex-coach. Surely, you are not unaware of these developments, except you may not realize some talented players are being ran off by a style that takes most of the artistry out of the game. I'm not saying no Lesbian plays with artistry, but on average Lesbians may be more physical in their play, be perceived as more physical, or to make the team, are expected to be more physical.

Sorry, if this seems offensive. It's not meant to be. Some things I see as potential issues you don't address. I think such unspoken issues go a long way in solving some of our modern sports questions. Jeremy Lin only reminded me of them again. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Another solid post from Wyman,

While I'm not certain I agree with the use of the "artistry" adjective your observation that straight girls start to "self-select" out of some women's sports at a certain point is generally accurate.

The 800 lb. gorilla in the room in women's college and pro sports is the disproportionate distribution of lesbians participating in basketball, softball, rugby, lacrosse and soccer to name a few.

Lisa Leslie, the WNBA superstar recently stated publicly that she thought that the WNBA was "only" 30% lesbian. Now remember this is coming from one of the most famous women's pro ballers of all time who is still in the role of WNBA PR Ambassador since her retirement so if anything she is estimating on the low side. If you assume her 30% number is accurate that would mean that there are roughly ten times more lesbians in the WNBA as the general population. That is statistically significant.

Point being, because of this issue a lot of general sports fans aren't surprised about some of the attendance problems some women's pro sports are having. Nor are many particularly surprised about the negative recruiting in women's college sports. The general population just isn't as "evolved" as the LGBT crew is and they may never be.

Which is part of the driver of Pat and her friends pushing for greater acceptance of the LGBT lifestyle and to redefine masculinity. It's an unspoken truth that they are well aware of.

It's cool of you to ask her to consider your posting suggestion but I imagine it will be a cold day in h*ll before Pat posts about straight women or white men being chased out of sports participation.

Wyman Stewart said...

It's a FUNDAMENTAL issue, which will have to be addressed.

I do wish I had stated it better than I did so Pat would see less reason to dismiss it. I am counting on her intelligence, college education, years of experience in sports, and her humanity to fathom those things I am speaking to; despite my shortcomings in concisely and lucidly presenting my thoughts. Others are certainly welcome to chime in too, who feel they understand what I am getting at and have valid, intelligent thoughts on the topic(s).

Pat is more current on some aspects of sports today than I am, simply because I began to walk away from all sports in the early to mid 1990s. I hear SportsTalk radio people call the WNBA the Lesbian Basketball Association, which must turn off some fans. As a basketball fan who tried to watch the WNBA, but was bored stiff by the poor play in its early years, a Lesbian league, would set Women's Sports back to where it was in the Sixties, when I was young.

As a teen, I met and knew girls, who were White and Straight, who had great potential as athletes. They were told there was no sports for them to play in Junior High School and High School. I also knew one Black girl who was an AAU Track star for her age, but never knew how she got into sports. I'm in favor of Women's Sports, but not in favor of seeing a politically motivated and coerced sports establishment chase out the daughters and grand daughters of those I went to school with, who could have been athletes, but never got the chance. I don't expect Pat to give up her goals, as long as her goals are fair and reasonable, either. I'm sure when she was young someone told her to put on a dress, go sit down, and act like a young lady, because a lady doesn't play sports. If not, she was one blessed gal! So, she understands that much, I'm certain.

As a former player and coach, she knows players sometimes freeze other players out of the game, for a variety of reasons, legitimate and illegitimate. Whites did it to Blacks; Blacks did it to Whites; I'm sure Straights have done it to Gays; and Gays have and will do it to Straights, even if Pat would tell you to perish the thought. Again, it's not always wrong, but I can see violence arising out of such events. I have not seen Pat address that. Granted, she has to pick and choose what's important to post on and when. Granted, she has to take a point-of-view which is consistent with the ideals of her Blog. I perceive what some of her replies might be, both good and bad from past readings. Yet, I can't imagine she's unwilling to address these issues, since they are FUNDAMENTAL.

Jeremy Lyn was not a Gay issue, but a slurring issue. In some respects, it was an attack on Blacks; earned and deserved in this case, but also a bit of male-bashing. Some of it was off-base, if I understood both one of her male targets and Pat, right. She's human, though. Can she possibly address the Jeremy Lyn situation and NOT address the more germaine issues, I mentioned? I think not.

Since it is her Blog, she must be left to set her own agenda. All I can do is let her and the community she represents know, all is not well with my perception of where THEY want to take ALL of us. I have no doubt we are ALL going somewhere. I don't want it to be a somewhere called VIOLENT. There likely will be enough of that on both sides as it is. Too often, those who feel they have been dominated choose to dominate, if they get enough power to do so. We are always poorer for such thinking.

Anonymous said...

I certainly agree that the issues you bring up are fundamental. You are also correct about where they want to take society. The GLBT crew is all about mainstream acceptance of their lifestyle. They don't hide their intentions. Why else would they actually document an objective of redefining masculinity?

It's cool you have a respect for Pat's education and background, but you should probably remember she spent nearly all of her career at UMass Amherst which is close to the center of the universe for the academic radical gender feminist / GLBT crew. Point being, given her environment she clearly doesn't believe her objectives are unreasonable. They may not be at Amherst.

Something else you should be aware of concerning her mindset is this quote from page 27 of her book, "The truth is that women do develop passionate feelings for other women in the sport context, and for some women these feelings are sexual". Again, I'm not making this up or poor mouthing her, this is her writing. She's cool with it. If you can get access to a copy of a book there is a lengthier quote on page 57 that expands on this view. It's pretty interesting. Draw your own conclusions.

In her book Griffin acknowledges Mary Jo Kane, the Director of the Tucker Center for Women and Girls Sports Research at the University of Minnesota. Kane is of course a lesbian and women's studies prof. Further Kane and Michelle Lavoi were instrumental in hammering Mike Sokolove's book Warrior Girls back in 2008 in which he tried to get people to seriously consider the damage being done to female athletes ACLs. Gender feminism at its worst.

Do not kid yourself about the basic mindset being manifest here. These ladies are deadly serious. They have proven they are willing to ignore the permanent negative health impact on tens of thousands of girls' knees just to support their gender feminist theory that sex is purely a social construct. These girls' knees are evidently just collateral damage.

All of this said they are entitled to their views. Just don't think for a second they have any interest in being objective or fair. They think they are martyrs and their actions, tactics and strategies reflect that perspective.

Anonymous said...

I should have added that I'm not getting the violence thing and I don't think you should either. I'm not seeing that happening. What I am seeing happening is people finally waking up to where we're going from a directional perspective.

Don't sell people short, particularly cis (feminist talk for heterosexual) women. They've always understood that the LGBT crew was leveraging the general acceptance of the feminist movement to normalize the queer program. That will continue. Much of Pat's book was a missive trying to convince CIS women somehow that aligning with gay women would conquer the patriarchy. Not working very well although the media seems to be on board.

When the chips are down we'll see what happens. I wouldn't bet on Pat's crew. None of this has anything to do with violence. Logic and wisdom will win out.

Wyman Stewart said...

1. Apologies to Jeremy Lin, spelled the name wrong in previous comment. He's so new to me, I forgot the spelling.

2. I may try to get Pat Griffin's book. Read a little of it online.

3. On violence: I am a quiet, private, peace-loving person, so I deleted my explanation on violence, since predicting the future is not my forte.

Whence I came, there I return, to seek wisdom's pearls, truth, and good things, found in youth.


Anonymous said...

Wyman - I'm not bagging on you. Stay confident. Speak the truth as you see it. It's all good.

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hollister said...

While I'm not certain I agree with the use of the "artistry" adjective your observation that straight girls start to "self-select" out of some women's sports at a certain point is generally accurate.

The 800 lb.
hollister in the room in women's college and pro sports is the disproportionate distribution of lesbians participating in basketball, softball, rugby, lacrosse and soccer to name a few.

Wyman Stewart said...

Artistic-style as I perceive it, by example might be: the way Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played Center, especially the use of the sky-hook on offense, compared to Shaquille O'Neal's physical-style of play, where he used his bulk to back opposing Centers down to the basket for easy baskets.

Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving,and James Worthy were players I would call artistic. Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, and Dennis Rodman were physical-style players. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were blessed with both artistic and physical skills, which they employed as needed.

Have solid studies been done on why straight girls are self-selecting out of sports? Is there some form of bullying or intimidation going on? Pat claims to be against bullying and I assume even more so, when it comes to intimidation. Are coaches more demanding of straight girls? Is it known why Lesbians choose certain sports over others?

Wyman Stewart said...

While here, I must mention the Ben & Jerry's LinSanity Ice Cream, with Fortune Cookie, self-promotion, struck me as a pretty low-life idea by them. I'm afraid to ask what's next?

I hope a new topic is posted soon. Must admit this topic has had legs, but it's time for some March Madness.

Anonymous said...

Pat already said in her book that she thinks it is OK that women's sports is a dating opportunity for self-identified lesbians and for those that are "questioning". It's right there in her words. She can't be much more clear than that.

The thing about CIS women is that they are reluctant to call out the situation for fear it will hurt women's sport collectively. Instead of pushing back against the LGBT crew CIS women just opt out.

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Golfer said...

Appreciate Your effort in bringing social justice to sport. Thanks!

Wyman Stewart said...

Pat's holding out for more readers?

Pat got a TV deal?

Pat overdosed on a box of Valentine's Day chocolates and is still recovering from the sugar high?

Pat's finishing off the huge box of Valentine's Day chocolates before she returns to blogging?

Pat forgot her sign-in password? (It happens. Age dulls all of us.)

Pat has a friend out there somewhere who can comment on what has become of Pat and her blogging life, maybe?

:-) Have A Nice Day!

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Dr. Smith said...


Nice use of the term, "artistic". Let me correct that. I think you meant to say "more womanly"? As in "more like I think a girl should play"?

I play ice hockey with straight and gay women, and I'm pretty sure you couldn't pick out the "Lesbians" (love your random capitalization, by the way) by their skating style. The biggest, toughest, meanest skaters on my team are married/engaged to men, while the slim, smaller, technically amazing puck-handler who hates physical contact is a gay woman.

I doubt you'd be able to figure out my orientation, either, even if you hung out with me and my teammates for a beer after the game. Because we don't care. We like to play a game, we like to be competitive, and we get along on the bench. If we choose not to invite a player onto the team, it's because they don't fit in with our team dynamic and our style of play, not because they are straight (or gay, or asexual).

I also fail to follow your argument that a "disproportionate distribution" of Lesbians in women's team sports are actively discouraging straight women from participating. A woman enjoys playing a sport or she doesn't. The personal lives of her teammates have nothing to do with this.

Finally, your question "Are coaches more demanding of straight girls?" is completely ridiculous. A coach should be demanding of all players. If there is active persecution/exclusion of a player due to her sexual orientation (which has NOTHING to do with her role on a team) then, and only then, is there a problem.

Wyman Stewart said...

The Artistic Player:

Doctor Smith, please read my comments mentioning Abdul-Jabbar, Dr J (Julius Erving), and James Worthy as "artistic" players. They are masculine males, not womanly, to me. I assume there are "artistic" women players too?

Non-Grammarian Grammarian:

:-) Thanks for loving my random capitalization. It's not standard English. Maybe it's formal respect or a quirk in my nature; a bit of both, likely.


Sorry, don't drink, so won't hang out with you after the game. However, what is your "team dynamic and our style of play" you mention, for deciding who to include or exclude from your team? Glad to hear you play as a team. That's good.

Speculative History:

The "disproportionate distribution" you mention, I assume, is my speculation. It's subtle, more than actively discouraging girls / women, although it can include that too.

Speculative History Continued:

Read my comment on white guys who felt they would not make their high school basketball team, if it came down to a White player vs. Black player. Therefore they did not try out.

Speculation Is What It Is:

I will repeat "speculation" to try to make this understood. As a fan, I left sports behind in the mid-1990s. History, however, is known to repeat itself, so I speculate.

Demanding Coaches:

One might argue, if a coach sees a talented, but soft player, the coach will attempt to "toughen up" that player. Believe Pat posted on a football coach, who gave a wonderfully "BAD" example of such an attempt, with a whole football team, but coaches do that with individual players, also. If a coach does not make it overtly sexual, how do you prove it is? Whether one player, half the team, or the whole team?


I appreciate your points. I'm not always wide awake when I comment. I'm not concise. I may move from specific points to broad points and back. Most of my thoughts are directed to Pat Griffin, so I make certain asumptions of pre-existing knowledge and experience, based on her credentials. Yet, Dr. Smith, yours and other's comments are valuable to me also. That's why I am here.

Riding Off Into The Sunrise:

"I doubt you'd be able to figure out my orientation." Your orientation is Houston, Texas. Sorry about what Baseball did to the Houston Astros. No wonder you are playing ice hockey now. Riding off into the sunrise now. Hope to hear more from you. Will check out your blog.

Dr. Smith said...

Yeah, I'm sorry about the Astros, too.

Thanks for your reply. The discussion about coaching, and "toughening up" players is an important one. I guess I should give a little more personal history - I'm a mid-30's woman and thus the benefactor of the sea change in women's sports thanks to Title IX. As such, I was a 3 sport letter-winner in a (small) high school. I was encouraged to try out for field hockey in college, but I decided I needed to focus on keeping my GPA up. So I've been a rec sports participant ever since.

I've had the chance to play for teams run by great coaches, mediocre coaches, and one coach who had it out for me in particular. That one was tough, but I respected her coaching of the team, so I just stuck it out and tried my best. She did apologize later for some of her nastier behavior. I think overall, a good coach knows how to motivate, and can do so without belittling. I will say girls especially are not motivated by insults, or by the threat of embarrassment or of looking worse than their peers. Explanations work much better. But it's certainly an art form, and not everyone is good at it.

One of my hockey teammates is a collegiate softball coach, and she's constantly looking for ways to improve her players' mental states and the cohesion of her team, as well as their physical play. She's also one of the most level-headed, fair players I've ever shared the ice with - I have no doubt her players love her.

Anyhow, hope you like science if you checked out my blog. Sports are just a hobby for me.

Wyman Stewart said...

Modesty's Demands:

Doctor Smith, thank you for your explanation. My modest sports history isn't interesting.

My "Forbidden Planet" Landing:

I am here doing basic personal research on how the Gay Movement may affect my life. Especially in negative ways. Prop 8 in CA and other insights, resulting from related topics, led me here, by chance.

The Mudville Nine Crime:

:-) I would rather be demonizing the Commissioner of Baseball and Major League Baseball, for moving my favorite National League team (Astros) to the American Leagure, where I already have a lifetime favorite team, the Chicago White Sox, than be here.

Black Is Beautiful, Then:

However, I'm aware of how the Black Civil Rights Movement had negative effects on my life, although I supported the ovarall goals of that Movement. So, I am trying to avoid being steamrolled by this Movement. The Women's Movement had its negative effects too, but that's Movements for you!

Called For Icing:

I am glad you mentioned that great coach you play with. I am glad you mentioned, what I take to be, the "artistic" Lesbian hockey player too. One size does not fit all and that is never my intent.

Nirvana To Purgatory:

Sports at its best is a group of people playing for fun. Done right, there is an art and beauty to it. Winning at all costs, politics, and even brutality, feels like it's taking over sports too much, for me to enjoy it as I once did.

Titles and Recreation:

Title IX has been both good and bad for sports. Glad it was positive for you. Every neighborhood should have recreational sports for adults, but I doubt that will ever happen. Too many don't have recreational sports for kids.

Blinded Me With Science:

My science interests are astronomy, physics, ants, and non-biological sciences. As in sports, my skills are modest. Way too modest! Whether it was the right teachers, mentors, or my own fault, I failed in most of my goals. But, got to keep living.

The Survival Game:

Staying alive and writing are my current games. Modest though those skills are too. When it comes to whipping Mother Nature's timeline (I think it's a fixed game) and beating the Writing Gremlins (who I think hate me with a passion), I fear they are winning.

Happy Trails To You:

Have enjoyed your thoughts. My young, aging bones need to move along now. Enjoy your youth, beauty, and sports for as long as you can. "Time Is Tight" as Archie Bell and The Drells used to sing way back in...ZZZzzzzz!

Bellman Sports Mouth said...

There's been some controversy in the UK on this recently with racist tweets about a sportsman who had a heart attack mid match. Pretty low...

Wyman Stewart said...

I looked up a Guardian article on your topic. Got nice insight on the topic. Very interesting approach. Such laws are headed to the USA, I bet; unless already on the lawbooks. Thanks for pointing this out, Bellman.

Wyman Stewart said...

Lo and behold, the next day I saw where Arizona is trying to pass such a law in the USA. So, here we go! All for lack of civility among people today.

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Media people (PR, Reporter and players) should know that they have to be careful with the stuff that they share in social media.

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