Of Sports Fans and Misogyny:
[TW: rape culture, rape jokes, slurs, stalking]
As a woman and a baseball fan, I’m no stranger to the casual misogyny that comes along with US sports culture (doubtless this happens elsewhere as well, but this is my personal experience). I hear men talk about losing teams and slumping players with misogynistic slurs like “bitch,” “pussy,” or “cunt” (and homophobic slurs that I won’t type out because they aren’t my slurs to reclaim). I notice the way women’s sports are all but ignored unless they’re the “sexy” ones like volleyball and gymnastics. I see the rape jokes on Twitter and Facebook - most commonly vague and about the opposing team, i.e., “Team X is gonna rape Team Y,” but sometimes about individual players, or their wives. I get interrogated about my knowledge, as if my right to wear my team’s logo hinges on my ability to rattle off statistics for players who were on the roster for seven games ten years ago.
To be clear, these encounters aren’t the friendly, “Hey, did you see the game last night? How about those twelve strikeouts?” They’re confrontational, meant to challenge and baffle me, as if I’m infringing on the space of the asker’s perception of real fans. And when I know the random trivia that they have so smugly tried to stump me with, they often act as if I’ve cheated them somehow.
I play fantasy baseball, and the names of the other teams in my leagues range from the innocently hilarious baseball puns (“Honey-Nut Ichiros” remains the best I’ve ever seen), to the simple and usually unimaginative sex jokes (“Sultan of Twat,” “8==Baseball”), to the somewhat rapey yet still pun-filled (“A Rod in her Posey ;)”). I want to be clear: these names, while they make me roll my eyes, do not make me personally feel threatened or triggered. For me, they’re just subtle reminders that I’m a woman in a male-dominated space, that no matter how well I do in the league, no matter how many statistics I can rattle off, I will always be a visitor at best, and an intruder at worst. (I’m sure for survivors, this kind of talk and behavior can be extremely triggering.)
And these are places where I have been invited. I didn’t muscle myself into these fantasy leagues any more than I forced people to friend me on Facebook, or to publicly Tweet their fantasies about raping some player’s wife (I unfollow and unfriend people constantly for things like this). I’m perfectly aware that the sports related banter gets more intensely misogynistic and violent in spaces without any women at all: I covered sports in college for the student paper, and I overheard conversations between male athletes never meant for my ears - I never felt safe around those students again.
To be sure, there are plenty of men who take my fandom as a matter of course - they talk to me as a fellow fan, without the absurd testing and trying to prove what a bandwagon fan I must be. But the casual misogyny from their peers makes me constantly leery of interactions with any male sports fans. When regular sports columnists for the Boston Globe (men, of course) derisively use the term “Pink Hat” on a regular basis, how am I supposed to ignore the obvious message: this is a boys club, no girls allowed. And in case anyone wants to jump in and try to tell me that it’s just a normal disdain for bandwagon jumpers, I’ll preemptively ask why there was need to create an obviously gendered insult like “Pink Hat” when the gender neutral “bandwagon fan” already exists?
I’m about to go to graduate school for sports journalism, and I’m well aware of the fact that women are largely unwelcome in the field unless we know twice as much about the subject as the men and look like a Barbie in front of the camera. Think Erin Andrews - who played by all the rules and is STILL constantly harassed and even stalked - years after some creep videotaped her through the peephole of her hotel room, these are the results when you Google her name:
Female sports reporters are constantly objectified, even as their male counterparts tend to get fatter, balder, and uglier every year (not that being fat or bald or ugly makes you less worthy, but somehow it’s totally unacceptable for women and unremarked upon for men).
I’m tired of feeling like an intruder when I’m just trying to watch sports. I’m tired of having to prove to random assholes on the street that my team’s hat is more to me than a trend (and even if it was a mere accessory to me, and not a treasured possession that literally traveled around the world with me, what business is it of his?). I’m tired of worrying that I’ll never get a job in my chosen field - not because I’m unqualified, but because I’m a woman and I don’t meet the ridiculous aesthetic requirements. But mostly I’m tired because this is never ending - I don’t know what to do about it, I don’t know that I can do anything about it - and it’s exhausting.
Fighting sexism, one confused camper at a time.
- Camper: The other team should go first - ladies first! HAHA!
- Me: I don't like to hear things like that. First of all, we are good sports at this camp. Secondly, it seemed like that comment was a little misogynistic.
- Camper: I'm sorry...
- Camper: ...
- Camper: What's "misogynistic?"
For the Men Who Still Don’t Get It, Carol Diehl. (via ashemo)
JEEBUS. IT’S PERFECT.(via angrywomenoftumblr)
How the Logic of "Friendzoning" Would Work If Applied in Other Instances:
- *Man walks into a store and finds employee*
- Man: Alright, I've had enough. Why haven't you guys hired me?!
- Employee: Uh...well sir, when did you put in your application?
- Man: I never filled out an application.
- Employee: Well sir, we can't consider you for employment if you've never filled out an application.
- Man: No, that's bullshit, because I've been coming here for years now, and every single time I tell you all how much I love this store and how much I appreciate your customer service, unlike some of your other customers might I add!
- Employee: Well, but that doesn't-
- Man: AND I even told you that I didn't have a job!
- Employee: But sir, that doesn't indicate to us that you would like a job at our store. And again, if you've never filled out an application, we can't consider you. Besides, we're not hiring.
- Man: OH! Not hiring, HA! What a laugh. I see your store go through seasonal workers all the time. They come and go like nothing, but you won't consider me as a part-time employee even though I KNOW you've been looking for workers to fill positions? That's insane!
- Employee: Sir, we've been looking to hire a few people for management positions. Do you have any management experience?
- Man: Well no, but what does that matter?
- Employee: ...Well sir, that's what we're looking for. You won't be suitable for the position without management experience.
- Man: Oh that's such a load of crap. You know, you'll be waiting around a long time for a manager if you don't lower your standards a little. Who cares if someone knows how to manage a store? I LOVE this store and I'm willing to work here, that's all that should matter to you.
- Employee: That...doesn't make any sense.
- Man: NO! I'm done. This is over. From now on, no more Mr. Nice Guy.
- Man: Fuck you, slut.
tw: discussion of rape and sexual assault
The conversation above took place on the wall of the facebook group, Questioning Slutwalk, which describes itself as a page focussed on analysing the motives and impacts of the Slutwalk Campaign. Slutwalk, which originated in Toronto, Canada, is a worldwide civilian-run campaign that targets rape culture and asserts that a person’s dress, occupation, state of intoxication, etc. never makes sex without consent permissible. Please note that this statement is not exclusive to the sexual assault of women by men — it covers the whole spectrum of genders because the issue here is not the gender of the victim: the bottom line is simply that rape is wrong and that we live in a rape culture that affects everyone regardless of gender.
However, instead of creating an open dialogue on the topic it claims to be centred on, the administrator and the group members of Questioning Slutwalk only post articles and commentary of an unforgivable misogynist, rape-apologist, and slut shaming ideology. Questioning Slutwalk has created a rhetoric that (inaccurately) paints the Slutwalk Campaign as a movement that encourages and perpetuates the sexual abuse of men.
Group members outright reject the reasoned opinions of others who try to explain the purpose of Slutwalk, proclaiming them to be female supremacists, misandrists, rape apologists, and deniers of male rape by women. The group members despise women and think little of the notion of female consent, while simultaneously complaining about the oppression of men by women, rape culture as a creation of female supremacists, and the sexual objectification and abuse of men by women.
Now, I will never deny that men get sexually assaulted and raped by women. It is a true piece of information and it is horrific. It is also just as true and horrific a fact as the reality of the sexual assaults and rapes of women by men, or of men by men, or of any other imaginable gender combination. I will never say that the sexual assault of men is not a huge problem; it is extremely underreported and it is traumatising to the victims. That said, I have a serious issue with the way this group conducts itself. The administrator states that the page is supposed to be a safe place for male survivors, but the administrator completely disregards the hostility directed at both women and female survivors (genders that are outside of the binary are completely unaddressed). Male survivors should and need to have a support group, but this is not the group they need. This group simultaneously accuses the entire female population of being predators and attacks female survivors, viciously stating that they deserve sexual assault because of their actions, dress, etc.
This is completely unacceptable.
One cannot claim that the sexual assaults suffered by one specific group is any more traumatic or serious than another’s. While the scale may vary, rape is still rape, and it is a horrible crime that should never be treated with such disrespect.
EDIT: As of this morning, the conversation above has been deleted from Questioning Slutwalk’s page, which, according to Questioning Questioning Slutwalk, is a common occurrence. Additionally, Chandrapal S Bhasker has blocked Sara and left another charming post.