Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

The misogyny, and some women on women crimes, of the internet have been getting to me lately. It makes me want to shut it all down and never talk to anyone ever again (which, in fairness, I've actually sort of been doing). How can everyone be such assholes? It's amazing. And yet isn't.

I hate to whine about it because I don't know what to do about it. Whining alone seems unproductive and annoying to everyone, including me. But it started to occur to me that if I unfollowed anyone who made sexist comments I'd be left with nothing to follow on Twitter. If I stopped reading articles that made reference to women as sexual objects only or criticized women's looks as do many of the sports sites I read, I'd be left with a lot fewer things to read. (I'm actually about to bury myself in books because it's all become too much.) If I boycotted everything that called men "ladies" as an insult (the Deion Sanders DirectTV ads, for example) or relegated women to traditionally women's roles (Samsung commercial where women put up cute bear cub video to replace football game), I'd be left with nothing to purchase. And that made me angry. As this is my forum, I'll do the only thing I know how to do and write about it.

It started today when I read this by Frogs O'War. (It actually started today with a horrible customer service experience at Apple, but that's a different story...) I wanted to scream. But I try not to rage a 140 characters at a time because no one hears you. And besides, I'm just some harpy shrew who is upset she's not prettier. Or that's what the internets would shout back. But that article is infuriating. To sum up: Tom Brady is not manly for doing an ad for UGGS.

First off: screw anyone who knocks UGGS without owning a pair. I love mine. I won't even qualify that with "around the house". I do. I love my UGGS. Secondly, Tom Brady is a phenomenal athlete living a pretty damn good life. You married to a supermodel? No? Then your argument is invalid (even while that argument points to women as merely sex objects and part of the male fantasy. Ugh). How 'bout: are you a super bowl winning quarterback? No? THEN your argument is invalid. Lastly, I think it's genius for him to model for UGGS. He took something that he was being made fun of for and turned it into a marketing opportunity. And ably defended his actions. Because Tom Brady is not an idiot. (West Catholic Athletic League, represent!) He also knows who his demo is and part of his popularity is being hot and being Tom Brady and appealing to women. Women wear UGGS. Ergo, model UGGS.

Also: I take exception to that Y.A. Tittle would cry. Y.A. lives in the Bay Area. Not that it necessarily follows but that generally leads to a sort of open-mindedness not found elsewhere. He's also a businessman. I think he'd be all for Brady taking whatever business opportunity he could.

My second internet run-in was when I linked an article about one of the LSU women's soccer players taking snaps as a kicker for the football team. I actually got the link via a guy I follow on twitter who was all for it. A guy who is sometimes guilty of the misogynistic comments. But I found the article inspiring while dealing with my feelings of internet stabby-ness and so tweeted it. I was then shocked to get a response from someone who follows me, a female, that that would be a horrible idea. To quote: "all you need to do is look at what it did for CU Boulder's team to know it is a TERRIBLE IDEA and ruins football programs!!!" She was referencing the female kicker in 1999 at CU who was harassed and eventually left the team.

Now, I could make a LOT of comments about the bigger issues surrounding the University of Colorado at the time, that I think still reverberate in that program, but with a 140 characters I said that I hoped LSU would be more open minded, accepting, and nicer to a female on the team. Which so far it sounds like is the case but it's truly preliminary. Upon further reflection: I think the SEC is more concerned about winning than anything else and less concerned with what gender you are. At least I hope so.

This woman, who I do not follow and do not know, but is listed as a PR Professional and has many many followers to my not many, replied to me, "hmmm wishful thinking? girls and football? I'm a big advocate of girl power. Not when it comes to FOOTBALL"

You're kidding me, right? Maybe we should just go back to our place in the kitchen and raising babies too! Barefoot and pregnant forever, y'all! (Yes, I realize the ridiculousness in this argument and that it's one of those knee jerk responses that lacks actual logic but you're seriously kidding me with this shit, right?)

I am a Title IX kid. I was raised to believe that there was very little I am incapable of simply because I am female. I have a mother who does what is still considered a "man's" job. There were never any limits placed on me, at least not by those that truly love and support me. And there shouldn't be for any other women. You want to play football? You should get all the support you want. Science, math, engineering, languages, head of state, supermodel, professional athlete. Nothing should be off limits and no one should tell you otherwise. Never ever never. Not because of your race, gender, nation of origin. It's RIGHT EFFING THERE IN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

Fine, it was a document to secede from an oppressive British government but we still hold it near and dear. We still find it's truths to be self evident. It actually says that, self evident. Here: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Pursuit of happiness. There ya go. Whatever it is, you can pursue it. You aren't entitled to support, sure. But I freely give it. To all of you, to everyone. Climb mountains, sail seas, traverse canyons. DO IT. Break down barriers and cross borders. I hate to sound like a Hallmark card but good lawd am I so tired of people placing limits on other people, me included, with their words or actions. So to female kicker: more power to you. (And yes, I'm projecting a bit. The "no"s coming from those around me that I am hearing more than I would like and the limits I put perhaps unjustifiably, perhaps not, on myself getting to me more than I would like.)

Oh, and that same Y.A. Tittle that would cry at Tom Brady not being manly enough? He has something to say about women and sports, re: his daughter, who wrote a hero's ode to him in book form:

I'll tell you one thing. If girls played football, Dianne would be an All-American defensive end because of her tenacity and her vigor and her ambition and pursuit. She's just relentless, believe me. I can remember her playing soccer. She went after that ball so hard she didn't see nothin' but just that ball. One girl she kicked, she broke her shin guard.

Read more about Y.A. and his daughter here. (That article is old but really interesting and I am now gonna go pick up both his and her book. More on Y.A. here.) (It occurred to me as I read that, my grandfather, who had season tickets back when the 49ers played at Kezar, all the way to my aunt owning them still at Candlestick, likely knew Y.A. Grandpa is a legend in our family and I wish I could ask him these things, now that I'm a football fan, but he died when I was ten so I can't and that makes me sad. Stupid internet.) (Sorry for all the parens.) (Not really.)

Other Notes: The LSU soccer player in the article is on Twitter. I very rarely recommend following people but follow her because kick ass women make the world go round and she deserves your support.

The title of this post comes from the musical Annie Get Your Gun about the life of Annie Oakley. It's a song she sings. As I listened to it for this post, I remembered that Annie Oakley was the epitome of a kick ass female and the musical is based on the true love story she and fellow marksman, Frank Butler, of whom she surpassed in skill, had. He was never threatened by her ability and they have this amazing love story. Go read about her and him.

Quasi-related: A shock to exactly no one: I am stubborn. As such, my ex's love of Sports Night meant that I refused to revisit it, even though I have one of the worst memories ever and only hazy recall watching it when it was first on and had heard many good things about it since. But having run through every romcom available on the OnDemand, (the plot and dialogue of Something Borrowed is remarkably similar to a one act play I wrote in college and I need to do more fiction writing, apparently. Not that that means it was particularly good, but I could write stuff that I could make money on. In a fiction sense. Maybe. Should work on that...) I decided to revisit it. It is good. Like really good. A little dated, sure, but whip fast dialogue and well drawn characters and a reference to Harvey in episode 3 which makes me happy. And the strong female characters who are bosses and deal with men and like sports and aren't just girly a) give me hope and b) wish we had more examples of on TV.

I'm now cuddled up on my bed way too late with both dogs asleep at my side and feeling more content now that I got that out. More Sports Night it is...

Thanks for listening.

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