Female Jocks

Wow this is depressing.

When I was a kid, I beat one of my peers at the 50 yard dash. & He challenged me to race his older (by a year) cousin, who I also beat.

& Then I was told, by my teacher, that beating boys wasn’t something girls did. & Yes, it did kinda take the fun out of running for me; I stopped running competitively within a year or so.

& I’ve watched my nieces grow up & kick ass in sports, and it made my heart proud to hear about them getting a face full of mud in order to steal third. But then I read something like this & I wonder, at the heart of it, how much has really changed.

Race + LGBT

I heard Jasmyne Cannick speak at the Bodies of Knowledge conference at USC Upstate, and the focus of her talk was race and the LGBT community. She made a couple of important points about the failures of the white LGBT set in dealing with black LGBT people. I use “black” because she did; she mentioned that she dislikes the phrase “people of color” but didn’t explain why exactly.

One of her main issues was that minorities are often used to trump up “diversity” numbers for primarily white LGBT organizations but aren’t then given any real power to choose issues within those organizations. Gay marriage in particular was way down on her list of priorities, after things like universal healthcare, jobs, access to education, immigration, access to power/politicians, and other issues of poverty. Her point was that in LA, it’s the white LGBT who live in West Hollywood, but that black LGBT people tend to live in their neighborhoods of birth: Compton, East LA, etc., exactly because of the issues of dicrimination and access.

As she put it: “Just because someone doesn’t agree with you that gay marriage is the most important issue doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be at the table.” Continue reading “Race + LGBT”

Get the Chinese to Talk

The Tibetans have been trying to open a dialogue with the Chinese for forever, but with the international pressure now on them because of a potential boycott of the Olympics if they don’t violently crackdown on Tibetans, there’s a new chance to get them to talk.

Sign the petition.

Santhi Soundarajan

Santhi Soundarajan, a female runner in India who was stripped of her Olympic medal has, perhaps, tried to commit suicide. She ingested pesticide but it’s not clear that she did so in a suicide attempt, and may have taken it for stomach pain. There are more details in an India Times article.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) announced she failed a sex test and implied Santhi had deceived the sporting world by competing as a woman when she was a man, effectively ending her career.

But Santhi, who returned home to live in humiliation, insisted along with her parents and coaches she had done nothing wrong. . .

Seven of the eight women who tested positive for Y chromosomes during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics had AIS. They were allowed to compete.

Because the International Olympics no longer do these tests, exactly in order to prevent this kind of outcome, and The Hindu reports that endocrine test results were probably not in when she was disqualified.

Black Men Can’t Read?

It turns out young black men have a better chance of getting made fun of for reading books than for playing sports. Not news, I know, but the commentary on how that fact intersects with gender is:

John Thomas, superintendent of the Aliquippa School District, said the notion that black men who read books are less masculine is one that should be dispelled in the African-American community. “It’s just as powerful to carry a book as it is to carry a football or a basketball, because the power of knowledge is in the books,” he said. “If we prepare our bodies for the gridiron or the basketball court, to me it’s just as important to prepare your mind to survive in society. The body will soon wear out for athletic competition, but knowledge you have will carry you through life.”

What’s interesting to me is that the cultural forces that would discourage black men from learning – because being brainy isn’t considered “masculine” or “strong” – are exactly the opposite of the ones at play that have historically kept women from learning, who are/were told that being too brainy makes a woman “unfeminine.”

& When cultural forces say being smart isn’t masculine to one group, & too masculine to another, you know there’s something rotten in Denmark.

The Penn State Law Talk

I’m hoping that this talk was recorded as planned and so will be available on Penn State Dickinson School of Law’s website, eventually, because there were a lot of interesting questions discussed in the Q&A after I spoke. Prof. Rains also added a lot of useful legal insight.

I started with a kind of preface in order (1) to define terms like transgender, MTF and FTM, and also (2) to explain that while people like drag queens and crossdressers are considered part of the transgender community, discussions about legal marriage issues don’t always or often effect them; that is, this talk concerns people who identify nearer to the transsexual end of things. that said, drag queens are often already gay and so deal with the same marriage discrimination all gay people do, and crossdressers often suffer with the stigma of being perverts, and one of the reasons they are not out is exactly because they don’t want their wives to divorce them, or lose custody of their children, or lose their jobs, all of which can & does happen to crossdressers who come out.

I never expected that any aspect of my life would cause me to speak at a law school to future lawyers about the odd ways that my life has become complicated by laws about gender and marriage. I’m surprised two-fold: for starters, I never expected to get married, since as a younger and Very Serious Feminist I saw it as a Tool of Patriarchy, symbolic at least of the ways women have always been chattel, and so, not for me. But I also never expected to get married because I was, starting as a teenager in the late 80s, an ally of gay and lesbian people.

& Then I met Betty, who at the time we met presented as male, and as she likes to explain, we knew, both of us, nearly from the get-go that we were supposed to be together. It’s a difficult feeling to explain, and poets have tried, but it took us a few years to decide once & for all that we were in this thing together. We decided to get married because things were so easy between us; on our 2nd date we sat together and read, one of us The Nation and the other The New York Times. When you’re something like an old married couple on your 2nd date, you know that you’re doomed.

Continue reading “The Penn State Law Talk”

Homophobic Coach Resigns

Rene Portland, coach of the Lady Lions basketball team at Penn State, resigned – some say over allegations that she was anti-lesbian. A former player, Jennifer Harris, brought the charges after Portland kicked her off the team for not dressing in more feminine ways.

I have to say I find the whole situation kind of confusing: the idea of a women’s basketball coach being homophobic, I mean. In my experience, lesbians like & play sports at least as much, if not more, than heterosexual girls do. Barring half of your potential players from your team seems counterintuitive, though her record of course proves she is a good coach.

Talent, of course, is no excuse for shitty behavior, though I do find it interesting that this situation came to a head only now – after a couple of bad seasons for the team.

No Love Lost

I’m really astonished at the remarks Tim Hardaway made, in public, as a public figure. I’m glad to hear he got canned from the All Star game as a result, but I’m just really surprised. I probably shouldn’t be: after all, it was the jocks who often made me nervous in high school because I was different. But I also knew a lot of jocks who were really cool guys & who used their status to stand up for people who were different.

But wow. Tim Hardaway is a bigot. For some reason, that’s always so much more disappointing when it comes from a woman or a person of color or whatever other form of minority. & Yet years ago, when I was working at City College, bell hooks told me she’d never teach a class about James Baldwin again because she was so horrified by the homophobia expressed by her (largely African-American) students. I hope she has, & does, anyway.

I hope someone sat him down to watch Brother Outsider by now, at least, and that John Amaechi sells a truckload of books and educates as many basketball fans as Hardaway represents.

White Guilt

I made a cool & unusual discovery the other day: the channel that broadcasts a lot of sports & specifically the Yankees’ games, called the YES (Yankees Entertainment and Sports) Network, also shows old episodes of the show White Shadow at 1am NY time. You folks who are as old or older than me remember it, don’t you? I loved it when I was a kid, but I was kind of surprised to hear it first ran when I was age nine until I was 12. Did I see it in reruns, or did I just not understand a bunch of the jokes?

It’s dated in certain ways – tight, short shorts on basketball players – but it’s a lot better than a lot of crap that’s on now. Little did I know, but it was the first ensemble drama on TV that had a predominantly African-American cast. Only one other show (Showtime’s Soul Food) with a predominantly African-American cast aired for longer, but the current show The Wire is only now about to beat them both.

& That’s pretty damned shocking, imho: only three dramas with African-American casts that had more than a couple of seasons since 1978? That’s just messed up.