NotSexism: Talking About Sports

On this blog, we try to make a point of calling out sexism, not only to rant about it, but to call attention to something that needs to be recognized as a problem so that it may be eradicated.

It's not our only goal, but it's one of them.

However, I feel it's necessary to talk about something I'm referring to as NotSexism after reading a post by British journalist Katty Kay over at the Daily Beast.

Kay was complaining about the amount of sports lingo and analogies that go into discussing politics, and how new White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is a big fan of the practice. Kay alleges this is sexist because most women -- including, evidently, those covering the White House -- don't know anything or care about sports. According to Kay, when Gibbs or anyone else among the punditocracy start making sports references, it's sexist because they're deliberately excluding women.

Kay says:

Here’s how it works on TV shows. At about 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, the guests for a network talk show gather in the green room an hour before airtime for a sip of coffee and a slap of makeup. They chat. The conversation starts with the news topic of the day. It’s an animated discussion on the fiscal stimulus package/the latest machinations of the dastardly House of Representatives/the poppy crop in Afghanistan. Take your pick. OK, there’s a bit of the peacocks fanning their feathers about it, but it’s basically sober stuff. Until, some 20 minutes into the banter, the host, or one of the male guests, casually slips in the results of last night’s game. And that’s when the women quietly disappear into their notebooks.

*raises eyebrow*

I take offense to this for several reasons:

1) It suggests women, or at least the "normal" ones anyway, might be able to hold an intelligent conversation about politics, but know nothing about sports, which in itself is sexist and rather limiting. Talk about subscribing to rigid gender roles.

2) She's diminishing the cultural importance of sports, which is insulting, particularly to people (like me) who make careers out of finding important, relatable stories in sports and explaining, in very good prose, how sports is simply a microcosm and a reflection of society. If it wasn't so important to us, we wouldn't spend so many hours and money watching it and discussing it.

And Michael Phelps would still have all his endorsement deals.

Clearly this woman doesn't watch HBO's Real Sports.

3) She thinks football is complicated. (Ok, I realize that last point doesn't really count and is maybe a little mean, but really. Football is not that damn hard.)

I guess what really gets my goat is the suggestion that Gibbs' affinity for sports references only negatively affects women, when I'm sure there are men who cover the White House who couldn't care less about the shellacking Duke suffered at the hands of Carolina last week.

I'm all about calling out instances of sexism, but this one doesn't really hold water, and to whine about it kind of cheapens the real ones, ya know?


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