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On Sports Misogyny Apologists

July 27, 2009

I’ve got a piece up at The American Prospect today on the legions of sports fanatics that live to excuse even the most heinous behavior by their players and their teams:

The apologists drink from a potent cocktail of hero-worship, almost military levels of team solidarity, and old-fashioned “boys will be boys” gender essentialism. And they would just be offensive if they weren’t such an integral part of the larger culture of misogyny in sports — a culture that makes it possible for there to be so many henious acts to defend, minimize and deny in the first place. As is, they’re downright dangerous, writing a blank check for athletes’ behavior that too many athletes are happy to cash.

Go read it here. And then check out CounterQuo, a new organization dedicated to challenging the way we respond to sexual violence in the U.S.  I’m a charter member, and my fellow leaders there — including Katie Hnida, who I quote in the piece – were much help to me in putting this piece together so quickly. Their site is a great resource to all of us trying to fight the victim-blaming spin already developing in the Roethlisberger case.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2009 11:46 am

    Your dissection of this aspect (fandom to the point of being an apologist for our heroic sports figures misbehaviors) is spot on. I only wish more in sports culture, and, specifically, more men, were standing up & speaking out against this.

  2. July 27, 2009 6:15 pm


    Really. Great. Article.

    One thing:

    I get that the subject of ‘Sports Misogyny and the Court of Public Opinon’ might preclude inclusion of the homophobic, socially conservative nature of sports culture but I personally feel that the two issues are inseparable.

    The best example I can provide of a famous American male athlete who takes is an atypical stance in terms of sex is the University of Florida’s Tim Tebow. He is purportedly a virgin who is saving himself for marriage. The general attitude amongst his peer group can, I believe, be summed up by his former teammate Percy Harvin, who stated that Tebow is “crazy” for turning down offers of casual sex. Tebow’s position is, to the best of my knowledge, informed by his religious faith and doesn’t encompass a larger pro-feminist viewpoint.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t a progressive, anti-misogynistic, pro-feminist and gay-affirmative male athlete analogous to Tebow in US sports culture. I think it is clear that athletes have the potential to exert massive cultural and political influence on boys and girls and the best way to go about doing this is to combine these issues in the manner groups like have done. I feel that by doing this the epidemic levels of rape and sexual assaults committed against women (as well as attacks against homosexuals) can be viewed culturally and politically as something that transcends being labeled as a “women’s issue” or “gay rights issue”.

  3. Agador permalink
    October 9, 2009 12:44 pm

    Good post.

    A book recommendation, “What’s My Name Fool?” by David Zirin. Most of the book is about racism and politicization of sports, but his chapter “Taking Care of T.C.B.: Sports, Sexism and Gay Bashing” deals directly with this issue of misogyny and homophobia in sports.

    The reason I adore this book is because, despite Zirin’s love of sports, he is not afraid to show the darkside. It has some more uplifting stats and stories as well, which give me a little faith in humanity. Generally a good read, and I recommend it.

  4. December 18, 2009 2:03 pm

    Hey – whats up. Thanks for the info. I’ve been digging around for info, but there is so much out there. Google lead me here – good for you i guess! Keep up the great information. I will be popping back over in a few days to see if there is updated posts.

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