Weekend Gender Observations

Notre Dame Football3This past weekend I traveled back to Notre Dame (ND) for the Michigan State football game. I go back every other year to catch a game and see former colleagues. While I was there I observed a few things I had to share related to how females are marginalized and gender is (re)produced in subtle and not to subtle ways. Here are the Top 5:

1. On Friday morning I played golf at the beautiful links style ND Warren Golf Course. When I worked at ND I would decide to golf after work and show up at the course and be assigned a tee time with a group that had room for one more. Mostly I played with all men. As we stood on the tee box, I would invariable get “advice” from one or more of the men on how to play, how to hit a drive etc….They would tee off first, and then we’d go up to the “Ladies Tees” where I would hit. When I play frequnetly I can hit a 200 yard drive which often surpasses some of the mens’ drives. After that I didn’t get any more advice. I wondered, do men give other men advice on the first tee? Why do men feel compelled to give females paternalistic advice on how to play golf when they have no idea how skilled she may or may not be?

2. One of the traditions of ND football is the Friday night pep rally. While at the pep rally, a distinguished alum and former NFL player was challenging the crowd to cheer loudly for the Irish. He said he was told to keep it “PC”. He told the crowd they should stand the whole game to show support. He then told the players to be tough and not let Michigan State control the game in “their house.” He said if the players wanted to be weak and soft he told them, “You should go to school across the street” (meaning attend the all-women’s sister school St. Mary’s College). To my surprise, a few people in the crowd booed him.

3. While wandering around campus I came across the 2008-09 ND men’s & women’s basketball schedule posters (see picture). 2008-09 nd posters Given the research on portrayals of female athletes we have conducted in the Tucker Center, I noticed immediately that ALL the male athletes were in uniform, in action, and on the court. Some of the female athletes were in uniform, in action, and on the court but the dominant image was the “team shot.” These two posters convey very different messages about athletic competence.

4. On my way home I was checking Facebook and email on my phone when I saw a Facebook post that read: “Eagirls v. New Orleans“…meaning the Eagles were playing the New Orleans Saints. This person felt the Eagles were not playing well, which meant they were playing like girls.

5. Last but not least and related to #1 above…I wandered into an airport book store to find a new book to read on the way home. I came across a book written by man titled, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. I was curious so I picked it up. I’d encourage you to take a look at the table of contents, depending on your perspective you’ll find it infuriating, entertaining or informative.

I think these example speak for themselves. Comments?

3 Replies to “Weekend Gender Observations”

  1. i dono about the golfing world, but bicyclists tend to offer helpful (and usually sound) advice to other bicyclists, regardless of gender. (your seat is too low, etc). it’s typically a camaraderie thing. bike shops, though, very often will lapse into gender-based paternalism and will often offer helpful “advice” to women who already know exactly what they want. the other annoying thing bike shops sometimes do is talk to the boyfriend when the woman is the one shopping – it’s why i tend to wander all the way to the other corner of the store when my gf is buying bicyclestuff.

    the posters are curious. the men’s poster doesn’t have a team shot at all – the only pictures are of people who i assume are starting players. i don’t know terribly much about women’s college basketball, but i’m pretty sure that women’s teams do a better job of using -all- their players in games – unlike men’s teams.


  2. Regarding paternalism…I see it in the gym a lot. There is one guy in particular (we call him “the colonel”) who enjoys giving advice to women. Unsolicited advice. To women who are in very good shape.
    I have seen him give advice to men as well but they are men he is working out with. It makes me crazy.
    He has never approached me. I could say it’s because I have such great form but those other women do as well. More likely it’s because my workout partners and I read as a little too dykey for his comfort level–which is fine by me.


  3. Nice post! Funny what happens when we look around and “notice” stuff that has become as ubiquitous as (yellow) wallpaper. Bet the schedules on those men’s and women’s b-ball posters reflected equal status on the entertainment calendar (not!)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: