As I was walking into school today from the parking lot, two men were talking about women’s sport who were walking behind me. Given the topic I was listening in to see what they were saying, as it is rare I hear two men discussing this topic. It quickly became apparent to me they were discussing a class that one of them had taken, and dropped, that is taught by my colleague.
I’m guessing because they were coming upon Cooke Hall, where he took the class, it spurred him to remember the professor whom he described as “a feminist”…and he wasn’t using that as a term of endearment. In fact he then went onto to say “she was some sort of raging feminist who thought women’s sport should be on TV…and that she should get real because it is a business.” At that point his buddy asked him, “Did she used to play soccer?” Now I was really listening!
He said he’s taken the class as part of his major but this professor was a real crazy b*tch because one day they were talking in class about football, and the professor was arguing that “some women could play football.” To him, as a former high school football player, this was the most ludicrous idea he’d ever heard and because she so out there and was such a crazy feminist, he dropped the class and switched majors!
I was bothered by this for many reasons. First, this guy had no intention of ever seeing another perspective existed, that perhaps there are women who could play football. I wanted to turn around and tell him there are plenty of women who can, and DO, play football (see my previous blog post).
He as never going to entertain another perspective. His perspective was right, and this female professor was crazy. Period. I find these type people and students dangerous, because they then have the possibility to go into the work force and perpetuate current power structures and ideologies (ways of thinking) that marginalize women and dismiss alternative perspectives.And because he was a young, White, fairly good looking former athlete his opinion automatically carries more power.
Second, I didn’t like the venomous way he talked about “feminists.” I’m not sure he really knew what a feminists really way, but he didn’t like them and in his words thought “they were stupid.” For his information and anyone else that wants/needs to know the definition of a feminist is: any person (not only women) who have an aim of establishing equal rights and legal protection for women, and who believes in the social, political, and economical equality of the sexes.
Third, calling a well known scholar versed in gender and sport “stupid” just because you don’t agree with her/her opinion is stupid. I say it all the time, but as a society we have mostly lost the ability to disagree respectfully and have civic discourse without it quickly devolving into “stupid” comments (see previous blog post). This undermines the fabric of a healthy democracy.
Fourth, I wondered why the friend would ask if the feminist professor “used to play soccer”. Huh? Do some young men think that female athletes are all feminists? Anyone? I’m confused.
I have to go teach, and I’m going to bring up the idea that women can play football….I’ll let you know how that goes!