In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Someone’s Been Watching Too Much Footballers Wive$

Sigh. There really is nothing that can’t be blamed on women, is there?

From CNN/SI:

Wacky World Cup note: The soccer might be over, but not the strange goings-on. Monday brought reports that England’s Football Association might ban wives and girlfriends from attending future international tournaments. It seems that some are blaming England’s disappointing World Cup performance on the distractions caused by Posh Spice and other extremely thin yet well-endowed women. The group of wives and girlfriends was dubbed the Wags by, well, wags in the press. Among other feats in Germany, the Wags dropped about $105,000 in an hour’s worth of communal shopping and danced on tabletops after running up bar tabs of more than $700. Many of the Wags stayed together at the same hotel, which created what the linked story felicitously calls a “paparazzi honeypot.” For what it’s worth, the FA is denying the story.

Honestly, it sounds like the Bush twins were visiting Germany.

I realize that sports fans often look for any reason whatsoever that they can pin their team’s loss on, but, look. It’s not like these guys didn’t know what their wives and girlfriends were up to. And is the whole Posh and Becks thing really news to anyone at this point?

The best part is that the Guardian article doesn’t have any more concrete information than the SI snippet. It’s all based on rumor and innuendo, and as the guy from the FA pointed out, it’s a bit early to talk of banning anyone from tournament play when England hasn’t even qualified for the next tournament.

So an otherwise respectable newspaper runs a bunch of tabloid-worthy gossip that sounds like a bad plot idea for Footballers Wive$. Why? Because it’s so much easier to blame women than it is to accept that England just didn’t play as well as the team that beat them.

H/T: bmc90.


Hands down the best game of the entire World Cup.

Even if you aren’t cheering for Italy, you have to admit that the game was entertainment at its best. I look forward to seeing France/Portugal succumb to the power of l’Italia on Sunday.

World Cup Madness!

I love it, although I found yesterday’s Italy/Australia game really disappointing. Winning on a penalty kick? Eh. I’m running out of work right now to catch the Brazil/Ghana match, which promises to be good. I’ve got my fingers crossed for the eventual triumph of either England or Italy (England because how can you not love them after Joe Cole’s amazing goal the other day, and Italy because I’m working with all Italians and they might kill me if I didn’t cheer for their country). There are some great photos from fans posted on the WC website.

And plus, the players are just so pretty (what can I say? I have a thing for guys with great legs).

Who are you rooting for?

World Cup Woes?

Save me.

Apparently the little ladies are having some trouble weathering the World Cup season, and are in dire need of over-priced spa packages to alleviate the pain of being football widows.

Perhaps I’m primarily irritated with this tired old “girls don’t like sports” thing because I’ve been watching the World Cup religiously, and I know I’m not the only vagina-owner doing so. I was the sole USA supporter last weekend in a room full of Italians, Greeks and Turks (more than half of whom were women) during the USA/Italy match, and was thoroughly upset when Eddie Pope was kicked out of the game (but gloated when we tied). I was punching my pillow when those damned Swedes tied with England last night. And I was really happy when Ghana beat the Czech Republic.

Is anecdotal evidence all that convincing? No. But nonetheless, it seems that other women aren’t exactly enthusiastic about “escaping” from sports:

For the price of $238, “women who want a break from their World Cup-fanatic husbands or boyfriends” can enjoy a two-night resort stay and daylong spa visit. But it seems the demand might have been overestimated. Christiane Martin, whose hotel offers this girlfriends retreat, said, “Unfortunately, we’ve only had two women here yet and so far we have only one more reservation for the rest of the World Cup.”

Ha. Can’t say I’m surprised.

The Swimming Gap

I grew up in affluent suburbs where backyard swimming pools were common. My parents swam, and made sure my siblings and I could swim; we were dropped off several times a week for lessons at Mrs. Heath’s pool, practicing our strokes while Mrs. Heath sat on the edge of the pool with her Virginia Slims. My siblings and I were on the municipal swim team, at least until our swimming hole, nicknamed the Mudhole, was shut down due to septic-tank contamination. My swimming now is greatly curtailed by my unwillingness to appear in public in a bathing suit, but once I’m in the water, it all comes back to me.

Swimming came so naturally and was such a part of my life that I never really gave any thought to the fact that there are a hell of a lot of people who just never learned to swim. That is, until I realized that my sister-in-law S’s reluctance to join my brother M and I while snorkeling in Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay was due less to the general tetchiness she had been displaying during the family trip and more to the fact that she hadn’t learned to swim until she was an adult, and she was far more nervous about the sharp rocks and tides than M and I were (I wound up unharmed despite getting bashed against the rocks, yet broke my toe climbing over a baby gate in my sister’s house). M is a scuba diver, and since they had gone diving on their honeymoon, I had assumed that S knew how to swim. Turns out he just had undue influence in the choice of activities on their shared honeymoon.

Actually, I should clarify: I was surprised that S hadn’t learned to swim as a child because S is white (and grew up in a military family; given that the Red Cross got involved in swimming lessons because so many soldiers drowned during WWII because they didn’t know how to swim, you’d think that military brats would be encouraged to learn). I would have been far less surprised with S’s non-swimmer status had S been black and raised in the city.

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Racism at the World Cup

I’m excited for the World Cup, if only because all my TV channels here are in Greek, and sports are the only thing I like to watch because you don’t have to understand what they’re saying. But apparently some football fans have been on their worst behavior lately.

As he left the soccer field after a club match in the eastern German city of Halle on March 25, the Nigerian forward Adebowale Ogungbure was spit upon, jeered with racial remarks and mocked with monkey noises. In rebuke, he placed two fingers under his nose to simulate a Hitler mustache and thrust his arm in a Nazi salute.

In April, the American defender Oguchi Onyewu, playing for his professional club team in Belgium, dismissively gestured toward fans who were making simian chants at him. Then, as he went to throw the ball inbounds, Onyewu said a fan of the opposing team reached over a barrier and punched him in the face.

Very nice, guys. And it’s escalating as European teams sign more players from Africa and Latin America.

Players and antiracism experts said they expected offensive behavior during the tournament, including monkey-like chanting; derisive singing; the hanging of banners that reflect neofascist and racist beliefs; and perhaps the tossing of bananas or banana peels, all familiar occurrences during matches in Spain, Italy, eastern Germany and eastern Europe.

“For us it’s quite clear this is a reflection of underlying tensions that exist in European societies,” said Piara Powar, director of the London-based antiracist soccer organization Kick It Out. He said of Eastern Europe: “Poverty, unemployment, is a problem. Indigenous people are looking for easy answers to blame. Often newcomers bear the brunt of the blame.”

And perhaps the intense xenophobia and stringent immigration laws in many European nations sets the cultural tone.

After making a Nazi salute, which is illegal in Germany, Ogungbure of Nigeria was investigated by the authorities. But a charge of unconstitutional behavior against him was soon dropped because his gesture had been meant to renounce extremist activity.

“I regret what I did,” Ogungbure said in a telephone interview from Leipzig. “I should have walked away. I’m a professional, but I’m a human, too. They don’t spit on dogs. Why should they spit on me? I felt like a nobody.”

I wonder if they also investigated the person who make racist comments and monkey noises at him.

It’s pretty clear that Ogungbure made the Nazi symbol as a comment on the fan’s behavior, reminding him of where racism led German society before. Maybe not an ideal reaction, but an understandable one. And perhaps in addition to cracking down on racism, Germany should consider free expression rights. I understand that their past is deeply marred by hate, but illegalizing gestures because they evoke a painful past seems a little heavy-handed. That said, of course the authorities are justified in removing offending fans from soccer stadiums.

Gerald Asamoah, a forward on Germany’s World Cup team and a native of Ghana, has been recounting an incident in the 1990’s when he was pelted with bananas before a club match in Cottbus. “I’ll never forget that,” he said in a television interview. “It’s like we’re not people.” He has expressed anger and sadness over a banner distributed by a right-wing group that admonished, “No Gerald, You Are Not Germany.”

That’s certainly disturbing. But the fact is, as much as Germany passes anti-racism laws, xenophobia is deeply entrenched in their laws and culture. Try and immigrate to Germany from a developing nation (or, heck, any nation) if you lack German heritage and let me know how easy it is. The German govermnet sends a clear message with its laws: If you aren’t ethnically German, then no, You Are Not Germany.

That isn’t to say that all racism can be traced back to the government, and if only the laws would change, minds would follow. Clearly, this right-wing hatred operates independent of the law. But German institutions send a clear message with their approach to immigration, and limiting public gestures isn’t going to do much to change the cultural mentality. It’s easy to say that racism doesn’t exist (or to say that you aren’t racist) when you’re surrounded by people with your same skin color — it’s another thing to have people who look differently from you living in your neighborhood, working in your ofice, and playing on your sports fields. This is what supposed bastions of liberalism in Europe are facing now. They’re not doing a great job.

Hanging on by a Thread

I like horse racing, though I mostly only pay attention to it during Triple Crown season. This year, Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby and there was an awful lot of buzz about whether he had a legitimate chance to be the first horse to take the Triple Crown since 1978.

Unfortunately, Barbaro shattered his ankle shortly after coming out of the gate at the Preakness and may not survive the injury. It’s the kind of injury that would normally have resulted in being euthanized at the track except for two factors: the extent of the injury was not known until he was brought to the University of Pennsylvania’s large-animal hospital; and his owners are wealthy enough to pay for the surgery and rehabilitation on this very valuable animal. If he’s dead, there are no stud fees, but a horse spends its life on its feet and recovery from this kind of injury is not always possible.

I was at the Belmont in 1999, when Charismatic was going for the Triple Crown. He fractured a leg at the end of the race, but his life was saved because his jockey was able to get him stopped and off the leg very quickly.

The Times article has a lot of pretty fascinating stuff in sidebars and graphics and slide shows about how this kind of injury works and what can be done about it (warning: there is a photo in one of the slide shows that shows his leg sticking out at an unnatural angle during the race. If that kind of thing upsets you, don’t look).