Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

4.11.05

Racism and sexism in society

I've noticed over the past few weeks that racism and sexism has come up quite often in the sports world specifically and in society in general. Let's look at the videotape!

Maureen Dowd, with whom I have been in love for many years (my wife understands - I think), wrote a column about how educated women aren't attracting men because we men are too damned intimidated by them (it's in the New York Times, so I can't link to it). She's talking super-educated women, those who go to Harvard Business School and such. I guess Krys doesn't count, although she has a bachelor's degree and is, generally, smarter than I am (she would disagree, but as well as being smarter than I am, she's also crazy). I wouldn't count myself in that category of intimidated men, since I have always been attracted to intelligent women. Right now I'm a househusband - I don't have a big problem with my woman being more successful than I am and bringing home the bacon! Anyway, Kathleen Parker (with whom I am not in love, and frequently disagree, but who's still interesting) wrote a counter-column in which she said that feminists created this situation by telling men they were inconsequential, so of course men are going to react. She makes the point that there is a new book called Raising Boys Without Men and wants us to imagine a book written by a man called Raising Girls Without Women. Can you imagine the shitstorm?

Krys says I'm full of it and that feminists didn't demonize men, but I think to a certain degree they did. Why else do so many younger women not want to be called "feminists"? Is it just because of Rush Limbaugh? I doubt it. I think a lot of women, as well as men, want to be in a family situation. I love having a family. Now, that doesn't mean everyone wants to have kids - a family can be a couple with a pet. This idea that both women and men want to work all the time and succeed at their jobs at all cost is ridiculous. In the past, what, 20 years, we have seen that corporations care so little about their workers that there's no reason to sacrifice all your personal time for them. Family becomes much more important.

My point is that I'm sick of hearing about men who are intimidated by women. I'm also sick of hearing about how men all secretly want their women barefoot and pregnant. It's asinine. There is sexism in this country, but blaming everything on men isn't going to make it better. Women have plenty of power, but they need to exercise it more often. Maureen Dowd is an intelligent, funny, attractive woman. I very much doubt she has never found a man who wants to be with her. Maybe she should look at herself before she starts bashing the men in her life.

Okay, moving on to racism (we're nothing if not controversial here at Delenda Est Carthago!). First of all, I am the least discriminated-against demographic in the history of mankind. I am male. I am white. I am straight. I am American. I RULE! That being said, I'm also not an idiot, and can contribute to the race discussion not as well as some, but certainly with some semblance of clarity.

A few weeks ago Roger Green made the case for showing Amos 'n' Andy on television. I tried to leave a comment on the post, but for some reason it got deleted. He believes that we should show it because of the discussion it would spark. The comment I wanted to leave was about The Birth of a Nation. While I was in Pennsylvania I watched a documentary about the movie. Some guy in LA a few years ago tried to screen it and received death threats, so he pulled the movie. That's sad, because Roger makes the point, and I agree, that if Amos 'n' Andy was on in an educational forum, we could learn a lot about racism in this country and how to combat it. The same holds true, I think, for The Birth of a Nation. Another problem with race in this country is not only the fact of racism, which still exists, but that we're not allowed to talk about racism beyond simple platitudes like "It's bad." We're not allowed to talk about real or perceived differences between races and why people believe the things they do. Some examples from the world of sports have come up recently.

First, Notre Dame. I hate Notre Dame. I think they are an obnoxious institution that thinks it's better than every other university in the country. I don't agree with college football people who think it's a "good thing for college football" when Notre Dame is good. To be fair, I don't think it's necessarily a "good thing" for any other traditional power, like my alma mater Penn State, to be good. Who cares? So I get sick of the attention paid to Notre Dame. A few years ago everyone made a big to-do about Notre Dame hiring Tyrone Willingham, because he's black. He was the first black head coach in Notre Dame's history. Willingham started his Notre Dame career 8-0, and everyone was proclaiming a return to greatness for Notre Dame. Then it all went to shit, and after three seasons, Willingham was fired. He was replaced with Charlie Weis, the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots and an alumnus of Notre Dame. Weis, needless to say, is white. Weis is currently 5-2 and last Saturday he signed a 10-year contract extension. Hmmm.

Now, I'm not saying this is completely racist. Weis had leverage - there were rumors that several NFL teams were inquiring about buying out his contract. Whether the rumors were true or not is beside the point. The point is that when Willingham was there, no one was asking about buying out his contract. However, every Notre Dame coach prior to Willingham was given a 5-year deal, which were all honored by the university. Willingham was the first coach whose deal was not honored. And Notre Dame recently has had some shitty coaches. Bob Davie, anyone? Gerry Faust? Why was Willingham's contract not honored?

The nice thing about Willingham is he got hired by the University of Washington and is coaching there now. Why is this "the nice thing"? Because, in years past, a black coach got one (1) chance. If he failed, as all head coaches eventually do, he never got another one. White coaches get recycled all the time, even if they suck. So the real milestone is not that Willingham got hired by Notre Dame, which didn't want him and didn't give him a chance anyway. The real milestone is that another big-time school immediately hired him. It still smacks of racism that Notre Dame is falling all over itself to sign its current, white coach to a long-term extension but they weren't even willing to allow Willingham to coach the final two years on his contract.

Recently, another issue has come up, and it's about the role of black athletes on teams. The head coach of the Air Force Academy Falcons, Fisher DeBerry, said his team needed more speed, and by that he meant black athletes. His bosses publicly reprimanded him and he apologized. A lot of people on talk radio pointed out that the speed positions in college and the NFL (wide receivers, defensive backs) are dominated by black men. Why is that? Because they're fast. We can't discuss the differences between black and white, however, because everyone is afraid of offending someone. Yesterday Joe Paterno, the head coach of Penn State, said that he thinks black athletes have done wonders for the game and the institutions. People weren't quite as freaked out by that statement, for a few reasons: it's not really that controversial; Paterno has donated millions of dollars to Penn State for academics, not football (a wing of the library, not the stadium, is named after him); his graduation rate for black football players is 72%, which is far better than almost any big-time football college. But just the fact that people would wonder if it was racist means that we cannot talk about any differences there might be between races.

A final example: Last year, we had a meeting at my school to discuss teen suicide and what we can do. The discussion branched out to sex. In Arizona, and I'm sure everywhere else in the country, it is statutory rape for an 18-year-old to have sex with a minor. It does not matter if the parents know about it, it does not matter if the couple lives together, it does not matter if they are married. It's illegal. We teachers knew of several examples of law-breaking going on at the school, and we had proof because the girls were getting pregnant. Our assistant principal mentioned that we needed to be careful about bringing it up, because in Hispanic culture, girls become women at 15 (I can't remember the name of the big party they have - help me out, people!), so in their culture, they can go off with a 20-year-old and all is well. That bugs me, because I have no problem with people coming here and keeping parts of their culture, but when it conflicts with the law of the land, we enter a gray area. Guess what? Part of white culture used to include owning slaves. Should we go back to that? Didn't think so. We have to examine parts of culture that simply do not work in this country, but if anyone talks about this, they're racist. Well, if helping girls who are not mature stay away from male predators who are 20 or 21 is racist, well, guess what I am?

This bothers me because I'm not sure if I'm qualified to talk about this. Should I just shut up because I'm at the top of the food chain? I'm not rich, but other than that, I have never been discriminated against at all. I have felt the effects once in my life, but it was very brief and it had little to do with me, just the people I was with. It was not a good feeling. So I'm not sure if I can discuss this without coming off like a moron. I do know that ignoring it isn't going to help. It means that we need to confront racism when it occurs, call bullshit when it doesn't occur, and talk about differences between people and what it means. There are differences between white and black people. There are differences between men and women. Claiming we're all equal is going to perpetuate stereotypes. I doubt if anyone wants that.

6 Comments:

Blogger Thomas said...

I wrote a post about this as well, Greg. What I said was more smart women for the rest of us.

http://goodmorninghouston.blogspot.com/2005/11/confederacy-of-dunces.html

5/11/05 9:59 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

It's partly what inspired me, Thomas. See? You're the wind beneath my wings.

5/11/05 11:05 AM  
Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

Greg-
I DO, to some degree, think that some young women avoid the term "feminism" because they believe it implies a level of anger or a type of look that isn't where they want to be. But the GAINS from the feminist movement have become so ingrained that I don't think they realize all that the term really suggests.

As to racism AND sexism, there's no doubt that when someone becomes a "first", the pressure to succeed, not just for themselves but for their race or gender, becomes great. Whether the individual involved feels it or not, OTHER people certainly do.

Smart women are sexy.

5/11/05 11:52 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Roger, it's kind of like everything - the extreme stuff gets all the press, and I think a lot of young people don't understand what it used to be like for any minority in this country, and that's why young women don't want to be called "feminists." They see some of the more spectacular junk that gets the headlines, but don't understand all the other work. It's the same thing with the "n" word - my students used to use it indiscriminately, and would laugh when I told them they shouldn't use it. They don't get it, because they're young.

5/11/05 3:17 PM  
Blogger layne said...

I think a greater issue facing old school feminists is that many younger woman aren't following 'their' rules; these days, a little red dress and spike heels is empowering, as is the increasing trend of career women who leave their jobs and become stay at home moms.
In a culture where the two demons of phallocentric opression, sexuality and domesticity, have become forms of empowerment, the bra burners and their tired dogma are facing obsolescence.

All those feminazis just wish they had a penis, anyway.

5/11/05 4:28 PM  
Blogger Krys said...

I agree with Roger. Dowd does have a point that it appears women just did a complete 180--from one extreme (wanting to be smart career women, burning bras & eschewing families) to the other extreme (I believe Dowd calls them "pole dancing sluts"). Isn't there some middle ground for the rest of us??

Young women today don't want to be called Feminists because it might make them unattractive to men...Period. They have also forgotten the past (& hell, present) inequalities (I'm mostly talking pay here). It's very sad to me that they don't feel the need to be aware of their own power, much less use it.

Of course acting all vain & vapid will attract to these women a man equally vain & vapid. Smart men (one would hope) will want someone they can actually have a conversation with after sex.

8/11/05 1:38 PM  

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