Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A morning lull ('caused by a mini-back spasm that's preventing me from luggin' out my scope so I can go see this and this and this) gives me the opportunity to point you to some interesting reading on what I consider "topics related to women's basketball." (What can I say? I'm a t-shirt-wearing member of the WBI!)

From AfterAtlanta
This morning, reading the headlines in my alert, I had a pang of blogger jealousy. Someone had come up with a title that was very After Atalanta-esque--and it wasn't me! And it was about softball--and lesbians. How could this be?

Well because it was Dr. Pat Griffin who wrote the piece "Can Jennie Finch Even Say Lesbian?" and so I feel much better now. And especially so after reading it. Griffin calls out all (or most) of the people who have been speaking up in the wake of the astounding revelation that Elena Kagan once played softball--and the messages that sends.
From Sports Media & Society
Ever since President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, questions about her sexuality have figured into the overall news narrative. Recently, news sources have begun showing a picture of Kagan playing softball, and suggesting that her affiliation with the sport shows that she is indeed lesbian. (Pat Buchanan, the MSNBC pundit, provided particularly insightful commentary, stating that playing softball is a lesbian “signal,” just like “two guys sunbathing together” brings the “immediate implication that they’re gay.”) Aside from the problematic ideology that an out lesbian is somehow a mark in the negative column in evaluating this potential justice, the implication draws from an age-old stereotype about female athletes.
From the aforementioned Pat Griffin: Softball Players to the Media: “We Are Not Lesbians, Damn It”
I don’t want to go back over the whole “Is Elena Kagan is a lesbian because she played softball 17 years ago” conversation, but I do want to note that the whole goofy discussion has, unfortunately as I feared, tapped in the homophobia that lurks just beneath the surface in women’s softball. All the media attention to the innuendoes about softball and lesbians has prompted some reporters to ask some women softball players and the president of the International Softball Federation to weigh in on the discussion. Here is what they said with my snarky commentary :

"We've come so far," said Jessica Mendoza, a two-time Olympian and president of the Women's Sports Foundation, "and to have even one person think that showing a photo would correlate with someone's orientation, I want to yell out and say, 'Where have you been? Look around.'"

We’ve come so far? What, from having everyone think softball players are dykes? And, oh the pain, the trauma of having even ONE PERSON think of someone’s “orientation” when they see a picture of a woman playing softball. C’mon, Jessica, can’t you even say the word “lesbian?” By the way, as President of the Women’s Sports Foundation, you should check out the resources for addressing homophobia in sport on your own organization’s web site.
(remember that the It Takes a Team program the WSF has founded has been discontinued)

Also from Pat, this post...Greg Louganis to Mentor USA Divers
This headline would be unremarkable in most situations. After all Greg Louganis dominated international men’s 3m and 10m diving from 1980-1988 winning World and Olympic championships and being named Athlete of the Year in 1988. His accomplishments would make him a logical candidate to coach elite divers. However, another part of Greg’s story helps to explain, at least in part, why he has been absent from diving for 22 years. Greg is gay and HIV-positive. He spent his entire competitive career in the closet, revealing both his sexual orientation and his HIV status in his 1996 book, Breaking the Surface.
Which has some interesting connections to this article in the NYTimes: Openly Gay College Coach Makes a Low-Profile Role Model
Tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac in a leafy suburban neighborhood, Kirk Walker lives the life of a role model quietly.

No rainbow flags hang from the front of his house; political causes have never stirred him. And truth be told, Walker, the longtime Oregon State softball coach, has always been so absorbed by his work that he has not given much thought to being possibly the only publicly gay man coaching a Division I.
Of course, as we know, there isn't a boatful of publicly game women coaching Division I either.

By the way, have you read Pat's "Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sports"? I know we could use an "Updated and Revised" edition (it was first published in 1998), but it is must reading for anyone who believe that there's no place for homophobia in sports. (Or the world, to be honest.)

Another great resource is the documentary "Training Rules." You may already know that it's about Rene Portland's reign at Penn State - an era where her "Rules" were: 1) No Drinking 2) No Drugs 3) No Lesbians.

I had an opportunity to see the film during the Final Four in San Antonio. It's a compelling piece of work. The damage that Portland did to countless young women is staggering. In many ways, the film is NOT about Portland as much as it is about the pain and resiliency of the athletes who, somehow, found a way to survive and, eventually, thrive.

Make the time, if you can, to see it. It's been shown on LOGO, and may reappear.

Finally -- I've heard from some that my contact email is not working (and, because of the archive system here at blogger.com, we can't edit the info on the "Contact" page). So, if you want a WBI t-shirt, drop me a line at nywnbafan @ yahoo.com. $20 - and totally dependent on size and availability....