Selena Roberts Draws the Wrong Lesson

The Imus comment is getting far more attention than it deserves, but I feel compelled to pass along what Selena Roberts thinks the less is from all this:

Ho is the new bitch. And bitch is the old sissy. But whatever the label, women are always first to be part of the gag when sexism and misogyny are publicly sanctioned and celebrated — particularly in sports.

Shaquille O’Neal, in his Lakers days, referred to the Sacramento Kings as “Queens.”

And in this sanitized version, a top Division I football coach was once overheard telling his team after a particularly big win: tonight, you guys deserve to take whatever woman you want.

In Johnny Damon’s long-haired Boston days, a punch line used to circulate: He looks like Jesus, throws like Mary.

These comments are red herrings. Leaving aside what the football coach allegedly said, the jibes at the Sacramento Kings and Johnny Damon are entirely different from the Imus/Rutgers imbroglio. They were meant to criticize the male athletes by comparing them to women, who are not as good at sports as men. O’Neal felt that the Kings were an easy opponent, and Johnny Damon is known for having a weak throwing arm. The point is to insult the men being discussed, not to denigrate women as a class.

Relying on these examples, Roberts could be read to be advocating the end of any recognition of differences between men and women in sports, which is ludicrous. There is a reason the Rutgers women were not playing the Florida men in the NCAA championship, and there is a reason no one had heard of the Rutgers women’s team until Don Imus made fun of them.


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