Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sex and Women's Sports & How Changing The Cat Litter Has Improved My Social Awareness

I have always found reading a newspaper to be a pain in the ass.  I hate newspapers.  Why not print the damn thing on a bed sheet and stretch a clothes line across your living room?   It would be easier than trying to wrestle with ten loose sheets, 588 square inches a piece, printed on a wimpy bond one degree stiffer than toilet paper (until the damn thing buckles in your lap then it behaves like 10 gauge sheet metal).  Then there is always that one frigging single page, in the middle, that slips out of your grasp and falls on the floor.  Damn, I hate newspapers.  Due to the physical size and crappy paper, I am pissed off before I even get to the rotten news inside.  As such, shamefully, I do not read the paper...except when I change the cat litter.  

You are wondering, why the hell does this goofy bastard read the paper when he is changing cat litter?  A reasonable question.  Availability, time, and venue!  The litter boxes are set on newspaper--sometimes our cats seem to have poor aim, and often they get a bit exuberant in the covering techniques thus flinging the litter out of the box.  Its not as tidy as the TV commercials would suggest.  So there is a ready supply of Sunday papers that my wife insists we buy, but I never read (availability).  Changing the litter, as you might imagine, is a job that I do not particularly care for, and I find it extremely easy to be distracted (time).  The litter boxes are located next to the washer and dryer in the basement (venue).  You are now thinking that I am completely out of my mind, but let me explain.  I am changing the litter which I hate doing, I pull out a section of newspaper and on the front I see "Sex Sells Sex, Not Women's Sports."  Oh cool, let's read this before we set it on the floor for the cats to crap on (you see its a last chance type of thing--I have to read it now...because I sure as hell am not going to read it next week).  So I grab the paper and spread it out on top of the washer.  The washer is an almost perfect stand for reading newspapers.  It has a large, flat, top surface located at a convenient height for reading.  I have got engrossed in articles causing my wife to call down the steps to make sure I am OK.  It has actually become something of a joke, Tuesday afternoon I will tell my wife, "I am going to go read the paper." 

So it was two days ago, while waiting for the foul smelling cloud of cat litter dust to disperse, that I found the article Sex Sells Sex, Not Women's Sports by Mary Jo Kane in the August 28, 2011 Pittsburgh Post Gazette,  Forum Section.  Well I have to read this.  Fortunately for our purposes, I Googled the article and found it here:

Sex Sells Sex, Not Women's Sports, By Mary Jo Kane. The Nation, August 15 - 22, 2011 

Read the article, it is not long, and come back.  Dr. Kane argues that women's sports figures are depicted in the media in a highly sexualized fashion.  She claims quite convincingly that the by emphasizing the beauty and the attractive qualities of the athletes the media is selling sex not interest in women's sports.  Particularly telling is the series of photographs in the slide show in the article which if you missed it in the article, you can see here:

The Nation, Slide Show: 6 Ways the Media Represents Female Athletes

Last summer I read Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture.  One of the things that bothered me about the book was that it was very detailed in examples that tended to date the book to the late 90s and early 2000s.  I wrote a post on that book here:

Navigating The Finite, July 21, 2011, Female Chauvinist Pigs Verses One Very Smart Cookie 

Well this article confirms that the principles that Levy complained about are still going strong. 

Shall we stop this post for a moment for a rant?  DAMN IT BLOGGER!  I start getting these messages that there is a problem saving my post.  Oh no!  I don't want lose my precious post this far in.  In a state of panic I hit the publish button to not lose it.  So please bear with me if you have visited during the composition of this masterpiece.  Rant concluded, we now resume with our regularly scheduled post. 

Dr. Kane has a very good point, why can't the media just present women athletes as athletes?  Looking at and reading the captions of the slide show is very instructive.  The second slide labeled Athletic Competence is how the author argues that women's sports should be depicted.  It is a phenomenal on the field action shot of a goal about to be made in women's soccer.  The action just wants to jump off the page.   The remaining shots are showing women's sports figures in sexualized situations of varying degrees. (I do take exception to one, mentioned later.)  

In photo 3, labeled Ambivalence, we have a basket ball star in a very swanky dress exiting (or perhaps entering--where ever your imagination takes you) the back seat of a car.  She ain't dressed for basket ball, although she does hold one.  Why the back seat?  Is she not competent to drive this car, or would that change the nature of the photo.  Perhaps I am reading too much into the photo.  I think photographers are rather clever, the backseat is no accident. 

Moving on to photo 4 we have a golfer, certainly dressed she should be because she is the girl next door.  Actually, I rather like this photo.  She doesn't have stupid set of golf clubs, she has a lap top and books...she has brains! And I find that very attractive in women.  Oh hell, I just sunk my boat...I found her attractive because she has brains.  I am supposed to find her a golfer and be impressed with her golfing accomplishments.  Strike one!  Sextant is descending to sexist pig territory.  

Shall we go to photo 5:  The Hyper Heterosexual.  Here I depart company from the author.  What I see is a husband being there for his wife at the time of her victory.   I don't see anything hyper heterosexual about it.  I see a loving supporting spouse happily sharing something that is very important to the athlete.  Switch roles, if the wife was about to kiss her husband after he won, would anyone think that it was blatantly sexist?  I like marriage.  I like the idea that rich and powerful people can have good marriages.  I like that spouses are there supporting one another not in only in their moments of triumph but defeat.  Sorry Dr. Kane I respectfully disagree on this photo.  I am a feminist but not a radical feminist.  I like women and men to be together in happy couples.  Strike 2!  One more strike Sextant and you are sexist pig.  

Can Sextant carefully navigate the troubled shoals of male chauvinist pigdom?   Read on. 

Photo 6  America's best woman skier ever and she has her rather shapely keester at a problematic angle.  Sexy Babe this category is labeled, and I would have to agree that this pose suggests far more than skiing.  Arguments could made that the pose is somewhat accurate for a skiing.   I have no idea.  I have to agree with the author on this shot.  They could have used an actual action shot or had the woman in a far less suggestive (of skiing or what ever comes to mind) pose.   I do find the claims of the phallic mountain to be a bit far fetched, but if your looking to find fault with photo, sure what the hell its a phallus.  America's best woman skier is about to have consensual relations with a mountain.  Nah nah, I accept no strike on this one. 

OK onto photo 7 Soft Porno.  Takes me back to my stereo buying days!  Well I think we can all agree that the magazine in question, Playboy, and the cover photo depicted is not interested in advancing women's football in Germany.  

OK I managed to navigate all 6 photos (photo 1 I don't believe is worth discussing) with only two strikes.  I very much find that I am sympathetic to Dr. Kane's arguments that the media does not accurately depict women's sports as a serious athletic endeavor.   Sexism is live and well and the photos are good evidence of the points that Dr. Kane makes, but subtly she missed a point.  Kane complains about the media, but where is the criticism of the athletes that allowed themselves to be manipulated by these photos...which was exactly one of  Ms. Levy's points in Female Chauvinist Pigs.   So I agree the media does not portray women athletes as sports figures, but rather have sexualized them into beautiful attractive women who just happen to play sports.  I also feel that the sports figures themselves should be objecting.  

That said, I find something troubling with this article.  Certainly not in terms of the argument that sex sells sex and that these depictions cause people, especially men not to regard women's sports seriously.  No I thoroughly agree with the author, this is not right and it is a travesty to women's athletics.  

Objectively I don't care about sports.  I don't follow any sport, could care less who wins or who loses.  I don't much care for opera either.  I don't follow it, and could care less who sings what and when a certain company is coming to town.  But I don't find myself getting irritated by opera.  Live and let is of no concern of mine what so ever.  I do find myself getting actually quite pissed off at the impact that sports has on this country.  

I don't much care for the notion of gangs of men going out on a football field or other arenas and beating the hell out of each other.  Some of the players in the NFL participate in 15 years of organized violence and lose their minds in their 50s due to all the impact traumas that they have endured.  This whole ass patting, ball scratching, grunting, sweat soaked, displays of excessive macho charisma with fights and gestures just leaves me cold.  Then we go and make damned heroes out of these people, pay them obscene wages, and turn our heads at any misbehavior as long as they can bring home the win.  Heroes?  More like gods.  They are like knights in shining armor and we are the dung encrusted peasants looking up to them to save us from our paltry boring lives.  

Bullshit!  It pisses me off.  I don't like it.  So I come along to this article and I was struck by one statement that Kane made:

These findings are no trivial matter. Scholars have long argued that a major consequence of the media’s tendency to sexualize women’s athletic accomplishments is the reinforcement of their status as second-class citizens in one of the most powerful economic, social and political institutions on the planet. In doing so, media images that emphasize femininity/sexuality actually suppress interest in, not to mention respect for, women’s sports.
I agree entirely with Kane's argument here.  What pisses me off is the bolded part.  It's just sports for God's sake, why is it one of the most powerful economic, social and political institutions on the planet, men's or women's?  Opera is not a force on this planet and by God if it was up to me neither would sports.  So that is one element of what troubles me about this article.  Yes women are not getting their fair shake, but doesn't anyone think that sports in general has a little too much horsepower in our society?  

OK.  The other element that troubles me about this article is probably best illustrated by photo number two, the good photo, the photo labeled Athletic Competence.   This is truly an amazing photo.  As I noted above, the women look like they are going to fly out of photo, and these women are without a doubt athletically competent, every bit as much as men, and they should without a doubt be acknowledged and respected for their accomplishments.   But what bothers me about the photo is the  complete abandon for which they are pursuing the ball.  They seem to have absolutely no regard for the well being of themselves or their teammates.  The only thing that matters is that ball.  There is an element of savagery here that I find disconcerting.  I don't like it.  It is bad enough that men behave like savages on a field of sport.  But women?  I hold them in much higher regard.  Women are the sensible gender.  They don't have a set of balls clanging around between their legs making them do stupid things.  I am sorry but I just don't like to see them behaving like they do.  Strike three!  Sextant, you are out. 

Mary Jo Kane, PhD, is the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota.

EDIT 7-15-2012:  Leave it to ESPN to be more egalitarian in pushing sex in sports.  We have here a collection of photos of your favorite sports figures, both male and female, in the buff.  There is something here for everyone.  

ESPN The Magazine, Bodies We Want 2012


The Nation, Slide Show: 6 Ways the Media Represents Female Athletes

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day Story

Oh what the hell it is Valentine's Day, why not share a story of high romance? 

This happened to a guy I know, but not necessarily on Valentine's Day. Guy meets girl, they go on a date. They kind of like each other, go on a few more dates. Yeah this has possibilities. So at some point, they get to that know! That happy, let's have our first roll in the hay, point. Negotiations are made...they are going out for a romantic dinner and then she is going to spend the night at his place...and you know what will happen then. 

As this guy is telling this story, I sigh, and like a teen age girl from the 50s, my little heart is pitter pattering with romantic excitement for his story. 

So he takes her to an expensive steak house. In his superior male wisdom he orders her steak, how he thinks it should be prepared. Oh this is going to be a special dinner, he is going to instruct her how to enjoy a good steak.


A1 Destroying Intimate Evenings Since 1831

Their steaks come. She grabs the bottle of A1 and dumps a liberal portion on her steak....

He blows up at her saying something to the effect "You fool, if I knew you were going to ruin that steak I would have taken you to Ponderosa!" He made rather a huge fuss attracting the looks of other diners, but he didn't care...she ruined his precious steak!

So ladies, I ask you, how does the rest of evening play out? Here you are in a restaurant, your little overnight bag is packed with some special delicates and is out in his car in the parking lot, and he goes into a category 5 rage over you putting A1 on your steak.

She storms out of the restaurant. He lets her go. Details of how she got back home are unknown. He remains and finishes his dinner, PO'd about having to pay for a ruined steak, and goes home alone. 

Heart no longer pitter pattering, I asked him, didn't it bother you that you humiliated her in the restaurant? "No man, she ruined an expensive steak."

Didn't it bother you that your plans for what should have been a wonderful night went up in smoke? "After what she did to that steak, I didn't want to sleep with her." Except that is not exactly how he put it. Yeah, he used the f dash dash dash word. 

Oh good God! You are one sick bastard. I could not believe it. If that had been me, she could have dumped saw dust on the damned steak, what the hell do I care? I would have been floating on cloud nine with anticipation for what was ahead.   A steak? You blow this over a steak!  A f---ing steak!  I could have punched him. 

Full disclosure: I don't really care for steak. Its Ok if you smother it in A1, but to be honest, I would rather have a good hamburger. 

Epilogue: They did get back together. They have been sort of living together on and off for about 5 years. She wants to get married...he will have nothing to do with it. 

I don't know the woman, but if she was a friend...I would tell her to run. This guy ain't worth her. 

Happy Valentines Day. 

Image Credit:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hale To Kale

An Internet friend that suffers from MS sent me this video recently:

TEDxIowaCity - Dr. Terry Wahls - Minding Your Mitochondria

Above  is the link for this video at YouTube. 

The video is about a doctor, who stricken with multiple sclerosis, severely degraded while under the best state of the art care for MS.  She was afraid that she was about to become bed ridden, so she looked into diet changes and designed a diet for her brain.  Within 9 months she was out of her zero gravity chair and biking 18 miles.   

I have been extremely fortunate.  My multiple sclerosis was limited to two very nasty attacks back in December of 1984 and January 1985.  I have not had an attack since.  I still live with much damage from those two attacks, but otherwise have stabilized.  However, my fear at this juncture in my life is not MS, it is Alzheimers.  My mother and her brother both had severe cases.  Is there anything I can do to help protect myself from this disease?  Yeah I know crosswords, Sudoko, puzzles...perhaps.  I really don't believe that though.  Nor do I believe that simple exercise will solve it either.  Maybe there is nothing we can do.  But Dr. Wahls believes that eating more greens and what is known as a paleo diet can help us fight a variety of autoimmune diseases and neurological disorders.  Hey, so what the hell do I have to lose?  Try it.

Well I am going about this in baby steps.  I love my Kraft macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and pizza, so the question becomes can a nine year old (disguised in a 62 year old body) learn to eat like an adult caveman?  Well I can almost assure you when it comes to organ meats, nope!  Fish?  Nope!  Well how about range fed meat?  Nope!  Lady Sextant is a vegetarian--ergo by laziness--so am I.  But if I can replace the ton of breads, starches, grains, potatoes and dairy that I eat with greens and colors, it can't be a bad thing.  

So today I took my first baby step.  I bought some kale and ate it.  How was it?  Not bad.  I made a salad out of it and tried it with my various dressings.  Ranch won out.  It tastes like very mild flavored broccoli.  I really didn't know how to eat it so I Googled it.  In the process, I ran into this blog:

365 Days of Kale, How should I eat my kale, raw or cooked?

According to this blog, it is better to steam your kale.  It aids in the release of the nutrients to your digestive system.  Today I am a bachelor, Lady Sextant shall be returning this evening, so perhaps tomorrow I shall have steamed kale.  For today with my vast cooking skills, I thought I did pretty good with making a salad.  Unfortunately the damned ranch probably countered what ever good the kale provided, but let's take this in baby steps.  So far I am delighted to say that there has been no panicky runs to the bathroom and it has been several hours since I consumed my salad.  We shall see! 

Poking about YouTube I came across this series of talks regarding the paleo diet and multiple sclerosis

The Paleo Diet and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Part 1/7

There are 7 parts to this talk, the link is only for the first.  I haven't watched all 7 parts yet, but what I have seen looks very interesting in a wide variety ailments, not just MS.  

Finally Dr. Wahls has published a book:, Minding My Mitochondria 2nd Edition

The book is expensive, but if Dr Wahls' diet works for others like it did her, it could well be the best $40 that one can spend.  All I can say at this juncture is, kale certainly is not hard to eat.  I rather enjoyed my salad today.

Image Credit: