this week in sexism, or why feminism still matters

In celebration of African American history month, thousands of Texas schoolchildren attended a screening of the film "Red Tails," about the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first black aviators to serve in the US military. Well, thousands of boys did, anyway. Girls were brought to a screening of "Akeelah and the Bee," about an 11-year-old girl who competes in a national spelling bee. A spokesperson for the Dallas Independent School District said the arrangement was made because seating at "Red Tails" was limited, and they thought boys would enjoy the movie more than girls.

Reporters caught up with one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, a 94-year-old gentleman named Herbert Carter, for his thoughts on this boys-only screening. Turns out that Herbert Carter's late wife Mildred Carter was also an aviator, and the first black woman to hold a pilot's license in Alabama. Mildred, who died not long ago, wasn't allowed to fly for the military. Good things times have changed. But not too much. When told about the slight to Texas girls, Herbert Carter was "almost speechless".

Read more here.

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Although the sports world itself has made huge strides against sexism, the world of sports advertising and marketing seems stuck in a Cosmo magazine. A company promoting fantasy baseball - a game where you create your a fictional team from exisiting players, and use real-time stats to match them against other fictional teams - feels female players require a different type of fantasy. This excellent post by Craig Calcaterra explains it so much better than I can.
But a company called A View From My Seat – “In cooperation with CBS Sports Interactive” according to their website — has decided that the reason women don’t play fantasy baseball is because there isn’t enough romance in it. So they’ve decided to change that. By allowing girls — and they specifically say “girls” — to choose their “Baseball Boyfriend”. . . .

The website asks “girls” to go through their “little black book” and pick the handsomest player. Oh, I’m sorry, it asks you to “choose your stud.” How long have you kept a player on your roster? No: it’s “how long you’ve dated him.” If “one man is not enough” it encourages you to play in multiple leagues. The pics from the site have little hearts and stuff around pictures of, um, handsome players like Lance Berkman and Matt Cain. . . .

Guess what: women like baseball. They watch a lot of it. They write about it. They are, increasingly, executives in the game. Every fantasy league I’ve ever played in has had women in it, and they invariably beat the crap out of me (not that that’s hard). Are the numbers where we’d like them? No, because ideally everyone on the planet is doing basebally things. But the disparity between male and female fans is not because baseball is too hard for “girls” to understand or two manly for them to enjoy.

I get what they’re trying to do here. They want to expand the number of people who click where they’d like them to click and are trying a unique approach to get there. But there are certainly better ways to do so than by misguidedly attempting to girly-fy fantasy baseball or to dumb it down. Women do not need to be treated like love-struck teenagers to be drawn in.
This post made me click around to read more by the same writer, and he's a great find.

It's worth reading: Great Moments in Sexism: Who’s your “Baseball Boyfriend?”

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