2017-01-06 / Commentary

Banning Sexism, Sort of

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation
Mike Cox

Major League Baseball has decided to outlaw certain hazing practices in professional clubhouses. Making them dress up as women is now forbidden. I don’t mean regular women but Hooter’s servers and cheerleaders. Evidently the MLB powers that be consider orange hot pants and pom poms to be demeaning to women. But only if worn by men.

Our country continues to do puzzling things when attempting to right wrongs from centuries past. America is a melting pot of people; religions, social structure, and ancient perceived history all influence personal beliefs. We are forced by our backgrounds to dish up a gumbo of Puritan morality, Victorian permissiveness, and modern sensibilities, seasoned with a revisionists’ historical perspective. This can cause confusion.

For some reason, anything related to beauty is subject to scorn in this modern American world. We’ve decided as a people that referencing a woman’s looks is demeaning. Not sure when, how, and why that happened, but it did.

Except part of the people involved don’t accept that version. Many women still like to be told they are pretty. So men must walk a careful path. I slipped up recently and mentioned to a friend I hadn’t seen in a while that she sure looked great.

I quickly apologized for the possible affront to her womanhood. She laughed my apology off and told me she appreciated the compliment. I breathed a sigh of relief but was puzzled. How do we tell anymore?

During a discussion about the MLB hazing ban on one of the thousands of sports talk programs that litter weekday afternoon ESPN television space like plastic in the Pacific, an old white sportswriter referenced a Texas couple he knew and mentioned the wife was a former beauty queen.

He was immediately and savagely reprimanded for daring to bring up any reference to beauty on a sports program, as if the woman’s accomplishments pertaining to her looks were not only immaterial but offensive. I’m led to believe beauty contests, cheerleaders, and Hooters girls are okay for women but unacceptable for discussion among men.

A few days later, just to confuse things even more, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw disparaged current Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin by calling him a cheerleader type, rather than an accomplished NFL coach.

I thought the remark was racist in nature; the former player not giving credit to the minority coach who has done pretty impressive things in his ten year tenure. But most critics are criticizing Bradshaw for ignoring Tomlin’s success or focusing on the cheerleader content. Shows you what I know about what offends people.

One thing I do know, we worry way too much about symbols and words and perceived ideas, rather than real substantive bigotry. One would think that if being a Hooters girl or a beauty queen is so horrendous, we’d have long ago shut down all those restaurants and stopped televising Miss America.

As far as beauty is concerned, I’ll stop being influenced by female beauty when TV characters start looking like real people and the Today Show features subject experts who don’t look like fashion models.

And Hardees commercials feature models who look like they really eat at Hardees.

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