PSA: We don’t need sparkles and Chardonnay. Team colors and beer is fine.
We never set out, when we decided to set up camp here, to make a feminist stand or take an intentionally female perspective on things. There are some brilliant blogs that do and we’re proud of the work they do, but it’s not what our goal was or is. We’re here to talk about baseball and our life experience colors our opinions, no doubt, but being away from the Bay Area and having an almost maniacal devotion to defensive baseball is as relevant (or probably even more so) as our gender.
That said, there has been a truly obnoxious confluence of events recently that has reached critical mass in such a way that I feel like I simply can’t not comment. This is a possibly once in a lifetime post, so bear with me and rest assured that we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled calls to DFA Aaron Rowand and keep Nate Schierholtz as soon as this post is through.
A couple of weeks ago, in the heart of that giddy and somewhat ridiculous excitement that Spring Training games really getting going brings, I was standing with a friend and a client at work waiting for someone else. Discussion turned to what our plans for the evening were and I said that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself, because it was one of those rare days in March with no game at all to listen to. The client, a woman not much older than me whom I don’t know particularly well and don’t normally work with, looked at me a bit askance and said something to the effect of “Wait, you actually like baseball? Like, legitimately and not because of some guy?” I don’t remember what I said in response, honestly, because I was so dumbfounded that in 2011 someone deemed that comment appropriate to make to someone she barely knew, but I imagine it was something to the effect of “Yup, actually like it, have pretty much my whole life”, and then I walked away. But hey, I live in the south (for the time being, I seriously I have a countdown clock running on my dashboard on my laptop), and the comment, while boggling, wasn’t meant maliciously.
Then the Victoria’s Secret/MLB cross-branding collection appeared, and I rolled my eyes so hard I got a nice view of my brain stem. The conception that for fan apparel to be palatable to girls and women it has to be either girlied up with pink and glitter (I refer you to this terrifying example courtesy of the fine folks at Balk About It) or sexied up with winking, twee, suggestive tag lines is a definite pet peeve. I appreciate acknowledging that there are women who are fans in the form of things like carrying women’s sizes in standard stuff like player t-shirts and jerseys, but how about we start by having a reasonably equal selection of not glittered or low cut or cutely sloganed merchandise before we move on to the niche stuff? Last time I was at the Dugout Store at AT&T there was a huge, awesome selection of former Giants t-shirts and jerseys in the men’s section with guys like Mays and McCovey and Cepeda and Bonds and Kent and Aurilia and, of course, J.T. Snow. I was initially really excited, because my various J.T. Snow shirts and jerseys have seen better days, given that most of them are in the neighborhood of ten years old. When I headed over to the women’s section, however, there was every current player imaginable but not a single former player. Not even legends like Mays. Not even local heroes and household names like Bonds. I bought a Matt Cain raglan and called it a day, but there was a voice in the back of my head that was really annoyed.
The last straw though was this tweet earlier today from MLB Fan Cave.
For those who aren’t aware, a Victoria’s Secret model was some sort of guest of honor for Opening Day with the guys over at the Fan Cave, which was greeted with some displeasure from any number of sources (and not just women, I had a handful of male friends and loved ones comment on it to me). Opening Day is a high holy day in the liturgy of baseball and I can agree with the idea that it’s offensive to baseball in general and not just women that a random Victoria’s Secret model (who I bear no ill will towards, just to be clear) was brought in as a guest for this most important of days in spring. The reason I say that the tweet above was the last straw, though, is that it’s so intentional. Clueless sexism is reason for a gentle nudge in the direction of more appropriate behavior. Using a trending topic hashtag as a way to respond to said clueless sexism is just beyond the pale. I would have preferred no response at all to that. The belittling of people’s concerns is never cool, no matter how cute you may try to make it or how many times you try to say “oh it’s just a game!”
It’s really not that complicated. Acknowledge female fans exist, show a little bit of respect for that, and don’t pander to the cleat chasers and we’ll all get along just fine.
I write all of this not to cry “oh poor me”, but to point out that there is still, unfortunately, work to be done for the baseball world at large to get their acts together a bit on this topic. Honestly, I forget this a lot of the time, because the people that I’ve dealt with personally have for the most part been so great and so, frankly, unconcerned by gender on either side, but I guess that means the Giants bloggers are above averagely lovely people. That’s not something I have difficulty believing, but it does make me grateful that as much as I can complain about the larger and more universal implications of some of this, I have the luxury of slinking back into my own little corner of the world with the people I can like and respect and trade dumb jokes and stat rants with in turn. Maybe that’s the easy way out, maybe I should be more vocal and do more to help the women who aren’t lucky enough to have the kind of colleagues to commune with that I do, but baseball is a game, it’s supposed to be fun, and for the moment I’m just glad I can sit back and enjoy watching the team I’ve loved for years defend their World Series title.