26 March 2013
For four years now I’ve been a old-fashioned fangirl for Brittney Griner, the basketball standout at Baylor University. And this year I have something kind of amazing to hope for: that she might beat the all-time women’s college basketball scoring record, which has been locked up for twelve years. Griner’s currently holding at #2 as Baylor makes its way through the women’s college basketball version of March madness. If Baylor keeps winning, and if Griner keeps having these amazing scoring nights, she might just beat it.
In 2001 the amazing Jackie Stiles of Southwest Missouri State finished her senior year with a grand total of 3,393 points — blowing away the previous record (Patricia Hoskins of Mississippi Valley State, who had ended her senior year with 3,122 points twelve years earlier). Stiles’ record is all the more impressive because she was a full foot shorter than Griner — at 5’8″, Stiles is the shortest of the 8 women to score over 3,000 points in their college careers.
For Griner to beat Stiles’ record is almost impossible: she needs to score 157 more points, and at best Baylor has only 5 more games left in the tournament. That works out to, on average, about 31 points per game. Whew — 31 points per game. Criminey.
Almost impossible. Or is it?
Don’t you want to know whether she can do it? I do.
So why dontcha watch with me? Baylor is matched up tonight against #8 Florida State — 10pm EST. Let’s follow this one into history.
[By the way: a previous version of this post got the numbers wrong (hey, I wasn't a math major) -- I had thought she had only 4 more games, and hence had to score 40 points per. Correction made!]
Those of you who’ve been following my Griner obsession know that one of the things I find most fascinating is the way she up-ends typical gender expectations. Like when she won the ESPN Female Athlete of the Year award and wore that awesome suit. Or when I wrote about the crazy list of search terms people used to find stories about her on this blog.
(I still get those crazy searches, BTW — every single day. But lately I’ve been extra pleased to see that people are misspelling her last name slightly — they’ve been calling her Brittney Grinder. Which gives me no end of happiness to think that they’re also ending up at Grindr, and that they’re getting a little bit of an education in social networking. [Happy.]
Oh yeah, and this:
22 March 2013
16 March 2013
Here’s what I’d like to see.
Washington, D. C., 12:55pm:
Within hours of Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announcing that he had reversed his position on gay marriage after his own son came out of the closet, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a press conference announcing a new stance on abortion.
“During my career in Texas and my first coupla months here in the Senate, I’ve taken a position against abortion, rooted in part in my faith and my faith tradition, and also because the ladies can be selfish and irresponsible,” Cruz began. A senator known for his extreme far-right views (called by some of his GOP colleagues to be “wacko, but in a good way”), Cruz stunned his own caucus with his revelation:
I listened to my colleague talk about his change of heart after learning that his own son was gay, and I was very moved by his Christian love for his child. I’m sure we were all moved.
But then I thought, why is it that so many of my colleagues only change their minds about social issues when it strikes their own family?
So I began reading about the issue of abortion and realized that approximately 1/3 of all American women have had abortions in their lifetimes, and that 1 out of 5 women is raped in her lifetime. I read about families destroyed when a woman died during pregnancy because she felt morally obligated to carry the child. And I realized the simple contradiction between my firm belief in smaller government, and my insistence on monitoring women’s bodies regarding abortion and birth control.
Thus, I change my position today not because someone in my family needs an abortion, but because my entire position was wrong and morally inconsistent with my own political values in this great nation.
Well, you can’t blame me for wishing, right?
Don’t get me wrong: it’s great Portman changed his mind. But dammit, why do they only change position when suddenly their own family has a need? I’m sorry, folks, but this should not be how policy works.
15 March 2013
I’m working my ass off here, folks — so let me ask how it’s possible I only just discovered this awesome comic? Why aren’t my readers turning me on to brilliance like this?
I’m going to spend the whole weekend catching up on all the issues. And y’know what? I’m going to call it “research.”
8 March 2013
The VIDA count is out — and yet again, men authored 70% of the pieces in highly-respected literary publications.
Produced by an organization dedicated to encouraging women’s equal representation in the literary arts, this annual statistical breakdown traces the bylines in a number of publications (including the Times Literary Supplement, The Atlantic Magazine, and The Nation) and within several categories.
Congratulations are hereby offered to The Boston Review, and Poetry Magazine for getting close to equity, and to Tin House for realizing it. But then there are the rest, including a number of magazines I actually subscribe to:
A few years ago one of my favorite NPR programs, On The Media, did some soul searching on its own gender breakdown — when they ask experts to opine on questions, do they find a relatively equal number of male and female experts? The answer was a resounding no. I’ve long wondered whether they ever followed up on that question to see whether they’d changed their ways.
And yet these stats will likely produce little change. Someone out there is going to argue that men are better writers than women, or that male readers want to read male writers, or that men write about things that are awesome for everyone … of whatever. Jeez, it’s 10:30am and I’m already bone tired.
22 February 2013
Well count me intrigued. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has written a book that seeks to foster a widespread conversation about the problem of the glass ceiling — and thereby develop a grassroots movement to change it.
Her book, Lean In, will be released March 11. Wonder if I can get a review copy?
The NYT article about it is skeptical; it ponders whether Sandberg places too much emphasis on women’s own stutter-steps and self-actualization rather than on the multiple institutional reasons women fall behind in pay and promotions. All the more interesting.
20 February 2013
A few semesters ago a student earnestly assured me that women earn less in today’s America (famously, about $.76 to every man’s $1) because they have less ambition. As exasperating as such claims are, I had no comeback — until now.
An article in the Atlantic offers a range of studies debunking the notion that women are shrinking violets in their jobs. They ask for raises at roughly the same rates as men; they negotiate at roughly the same rates; they ask for promotions. Moreover, “among MBA grads on a traditional career track, women are even more likely than men to seek out skill-building experiences and training opportunities and to make their achievements visible by asking for feedback and promotions.”
Women ask; they negotiate; they display ambition. They just don’t receive those raises and promotions.
Who to blame?
Maybe, the managers. One study told 184 managers that they would have a limited pot of money to hand out in raises to employees with identical skills and responsibilities. The managers that were told they’d have to negotiate gave men two-and-a-half times the amount in raises that they gave to women before anyone sat down. This meant that the men didn’t even need to negotiate for higher pay, while women were already at a disadvantage when they tried to bargain up, because the rest of the money was assigned to their male peers.
Honestly — it makes me want to negotiate my salary right now. And then get myself in a position to correct these inequities.
15 February 2013
There’s nothing to like about this film. It’s Pygmalion/ My Fair Lady without an actual woman.
Ruby Sparks ought to appeal to me simply by virtue of its female co-director Valerie Faris and screenwriter Zoe Kazan. So why did these people waste our time with a story about such a despicable protagonist, a man so incapable of dealing with real women that he invents one?
Honestly, this is the most offensive Manic Pixie Dream Girl story ever.
You’ll remember that in Shaw’s Pygmalion, Professor Henry Higgins brags that he can transform any woman, no matter how low-born, into a lady — why, he can achieve this so perfectly that a Cockney flower girl will pass as a duchess among the aristocracy; in the process, the misogynist Higgins learns by the end he has only given Eliza a new degree of independence. It’s not the most feminist tale out there, but Shaw didn’t let Higgins off the hook when it came to his cluelessness about women.
Not so with Ruby Sparks. Writer Kazan has given her protagonist Calvin (Paul Dano) all the power. A 20-something wünderkind whose first novel ranks just below The Catcher in the Rye (so plausible!), Calvin is hopeless in relationships, as his brother (Chris Messina) artlessly reveals within the first few minutes. Rattling around in the grand Los Angeles mansion he owns, our writer/protagonist is also blocked, a problem his therapist (Elliott Gould) seeks to help resolve. The therapist believes Calvin’s writer’s block results from a deep level of self-loathing; he urges him to find ways to imagine being loved for who he is.
So far, so good, right? Sure enough, Calvin starts to write about the woman he’s been dreaming about — a dreamy, sunshine-y, backlit vision of a woman. In his dreams, they engage in light conversation — talk that only a 26-yr-old man might believe was interesting, but who cares — it’s a dream, right? Meanwhile, he attacks his typewriter (yes, a typewriter) with new energy during his waking hours and produces pages and pages about this dream woman, whom he names Ruby.
And then she becomes real. If you consider the wide-eyed, baby-doll dress-wearing Ruby (Kazan) to be real. But hey, I was willing to roll with it.
She’s real, she’s adorable, and she’s exactly what Calvin wrote about her in his now-growing novelette about his dream woman. She walks around the house in her underpants, covered up with one of Calvin’s button-downs. At other times she wears perky purple tights, all the while looking approximately 14 yrs old. Or perhaps a little bit like one of those life-sized, open-mouthed sex dolls. What is she? Is she really the product of Calvin’s imagination? To test it, he pounds out a sentence on his typewriter — that Ruby will speak only in French — and sure enough, elle parle la français parfaitement. His brother delightedly begs him to do a favor for men worldwide by making her into a sex slave. Ha ha!
Even better, she passes all the tests — Calvin’s snarky brother likes her, his parents like her. The happy couple has one of those montages in which she do cute things to a soundtrack. Calvin likes who he is with her.
But gradually — inevitably — their relationship becomes something more than happy beach montages. And she starts to get more real. She has desires of her own — to get out of the house, to do things without him. Calvin retreats more into his study where he replicates the self-loathing, relationship-destroying behavior that pushed away those other women.
So he tries to rewrite her, to adjust her behavior.
Ruby Sparks wants us to think about the unsettling nature of such a male fantasy — a Manic Pixie Dream Girl that a dude can manipulate like a puppeteer — but it doesn’t want us to think too hard. This is more like the stoner version, which begins with, “Wouldn’t it be great to have an awesome, uncritical girlfriend who did whatever I wanted?” and ends with, “Whoa, maybe it wouldn’t be so great after all.” We are supposed to believe that Calvin learns something from this experience; that he deepens as a man. We are supposed to like him through all this, to believe he’s both capable and deserving of a happy relationship.
This was not my experience.
My own opinion is that Calvin is a miserable, rich piece of shit whose narcissism is not charming, fixable, or funny to watch (in fact, by the end of the film I’d come to hate Paul Dano). In this the film succeeded too well — its disturbing dénouement makes him all the more despicable. And to spoil the ending (not that you should see this film anyway), the story actually rewards Calvin. Not only does he transform his experience with Ruby into yet another bestselling novel — writer’s block cured! — but on a walk through the park with his dog, he meets-cute a Ruby lookalike (Kazan again) – and gets to start all over again!
So in case the message isn’t clear already: for all you self-centered men out there who can’t seem to sustain relationships, don’t worry! This film will not question your right to end up with adoring, baby-doll dress-wearing Dream Girls — far from it. In fact, it argues that these Girls are serially available in identical models!
Yay for feminism!
Now, back to my own regularly-scheduled fantasy: that I stab Calvin in the head with a knife over and over and over.
Not long into the BCS National Championship game between the University of Alabama and Notre Dame the camera cut to a view of the stands, where the Alabama quarterback’s girlfriend was standing with his family. Katherine Webb is a very pretty girl, obviously. She is Miss Alabama. “You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women,” commentator Brent Musberger said. And the camera just kept lingering lasciviously.
The camera lingered on Webb long enough to creep all of us out, and Musberger took just way too much time telling viewers to go out and practice their throws (to get good-looking women like this) — all so much that audiences audibly gagged and ESPN offered an apology.
But that doesn’t stop the Post from doubling down on the creep, does it? Even as it also reports another athlete’s alleged sexual assault. And rape culture continues.
11 December 2012
There are those days when a video about an amazing girl football star stops me in my tracks. Really. Just watch.
(Guess how my grading is coming along?)