Sunday, June 28, 2009

An interesting play on gender by Maureen Dowd

Here's an excerpt (emphasis mine) from today's column, which is all about the two faces of Mark Sanford:

As in all great affairs, Mark Sanford fell in love simultaneously with a woman and himself — with the dashing new version of himself he saw in her molten eyes.

In a weepy, gothic unraveling, the South Carolina governor gave a press conference illustrating how smitten he was, not only with his Argentine amante, but with his own tenderness, his own pathos and his own feminine side.

He got into trouble as a man and tried to get out as a woman.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Interesting focus on Jenny Sanford, compared to other political wives who've suffered a similar fate

I found Monica Davey's report in the New York Times of interest. Here's a nice quote:
To one reporter who wondered what might come of Mr. Sanford’s political career, Mrs. Sanford answered sharply: “His career is not a concern of mine. He’s going to have to worry about that. I’m worried about my family and the character of my children.”
Another story in the Times, this one by Leslie Kauffman, contrasts Jenny Sanford with Silda Wall Spitzer and Dina Matos McGreevey, wives of other recently unfaithful (now former) governors. Here's an excerpt:
Jenny Sanford, the first lady of South Carolina, left her husband alone to burble at length about his yearlong affair with a woman from Argentina. Instead Mrs. Sanford released a statement that was hard hitting and to the point: she said she wanted her marriage to continue but demanded nothing less, as her price, than her husband’s “repentance.” On Friday, she told reporters she had known of the affair since January but had waited for her children’s school year to end before separating from him.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Are rural girls more interested in sports than their urban counterparts?

That is the implicit suggestion of a couple of articles in the New York Times earlier this week. The headlines are, "A City Team's Struggle Shows Disparity in Girls' Sports" and "Using Teamwork to Bring Girls into the Game." Both are by Katie Thomas.

As someone who thinks a lot about rurality and rural-urban difference, I was struck by the fact that this two-part series was explicitly labeled "urban" and "city" at different points, including in one of the headlines. While one might argue that this evinces an urban bias in reporting (i.e., more urban news, features are published than those about rural places), at least there is a certain fairness or accuracy in labeling in the sense that the story doesn't purport to be universal, while actually being urban focused. It is what it says it is--a two-part series about the struggle to engage girls in sports in urban settings. As such, it may also use these modifiers to differentiate the places featured not only from the rural, but also from the suburban.

Here's a representative excerpt about the story:
MetroLacrosse, which serves 600 children, is one of several Boston sports groups that are aggressively trying to increase girls’ participation. The city is at the vanguard of a movement to close the gender gap in urban areas by rethinking traditional activities and looking for new ways to encourage girls to play.
Whether the "urban" modifier is intended to differentiate from rural, suburban or both, these two stories got me to thinking some more about my own rural upbringing and the role of sports for girls in that setting. I've often whined that, as a not-very-athletic girl (and indeed, a rather bookish one), I was sorta' "second class" in my rural junior high and high school. Even though I went on to be a cheerleader (feminist legal theory students and alums are gasping, I assume, at this revelation), we cheerleaders knew we occupied a lower rung on the social ladder than the female athletes. In the tiny school from which I graduated, those athletes were all basketball players--the only inter-school sport for grades 7-12 at that time.

So, in my experience, rural "girls" were quite interested in sports (and in some ways rewarded for that interest)--much more, apparently, than the urban girls in the northeast who are the focus of Thomas' reports. Why might that be? Is it that being raised in the country--sometimes on a farm, doing farm chores--makes girls more comfortable with physical activity? Many rural and small-town schools are characterized by a dearth of extracurricular and after-school programs in rural places, as well as long school bus rides home. Maybe it is because there is so little else for rural teens to do--whether in or out of school-- that sports are a more attractive diversion for girls as well as boys.

Of course, just because rural girls are interested in sports doesn't mean they attract as much attention as boys for participating, or even excelling. Townsfolk in my community always followed boys teams more closely than girls teams. Indeed, only in about 1980 did girls basketball teams go from playing 3-on-3 half court to playing full-court 5-on-5. And that took litigation.

I'm a little disappointed ...

about this news of Sotomayor's withdrawal from the Belizean Grove--no surprise given my last post. I do understand her desire not to have the membership distract from her credentials. Certainly, I remain a strong supporter of Sotomayor's nomination. She's a star!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sotomayor's membership in all-female Belizean Grove ...

I see from today's headlines that this is creating some controversy for the Supreme Court nominee, but I think it's terrific! I'm glad Sotomayor saw the benefit of networking with women. I think it speaks well for her, although I must say that reading a partial list of the group's members (e.g., "ambassadors and top executives of Goldman Sachs, Victoria’s Secret and Harley-Davidson") was a reminder of the extraordinary elitism of such groups, be they male or female. Are we destined to network within our "class," even if across racial, ethnic, and sometimes gender lines?

Read a report by Charlie Savage and David D. Kirkpatrick in the New York Times here.