I get quite a bit of surprised responses when folks find out that I'm an avid sports fan. An incredulous "You really know your shit," says someone, or maybe, more derisively, "Where did that come from?" Or else, I get a well-meaning affirmation that I'll make some guy very lucky (presumably because the guy will get to share his presumed sports fandom with his girlfriend).
These are the reactions that come from folks who simply don't expect females to know much about sports. But there's another kind of surprised response that I get from progressive friends who don't buy into sports and, especially, sports culture. They will point out that the sports world is saturated with macho posturing. It frequently excuses the bad behavior of its heroes; it celebrates brute force; it's history is poisoned by cheating and drug-use; and it is often actively and explicitly hostile to women.How, these friends wonder, can I get into it? How could I possibly reconcile my feminism with it?Well, folks, I do, and quite passionately so. (Though of course I have my eyes wide open; it is because of my love of sports that I intend to not ever justify the worst of it).Why that love? Consider ...
Yesterday, my bf emailed me an article from the consistently obnoxious and terrible men's site askmen.com. Apparently, the hard-hitting journalists working over there were interested in determining the Most Influential Man of 2009, and the winner (chosen through a reader poll) was Mad Men's fictional philanderer Don Draper. You know, because television characters should really be the most influential people in our lives.
At any rate, my beau found the news of Draper winning this award even more ridiculous and upsetting than I did, so I asked him to write a brief response to the article from The Male Perspective. Read it after the jump!
He's taken the role of "ladies man" to new levels on How I Met Your Mother, played himself as a child actor turned mega-douche in the Harold & Kumar movies, and even used his rep for machismo to shill Old Spice.
So why should feminists be crushing? Because he's redefining the way masculinity is portrayed in pop culture.
From the machismo of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone to Woody Allen's nebbishes and the teenage fantasies of the Porky's and American Pie franchises, manhood in all its flavors is a staple of the silver screen. Writer-director Wes Anderson is clearly fascinated by the subject too, yet over the course of his four films he has turned his lens on one specific aspect of masculinity: the balance between boyish and manly behavior necessary for the health of not only the individual male but also the culture he embodies.
A few reviewers have acknowledged this by mentioning, if only in passing, Anderson's penchant for father-son or mentor-protégé relationships, and Anderson himself has confirmed it. In a 2001 Los Angeles Times interview, he credited director James L. Brooks—who helped him find the funding to turn a short film into his 1996 debut feature, Bottle Rocket—with inspiring his filmic exploration of mentors. Each of Anderson's four features involves a relationship between a young man and either his father or a man who is old enough to be his father: wannabe thief Dignan and crime boss Mr. Henry in Bottle Rocket; 10th-grader Max Fischer and his industrialist friend/rival Mr. Blume in 1998's Rushmore; favored child Richie Tenenbaum and his irresponsible father Royal in 2001's The Royal Tenenbaums; and airline pilot Ned Plimpton and the titular marine-life documentarian he suspects is his father in 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Those simplified labels, however, are inadequate to describe the mutual give-and-take of the pairs.