In a most intriguing episode of ESPN’s show, “Highly Questionable” in which Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones sit on either side of Le Batard’s father and respond to the questions sent in by viewers, there recently occurred a discussion of numerous tweets that have been sent by avid (rabid?) male sports fans to female reporters and journalists who are audacious enough to report on male sports. The tweets were disgusting and very disturbing — so much so that several of them couldn’t be read on air. The question before the group was what would drive those men to say those terrible things to those women? After a number of suggestions by both Batard and Jones the latter finally said: it’s simple, in this society we hate women [his emphasis]. I paraphrase here because I don’t have the episode near at hand, but this was the final point the Jones made and it is worth pondering.
Bomani’s comment would certainly explain why those men would say such awful things to those women. But that is a small sample (we would hope) and certainly doesn’t make a case for the truth of Jones’ comment. However, Jones’ claim would also help to explain such things as pornography and prostitution not to mention the singular lack of popularity of women’s sports and the disappointing popularity of such men as Donald Trump. Further, when we reflect on the nearly 5 million known cases of of domestic abuse each year in the U.S. alone, taken together with the undeniable fact that women have had to struggle throughout history against male dominance to assert their minimal claims to human rights, the case begins to take on a semblance of credibility.
It is even possible to explain the sudden burst of radical feminism not so many years ago on the grounds that those women themselves were filled with hatred not only of the males who dominate over them but, possibly, of themselves — perhaps as a result of a need to play a male role in order to succeed in a culture where women are chronically marginalized. This might well result in hatred not only of the role women are forced to play in a male-dominated culture, but even of the women themselves for being forced to appear to be what they are not. Clearly, it is impossible for someone who is not a trained psychologist to draw any hard and fast conclusions about what might be explained otherwise, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that a great many women in this culture mimic the men who dominate over them and may well hate themselves for it.
While it might be a stretch to insist that many women hate themselves, it is fairly clear that Bomani Jones might be correct in saying that men hate women in this culture, generally speaking. That is, those men who wrote those horrible things about those women were symptomatic of a deeper hatred among men generally toward the women who throughout their lives have assumed the role of authority figures — namely, mothers and teachers who, in the lower grades, are almost always women. These women have been telling men for years what they should and shouldn’t do and this may well explain why a certain amount of resentment would build up which might then result in hatred of women generally who stand between so many men and what they think they want.
Needless to say, I am engaged in borderline speculation here, but that’s what this blog is about: to raise interesting questions and generate thought. Bomani Jones is a bright and articulate man who makes many a good point in what is otherwise a silly TV show. In this case, what he had to say is well worth pondering, since it does explain a great many things that are hard to explain otherwise — including ugly tweets that twisted men direct toward women who have the audacity to report on male sports.
Hugh, I believe these men are scared of women when they threaten their authority. Domestic violence is about control. Knowing more about sports or having access to sports stars threatens these sports fanatics. Keith
Very good blog, Hugh! As you intended, it raises a lot of important questions from domestic abuse to women’s pay equity to society’s expectations of how women should look, act, think — now and historically. The offensive tweets directed at female broadcasters probably is closely connected to reasons why most women’s sports don’t get the same amount of TV coverage. Audiences are heavily male, and traditionally, we’ve seen mostly men broadcasters and male teams on TV. If there was to be a place for a woman broadcaster, it was to be relegated to sideline duty. Now, thankfully, more are moving into the broadcast booth, doing play-by-play or analysis and as more do. Some are very good, and the more opportunities they have, I’m sure there will be more very good ones. I don’t know that the male reaction to female broadcasters is hatred as much as it is stupidity and sexism (maybe that adds up to hatred, I suppose). Female sideline reporters are expected to be young and pretty, as if the networks are inviting the lecherous tweets and online comments. And God forbid they say more than one or two lines — make the male viewers think they are intelligent, more than just prettified, objectified images on their screen. (sex objects, in other words).
Our culture (and others, too) has always relegated women to second-class status, for decades denying most of them the chance for a college education, for the first 144 years of the nation’s history denying them the right to vote. Gender-pay studies show women are still poorly treated in comparison to men doing exactly the same job, with the same education and experience. And if a woman executive, or middle management or a coach tries to assert herself, be as aggressive as a male counterpart would be, well, of course we have labels for her. Nasty labels. We often say we admire such male leaders. It’s much harder for women leaders to get that kind of respect.
And the fact we even come close any more to tolerating domestic abuse is a national shame.
As far as feminist movements, I view them like the civil rights movement: I’ve never been in their place, so I can’t begin to say how activists should respond or why they do in the ways they dod. I can only say that after decades, centuries of mistreatment, discrimination and violence, the way they have been treated is wrong and there should be pushback for equal treatment.
We are in the midst of binge-watching the recent mini-series “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” a drama about the 1994-1995 crime and trial. It revisits the racial issues of that era, as it should, but one of the more compelling subplots and themes that is there in every episode is the treatment of women. From the repeated 911 calls over the year from O.J.’s ex-wife as he beat her — some of the beatings actually caught on tape, no charges ever filed — to Nicole Brown Simpson’s violent death. It’s also there in sundry ways in the depiction of the mental torment the prosecutor Marcia Clark must endure as the press, public and colleagues endlessly scrutinize the way she dresses, her hairstyles, her demeanor. (She had a reputation as a really tough prosecutor. You know what word quickly got used to describe her.) We only rarely subject a male lawyer to that kind of scrutiny over how they look or talk. (Johnnie Cochran is depicted as a clotheshorse with closets full of rotating racks of suits, shirts and ties, so, along with racial matters, he’s inviting the comments on how he dresses. But that’s a rarity.)
A lot of double-standards about how women are treated are exposed in that miniseries. They’re there. Just as they are in society today, and have been historically.
Thanks for the very thoughtful response!
I don’t think we hate women; I think that men fear and hate the ‘feminine’ which in the male’s world is synonymous with weak. Strong women who sacrifice ‘femininity’ are less threatening to men…Margaret Thatcher is a good example.
I’m not sure I follow your distinction between “women” and the “feminine.” Are you referring to the Jungian theory about the division in all our souls between the masculine and the feminine??
I think more to the differences between those two words as they were presented to me as a child. A woman is not a woman until she ‘gives’ herself as a wife and a Mother and takes her place in the home–she must volunteer to behave like property.
The old sitcom “Bewitched’ comes to mind: in this comedy the woman has all of the power but she must pretend to be powerless to please her husband’s need to experience himself as a man which means that he has the autonomy in their relationship.
Women who had careers had their place in the word but they were often stigmatized as ‘not women’…
In the same way that men who are ‘too sensitive’ are told to ‘man up’.
Men in certain parts of the world are still taught to equate the feminine with weakness and passivity.
They need women to be what they fear most and at time they seem to hate them for it.
Thanks. This helps to clear it up. It is an adaptation of the Jungian theory about the duality of human nature — the Yin and the Yang that must somehow find balance. The kind of thing you are talking about happens when the self is out of balance — as so many of us are. I do think it amounts to hate, however.
Some people are just haters. Can it be this simple? This is good writing that looks at both sides of the coin and has for sure given me some thought food. I wonder though if we will ever be able to define or explain why some people are just haters and they will find a reason to hate regardless of logic or reason.
I daresay that the hate defies logic and reason. And I also suspect that there are more haters out there than we would like to admit. This helps, in my view, to explain the astonishing (and disturbing) appeal of those, like Donald Trump, who wallow in hatred and fear.