Lee’s writing about punitive liberalism, and to call it a though-provoking post is to put it very mildly.
My immediate reaction was “fuck you, too, buddy” and so, clearly, the post touched a nerve. Since one cannot regularly run around shouting, “fuck you, too, buddy” to a person she likes and generally finds smart and thoughtful, I’ve decided to work through my defensiveness here.
I hope you don’t mind, Lee. I’m sorry that I briefly wanted to kick your teeth in.
Lee starts out thusly–
I’ve read many conservatives, and some liberals, lament that sometime in the late 60’s and early 70’s that liberalism went from the breed of Roosevelt, Truman, and John Kennedy, to a punitive liberalism. Anti-Americanism, a focus on identity groups, victimhoods, and other such ideas took a healthy political philosophy and twisted it into something angry and almost vengeful.
So, immediately, one wonders what happened during that time period that might be construed as a change in liberalism. The “anti-Americanism” stuff sounds like the anti-Vietnam folks. “Identity groups” might be the civil rights movements of Blacks, Indians, Chicanos and other ethnic groups. But the sneaking suspicion I get immediately is that somehow this is going to be about how the uppity cootered folks fucked up things for everyone and about how angry we are and how we hate men.
Once we get to “At one point in the night, a conversation I was in with a bunch of girls, only one or two whom I recognized, turned to gender issues, and specifically to Title IX,” I realize I’ve guessed right.
So, Lee goes on and tells this sad story about how Title IX hurts men, how the women he’s talking to about it don’t care, and then he tells the sad story of his friend Kelly who’s getting screwed by Title IX and how one girl he’s talking to says, “After years of how women were treated in athletics I think it’s about time men got the same treatment” and Lee, rather than saying something like, “Fuck you, bitch” turns and walks away.
Needless to say, my initial reaction to this post was to be pissed and annoyed. Yeah, really, tough shit that now some men have to suffer what we’ve been suffering for years. Cry me a river, male athletes.
But then I got to thinking that there’s a way in which this goes back to our talk about how white power is set up. Powerless white people are encouraged to be the ground troops of racism, even though white people with power aren’t ever going to let powerless white people share power if they can help it. Powerless white people do all the dirty work of racism while receiving very little of the benefits of it.
So, yeah, when I first read Lee’s piece, my reaction was “How fucking long are we supposed to wait? Do we only get to participate when it doesn’t cost the men anything?” I was angry at a dude who’s been hurt by a system that regularly hurts me. That’s fucked up.
Folks, let’s look at what Lee says here–
Having been a high school wrestler I complained how Title IX, which among other laudable intentions, allowed more girls to compete in school sports, was now being misinterpreted and leading to universities slashing male programs to comply to court orders of so-called equality. Football, often the only revenue generating collegiate sport at a school, requires so many male scholarships that other male sports suffer. Wrestling, which does not have a female counterpart, is often first on the chopping block.
Let’s leave aside whether Title IX is being misinterpreted or just finally properly interpreted. Let’s instead focus on the fact that this is a system in which there are some folks with power–people associated with college football–who would stand to lose under certain interpretations of Title IX. A university could, for instance, look at Title IX and look at the number of scholarships for men that they have and evenly distribute them across all programs, rather than bunching them all up in football and/or basketball. Why does football “require” so many male scholarships?
Shoot, folks, dare I even ask this? But if football is a revenue generator, why does it require any scholarships at all? Football, as Lee notes, isn’t really a collegiate sport in the way that other sports are. Couldn’t we just collectively decide to remove football from the equation when handing out scholarships? Let college football programs pay football players as goodwill ambassadors for the university (or some other title that reflects the truth that they are professional athletes) and leave the scholarships for kids who are actually scholars.
Well, anyway, it doesn’t matter what we do about football. The point is that the obvious solution to the kinds of Title IX nonsense that Lee documents have to do with taking a realistic look at the role of football programs at universities. However, since football is a huge cash cow, the odds of us doing that are slim.
They’re even slimmer when we’re busy playing “your little ‘play fair’ program hurts people I know/tough shit for the people you know; your ways of playing unfair hurt us.” And, I have to say, I suspect that that’s the point. Use Title IX to hurt men, knowing those men will complain to or within earshot of women, who, because they don’t want to lose the scholarships they have, get defensive and angry at the men who are already hurt and so on.
We’re so busy yanking each other’s chains we don’t ask why the system in place can’t be changed to benefit all of us.
And, obviously, from my reaction to Lee, it’s pretty effective.