Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chantelle Anderson: Using "Lesbian" as Ju-Jitsu

There's an article by Chantelle Anderson at Yardbarker called "Why Men Hate Lesbians...." and I hope it will start a run of provocative articles written by WNBA players. Anderson is clearly marking her territory as an intelligent commentator and I hope it continues.

I didn't have much of a comment on the article, but the jist of it is that if (obstensibly) straight men like gay women as sexual fantasy figures, then why is "lesbian" the slur of choice by the red-bellied woodpeckers (RBWs) when applied to women's basketball players?

Anderson, in effect, has engaged in a form of verbal ju-jitsu. The short version of her article is "I claim that you men who knock the WNBA for its players being lesbian hate all lesbians. Prove otherwise."

This puts the RBWs in a bind. There are only three rational responses.

a) "Yes, I hate all lesbians." That makes the detractors homophobes and the detractor find himself becoming the outcast. Those who hate the WNBA become hate-filled imbeciles on the same level as racists.

b) "No, I don't hate all lesbians. I just hate unattractive lesbians." This answer is worse than a). It implies that the RBW who chooses b) as his answer is not merely a homophobe, but a hypocrite as well. He hates all lesbians, but makes an exception if they meet his sexual fantasy needs - in short, he hates except in cases where hatred would cause him inconvenience. At least out-and-out homophobes can claim consistency as one of their few virtues.

c) "Your claim is false. My hatred of the WNBA has nothing to do with lesbians, but is due to other reasons." In which case, those who propose c) as their reason are forced to resort to rationality instead of intimidation. For most of these RBWs, resorting to rationality is a disadvantage for them - they're just not very good at it.

The entertainment to be gained from people who claim c) comes from the fact that a supposedly rational person pretends to make a plausible claim to "hate" a sport. Chantelle Anderson's Yardbarker post promises not only present-moment entertainment in the comments sections but entertainment for many years to come. Her post was an act of ju-jitsu that Ultimate Fighting would be hard to match.


Ethan said...

I read the blog post, such as it was, and X amount of the comments, and I think the "lesbian" thing is really meant to marginalize the sport/players, similar to soccer being dismissed as "gay."

The presence of actual lesbians in the stands or on the court is immaterial. Competitive jump-rope (yes it exists) is waved off as "gay". It's shorthand for "this defies my preconceived ideas about what is a sport and/or who should be playing it, so I'll dismiss it quickly and stick my head back into the sand."

I also think male sub-culture is loaded with aggressive put-downs as a challenge to the recipient to hit back. If you don't hit back you're a wuss (keeping it clean), if you do, you're respected. If Candace Parker dunked over Kobe Bryant she'd still be dismissed for being female, but if you listen to actual male ballers they do respect the women's game. And not because their coach made them say nice things.

pt said...

Ethan, definitely true that the "gayness" has a modern meaning of "defies my preconceived notions". I think the strength of CA's post is that it takes the claims of those guys at face value and simply demands that they elaborate on what they mean by "gayness". Ju-jitsu's strength as a martial art was always taking the opponent's willingness to strike and turning it into a weakness.

As for the agressive nature of put-downs, once again, "ju-jitsu". One way to strike back at an opponent is to point out his own foolishness.

Male A: "Hey, faggot!"
Male B: "So you're an expert on homosexuality? Pray tell, how did you gain such expertise? Personal experience? Or is the crew you hang out with composed of homosexuals?"

The funny part is that B isn't even insulting A, if you think about it, but the answer is a great comeback.

Of course, this works better on a messageboard than in a crowded bar. I'm reminded of Robert Heinlein's rebuttal to the Bibilical injuction - believed by the machos - that it was better to be a dead lion than a live dog. To which Heinlein replied, "who says I can't be a *live* lion?"