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Vulgar Opinions: Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski Spurns Women, Backtracks

11/25/13

There’s no real need for an intro  (I am however going to fix the grammar and blend together three tweets (that were meant to go together) into one quote):

“Good http://SI.com  piece on women in sports media from @richarddeitsch. Check out question No. 7. [Why have we not seen a woman calling play-by-play full-time in the NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL?]  For me, women calling games isn’t about skill [or] knowledge, [because] there are women who can talk circles around current, terrible men [play-by-play announcers], but [they] play a role. Women’s play-by-play voices on NFL/NHL changes [the] viewing experience for me. Personal preference. (Doesn’t apply to analysts).”

The quote was then followed up with what is really a tremendous amount of backtracking:

“[Play-by'play] is a role, [and] male voice better fills it, for me, for now. Open-minded about it. I wanna see woman Doctor Who. And Angelina Jolie as Bond.”

“As @chiparm notes, a lot of [male] [play-by-play announcers] don’t have that voice either. I could die a happy man if I never hear Ian Eagle call another NFL game.”

@tcita You’re confusing analysis w/ narration. I’d love for women to crack analyst role in sports. But the real Old Boys Club is in studio”

@tcita I apologize if there was confusion here, but I was never arguing women shouldn’t get a shot on PbP. Just my preference.”

@Esbee92 @circlesky66 Really baffled by this confusion between “I prefer a male voice” to “never hire a woman.” These are interchangeable?”

@theycallmedubs “I would rather listen to a male voice in that role, but I’m open minded about it” Let me narrow down your generalization.”

@theycallmedubs That said, kudos for being the first to call me a misogynist. Should have taken the under on that bet.”

@theycallmedubs Check my feed. 140 characters doesn’t really allow for the details in a single tweet sometimes.”

Wyshynski’s error was twofold.  First he did an awful job at articulating what I assume was supposed to be his actual meaning, that he hasn’t yet found a female play-by-play announcer that he likes.  Unfortunately, what he said was that he does not like women play by play announcers because they are women.  Second, he failed to understand that neutrality on the issue (or open-mindedness) as he calls it, is reinforcing a status quo that is currently unequal.  He’s saying he’s open to change if it satisfies his undefined criteria of what a makes a good female play-by-play announcer (we can already see that it’s exclusive of knowledge and skill), but he’s also fine if the current sexist system remains in place.  I believe him when he says he doesn’t think he’s a misogynist, at least I believe that he isn’t a willful, intentional misogynist, but he’s still a misogynist.  In fact, he’s the kind of confirmation-bias misogynist that makes progress so difficult.

Part of the reason (probably a large part) that male voices shape Wyshynski’s “viewing experience” is because of the misogyny and sexism that was present in the system to begin with (and still is).  That sexism has brought Wyshysnki’s brain to make “male” and “play-by-play announcer” inextricably linked.  So much so that Wyshynski couldn’t even do the bare minimum to head off the growing rage-storm, that is, admit there is a problem in the first place.  It’s not affirmative action, and it’s not propping up the under-qualified for the sake of diversity to admit that regardless of all other factors, it’s kind of a disturbing trend that there are so few female play-by-play announcers.  And if you really aren’t ready or willing to listen to a female play-by-play announcer, admitting that there is a problem doesn’t conflict with that.

In fact, in his zeal to backtrack, Wyshynski doesn’t ever admit there is a problem with female representation anywhere.  Sure, he’d love to see Angelina Jolie play James Bond because, thanks to her roles in various action movies, she embodies many of the stereotypically male-identified traits that we associate with Bond, athleticism, charm, reveling in violence.  (Get back to me when you want, say, Rooney Mara or Natalie Portman to play a willowy, feminine Bond and actually try to break stereotypes.)  He wants to see her play Bond because it’s an amusing novelty, not because it’s a small step in reversing the trend of male-dominated action movies.  (Or the representation of women in movies in general.)  It is in fact counter-productive for Wyshysnki to cite so many examples because each and every single one of them is coming from a perspective of male dominance.

The best he can do is call his words “personal preference” as though that allows him to gracefully step out of the conversation (a Wyshynski trait if you’ve ever gained the upper hand on him in an argument before).  He can’t even admit to the possibility of there being subconscious bias in his thoughts, instead growing combative with detractors and throwing out examples of his definite non-sexism in the hopes that one of them sticks.  It’s not weak to admit that you’re lacking perspective…we’re all lacking perspective on one thing or another, it’s weak to continue to stand your ground out of a need to prove…something.

The wort part is that he seemed genuinely baffled that his own poorly chosen words had ignited such a firestorm, as though it was somehow okay to say that he doesn’t like female play-by-play announcers solely because they are women (going so far as to explicitly say it isn’t about knowledge or skill) and that the “personal preference” of a major hockey columnist is something that 1). people should let be, or 2). isn’t an enormous part of the problem.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 11/25/13 11:11 PM

    Is it misandry if I said I preferred my radio talk show hosts to be female? Just want to clarify

    • 11/26/13 2:52 AM

      Part yes, part totally missing the point. The issue here isn’t so much straight sexism in a vacuum as it is a refusal to admit that the system is currently rigged in one way and that Wyshynski’s words, while not overtly and intentionally disenfranchising women, do just that by endorsing a system that disenfranchises women. You statement, simply put as it is, is acting in ignorance of the world we live in.

      Is it homophobic to bar LGBT from donating blood? Is it racist to stop and frisk minorities? Well, given the statistics that LGBT are more likely to have HIV, and that minorities statistically commit more crimes (depending on what type of crime you’re talking about at least), no, but that question and that answer are ignoring a whole lot of context.

      Wysh dug his grave rather deep by explicitly stating that knowledge and skill have absolutely nothing to do with his preference and really isolating gender in the discussion and by refusing to take an actual step back and admit that he’d articulated poorly, instead just winging the best examples of his own non-sexism that he could come up with.

      Do you understand that the purpose of highlighting subtle misogyny and sexism isn’t to spread blame or to shame, but to point out the inequities that exist and ask how we can improve them?

      • 11/26/13 10:42 PM

        I get that there’s a system set up in place that is very unfair and sexist, but while you state multiple times “yeah I get that he’s not actively hating women” your article comes off as “but let’s write this article and paint him as if he’s actively hating women, let’s spread blame and shame by labeling him as a misogynist.” This article exists solely to shame: it’s a “hey guys look here’s an example of a misogynist” article, not “more people need to see why a neutral stance on this issue does endorse inequality.” Maybe you’ve gone over that subject in your blog before, but just based off this article, I do really only see a “let’s attack Wysh” article.

        And if you look at the tweets he was responding to, someone really tried to make it a point to label Wysh as an aural misogynist. No, not a normal misogynist, but an aural misogynist. Sure, he doesn’t actively hate women, but because he prefers men in this announcing role and is neutral in a sexist issue, it’s absolutely crucial that he be labeled as a subset of misogynist (but, that’s a pretty big generalization. He specifically prefers male voices in play-by-play, so he’s a hockey-play-by-play-aural misogynist, not a 100% aural misogynist). No, let’s not discuss with him why his neutrality on this issue does perpetuate the sexist structure of broadcasting, let’s find a name to call him so he knows that he’s wrong.

        And the “knowledge/skill” argument, I took differently. David Pollack and Pat Dye said they don’t women on the College Football Playoff Committee because they don’t have the knowledge to be on such a committee, and I think Wysh is saying “My preference for males is not because I think women lack the knowledge or skill.” A ton of misogyny regarding women in sports journalism, broadcasting, analysis, whatever seems to stem from the fact that many men think “oh women don’t play these sports, they don’t have the knowledge to perform these roles.”

        And that brings up the question: is it valid to prefer a male/masculine voice? In a role where your voice is crucial, are we not allowed to have a preference in the pitch of that voice? If it’s invalid and sexist, is that only because of the existing structure and context? When we reach equality in gender in the announcing role, THEN is it OK to have a preference in the “gender” of the voice?

  2. 11/27/13 1:14 AM

    That’s probably a somewhat fair accusation given my past encounters with Wyshynski though while my efforts were largely to combat the sort of casual misogyny that crops up in voices less altruistic than Wysh’s with him as a convenient lightning rod. I think early on where I said the issues were largely due to how Wysh articulated his preference and reasoning I did at least a little to get away from shaming and instead focusing on defining modern misogyny as less ill will and more subtle support of inherently misogynist entities. Though I admit that my assumptions may have veered into attacking and weakened the overall point.

    I know Dubs, and I think he mostly had the same thoughts I did, he just chose to stick to Twitter instead of attempting to write a piece like this one. Wysh tends to quit on arguments if he’s losing or if he thinks he’s losing, regardless of content, nuance, intelligence, whatever (and it’s not his job to respond to randoms on twitter anyway) so I just said fuck it and came here.

    I do think people tend to prefer analysts, actors, anyone they want to interact with through various media to be similar to themselves, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or orientation and (without possessing an anthropology or sociology degree) that’s probably just human nature. Thus I think that you can say ‘I prefer ______’ and be misogynist or not miogynist (or whatever else) depending on how well you understand what you’re saying.

    You seem to understand it very well, so to answer your initial question, I would say no, that’s not misandry. :P

Trackbacks

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