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Jewish World Review July 26, 1999/ 13 Av 5759

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Of women, soccer and removed jerseys -- A LADY DOES NOT REMOVE HER SHIRT in public and reveal her bra, no matter what color, whether sport or miracle, and regardless of soccer victory. A lady also does not pose nude for photographs for magazines even when the pose is strategic, career- and revelation-wise. Brandi Chastain was wrong to do both and those two lessons have been lost on the esoteric as they analyze the U.S. victory in Women's World Cup soccer. Absent condemnation, the soccer fields next fall will be filled with six-year olds showing us their Carter's.

But, never satisfied with the obvious and necessary, the lesson mongers have been digging deep and shoveling it high. Last week's Wall Street Journal featured a front-page piece on how black soccer player, Briana Scurry, got short shrift in the coverage owing to racism. That short shrift would not possibly be due to the fact that goalies, the spot Ms. Scurry played, are generally unsung. Who out there can name Pele's goalie?

The feminists, who can find a message in nature's uphill trek of Pacific Northwest salmon for spawning, took a shot at soccer analysis and claimed women's sports have arrived because of Title IX, that portion of federal anti-discrimination laws that has turned into complete head-count equality in male and female sports on college campuses. No matter that Title IX does not apply to World Cup soccer, or that these women did not gain their athletic prowess when Title IX was at its all-time quota best. Further, Title IX number requirements will undermine the stuff of champions. For example, the U.S. Department of Civil Rights has told Central Connecticut State University that despite 49% of all its athletes being female it needs 20 more women in sports -- warm female bodies or slash men's programs.

Feminists have ignored and the media, for fear of the wrath of the clumpily-shod, have not pinpointed the reason Mr. David Letterman has continually shown pictures of the women's soccer team and had them on his show. These are good-looking babes. A world that has had its fill of averting its eyes and remaining stoically silent about the female figure and the charming face, rejoiced in being permitted to look. The world got a protected peek at women who were not Margaret Dumont.

The WNBA, with its Janet Reno look, is crestfallen. The women of soccer garnered sell-outs while the WNBA struggles. It was the babes, stupid, who did nothing more than set out to win, not conquer the world or even make NOW proud. They were themselves, complete with allure and lip gloss.

Feminism has ignored or dismissed two of the female's greatest powers: individuality and femininity. With their victim attitude and denigration of the role of motherhood, feminists have discounted charm and sold the snake oil that there are no differences between men and women. You can do anything, they said, but ignore any desires about motherhood for they're culturally imposed. "Gender-blind" was their mantra and while Germaine Greer's newest book, The Whole Woman, acknowledges differences between the sexes, she still peddles the propaganda of women eschewing men and marriage. Children, she advises, if you must indulge, should be tackled alone, thus avoiding those nasty entanglements with men. Cathy Young, in her new book Ceasefire!, would allow traditional relationships, such as mom, dad and children, if fools really want that, but faults conservatives for touting the critical role of mothers at home with their children and decrying the harms of day care. Interestingly, Ms. Young acknowledges that there is no one in the conservative movement who opposes equal rights in the workplace but then never grapples with the conservatives' real concern which is that government policy, laws and programs should not entice women to defy what comes naturally to them or their individualism. Conservatives oppose not equal employment rights, but the systemic substitution of government programs in the form of daycare subsidies, leave policies and other high-tax-dollar programs for the "male entanglements" Ms. Greer finds so offensive.

Not all women find male entanglements offensive. Not all women want the corporate ladder. Not all women believe, as Ms. Greer and Young do, that children remain unaffected by the absence of their mothers. Some women prefer daily doses of "Diddle diddle dumpling" to indoctrinate their sons with the cultural lesson that men are slobs or "Little Miss Muffet" to teach their daughters the age-old female fear of spiders. Not all women find being a babe offensive. Not all women want to play soccer, but they don't mind those who do, particularly when they do so without the "I am woman, hear me roar" nonsense. We're not blind when it comes to gender, whether watching soccer or listening to the prompting of a heart drawn to the daily needs of children. Feminine and individual -- the girls of soccer brought us those lessons. Now, if we could just convince them to keep their shirts on, for there are the differences between shirtless men and shirtless women, and the latter are always more alluring clothed.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments to her by clicking here.


07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

©1999, Marianne M. Jennings