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A tale of two sexual harassments

posted by After Atalanta
Monday, April 18, 2011 at 2:43pm EDT

A blog focused on issues of gender and sport.

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The news you most likely know: Kobe Bryant called a ref a f&^%ot last week. He got fined $100,000. (Which some thought was too much--including Bryant who is appealing the fine.) He offered the standard not-apology, and talked about how the word isn't really discriminatory because it isn't connected to homosexuals anymore. Yep, f*&^$t has nothing to do with gay people anymore. I guess bitch has nothing to do with women either. Geesh.
The (as far as I know) only openly gay man (now, not when he was a player) to ever play in the NBA, John Amaechi, wrote a piece in the NYT about the incident: "...he is telling boys, men and anyone watching that when you are frustrated, when you are as angry as can be, the best way to demean and denigrate a person, even one in a position of power, is to make it clear that you think he is not a real man, but something less."
And that, of course, is very connected to the stereotypes of gay men. As for the apology, Amaechi said: "I am amazed that people still think apologizing in such a way as to make it clear that it was the victims who misunderstood is acceptable. I had hoped that the sorry-if-you-are-oversensitive school of apology would by now have been thoroughly discredited." [Read the whole thing--it's very good.]
Dr. Pat Griffin has also commented on the incident in an open letter to Bryant in which she notes the curious timing of Bryant's actions. The day Bryant exploded was the day GLSEN was filming PSAs with the NBA about not using anti-gay slurs. The PSAs will air during the NBA playoffs this year.
So here's what you might not have heard (I found it because a friend posted it on Facebook--not because it hit mainstream media here in the US): A professional Brazilian volleyball player was taunted with the Brazilian version of the f-word during a game. This link contains the story and the video--which I haven't been able to bring myself to watch yet.
The targeted player, Michael, came out as gay after the game. And his teammates were immediately supportive. Great, right? It gets better. In a recent match, the team wore pink warm-up jerseys and the libero wore a rainbow jersey during the match.
And how did the fans respond? With a gigantic banner that read "Volei Futuro [the team name] Against Prejudice" (in Portuguese of course).
AND with pink thundersticks!
Everyone knows my thoughts on pink, but if there was ever an appropriate moment to re-take the color--this is it (noting too that other countries haven't constructed pink in the same ways we have in this country). There is no video (that I have seen) of this event, which is good because just viewing the pictures (the above link includes more of them) brings some tears to my eyes.

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