The good old boys aren’t always old and they are almost never good.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was answering some questions from the media this week when he got a question from a female reporter.
He said through a dismissive grin that it was “cute” to hear a female reporter asking about routes. Obviously, it is cute because he knows that girls don’t know about football.
Because most women haven’t played football, how could they ever know about details like routes and techniques? The logic Newton used to get to that grin is pretty funny.
I don’t know how many members of the sports media ever even played Pop Warner football. I know some retired athletes get a free pass onto radio shows and television opinion programs because of their name and the fact that they must know everything about the game since they were able to run really fast.
But most guys asking questions in those settings never played the game. They have been fans and followers of the game for decades, but they never took a hit or spilled any more blood on the field than a female reporter has.
I can’t imagine the sexist comments and treatment women receive who become sports reporters.
It probably isn’t that much worse than women in every field. You will never convince me that Hillary Clinton lost a lot of votes because she wore a pantsuit and not a suit and tie.
— “Women are hysterical.”
— “She will start a war at that time of the month.”
— “She is too emotional to do the job.”
We’ve all heard these comments and most of us have heard much worse. When President Donald Trump uses his Twitter feed like a petulant middle school student, he is praised, because he “speaks his mind” or “tells it like it is.”
A woman tweeting the same thing would be showing that she was too dramatic for the job.
In 1992 — 25 long years ago — I ran the State Senate campaign for a friend and former teacher who trusted a 21-year-old college student to help him get elected. We fell a handful of votes short to a guy who grew seedless watermelons.
Do I think at least 10 voters checked his names because of he was a man? Let me tell a story.
I was young and dumb but I worked hard and didn’t cost much. We had a team of volunteers and we took a group to knock on doors across the district at every opportunity.
One evening in Tuttle, Oklahoma, I knocked on a door and an older man answered. I told him what we were doing and asked if he knew about our candidate.
“I don’t need to know anything about her,” he said.
“I think if you got to know her, you would want to vote for her,” I answered.
“Why is she even running? Is she a power hungry (word that we don’t print in our newspaper),” he asked.
My blood boiled and I had to take a moment to remind myself that the goal was to win votes, not to get arrested for beating up old men.
“Do you think that Bruce Price is a power hungry (repeated his word back to him),” I asked pretty pointedly.
“No. He is a man. We’re meant to be leaders. She should be home taking care of her family,” he said with no hint of sarcasm.
“I’ll pass on your advice,” I said as I left his doorstep.
I sat in my car for a while after that. I really couldn’t believe that in 1992, people who lived within 20 miles of my house still felt that way. Then 25, years later, America elected Trump.
There isn’t much that Cam Newton could have said to overshadow Trump’s own comments and actions before and during the election.
But in a way, I am glad Clinton wasn’t the first woman to get elected. She is a smart woman and qualified. However, her rise in politics was always because of her husband. I don’t want women to need a man to lift them into prominence.
Look at Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. In reality, even though her policy positions aren’t aligned with a feminist movement, her story is peak feminism.
She accepted a marriage proposal at the Playboy Mansion. You don’t see many conservative politicians with that on their resume. She was elected and served all the way to a seat in Congress. She went through a tough divorce while she was the Lieutenant Governor, but she still stood on her own two feet, overcame controversy and a less than ideal personal story to get elected to the office of Governor not once, but twice. She didn’t have to meet special standards to be a female candidate. Just like all men before her, she won warts and all.
She played the good old boys’ game and won.
You don’t have to like her or endorse her personal or political life to see that she shows women that they can succeed in the political arena even if they have to jump a few hurdles.
Hopefully, Cam Newton learned that female sports reporters should be given the same respect he gives a man in the same job. Hopefully, a lot of people learned that lesson with him.
Society hasn’t come very far in the past 25 years when it comes to sexist attitudes. It’s about time we change that.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.