Jess Zimmerman Has an Opinion We Should Consider and Take Seriously

Words matter. Opinions matter. Not all words are equal. Not all opinions are equal. But they have consequences and implications. Some opinions are as trivial as choosing Coke or Pepsi. But other opinions have real impact, real meaning. So do the words that express them. We see this prominently right now in Jess Zimmerman’s recently published opinion in The Guardian. I walked away from it feeling ambivalent. Part of me wants to say, look Zimmerman, this kind of piece is what fuels anti-feminists who claim that all feminists are man-hating bitches. It gives fuel to feminist-dismissing men like the ones in this Facebook group whose tagline is, “Because math is logical. Feminism is not.” But the more I thought about it, the more I had to admit, she’s justified in her opinion. Moreover, instead of being reactionary, I would hope men take some time to really think about what she’s saying.

As a whole, American culture is extremely violent, in both word and action. While running errands this afternoon, I heard something on the radio that made Zimmerman’s words all the more true. I heard an interview with Steve Almond, author of Against Football: A Reluctant Manifesto. The gist of Almond’s book is that football is irreparably harming its participates, including causing brain damage in over 1/3 of the players, and at is deplorable that our society should encourage such violence. In the interview, Almond read some of the hate mail and insults he received. They all, basically, equated him to a woman, and in one case, a woman with a large vagina. That was the insult, being a woman. What does that say to half the world’s population? Your very being is an insult.

The response to this was not a condemnation by the host, or pointing out how anti-woman the insults were. Instead, he made jokes. His jokes could have poked fun at the respondents, but instead he continued the anti-woman rhetoric, continued to joke about Almond’s gender status, and then added that male-to-female transgendered men have foolishly sought transition surgery when all they really needed to do was question football to be considered a woman. I understand that his jokes were light-hearted and contextual, but the whole interchange was predicated upon a foundation of misogyny.

Talking about the violence, Almond made one other relevant point. He said that America is a nation that worships at the altar of violence and it is through violence that it renews itself. This, he claims, is why we pay vast amounts of money to watch men abuse each other for four quarters. I think he’s right. But I would add the renewal of violence is also against women. It is why I think we all should take a serious look at what she is pointing to and take time to really think about it. She is pointing to some very uncomfortable truths that need to be acknowledge

Category: Personal, Popular Culture
Tags: America, commentary, feminism, football, Jess Zimmerman, misogyny, opinions, popular culture, Steve Almond, violence


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