Should a 13-Year-Old have to Dismiss Sexism to be “Classy?”
These are the questions I found myself asking on Monday in the wake of the reporting about Mo’ne Davis, and a college ball player who was removed from the Bloomberg University baseball team after tweeting “Disney is making a movie about Mo’Ne Davis? WHAT A JOKE. That slut got rocked by Nevada [in the LLWS].” Had I noticed the story before Monday, instead of being at Chi-Fi, moderating panels about the perils of being an outspoken woman online, I would probably have been mostly surprised that the player, Joey Casselberry, was actually held accountable for what is, sadly, a fairly innocuous comment in the world of online misogyny.
As it is, I find myself wondering why it is that in order to be considered to be “taking the high road” a (young) woman has to call for forgiveness.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no reason, other than cultural paranoia, to think that Davis is anything other than fully sincere in her response, in which she states her forgiveness and notes that everyone makes mistakes. I want to make it very very clear that I am not questioning her agency, nor do I think she was wrong to publicly state her forgiveness of the young man who made the comment. I am not criticizing Davis at all and I can certainly appreciate and respect her not wanting someone’s career ruined for a one-off comment that he apologized for, sort of.
What I’m criticizing is a culture in which women are savaged when they do not accept a man’s apology, a culture in which we are told we are too sensitive and emotional and need to get a sense of humor when we object to rape jokes. It is a culture where non-white people are told they are too angry for objecting to racist comments and actions. It is a culture where marginalized people are frequently blamed for the negative consequences faced by the perpetrators of sexism and racism and other oppression, simply for existing as the subject of offensive commentary. The barrage of articles talking about how Davis is so “exceptional”, “classy” and “taking the high road” suggest that she would actually not be a fabulous and exceptional and meta-classy young woman if she did anything other than act like it wasn’t a big deal for a white college-age man to call a 13-year-old woman of color a “slut” for being successful in their mutual game.
That should be a big deal. That is a big deal.
Featured image courtesy of flickr user Daniel Lobo.