Monday, May 13, 2013

Just for One Day

The saying goes that you should never meet your heroes - you don't want to be disappointed.  Not that Bradley Wiggins is a "hero" of mine, in the full on sense, but I have greatly admired him - strong, disciplined, seems to not treat cycling as the be all and end all, AND he trained in South London's Herne Hill (not that far from where I grew up).

Still, sometimes you shouldn't know too much about what your heroes think.

According to an interview reported in The Guardian, Wiggins described his poor descent after a crash in the Giro D'Italia as descending "like a bit of a girl really after the crash ... Not to disrespect girls, I have one at home."

The part that of that statement that I find almost gloriously ludicrous is the "not to disrespect girls, I have one at home." Okay, the first part is awful, and sexist, regardless - he explicitly links a poor, timid, physically weak and lacking performance to being like a girl.  Not a boy - not a young, callow, weaker male, but a female. Then, beautifully, he says that's not disrespecting girls - ha! Of course not - how could one possibly find it disrespectful?

The next bit is my favourite, however. He then somehow tries to ameliorate his sexism with a take on the classic "some of my best friends are black/gay/women" shtick - it's okay that he said it, because he has a daughter. So he, and that statement, clearly couldn't be sexist - Q.E.D.  Duh.  If you don't get that, clearly you are ignoring the fact that he and his wife bore a daughter.

Actually, in some ways I think it's worse that he has a daughter and said it - his poor daughter. How awful to know that you have a father who associates weak and losing performances with being a girl - like her. Oh, I'm sure he'd argue, not her - because she's different, I'm sure. But he lives with her, supposedly loves her, and yet thinks this.

Yes, he'd had a big disappointment in the race. We have an awful lot of exposure to athletes, and that includes times when they're severely disappointed, angry, and frustrated. I personally loathe the inside-the-locker-room thing that they do, particularly with U.S. sports - I don't want to invade what is an intensely private sphere. We don't go into a classroom to interview a teacher after she finds out that her students didn't pass an exam; we don't go into a partner's office after she loses a legal case. We should grant athletes some privacy, some space to be disappointed, angry, and frustrated.

Nonetheless, those spontaneous, off the cuff remarks can reveal a lot about someone's prejudices - be they on the basis of gender, race, sexuality, or anything else. And Wiggins, here, revealed that he thinks girls are weak. And then used his little girl to somehow, supposedly, defuse that.

Just awful.

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