Yes, the title is clickbait. There are men everywhere who will try to make excuses.
One of my guilty pleasures is reading analyses and opinions of the political climate in the USA and the UK. I would very much love to read analyses of the political climate in India, but two things stop me: I am only conversant in English, and finding analyses in the language is really hard; and, frankly, I live here and sometimes not knowing what’s going on keeps me sane.
Recently I found the Daily O, a site that caters to India. And I’m very happy to have found it. And today’s post will be about two opinions on the site that I find incredibly ignorant. What prompted me to actually sit down an write this post was the most recent news on James D. Watson.
The two opinion pieces deal with sexist comments made by a current Indian cricketers on a talk show. I’m not a fan of cricket, nor do I particularly like the talk show on question. The opinions basically indulge in two deplorable behaviours: whataboutism and an appeal to skill.
One piece argues that the body that penalised them does not have the authority to do so, and anyway, many sportsmen are this way, so why pick on these two? It goes further in arguing that they are payed to play cricket and they play it well – so well that they have won deals worth hundreds of thousands of euros.
The other piece is arguably the more insidious of the two. It says that we should definitely have a conversation about sexism, but the cricketers shouldn’t face any consequences because that will make people keep their opinions to themselves. It is phrased as a threat to feminism, in that these cricketers are being victimised for speaking the truth.
And now, contrast this with what has happened to James D. Watson. He is famous as one of the people who discovered the structure of DNA. He is also an unrepentant racist. In 2007 he claimed that people of African heritage naturally possess lower IQs. As a result the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory removed him as chancellor. He apologised, then, but took back the apology in a recent documentary. The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has now revoked all of his titles and honours.
Just compare the two situations. Both are about bigotry. In the former case, a case is made for excusing sexism. In the latter, so action is taken, even if it doesn’t actually amount to much. What really matters is that these three individuals are powerful and are role models, so how you treat them sends a message to everyone.
For the record, I am strongly opposed to the views expressed by the authors of the opinion pieces. I consider myself a feminist, but I acknowledge that I have much to improve upon: calling bullspit on stuff like this is one of those things.