Dancing Chaz & Other Gender Rants

Chaz Bono has gotten on my nerves for quite a while now.  I’ve been tired of seeing his face on TV.  He comes off to me like an attention whore.  Not to further the cause of transgendered persons, but to exercise personal demons and cry “Me Me Me!”

The last straw for me was his comments following his demise on Dancing with the Stars. (DWTS) Instead of focusing on his reprehensible performance he’s once again whining about how he is perceived.  Apparently Chaz doesn’t like the criticism and thinks his weight is being used against him from a ‘man’s’ perspective.

Bruno Tonioli (one of the judges) commented on his latest performance with dancer Lacey Schwimmer said, “It was like watching a cute little penguin try to be a big, menacing bird of prey.  It has to be menacing, dark, dangerous, hypnotic … like a panther stalking.”

Chaz complained:

“I’ve been called an Ewok, a cute and cuddly bear, now tonight a penguin.  It’s disrespectful to me. ” 

He continued:

If you’re an overweight woman in this competition losing weight they love you. But if you’re a overweight guy trying to do this competition and getting in shape, they penalize you for it and call you a penguin.”

Memo to Chaz:

1) One could argue that you ARE an overweight woman.  Regardless you don’t get to have it both ways.  Nobody put a gun to your head and told you to get on DWTS!

2) You don’t enter a dance competition to ‘get into shape’.  You show up in shape so you have a better chance of winning the damn thing.  These judges are professionals!  This ain’t the family reunion talent show where you get points for just ‘doing your best.”

3) Since you knew you were fat when you got on the show, what did you think the public’s reaction would be especially if you already knew you couldn’t dance?  If you don’t want to look cute and cuddly, hit the gym and push away from the Chinese buffet!  We don’t feel sorry for you!

4) If you want to be a man, then be a man!  If you want to be a revolutionary figure, you don’t get to whine!  And momma sticking up for you on Twitter doesn’t help either.  That just removes MORE man points from your rep!  Men get ripped on every day in this country whether it’s in sports or entertainment.  I don’t see Rick Ross complaining cause he has man tits.  Everyone knows it.  He goes on about his business producing horrible songs.  Heavy D called himself, “The Overweight Lover.”  When Ron Artest lost DWTS, he didn’t complain that they hated him because he receives mental counseling? You Chaz are not exempt from public scrutiny when you desire the public stage.  Charge it to the game and get over yourself!  I repeat, ‘We don’t feel sorry for you!’

5) Until you get yourself together and either grown some or get some implanted, get off my TV.  Don’t get on Piers, The View, or any other show complaining about your plight!  You are a horrible example for the transgender community!

They Named Them Girl Scouts for a Reason

What is up with the parents of Bobby Montoya who are advocating that their son be a member of the Girl Scouts?

His mother tried to get him into the Girl Scouts in Colorado but they rejected the application.  Why? Because he’s a BOY!  Duhhhh!

His mother Felisha Archuleta wonder’s what the big deal is.

I’ll tell her what the big deal is…. He’s a boy!

It doesn’t matter if he’s gay or if you throw a dress on him everyday.   If he plays sports for instance he won’t be able to play on the girl’s basketball team in Jr. high or high school.  If he plays golf he won’t be able to compete in the LGPA.  If he get’s a sex change operation… then that will up to those organizations to decide how to interpret that.  As of now, he is a boy at least by biological standards.  There are many other ways he can express his individuality other than trying to force a girl’s organization to ignore his body parts.

One thing I have learned from various of civil rights warriors and icons; One has to learn to pick battles and be strategic.  This isn’t the way.

If she thinks I’m wrong then start letting the child go to women’s restrooms in public places and see how that works out!

Come on people!  I’m just saying!

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‘Why I Refuse To Join A Church (Part 2)

Go to church but they tease us, with a picture of a blue-eyed Jesus!  –  Ice Cube

Well, sort of.  I don’t take these lyrics from Ice Cube’s rant from his classical African-American community critique “Us” as an issue of merely color; but rather ideology.

I tried to make this point in the last church I belonged to.  Our services were tailored in a fashion that allowed us to ask questions or make comments during the sermon.  As you can imagine, that made for some memorable experiences, both for the good and not so good.  At the time George W. Bush was campaigning for a  second term in the White House.  There was a heavy religious fervor regarding that election too.  Both Catholic and Protestant organizations were galvanized similarly (if not more) than they were in 2000.

My comment during the service was that I found the election season offered at least two different Jesuses.  Immediately when I said it there were cat calls from the other members.  “Oh no, there is only ONE Jesus.”  I think they thought I was being literal.  And I found it hard to explain, as I was cut off continuously.  My point was that while most Christian churches share the same basic bible for scripture references, Jesus’ points of emphasis and agenda seemed to go down racial, class, social and political divides.

I recall visiting a prominent church in South St. Louis when the subject of the election came up.  The pastor of the church said, “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.  But I will say that I’m not voting for someone who is for killing babies.”

I thought to myself, “Wow, I can understand Jesus being bent about abortion, but he’s not bent about torture or bombings of civilian communities?  What about all of the other injustices and crimes against humanity out there perpetrated by men for political or ideological reasons?  Is that ultimately what this election is about?”  I’ll get back to that.

Later I attended a different church for a men’s breakfast.  As usual when the subject of men come up at such an event it’s natural for the meaning of manhood and how it’s manifested in society to be brought up.  Some of the speakers made a point of making sure that homosexuality and manhood had nothing in common.  In doing so words and phrases to describe gays or being gay were slung around.  They consisted of standards such as ‘sweet’ ‘sissies’ and ‘punks’ to name a few.  Then there was the usual reference to Adam and Steve.

While all of these black macho evangelical males “amen’d” and approved of this name calling, I raised my hand and asked a question:

(Paraphrasing)

“I hear all of this name and cat calling regarding the homosexual community.  And while I respect the fact that your brand of faith entitles you the right to have your own opinion that homosexuality is a sin, do you honestly believe that Jesus would endorse the name calling that some of you are using such as ‘sissy,’ ‘punk’ or even ‘fags?’ “ 

At that point the pastor was silent.  To speak boldly like this against the precepts of leadership in a powerful black church is not something grinned upon.  But one of the elders jumped in quickly to the rescue.  With anger he burst from his seat and started spouting off scriptures in Leviticus and how homosexuality was a sin and that God didn’t like it and neither should any Christian.  He was practically foaming at the mouth from the front of the sanctuary as he looked towards my way in the back.

I reiterated:

“I’m not discussing the validity or non validation of homosexuality as a sin.  What I am asking… is that if there were homosexuals in this congregation, (and chances are there one or more among this group of men) if I were a homosexual who was struggling with my sexual identity vs. what I believe my faith allows, would your words as well as your spiritual disposition attract me to you as a source of help, or would I be repulsed, insulted or put off by your tone?  Would Jesus address a person who happens to be a homosexual with the names you choose along with your mocking tone?”  

DEAD SILENCE in the congregation.  I think some thought a fight was about to ensue.

The elder grew more angry, then shouted something else before the pastor got up and addressed my question… sort of.

“I understand what you are saying brother.  And perhaps you are right that we can do better with the name calling.  But let me be clear, homosexuality is a sin.  Now let’s move on.” 

This, among other things at that time, drew me to the conclusion that as far as the evangelical community was concerned, all God/Jesus really cared about were what I called the ‘Big 3’  Abortion, Homosexuality, and Stem Cell Research- all of which He was against.

That’s right.  Let it be known henceforth that these are the bullet points on Jesus’ hit list.  But was it really? 

The question of Jesus and the identification of his agenda have been going on thousands of years, right?  In the scriptures he seemed to identify it himself:

Matthew 16:13-15

13 Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is?

   14 And they said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

   15 He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am?

   16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

In my estimation, this question is still the most divisive among Christian believers.  Who Jesus is- a direct result of what he endorses- stands for, evangelizes, and lives by.  As Christians (followers or Disciples of Christ) by very definition that agenda should translate into their own.  And this is where confusion and division has obviously settled in.

Let’s take it step by step.  While these are not absolute, I think we can agree that these are generally the focus, missions, and nature of Jesus, depending on the demographics and world view of the worshipper. 

During slavery a certain segment of the population believed that Jesus endorsed the enslavement of Africans which included selling, beating, raping and murdering people that Jesus/God created.  During this same period the slaves (often taught Christianity either from Catholics in Africa or Protestant enslaver in America) believed that Jesus would deliver them from their oppression. 

Similarly, during the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, The KKK (who defined themselves a Christian organization) believed as they do today that Jesus choose them to be superior, while other nationalities are inferior. Many churches, both black and white, believed that Jesus created, loves and values all men equally. 

These days we face many of the same challenges.  Some upwardly mobile church dogma believe that Jesus favors the wealthy while others believe Jesus is concerned for the poor.  

Let me give you a biblical example and how it may play out today:

John 6:5-14

5When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

   6And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

   7Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

   8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

   9There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

   10And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

   11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

   12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

  13Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

   14Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

 Newt Gingrich

If something like this were to happen, one side of the Christian agenda would report it this way:

Boy donates food, Jesus takes the little and performs a miracle to serve thousands.  The people rejoice.

Another Christian agenda would report it this way:

Unemployed multitude threaten to mug little righteous boy who has food.  Jesus the self-appointed welfare socialist takes the food away from the one who had in order to spread the wealth.  Claims of a miracle go unsubstantiated, but Newt Gingrich says that Jesus should face prosecution for robbery.  Sara Palin said Jesus is an illegal alien- “just look at his name”- (Pronounced Hey-Seuss) and bad for American values.  Finally, Rush Limbaugh called him “The Magic Hebrew.” 

Ok (chuckle) I’m having a little fun with this.  But you get my point.  This conversation has political ramifications, but in this context it’s not political at all. 

I have attended many of these churches during my lifetime so I speak with experience.

The evidence shows that our depiction of Jesus, given his world view, is something either given to us by others or something we decide upon ourselves- based on our own background- sociopolitical, socioeconomic and dogmatic vantage point.  Christians decide which Jesus to follow based on what they are comfortable with.  That’s right.  Believe it or not, Christians have pretty much picked their own Jesus to worship and follow based on their own accepted set of criteria.

For those living in inner cities, their Jesus cares about the poor; thought not exclusively.  For many living in upper class neighborhoods, Jesus wants you to have riches.   Many ministers I know believe and teach directly that the level that God shows his favor and blessings upon you, and the very proof of your own level of faith is a direct result of the believer’s financial status.

 Rev Ike

Some Christians promote charity and believe that government should help with social causes.  Other Christians are for cutting any and everything having to do with helping those less fortunate.  It’s happening in this country in a big way right now.  I’m not making a judgment one way or the other but more asking why is it that so-called liberal Christians believe one thing while conservative Christians believe something else entirely – while reading the same bible?

I’ve heard it said that it’s up to moderate Muslims to speak out against radical Muslims who are for violent and other unrighteous acts done in their name.  While I agree with that I rarely see Christians doing the same. 

When have you heard of moderate Christians speaking out against Pastor Steve Anderson and Rev. Wiley Drake  for praying that President Obama dies?  Have you ever been up late and night and seen those ministry programs where they offer to sell you God’s blessing for $500-$1000?

So why not just join a church that chooses a Jesus I am comfortable with?

On the one hand, that sounds kind of attractive, right?  But on the other, I’m not so sure about that.  My own personal evangelical bent lends me to believe that God, by virture of being the creator of the universe (which includes my very existence), has the authority to demand without question first and foremost that he be in charge.  If that is the case I certainly don’t need to align myself with a church that simply makes me comfortable.  Furthermore, I can’t fathom believing in a gospel that is not transferable to any and all communities in the world.   I can’t believe a message in College Park, Georgia that could not be preached in the slums of Calcutta, India just because the economic opportunities are not the same.

The bottom line in my view is that Jesus (as we know him) has been bastardized and transformed into a political football, tossed to and fro by whoever wields his name.  He’s been labeled like soup, and packaged for consumption like a Happy Meal or an Ipad too often for the purposes of manipulation, domination, or deceit.  That’s not to say all churches, ministers, or parishioners, liberal or conservative, are all bad or good.   But what is the difference in that or any other religious group that have segments that do good work?   The point for me is that following God as I want to know him is so profoundly vital to my own spiritual growth and well-being, dogmatic preferences and spiritual limitations cancel my mere desire to belong in such a  group.

Read Why I Refuse To Join A Church Part 1 here.



Paula Abdul, American Idol and Pay Equity for Women

*** I admit, I have never been a fan of American Karaoke Idol.  But when I heard about Paula Abdul leaving the show, I thought to myself, “Straight Up?”  I mean, that is a lot of money to turn down in light of what she, Simon, Randy and that other lady does.  Which is much of nothing in the whole scheme of things.  I said to myself, “Paula must really be rich and set for life to walk away from a ‘job’ where you get paid millions to basically, let’s face it, show up and do much of nothing.  But after hearing Michel Martin’s comments, I can definitely see the other side of it.  I still don’t care about American Karaoke, but I do believe the subject matter to be very relevant! 

 Michel Martin, Host of NPR’s “Tell Me More

Michel Martin

Finally, and I can’t believe I’m talking about this either. But I have to weigh on Paula Abdul’s decision to leave “American Idol.” I know, I know. Sonia Sotomayor she is not.

Ms. PAULA ABDUL (Entertainer): …that, I, you know, there’s something, first of all one thing that I was kind of – I was kind of surprise you picked that song. But when, well first of all, you’re like this bright light in this competition. You, you’re…

MARTIN: Now published reports suggest she is leaving because she wanted a raise from the approximately $3.5 million in salary and benefits she receives now to somewhere in the range of $10 million and the producers said no.

Now 3.5 million sounds like a lot of money and it is. I wouldn’t sneeze at it until you consider that host Ryan Seacrest just signed a deal worth something like $45 million for the next three years. Simon Cowell is said to be making some $30 million a year. And Randy Jackson is said to be making close to that, for doing what exactly? The same thing she does.

Of course, reporting about entertainment salaries is notoriously unreliable. The people who get paid to put out these stories have all kinds of incentives to lie in either direction. But let’s just assume that the reports are within range of accurate. What exactly does any of these three men do that merits their receiving three to 10 times the pay for doing the same work as Abdul does? Anybody? Anybody?

Could I just tell you ladies and gentlemen, this is what pay equity is about. It’s about women getting paid the same as men for doing the same work. A gap that’s been so well documented that it hardly bears arguing anymore. A December 2008 study by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank, estimated that women in all occupations in all parts of the country and in all education levels experience this gap and it amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages over the course of a 40-year career.

Paula Abdul

I would submit it’s so taken for granted that it actually generates headlines and no small amount of unflattering commentary when women like Barbara Walters or Katie Couric or Julia Roberts actually do manage to get the same pay. The attitude seems to me, why do they deserve that? I don’t know. Why does anybody?

I understand that pay is often not about what you deserve but about what you can negotiate. And I get that it’s hard to feel sorry for anybody who makes that much money for doing something that doesn’t look all that hard, coming up with new trite things to say about bad singing and worse clothing. And I get that pay can often hinge on intangibles, star power, chemistry. But in that score, it’s hard to argue that there should be any difference at all.

As Paula said in her statement on Twitter announcing her departure, she has clearly been integral to the success of this iteration of “American Idol.” Her loopy Earth mother routine, her mesmerizing incoherence, it’s hard to argue she is somehow less compelling than the three other regulars on the show.

Even her off screen antics, ethically questionable as they may be, generate buzz for the program. And while I think the allegation that she had a dalliance with a contestant is serious if true. If it is true she should’ve been fired and she wasn’t.

I have a minister friend, a community activist who will sometimes mention to me some person who’s getting jammed up and assessing its overall importance he’ll tell me, that’s too bad but ain’t marching for him.

Now I can see why you might say, I ain’t marching for her. But maybe somebody should be. Maybe all those teen and ‘tween girls who are so busy texting and calling in and generating millions of dollars in profits to that show should ask themselves, if Paul Abdul can’t get paid the same money for doing the same work as Randy, and Simon, and Ryan, can I?

Of Love and Relationship Roles ~ A Running Debate

Ok let’s talk.  I want to have a serious discussion about relational roles of a man and a woman.   This discussion comes on the heels of both a radio program I listened to recently, as well as a running debate I’ve had with a good friend of mine who happens to be  a very progressive and liberal thinking woman.  This is a person I deeply respect.  A great thinker.  But every time this subject comes up, it’s battle stations ready! 

Now before I pose the questions let me put down the ground rules so we can eliminate side arguments and certain defensive posturing.

1) In the relationship scenario – we are using as an example a good man and woman who are loving,  responsible, and respectful.  No need to say, “Well if he is a dog hell naw I ain’t submitting to him.” 

2) The author of this post truly honors and respects the worth of a woman.  Her contributions cannot be counted, and her abilities are almost limitless.   There is no sexism involved that says a woman cannot do such and such.

3) These are general principles and should be taken that way.  No need for extreme rebuttals on particular words and phrases.  Please take the theme in perspective and give the author the benefit of the doubt.  You may comment on the lines drawn in the sand areas.  There are only one or two at most.

On to the discussion of the day:

As progressive of a thinker as I am, I still hold to some old fashioned values of chivalry.  For instance I believe a man’s first priority towards his woman is to protect her.  That could be interpreted physically, mentally or whatever.  If a burglar were to enter the premises,  I would not ask my woman to “go check on that.”  She can be a combat expert in karate, M16s and explosives – doesn’t matter.  I don’t think it’s her “role” to protect me in that situation.  (Now if we are all fighting in some Bonnie and Clyde circumstance in public, that may be a different thing.  I believe in opening doors and pulling out chairs in a restaurant.  I believe a man should also love and cherish his woman.  He should listen to her and do all he can to understand her as she develops and changes.  I believe he should provide leadership and vision – providing a specific direction regarding the goals of the family etc.  Does this mean that the woman is not providing ideas, feedback etc.?  Of course not.  In this day and age especially, the 21st Century woman is more versed in the general affairs of society than ever before.  Her voice is vital and her contributions priceless.   In the idea situation, the woman will compliment her man by having gifts and talents that he does not possess to add to the value of the relationship.  He will do the same for her.

I believe a man’s purpose is to provide for his woman.  Not that she can’t make money.  She may even make more money than he does.  He should not be intimidated by her career or her goals in the marketplace.  He should support them.  At the same time he should be looking to provide for the day to day needs.   Depending on the lifestyle a family wants to live, nowadays it takes two incomes combined to make it happen.  Still it should be his goal to better himself to the point of being responsible just in case she can’t produce for whatever reason, i.e. childbirth, sickness etc.  This to me would be idea.

In terms of functioning day to day – couples should work together to make the household go round.  Take advantage of one another’s talents and gifts to make things as smooth as possible.  For instance, whichever person is good with organization may be the one to physically pay the bills.  If she loves yard work, perhaps she will cut the grass or rake leaves.  Just as well he may decorate the house if he has a visual perspective for decor.   The roles for day to day ops, should not be delegated merely by gender.

Here is where it gets sticky in the aforementioned debate.  I believe that a man should be the leader in the household and in the direction of the relationship.  If he is smart, he will recognize the strength and wisdom of his woman and receive her input as vital.  If he is leading in a direction that she does not approve of, he could be an emperor with no clothes.   Men have blind-spots and his woman should be a partner of ideas of valued discussions.  Still he is responsible for the safety and welfare of the family.  Both man and woman should be “equal partners” in terms of value, but do not foster equal roles within the structure.  Everyone is happy when they can agree, but if the couple don’t agree and a decision needs to be made he should make it after careful consideration.  Being “the man” to me merely means being responsible for the overall direction and course of the relationship and the family structure.  If it fails its on him unless he did all he could and his woman simply rebelled or decided not to follow his leadership.  Again this is assuming both parties are totally committed to the success of the relationship and family.

Furthermore, in my opinion a discerning woman will realize that her brilliance is never undermined when she accepts these precepts.  As a matter of fact, any man will tell you if his woman is not happy, the whole house is not happy. Any leading that he does she has to “let” him do anyway.  She can in her wisdom and love build him up to be the greatest leader he can be, or she can tear him down and attempt to make mincemeat out of him.  Like it or not, James Brown said it best.  “This is a man’s world.  (directional functioning) But it wouldn’t be nothing, without a woman, boy or girl.”  I’ve long had a saying, that God’s great equalizer to a male dominated society is a woman.  Because I don’t care how much a man accomplishes, his greatest desire after his purpose it to be loved, needed, appreciated, and respected by his woman.  Period.  So she is invaluable – and as I said women today especially are more skilled, sharp and able than ever before – and have carried men for a long time, especially black men in the midst of the struggle we have faced within society post slavery, Jim Crow, self identity crisis etc.  What a woman has to do and what a woman should be doing to me are two different things. 

The benefits of the progressive woman are obvious.  The advances have come hard fought and well earned.  Our society is still not progressive enough in my view in appreciating, protecting, and valuing women.  But the downside is this competitive paradigm for a power struggle.  Equal partners in terms of input and value does not mean equal parts of functionality.  I believe most women accept and even embrace the theory.  The problem becomes an issue of trust because of a negative track record with immature, ignorant, (ignorant in the derogotory as well as the without knowledge sense) and selfish men.  (Of which I have been in my day)

My friend thinks this is a sexist way of thinking.  That equal partners means equal everything.  There are two chiefs and no one is more in charge or responsible than the other. 

So chime in on this discussion.   What do ya’ll think??  Are my Fred Flintstone ideas merely prehistoric?  Is the old school way the best way? 

Please respond with love and intelligence as I have presented it with such.

Gender Discrimination or Soclialization

In light of the primary elections with the Democrats, I can’t help but notice how Hillary Clinton vacilates between strong fighting woman and sensitive woman depending on when it serves her needs.  Sometimes she makes a point of coming off as the “fighter” when challenging Barack Obama on some issue within a campaign speech.  Other times like in New Hampshire or during a particular debate she plays the “woman card” in displaying forms of emotion that would allow especially women voters to feel sorry for her – thus rallying them to the poles.  Women face enough struggles as it is without doing things that complicate and confuse the average cave man.  And Hillary’s behavior reminds me of an experience I had with mixed female signals.  I’ll explain.

 

A few years ago I was playing some pick up basketball on a Monday evening.  Normally on those days, if no one else came to the gym I could count on Mack (male) and Sabrina (female) to show up to participate.  One this particular day Sabrina came to play but Mack didn’t.  This left Sabrina and me to go one on one.  Sabrina is a very good basketball player.  She played Division I in college and currently plays in several adult leagues around the metropolitan area.  I’ve seen her play on several occasions.  She has good ability and is highly competitive.

 

I am also a highly competitive player.  And sometimes in a competitive setting, the game of basketball can get physical.  However, I could hardly avoid treating Sabrina differently within the context of the game in terms of the physical contact of the sport. My social education told me that no matter how good a woman can be at basketball, she’s still a woman and shouldn’t be treated harshly by a man.  When I guarded her defensively, I tried to avoid as much contact as possible.  I really tried hard not to foul her hard, or get too physical with her.  Although some contact is inevitable, I did my best to play with more finesse.   

 

However, whenever she could push, shove, or poke an elbow at me to gain an advantage, she didn’t hesitate. Because she is such a good player, her style of play plus my intention to avoid using my muscle to influence the game helped her to get a few wins against me.  I hate to lose, but I had a hard time playing too physically against Sabrina.  That had nothing to do with her ability to play the game, neither my respect for her abilities.  I just couldn’t ‘treat her like any other guy.” 

 

As the evening went on I was starting to evolve a bit.  First: I didn’t want to lose to Sabrina because I didn’t play the game correctly and as best I could.  I also didn’t want to denigrate her by trying to play “soft.”  I felt that in order to best respect Sabrina, women in general and the game of basketball I should really try to play as normal as possible.  As I turned up my intensity and focused on Sabrina as the “opponent,” my performance was noticeably better. I began to score more points and show her that I could play the game too.  On one particular play, as she was about to shoot I reached out in an attempt to block the shot and fouled her.  She sort of gave me a surprising if not questioning look.  I couldn’t be sure what she meant by the look.  Sometimes when I play with guys, they act surprised if they get fouled on a play, or act as if they should be allowed to do as they please with little or no contact.  That could have been what she was thinking.  I couldn’t help but think however, that maybe she thought that I was treating her harshly or that I had crossed the line.  Since I knew that she was a hard-core ball player, I dismissed the latter and decided to keep playing as if gender was not a factor in the game. 

 

A funny thing happened shortly thereafter.  She went for a difficult shot and made it though I had contested it vigorously.  Without thinking about it, as she walked towards the free throw line to shoot her foul shot, I tapped her on the behind and said, “Good shot.”  When I thought of Sabrina as a woman, I would have never done that.  For that would be breaking rules of etiquette.  But I had almost managed to forget that she was a woman, and I looked at her as a ball player who was very capable of embarrassing me by defeating me mercilessly.  As competitive as I am, I’m still a good sport.  So I don’t see anything wrong with paying a compliment even in the heat of battle sometimes.

 

Perhaps Sabrina was glad to see that I turned my level of play up.  Perhaps she noticed that I wasn’t treating her “like a woman.”  However she didn’t like the tap on her behind.  She said, “Hey watch that.”  She didn’t sound angry but stern nonetheless.  I felt embarrassed.  I did it at that moment without thinking of her as simply a female.  I had done the exact same thing to countless men on the court during competitive play.  As much basketball as Sabrina had played within her lifetime, I think it’s safe to say that she has traded that gesture with other women in the past without it being considered something offensive or sexual. 

 

I tried my best as a player and as a person not to give Sabrina gender discrimination.  For the time on the court, I wanted to treat her as a ballplayer first.  But Sabrina reminded me, that she was a woman.