Profiling and stereotyping–we are all guilty of it in some way or another whether we realize it or not.
For example, the other day my husband had taken my son (6 y/o) to his fall ball baseball practice. Apparently, my son’s hitting was not too great. My husband proceeded to tell him that he was swinging the bat like a girl.
Now, if you are female then you are thinking the same thing right now that I thought when my loving husband told me that he said that.
“Hold up…wait a minute…you told him what?” (Those were my exact words and I bet that is similar to what you are thinking in your mind right now. Some men out there wondering what is the big deal…like my hubby was after he told me what he told our son.)
My loving hubby demonstrated the swing that our son was performing and again said that he was swinging like a girl.
I told him that a girl can swing a bat just as well as any boy can and that I have seen some pretty wimpy swings in the boys little league over the years. When you say that he is swinging like a girl that is putting all girls in the category of being inferior to all boys because they can’t swing a bat as well as a boy can. It is a put down to all girls–period. Anytime you tell a boy that he is swinging like a girl or running like a girl or whatever like a girl; that is putting girls down. That kind of reasoning and teaching is wrong. It is teaching our son that girls are not as good as boys and that boys are better because they have superior skills.
He didn’t get it.
But I do.
Oh, he understands what I am saying but he doesn’t think that telling our son that he swings like a girl is going to cause him to grow up thinking that girls are inferior to him because he is male.
If you don’t believe me when I say that it is a put down to all girls when you say that a boy swings like a girl, runs like a girl, hits like a girl, or throws like a girl, then I suggest you watch one of my all time favorite movie—The Sandlot. The Sandlot 2 is a good one, too.
Here is an exchange that occurs between kids in the movie, The Sandlot.
[the Sandlot Kids and their arch-rivals come face-to-face]
Phillips: It’s easy when you play with rejects and a fat kid, Rodriguez.
Benny: Shut your mouth, Phillips!
Ham Porter: What’d you say, crap face?
Phillips: You shouldn’t be allowed to touch a baseball. Except for Rodriguez, you’re all an insult to the game.
Ham Porter: Come on! We’ll take you on, right here! Right now! Come on!
Sandlot Kids: Yeah!
Phillips: We play on a real diamond, Porter. You ain’t good enough to lick the dirt off our cleats.
Ham Porter: Watch it, jerk!
Phillips: Shut up, idiot!
Ham Porter: Moron!
Phillips: Scab eater!
Ham Porter: Butt sniffer!
Phillips: Pus licker!
Ham Porter: Fart smeller!
Bertram: [sniffs] Ahh.
Phillips: You eat dog crap for breakfast, geek!
Ham Porter: You mix your Wheaties with your mama’s toe jam!
Sandlot Kids: Yeah!
Phillips: You bob for apples in the toilet! And you like it!
Ham Porter: You play ball like a giiirrrrrrrrl!
[entire group stands in shocked silence]
Phillips: What did you say?
Ham Porter: You heard me.
Phillips: Tomorrow. Noon, at our field. Be there, buffalo-butt breath.
Ham Porter: Count on it, pee-drinking crap-face!
Oh, it is a classic. I find it interesting that there are all these different insults being slung back and forth and the one insult that is so shocking, so insulting, so unforgivable is that “You play ball like a giiirrrrrrrrl!” Playing ball like a girl is worse than not being good enough to lick the dirt off cleats, worse than being called a jerk, idiot, or moron. It is worse than being called a scab eater, butt sniffer, pus licker, or fart smeller. It is worse than a geek eating dog crap for breakfast, mixing Wheaties with your mama’s toe jam, or bobbing for apples in the toilet…and liking it.
The worse insult that you can sling to any little boy on the baseball field is that they play ball like a girl.
My point is that without even realizing it, my husband was passing along stereotypical thoughts and impressions to my son. My husband is not sexist, but that is how stereotypes, racial biases, and profiling are impressed upon us and our children—subtly, unknowingly, and for the most part, innocently. Of course, there are exceptions because I know that there are plenty of racists, misogynists, misandrists, and a whole lot of other hater-ists out there in the world.
Anyway, people need to think critically. I shouldn’t assume every man thinks that he is superior to me because I am a woman. My husband shouldn’t assume that a girl’s swing is inferior to any boy’s swing. Somehow, telling my daughter that she swings like a boy just wouldn’t have the same effect as saying to my son that he swings like a girl.
Now, this story is leading you up to something else that I have been pondering about the last couple of days. It has to do with stereotyping and profiling. I can’t go into all the different cases of stereotyping and profiling because that would take forever, so I will go with the story that is in the news right now—Professor Gates vs. Sgt. Crowley, with a little interference from President Obama on the side.
Every police officer out there is not racist. Not every African-American is a criminal. After doing some research, I believe that the entire incident between Professor Gates and Sgt. Crowley is unfortunate and unhelpful toward healing race relations in our country. I think that Sgt. Crowley was doing his job, while Professor Gates was upset that he was being questioned about his right to be in his own home. Any person would have been upset if they were tired from a trip and just wanted to get home and were being questioned by the police because someone was concerned enough to call 911 and report a possible break in.
I would like to think that in retrospect that the Professor is pleased to know that people in his community care enough about each other to step up and make that call.
Will this cause people to become wary of calling 911 and getting involved because they do not want to have their motives questioned or be called a racist? Will this cause people to not give eyewitness accounts because they do not want to describe race or seen as racially profiling? Will this cause police officers to pause before acting or questioning someone because they would not want to be labeled as showing a racial bias? Will this cause police officers from doing their jobs to protect and serve our communities because they do not want to be accused of being racist?
Was it really necessary for President Obama to speak about this case?
Oh, and what signal does sitting around having a beer to solve a problem send to all those folks in AA that are trying to overcome the urge to drink when faced with a problem?