Archive for April, 2013

Brittany Griner, Baylor, and the Politics of Sexual Exclusion


I have to make a confession, I have never liked Brittany Griner. She may be greatest female basketball player that the world has seen, with the kind of promise that Sheryle Swoopes had when she graduated from Texas Tech. She is a profoundly talented athlete, capable of dominating competition even at the highest level. It remains to be seen if she can remain healthy and fulfill her potential at the next level, but there is no questioning Griner’s exceptional dominance of college basketball. I’ve always followed the women’s game. Duke always had great teams, and my old training buddy and former student/advisee  Christian Foster was the son of Jim Foster, the coach of the Vanderbilt women’s team, and now the head coach at Ohio State. Jim is a good person and a great coach, and his teams have been successful.

I didn’t hate Griner because she was a dirty, physical player—which she is. She has gone so far as to  punch an opponent and break her nose in an NCAA game—and received only a one game suspension from Baylor, and none from the NCAA. I can’t imagine a male player getting away with that, frankly. But, it wasn’t so much that. The reason why I have always loathed Brittany Griner is that she played for Baylor. Baylor is one of the dirtiest NCAA sports programs. It is an virtually all-white Southern Baptist school that has invested heavily in basketball and football, with predictably scandalous results. Baylor is one of the intellectual centers for the Christian Right, promoting radical right wing Christianity across their entire curriculum, and supporting radical conservative intellectuals while indoctrinating students to further their cause. The current President is Ken Starr, the former special prosecutor in charge of investigating blow jobs—and the Defender of Proposition 8 in front of the California Supreme Court. I absolutely loathe Baylor and everything that they stand for. Had Griner played for Tennessee or Ohio State, I might have a jersey with her name on it (she isn’t Duke or Stanford material (sorry, kid)). Indeed, even at Baylor, they shunt all of the jocks into some bullshit “general studies” track, and that is what Griner will be awarded a degree in, perhaps.

Not surprisingly, following Sheryl Swoopes and many top stars in women’s basketball and other sports, Griner is a lesbian and recently came out of the closet, matter-of-factly, in an interview with Sports Illustrated. In that and subsequent interviews she suggests that she has always been up front and comfortable about who she is. Of course, she is only now coming out of the closet as she is leaving Baylor, and has signed a lucrative professional contract and an endorsement contract with Nike. I applaud her success, and I’m glad that Nike is willing to put their money towards the best athletes in their sports.  But the Baylor thing still leaves me wanting more from Griner. It’s simply not true that her sexuality didn’t matter at Baylor, and I wonder what top officials at Baylor Athletics are now saying and doing regarding her announcement. This is, after all, a school that doesn’t even allow gay and lesbian organizations on campus, and counts among its faculty some of the staunchest opponents of civil rights for GLBT persons. Indeed, about half or more of the Sociology department at Baylor signed a statement supporting Mark Regnerus’ bullshit study denigrating gay parents.

What does the current Women’s coach at Baylor have to say about their greatest star ever?

What Does Ken Starr have to say about Brittany Griner’s coming out?

Do they all think she’s going to hell? Do they want an entrance questionnaire to make sure that no more gays or lesbians join their sports teams? I mean, if you hate gays and don’t support their “choices” then maybe you shouldn’t win championships using their talents.

For Griner, she’s a kid, but it’d still be nice if she’d come out of the closet about what things were really like at Baylor. She can’t really be so clueless, can she?

Support for Legalization Stable as 420 closes a bad week…..

Support for Marijuana Legalization 1972-2012 GSS

Support for Marijuana Legalization 1972-2012 GSS

Nothing ends a bad week like 420, and this year it was certainly a welcome close to a horrible week. Americans became more accepting of marijuana legalization after the dark ages of Just Say No, sometime when it became clear that Bill inhaled and had sex with that woman. It’s just ridiculous. Every President for the last two decades is a former marijuana smoker. The huge leap in public opinion between 2008 and 2010 was a bit of an eyebrow raiser, though. And, indeed, the 2012 GSS found opinion stable, rather than trending towards legalization. The 2010 sampling frame may have hit some hot spots of legalization fervor, but it seems clear that nearly half of Americans support legalization.

Legalization support by age:: 2012 GSS

Legalization support by age:: 2012 GSS

Of course, support for legalization has varied by age/cohort, and real cohort differences are quite apparent. The Just Say no generation lags behind the youngest cohorts, while the majority of baby boomers (45-60 in 2012) support legalization. Opposition remains high among the olds, but they will die soon.

Boston Marathon, Patriots’ Day, and Terrorism in the US—Got that one wrong….

Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City OK, 1995. I got my Socialist Security Card there....

Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City OK, 1995. I got my Socialist Security Card there….

Ah, Patriots’ Day, a good day for Christian Nationalist Patriots to commit terrorist acts in the United States, Just like Tim McVeigh did 18 years ago a couple of days after Patriot’s day—but I guess this time the Islamists were the players.  I’ll never forget watching the coverage of the OKC bombing in 1995, sitting there at the Boundry in Nashville, and watching as they pulled children’s bodies from the hulk of the building where I got my Social Security Card.

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2000, fulfilling a dream I had since I was 6 years old. Every serious runner wants to at least do Boston once. It is one of the only events where you have to demonstrate that you’re not some poser like Oprah or Paul Ryan. Qualifying times for Boston mean that anyone lined up isn’t just fit, they’re also fast. My spouse did Boston in 2006, and we were talking about the race this morning and wondering who we knew who might be running. I was tracking the progress of the son of one of my racing buddies, Mark Swartzendruber. Druber’s kid is fast, and Mark was a proud pappa announcing the 5k splits as they came in. Us old bike racing guys joined in to jeer at his “jogging”, but the kid obviously has his father’s considerable athletic ability and finished up in 2:42…damned good thing. Mark’s kid had just finished when I left for a training ride, and when I got to my regular stopping place to check my e-mail there was an ominous post from Mark “Nate’s family said he’s ok” and some eery comment about explosions near the finish.  I started checking the net for what had happened. It remains unclear at the time I write, but a set of terrorists placed bombs about 50 meters or so from the finish line of the race, and detonated them as the heart of the age group runners were finishing—I saw a video showing about 4:09 on the clock, or about a 4:04 finishing time for runners—which would be the prime time for masters women and older masters men. To put that in perspective, when Paul Ryan was 20 he ran a 4:01 at an easy marathon in Wisconsin (his time was over an hour off of a Boston qualifier), and in 2006 my spouse finished Boston in 3:46 when she was over 35 . Anyone who has done Boston and seen the videos knows that the blast happened in a place likely to be frequented by friends and family waiting for racers to finish. It isn’t surprising that an 8 year old kid is listed as a victim, perhaps waiting for mommy or daddy….My mother and my brother Danny waited for me right across the street from where the blast was centered.

Everyone urges caution at speculating about things like this, but I couldn’t help it on Patriots’ Day  and it was Tax Day, complete with Tea Party Protests…And during the same week that Tim McVeigh chose to murder 169 Americans and maim another 680? The day lionized by Christian Patriots around the nation as the day to “water the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” And, what better place than liberal communist Massachusetts? And, after all, marathon runners are a bunch of skinny communists, who probably voted for the Kendonesian. And, did a Kenyan win again this year? Probably, I don’t care. But, a couple of bored Chechens decided to have some fun in America.

We can be thankful that this latest group of terrorists did not possess the tactical acumen of Tim McVeigh, or things would have been a lot worse. It would be nice if the FBI and other law enforcement agencies would begin taking domestic  terrorism more seriously—and we should have strict controls on explosives–like maybe actually have a real BATFE?

Belief in evolution INCREASING among religious fundamentalists

Belief that humans evolved from other animals by religious beliefs: 2006-2012 GSS

Belief that humans evolved from other animals by religious beliefs: 2006-2012 GSS

Religious apologists have been quite active in chastising scientists for making fun of religious rubes who believe that the earth is 6000 years old and that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. As if you shouldn’t make fun of such nonsense. The contention has been that “militant” atheism (which has yet to kill anyone, while the Christian terrorist death toll keeps ticking up daily in the United States, what with anti-immigrant, pro-gun, and white supremacists killing people almost daily) is turning people off to science and evolution. If only that awful Dawkins would shut the fuck up everyone would convert to liberal airy fairy Protestantism and believe in evolution, right? Or, maybe, being made fun of about being wrong makes you change your erroneous beliefs. I mean, what the fuck, Catholics gave up on opposing evolution over a half century ago. And, indeed, despite the increasingly vocal cries of atheist scientists (the vast majority of scientists are atheists, particularly at research oriented universities), FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANS HAVE DRAMATICALLY INCREASED THEIR EMBRACE OF THE SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS ON HUMAN ORIGINS.  Yes, Fundies, those who believe that the bible is the actual word of god have gone from having less than one in five support evolution, to nearly a third believing in the evolution of humans from other species. Jesus Fuck! There is less action among the “inspired” though they also seem to be ticking upward a tad. People who believe the bible is a bunch of weird stories are unchanged between 2006 and 2012. The “in your face” confrontation with evidence has even fundamentalists reimagining what their fundamentalism means vis-a-vis the evolution of species. I doubt that the namby pamby accommodation of religious tomfoolery would have produced this shift. Change comes from confrontation, conflict, and the realization that outdated perspectives are no longer tenable. Advantage Atheists…..

The Myth of “Hook Up Culture” and why right wing assholes promulgate sexual shaming

Number of sex partners for unmarried respondents by age group: General Social Survey 2006-2012
Number of sex partners for unmarried respondents by age: 2006-2012 GSS

Number of sex partners for unmarried respondents by age: 2006-2012 GSS

The intertwebs are all aflutter about how WOMEN are fucking around for no reason. I suppose they must be all lesbians by the reckoning of the concerned citizens who don’t seem to think that men matter in this equation. However, I’d like to burst their bubble and suggest that, in fact, most women are having sex with men–and vice versa. Dipshit journalists have been happy to parrot the right wing “research” that suggests that women (it is always the women’s fault!) are now more likely to seek non-committal sexual relationships–particularly those slutty, uppity college women. Instead, of course, they should be finding them a good Princeton man to marry (if they can find one that isn’t a lustful cockmonster, which seems unlikely at Princeton). The myth of hooking up “culture” is a product both of the wistful clueless left (who wish that everyone was fucking everyone) and the prudish Christian right (who are horrified that anyone is fucking anyone). Low brow intellectuals on both sides are promoting the myth to try to “explain” various issues in life course development (as us scientists think of it…..).

Yet, reality is far less salacious….The vast majority of unmarried Americans under the age of 25 are either CELIBATE (16%)  or MONOGAMOUS (46%). Another 16% wound up having sex with two people in the last year, and under a quarter of them had sex with more than two people. That is hardly a “culture” of hooking up on anonymous sexual escapades.

What Christian conservative authors and activists at Princeton and elsewhere miss is that the sexual behavior of young adults has long conformed to this pattern—from the beginning of allowing women into Princeton, and before! At Universities, particularly ELITE universities, NOBODY is expected to get married while they are undergraduates. In fact, this has LONG been proscribed. The elite are expected to finish their eduction. Men are expected to get jobs, randy about, and get married when they are in their late 20s or early 30s. Women are expected to finish their degrees, locate themselves accordingly, and get married in their mid to late 20s. Undergraduate women are not at all thinking about marrying the BOYS they are in school with, and undergraduate “men” have no interest in establishing relationships with women who are going to wind up marrying their older brothers (or fathers….). Both men and women are looking into their future careers, which will likely involve further education—and a serious relationship will hinder and be hindered by educational opportunities. After completing education, occupational commitments would further undermine relationships—which is all the more reason to avoid them until one is settled into a career.

There is no such thing as hook up culture. Young adults are not getting laid very often, or by many people. Jerk off to something else. Reality doesn’t look like that. Young people are making their way in the world, and sex is a part of that, but, frankly, sex is subordinated to other important life issues. People don’t want to establish relationships which will not work out in the end, and often that means that they simply have less sex than they may desire. Sex is rarely free of the basic human desire for companionship, and while people who are not in a position to have a relationship may occasionally have sex, it is relatively rare, age specific, and harmless to their future goals—if not supportive of them.

No, Women are not simply more liberal than men: The Curious Case of Rape and Abortion

Opposition to legal abortion in the case of rape by gender: 1973 and 2012 GSS

Opposition to legal abortion in the case of rape by gender: 1973 and 2012 GSS

A commenter remarked that women are simply more liberal than men, in reaction to my discussion of marriage. But, that’s simply not true, and even in very twisted situations. While women are consistently more supportive of legalizing same sex marriage, they are, if anything, just as conservative as men when it comes to opposition to legal abortion in the case of RAPE. It’s a bit shocking, but makes sense when you think about the constellation of social locations that result in such a sick-fuck belief. Worse, opposition to legal abortion in the case of rape has increased substantially over the last four decades–for both men and women. And, in both 1973 and 2012 more women are opposed to legal abortion for rape victims than are men (though the difference is not statistically discernible at  conventional levels).  The short answer is that among the radical right, there is an even gender split, contrary to journalistic assumptions about the radical right. When we get to more even issues—like gay marriage, which has yet to cross the majority threashold in a scientific study—women become forerunners of popular opinion (same thing with gun control).

And, of course, the conservative trend should be another wake up call. Americans are not all becoming more liberal, and some are becoming more conservative. This is another indicator of radical opinion polarization—MORE Americans, even American WOMEN, are opposed to legal abortion in the case of Rape in 2012 than was the case in 1973–nearly four decades ago. The difference is both substantial and statistically significant.