Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I was tagged by the feminista of the west. (Settle down. It's a joke.) See, the tag was to name the five things I can thank feminism for. I was a little reluctant to post, in part because feminism (like most "isms") is one of those things you can't joke about. Like most "isms" it is a loaded terms that sets people off. I make it a practice not to set people off, at least on the blog. I like people to want to come here.

Plus, I'm suspicious of all isms, from communism, to liberalism, to conservatism, to fundamentalism. All isms are mixed bags that are responsible for both good and ill in human society. Even so, the isms tend to inspire adherents who insist the bag is completely full of truth and light, and anyone who does not think so is at best ill-informed, or at worst an enemy to the state. Thus, debate in this country usually degenerates into name calling that would get a first year laws school mock trial team laughed out of competition, and elsewhere it degenerates into violence. (List these among the reasons that I NEVER watch any television news program.)

Me, I'm not a full bag kind of guy. I'm not even a "glass half full" or "glass half empty" kind of guy. To me, it's just half a glass.

BUT, I gotta respect the power of the tag. So I put my little dog brain to work. Given my antipathy toward all "isms," I will change the inquiry only slightly. What are the five things I can be thankful for that are due to the increasing equality and dignity of women. (You, reader, can attribute that increasing equality and dignity to feminism, in whole or in part, or not at all.)

1. My wife.

Pack Leader Bride

Beyond her being a strong human being with a willingness to use her brain, I never would have met her in a prior generation.

This is a tale of two flutists. My wife and my mother were both flutists from small towns in Oklahoma, just from different eras. My mother had the opportunity to solo with the Olahoma City Symphony back in the 1950s, and was invited by the guest conductor to come and study at the Curtis Institute on scholarship. But good girls from small towns in the 1950s did not pursue ambitions like that. In contrast, my wife clawed her way into college on her flute and went to the Aspen Music Festival where I met her and fell in love with a gifted and ambitious woman.

2. My daughter.


This is more than just "if I hadn't met my wife I would not have my daughter." The most interesting people on the planet are older elementary age girls in that time right before they enter the dark tunnel of adolesence from which many never fully emerge. (Read "Reviving Ophelia") They are smart, curious, rough-and-tumble, girly, not-so-girly, know-it-all-or-soon-will-master-the-universe kind of little people. I'm thankful that no one (especially me) is telling her to sit down, be quiet, and act like a lady.

3. Title IX. On this I agree whole heartedly with the other tag-ees. I love women's sport. Maybe it's because I'm the father of a daughter. Maybe it's because I know how good sport is for a young woman's development as a person. Maybe it's because I train so often with women. Maybe it's just because female athletes are hawt. WHATEVER. I just love it. I know my mancard is in danger, but I have to admit to not watching a single nanosecond of the NCAA Men's basketball tournament. I have seen some of the women's tournament, however. And the NCAA women's cross country championships. And soccer. And volleyball. and . . . . well you get the idea.

4. The Title IX brain. Because of Title IX, we think differently about women in sport. Even women who never played college sports feel the power and freedom to participate here that they do not feel elsewhere. (Witness the lack of female competitors by comparison in European triathlons).

What would the transition area at Wildflower look like in the absence of Title IX? Who would be blogging about triathlon in the absence of Title IX? Do you want to train and race in such an environment? I surely don't. Title IX brain means I have new friends like:

Iron Wil

Iron Wil

Curly Su

Flute Jam (awwwww)


My Little Friend

Trimama and Trisaratops

IMWI Finish

and many others. I would certainly be impoverished in the absence of coming to know these extraordinary women. And I never would have met them in the absence of Title IX brain.

Title IX brain also means that we are beginning to value and glorify beautiful women who are talented and powerful--not just for being some skinny, no-talent waif who walks a runway after snorting coke and smoking a cigarette. Just think of:

Amanda Beard


Mel McQuaid


Jessi Stensland


Desiree Ficker


Carrie Tollefson

Carrie Tollefson

and the next generation like--

Sarah Bowman

or Brie Felnagle.

Brie Felnagle

(So, um, yeah. I know the sophomore standouts at colleges I never attended. I told you. I love women's sport.)

Beyond the obvious "ez on the eyes" reason for a guy to like these women (and I don't deny that reason for a minute--I am ALL guy on that one) I want my daughter to equate beauty and feminity with power and accomplishment--not with the right shade of lip gloss or an eating disorder.

5. Getting closer to right. Warning, reader. This is the part of the post where I get all theological. If that is not you're cup of tea, then move on. You have been warned.

Did you know that the original Christians were criticized for recognizing the dignity of women and slaves? It's true. The faith was derided as beneath the contempt of a Roman man because it was the religion of women and slaves. The ancient Hebrew and Christian creation account tells us that "God created man in his own image; . . . male and female he created them." Both genders in our species were created in the image of God. Both genders are needed to understand the complete image of God. To the extent one denies the dignity or worth of either part of our human race, one distorts both the nature of humanity and the nature of God who created them. To the extent we value both, we are closer to right than we were before.



21stCenturyMom said...

And nicely done it was. Thanks for that.

Remember - just because you don't like the sound of 'isms' doesn't mean they don't exist! Title IX is 100% the result of feminism which, in its most broad definition means 'for women'. Like or not, my dear, you are a feminist ;-)

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

oh I'm SO OFFENDED! How dare you be so NICE to us!

I prefer the term "feminazi" myself... (that's a joke)

Dude - this is a great post. I tagged you because I knew you would treat this thoughtfully - because you use your whole dog brain!

I totally agree with the suspicion of "ism" thing, it does imply that you have to be a card-carrying member to agree with it even a teeny bit. Seeing as how I am a chick, I suppose that makes me a little more invested.

I'm glad you took the time to tell your truth.


the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

and 21st Century Mom is 100% correct - thank you!

I've said it before, I'll say it again: You don't have to be a hairy-legged bra-burning lesbian to be a feminist.

Spokane Al said...

You said it for all of us brother. Nicely done.

Nytro said...

great post...

i gotta get you a better pic of me...

preferably one where i'm eating a cadbury egg...

how do you feel about triathlonism?

Anonymous said...

Under the realm of psychology, you may enjoy the "Exclusive Interview with Sigmund Freud" I was able to attain today. Found in "Necessary Therapy"

P.S. I love your pictures.

Taconite Boy said...

Nicely done. Sounded like a metrosexual, yet still pulled off the hottie pics. Well done my friend.

tri-mama said...

I love my Grayhound!

Triteacher said...

My favorite in a post that had a lot to say: "...most interesting people on the planet are older elementary age girls in that time right before they enter the dark tunnel of adolesence from which many never fully emerge." Oh man, for a dad like you. She's lucky!

And as a 5th grade teacher, I'm with you. Those girls (and boys) are neat, neat people.

Phoenix said...

Awesome post, thanks!

Donald said...

Fantastic post. We can learn a lot, and owe a lot, to the women.

Spence said...

FANTASTIC post. THANK YOU for putting such thought and time into this tag - I'm especially touched by the words about your daughter... I once heard Donna Lopiano, then president of the Women's Sports Foundation, talk about title IX and she gave a lot of credit for it's power and success to all the dads out there that wanted equality for their daughters. You are right up there with the best of 'em! Awesome!!

ps. the picture with Nytro made me LAUGH OUT LOUD. too funny...and fun!

Joe V. said...

Long time lurker here. Loved the post. I truly appreciated #5 there. Many so-called (meaning self-labeled) "Christians" lose sight of that.

TriSaraTops said...

Amen, sista!

Er, brotha!

:) Great post. Triathlonism rocks.

No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

Longtime lurker, new blogger and I just have to say, WOW!

Personally I'm suspicious of anyone calling themselves a feminist. In some social circles it's become kind of an excuse for (reverse) sexism, n'est pas? Long dead are the days when "feminism" meant equality of the sexes. Now "feminism" is synonymous with female superiority. I hate that.

But thank god for chicks in sports, huh? Without them a guy watching sports all day would be, well, kind of gay.

Wil said...

YOU are awesome grey!!! Thanks :) Can't wait to see you again!

Mr. Biggs said...

Very well put. I write this as the women finish the Beijing marathon, and my friend and I are both stricken by how beautiful the Romanain winner is.
It's something we really have to fight against, this idea that feminism is a dirty word. The alternative of pushing women back into the shadows while the men play with each other is just unacceptable.

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