This Might Not Be For Her

Chris Paul’s now buzzing quip with referee Lauren Holtkamp gone viral.

Last night, the Clippers were out-lob-citied by the Cavs, seemingly crushed from tape to tape and, in the third quarter of what had to be a painfully forgettable game, were hit with a rash of technical fouls (one that would ultimately land on CP3 and instigate his comments). The Clips were visibly frustrated by the officiating especially since they lead the league in technicals.

“That’s ridiculous – if that is the case, then this might not be for her”

Let’s even see this in context so that we aren’t doing what many hack clickbait media outlets will be doing by singling out his quote and filling a page full of ipsum around it, luring us to their ad-ridden mirage and piss us all off.

“I think we have to show better composure but at the same time some of [the technical fouls] were ridiculous,” Chris Paul said. “The tech that I [got] right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t care what she says; that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a tech. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court and when we did that she said, ‘Uh-uh.’ I said, ‘Why, uh-uh?’ And she gave me a tech.” […]

“That’s ridiculous,” Paul said. “If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”

Let’s be fair: this is pretty mild as far as ref-bashing goes, #realtalk. He doesn’t even curse or call her any names. I’ve heard parents obliterate refs at peewee football and little league baseball games ten times worse than anything he said about her. And while the NBA has made their stance on Ref-shaming rather clear (you don’t do it. or $$), this barely even registers a blip on the radar.

So why is this a huge problem?

Because sports media outlets are going to take this, run with it and continue to proliferate a growing hate war between men and women that reaches far beyond sports and beyond this insignificant little exchange between Paul (who should know much, much better than to throw big boy tantrums but is, you know, human and in the heat of moments, put his all-star foot in his mouth) and Holtkamp (just doing her job, you know, a job that often comes under attack for fundamentally being a judgement call gig… #refereeproblems). The question ultimately becomes: How is this not for her and why? Because she’s a woman? Or because she’s a rookie?

It’s certainly problematic that Chris Paul, a pest on the court no doubt, is actually a rather stand-up character off it and is the league’s darling boy with all his sweater and tie looks in his State Farm commercials. Yet he is now in the center of a continuing theme of sexism in sports as demonstrated by the #likeagirl campaign and the backlash at the underwhelming lack of Tile IX compliance in school-organized sports. The problem isn’t with the literal interpretation of what he said. After all, were he referring to Crawford, Salvatore, Brothers or some other whistle-happy zebra  blowhard, the statement would have read as “This might not be for him” and it would still be just about the most vanilla attack on a referee in the history of ANY sport. Do you even want to know what MLB managers and Umps say to each other when they get all eskimo kissy and are spitting in each others’ faces a million miles per hour? Do you think it was:

“Hey bro. I don’t think this shit is for you.” 

“Get out, man. Just GO.”

And to top it off, it’s just as reasonable and logical to assume Chris Paul’s commentary had more to do with her inexperience as a ref and not her gender at all. #norookieshame

And yet despite all that, that still isn’t the problem here.

The problem is that there is a growing divide being played out before our eyes across social media platforms and forums everywhere between dudes and chicks and it is being fed constantly with stories like this one. Whether it is #gamergate (the stupidest concoction of sweaty nerds fighting each other over rights to manipulate pixels) or #likeagirl (now boys everywhere are terrified to even look at a girl let alone act like one), the fact is, if there was ever a divide between the genders in terms of social equity, there is now a gaping canyon between them that seems to be growing ever faster in a day and age we would normally assume it to be narrowing (internet, social media, all that fun stuff).

Who to blame?

Like with nearly everything else these days, it would seem, the unchecked, money-drunk media is a guilty player. The culprit is hatemongering ad campaigns aimed to continuously proliferate sexist and racist overtones and breed the sort of conflict that provides a platform for more of their idiotic ad campaigns (and therefore buckets and buckets of dirty, sexist money). These stories are the very reason real activists for social justice against sexism can’t seem to incite any progress in breaking down some of the oldest running social constructs that exist in our world. Such as what a girl can or can’t do.

This right on the heels of a recycled #likeagirl ad campaign that ran away with the honors of being the most useful commercial of this past Super Bowl’s shittastic lineup of fails. Real change is exacted on a grass roots level and through education, ensuring that our future generations are brought up with ideals of equity so that when they become government officials and social influencers, they can then go and bring us true equality.

This bullshit they’re selling us on TV and on the internet? Clickbait. I clicked on the article for CP3’s indiscretion because it implied that he had called her something offensive…  you know, like BITCH or CUNT or DUMB BROAD or something that we already recognize to be a part of our hateful colloquial vernacular. Instead, we get this deflated ball of non-story.

Just to be clear, I’m stating that the issue of a bias (or glass ceiling) against women in professional sports as well as in other professions and/or industries is very real… ugly and horrid. I was raised by a mother who was a steadfast, hardworking professional who was incomparably badass at her job; even then she was often overlooked, demeaned and disparaged despite being in a supervisory role and, like I said, a total badass. So I’m definitely not trying to pull any veil over anyone’s eyes and pretend that big ass pink elephant in the room is a figment of anyone’s imagination. Chris Paul didn’t actually disparage her for being a woman, though. Not at all; he disparaged her for being a shitty ref and making a weaksauce call. Treating her differently because she’s a woman is the sort of problem real feminists are trying to address and is precisely the reason why Holtkamp should be just as available for criticism for her job as any dude ref would be. No more so, no less so.

And that still isn’t what this is about.

My problem with many social activists twittering about the internet like a swarm of zombie hummingbirds is that they are trying to fight stigmas and outdated social constructs in spite of and ignoring the media’s role in it (which is akin to driving your car into a wall). I’m suggesting we do it by seeking and destroying the media’s credibility by calling them out. Media is a deceptive word, of course; music, film, print, internet, etc. and it is so fragmented and dynamic, it is impossible to cleanse the poison unless, somehow (and I admit it’s a pipedream), all media curators, content creators and broadcasters exhibit more social responsibility.

I get it. Supply and demand. Chicken and the egg. Remember my Josh Gordon piece? Same deal.

In order to change how ALL people view the world, you’ve got to change the message being broadcasted to them. True, the media is feeding the people what they want…. but how did the people come to want what they want????? AH HA! (strokes beard, sips aged Scotch nefariously). That vicious cycle is what needs to be broken because whatever we accomplish through education in formative years (as far as being tolerant, accepting, etc) is being undone by the media which educates in far sexier doses of consumption.

We want our girls to be safe and to be secure in themselves so that they can achieve all their dreams. We can’t do that by segregating them every chance we get by drawing attention to their tribulations more closely than we would a man’s and proliferating the idea that we need to tip toe around our differences with a heavy misogynist hand out of fear they are delicate and incapable. Men everywhere, even red-blooded American sports freaks, want fairness for the women in our lives.

And if we have to fight the scary kraken in order to help get that done, some of us will most definitely do exactly that.

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