Fear, Loathing and Misogyny in the Upper Midwest

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Two local stories you might be interested in from my neighborhood.

First, a girl high school wrestler advanced yesterday but was beaten today in the state tournament in Iowa. Why is this interesting? Well, first, this is not a girl wrestling on a girl’s team. It is a girl wrestling on the regular team which happens to be traditionally boys. Second, she advanced yesterday when one of the favorite to win, a boy, refused to wrestle a girl, apparently because he things the sport should be reserved for boys. (I dunno … in his case, maybe wrestling really is a gay sport? Who knows?)

Anyway, Cassey Herkelman beat Joel Northrup by default when he walked away from the match. To be fair, I’ll give you Northrup’s official statement:

On Thursday, Northrup said he respected Herkelman and Black but didn’t think girls should compete against boys in wrestling. In a statement issued through his school, he called wrestling a combat sport and said “it can get violent at times.”

Though I must say I got a bit of a different impression when watching this on the news. In any event, Northrup does not really respect Herkelman or the sport if he feels that he can make unilateral decisions about what the rules are despite the existence of a system that is in charge of those rules. The only truly honorable thing for him to do, other than fighting the girl, would be to resign from the sport. Don’t you think?

Herkelman had a 20-13 record going into the tournament but was defeated today by Matt Victor.

The next story is about a threatening obnoxious fax sent to Congresswoman Betty McCollum by an area teabagger.

Both are reported on CBS/WCCO but I also watched them on the news. McCollum represents Minnesota’s 4th district (mainly Saint Paul and nearby suburbs), and is a liberal democrat, has been in congress for about 10 years and sits on important committees. She recently proposed to cut advertising betwen themilitary and NASCAR. The advertising is expensive, (for 7 million you get a sticker and a couple of driver appearances) they are looking for cuts, there is no evidence that it is effective, and most of the military branches have already cut their use of NASCAR as an advertising outlet. The only reason to keep doing this is for political purposes. It makes sense to stop this funding.

Therefore, a teabagger, who would be happy to stop funding to efficiently save the lives of little wide-eyed children or bunnies, and probably collects most of his income form government sources that he opposes, sent Congresswoman McCollum a fax threatening both her and President Obama, depicting racist and violent acts of a crude sexual nature.

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20 thoughts on “Fear, Loathing and Misogyny in the Upper Midwest

  1. The high school story interested me. I think two things. One, the young man is in high school. No, he should not resign from the sport. He is young and he is still forming his character and again, he is young. Would you, at 17, be willing to put on basically a leotard and roll around on the ground with a girl in front of people? This is a no win situation for him. Really, it is. I don’t think I need to explain any further, but I think it is okay he didn’t want to wrestle her. Instead of trying to sound manly and say it can get violent, perhaps he should have said how he would love to see a woman’s team.

  2. He should be cut from the team. He can’t choose to not play by the rules. He doesn’t even go to the school. I read he is homeschooled.

  3. monson – Really? You go wrestle a girl. Right now. Full on as hard as you can. One, if you win, your friends will say, man you beat a girl. Two, if you don’t win say because you feel awkward fighting a girl, you’ll never live it down. Geez, the kid is high school age – cut him some slack. He wasn’t making a political statement about whether or not the girl should be allowed to wrestle, he is simply uncomfortable wrestling her himself. And that should be okay.

  4. Sondrah, If he won’t play by the rules he shouldn’t play. Why should the coaches spend time with him and another wrestler lose his spot if he won’t commit? Yeah it would suck to lose to a girl but too bad.

    Here is a link http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2011/02/17/iowa-high-school-wrestler-defaults-match-wouldnt-face-girl/

    Seems that his faith doesn’t allow it. I think statements of faith and female participation in life are political statements.

    She qualified for this tournament. If all the boys did this then what?

  5. Northrup, a home-schooled student who competes for Linn-Mar, said in a statement published in the Des Moines Register, “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan and their accomplishments. However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most of the high school sports in Iowa.”

    Bill Herkelman, Cassy’s dad, said, “I’d like to see his (Joel’s) father and meet him because I applaud them for holding onto their convictions. Even on a big stage like this. That’s something that takes a lot of guts. A lot of people may second-guess it, but your convictions have to be your convictions.”

  6. So now you can’t play sports unless you have no faith to interfere or inspire for that matter? Is it okay that he prayers silently before his matches? Or does that offend you? He forfeited the match. Hurts his record, not hers. And this is obviously a rare and odd situation.

    Ask the anthropologist who is physically stronger, a man or a woman, and if in the future we’d like all sports to be coed. I think if women had to run the 100 meters against men, had to get out on the basketball court with them and match up in all other sports people would be upset. It is okay that we are different.

    This was a unique situation and his unique response to the choice of wrestling or not is fine. It is okay that his faith said he should not have wrestled her, just as it would have been okay if your godless doctrine told you to wrestle her.

  7. Once in a racketball tournement my next match turned out to be a girl (12-13 yrs)and the rest of us were adult males. Now women regularly play men in racketball and some have killed me, but this was a kid. After protesting, I played a non-power game and won, although it took some long points. But about 2/3s the way through the 2nd game it got old and the power game was used to finish things up quickly. Sorry kid. But it was sort of a no-win situation, although her parents thanked me for playing so it made a game of it, and the kid was skilled, but just lacking the speed, power, and experience of an older, bigger, stronger player. But wrestling is a different matter, so this one could go either way.

  8. On the one hand, I think he could choose to play the game or not, for whatever reason he likes. But the comments he gave were fairly patronizing. And Sondrah, there’s nothing shameful about being beaten by a girl with a 20-13 record. She’s not some damsel who needs Northrup’s protection. She’s a competent wrestler who earned her place in the tournament.

    I’ll leave it to the anthropologist to explain the difference between averages and individuals.

  9. From what I remember of being that age, I don’t think there’s a jockstrap/cup combination made that would’ve spared me the embarrassment of an involuntary boner.

    And I would’ve said/done something just as stupid to avoid the situation.

  10. I’d be seriously uncomfortable in that position. It’s not even out of some belief that contact or combat sports should be either male-only or split-sex, it’s just that I fundamentally regard violence against women to be vulgar.

    She’s obviously very good at it, knows the risks and is thoroughly capable but, in my inadequate, tribalistic, primate mind, my relationship with (young) men is one of competition. My relationship with women is one of compassion.

  11. If I was his coach, I’d be reluctant to put him on the wrestling team or however it works there in the future. You can’t have someone just give up without trying.
    No team would put up with a baseball player refusing to bat because the pitcher is left handed.

  12. I can sympathize with the boy — there are too many holds that he’d be conflicted over. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

    And yes, it’s wrestling. Nothing personal, not his problem, different context, that crotch grip is just part of the sport, etc. But I keep recalling that you learn the rules first and very, very carefully make exceptions — and at his age, I’m reluctant to make exceptions. Hell, I’m almost 60 and it’s still a challenge to avoid any show of discomfort when I have to examine a woman (or worse, girl) in swimsuit country.

    Seems to me there are a lot of women who would second the “when in doubt, no touchee; when in doubt, no violence” rule considering their problems with men who make exceptions for themselves.

    So I sympathize and don’t want to pretend that it’s all black and white. But that excuse was really lame.

  13. In Jr. High, my daughter beat all the boys on the wresting team and was invited to join. My wife said no, and I did not hear about it until considerably later, so was able to avoid thinking about it.

  14. #13

    Love how everyone goes for the sports item and skips over the threatening fax.

    Presumably because the fax is so obviously wrong and stupid that there’s nothing to be said about it, whereas the wrestling at least has some scope for discussion.

  15. This reminds me of an incident that happened a few years ago when I was coaching youth basketball. The teams were not coed, but someone (one of the parents, actually) got the bright idea of having a game between a girls team and a boys team. The girls were the champions of their age group, were undefeated, and had won every one of their games by a comfortable margin. My (boys) team was reasonably good, but not outstanding. I should also note that the girls team was from the next higher age bracket (11-12 year olds) than my team, apparently because this seemed “fairer” to the parents who organized all of this. My boys were reluctant to play, largely due to the whole ‘no-win’ aspect of the thing. I wasn’t really too wild about it, either. I honestly thought my boys would lose — these were nice, well-raised kids from a nice, liberal community; who’s parent had taught them to be respectful to young women, and frankly I thought they would not be able to muster up that competitive instinct that it often takes to win at sports. The only advice I could give them was to play like they would any other game. Long story short, my team beat the girls team, badly. At the end the game, the girls were in tears, my boys felt like heels for having beaten a bunch of girls, the parents were all angry (especially the ones who organized the game) and I have never coached youth sports since, and have no plans to ever again. I don’t really know if there’s a moral to this story or not, but I think that sometimes it’s better not to recognize that there are real difference between the sexes, and even the most well-meaning attempts to bridge those gaps can sometimes produce some really bad results.

  16. My three children all played in a local soccer league. My daughter’s team often practiced against similar age boys teams. Sometimes they would win, sometimes they would lose.

    Watching games of boys vs girls at various ages, my impression was that boys had greater athletic ability and looked smooth in play. Girls were less athletic and less smooth in execution, but played with more focus and intensity than the boys did.

  17. Presumably because the fax is so obviously wrong and stupid that there’s nothing to be said about it

    True. I mean, who the hell sends a fax in this day and age?

  18. DGard, I think you’ve got the moral of your story wrong. Let me try and explain with a story of my own.

    I run a poker game with some friends from university. It’s a cash games, dealer’s choice. On a given hand we could be playing any of a few dozen games. We even make some up on the spot. And there is the potential for a lot of money to move around very quickly. Any time a new player joins our game, we make sure to explain the rules to every game, we coach as much as is appropriate, but at the end of the day, it’s up to each player to decide if they can afford to lose a bet. Some people lose their shirts when they start out, but they almost always come back, and they get better.

    You gave your boys the right advice. That the girls and their coaches hadn’t adequately considered the possibility of losing is no one’s fault but their’s. If we’re talking about 11-12yr old girls vs. 9-10yr old boys, then the physical difference between the two groups is probably far less important than differences in coaching.

    Taking it back to the original discussion. Herkelman and Black knew what they were getting into. It’s not up to Northrup to second guess their choices.

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