I recently heard from a young woman who is writing a book about women in football. She said she wanted me to read what she’s got so far. She said doing so would enable me to learn about “the many achievements and contributions women have made as players, coaches, front office staff, television analysts and more.”
“OK,” I replied. “Send along what you’ve written.”
Pretty straightforward so far. But during our correspondence, the author confided that although she is “100% opposed to tackle football,” she feels strongly that “women who have made contributions to the game should be recognized for what they’ve accomplished.”
Toward the end of her second email, she wrote, “Hard line to walk, right?”
Well, yes. Yes, it is.
I was reminded of another exchange of emails some time back. It had to do with a story about a female boxer. The emailer asked me if I thought women should box. I wrote back to say no. The woman called me sexist. I wrote back to say I didn’t think so, because I didn’t think men should box, either. Gender didn’t have anything to do with it. I was more concerned with the high likelihood that the man or woman taking the punches to the head would end up disabled and poor, while the people managing and promoting the fights would walk away unscathed with the money.
I don’t like to see that happen to boxers or football players any more than I like to see the terrible damage to coal miners with black lung who’ve made the mine owners rich.
But as the young woman with part of a book written said, “it’s a hard line to walk.” People get to choose what they want to do for work. Women who choose fields traditionally dominated by men — boxing and football, for example — are certainly to be admired for their courage and for following what I can only assume is a considerable passion. If they weren’t passionate, they’d probably choose to do something with fewer built-in obstacles and biases against them.
But I wouldn’t applaud a crooked hedge fund manager who was passionate about getting rich just because she was a woman in a man’s world.
How should I feel about a woman who fights her way into management in a profession where I believe the workers whom she’s employing or supervising are victims of dishonesty and manipulation on the part of management? What about if that woman is enabling her employer to misrepresent that dangers in the workplace … or doing it herself?
Yup … hard line to walk.
I look forward to reading the book this young woman is writing. Maybe it’ll clarify things. If it’s any good, I’ll let you know.