Heroes Are Important

There’s a new movie out: “Battle of the Sexes.” Seen it yet? I haven’t, but I plan to.

Martha Crawford, an eloquent psychotherapist, did see the movie and shared her childhood recollections about the event the film depicts on Twitter. It made for an incredibly powerful story.

I’ve rendered Ms. Crawford’s tweets in paragraph form below the fold…

Take it away, Ms. Crawford

So last night I took my daughter to see Battle of the Sexes. And I had such visceral memories of that event and its lead up: My father was a white men’s club chauvinist: his misogyny was cold and hard. His daily humor dripping with contempt.

My mother was the brunt of jokes about her body, her “flat chest” my fathers favorite joke to tell was a rape joke at my mother’s expense. And women’s libbers and feminazis were a constant threat to him. The world he offered me to grow up into was a stifling jail.

& this silly tennis match. Between this buffoon- who my white mens country’s club father thought was hilarious- he was sure Riggs would win. And my mother and I quietly watched.

I cannot tell you how terrified I was that she would lose. I was 8 or so. Second grade. If she lost it seemed to mean to me that I would never get out. That every exit was blocked.

His cheers at every point she lost terrified me. He was always screaming at TV sports and the sudden eruptions always made me jump. I sat on the floor – I didn’t like to sit on the couch next to him because I had dreams that it would swallow me up and smother me.

I prayed silently the way children do: “please let her win please let her win”. I needed my father to lose. I needed her to unseat him.

I thought I might not be able to withstand watching her lose. He wanted me to stay and watch as a lesson. He often said I was “too spirited” and needed to be broken like a horse. He’d need to find a man with “spurs” for me.

So when Billie Jean King crushed Riggs- I saw for the first time that my father was crushable. And I saw his face crumple momentarily. And the mumbling and grumbling of defeat.

And there was OXYGEN. Air to breathe.

And I JUMPED and CHEERED and my mother told me to quiet down but I didn’t. And I knew for the first time that there was absolutely a WAY OUT.

I don’t know if my daughter could imagine the way that tennis match was like fresh rain in a drought. I don’t know if she can imagine how trapped and starved women were.

She was like: “Why didn’t she just tell her husband she was bi?”

When I explained why there was a “closet” she said “you mean EVERYONE?”

So: I’m glad that there are oppressions that my daughter cannot conceive of alongside those that she is aware of, and is vigilant about. How lovely that she cannot even conceive of the bind my mother and I were trapped in.

My mother would leave my father two years later. And like BJK she would leave his assets and his lifestyle behind. She worked pumped gas and raised us as latchkey kids & never looked back.

And she “took back” her own name. And I never after that considered giving mine up. And my daughter knows that whatever she decides to call herself in this life, that she owns her own identity. How grateful I am for that.

But don’t convince yourself that these men are gone. These are exactly the men holding office today. Their contempt is just as cold & ugly. But now, there are millions of role models, women, LGBTQ folk & people of color who have claimed their power: my kids have access to heroes.

Even if there is still so much to do- there is now a pantheon of heroes for the next generation to set their foundation upon. I don’t know if that film was able to convey how many stakeholders there were in that event. It changed lives, not just tennis.

So heroes matter. So many of you have served as heroes, and only feel defeated that white men like this are still in power. But you have emboldened those who are coming up behind you.

You have strengthened the legacy of liberation. You don’t just win by overthrowing oppression. You win by showing others that they are not alone when they stand up themselves.

It is interesting to me that so many now define this as “abuse” At that time there was no public censure for misogyny. This was the acceptable NORM of the era. This was every single marriage I saw around me.

In a few more years: divorce would skyrocket from 15% to a full 50% of all marriages. This was fully normative in more than half of the households around us. But this wasn’t “abusive” at the time. This was the way things were.

Every single girl I knew faced this in some form. If not at home, in the world. When my mother left my father she had no credit rating. No bank account. No credit card. No professional resume.

And men all around us complained about how they were getting “gouged” by alimony and child support. This behavior is only extreme and reprehensible NOW. It was normal then. My mother was the aberrant one.

What a treasure we have earned to be able to recognize and name abuse as unacceptable. We must guard that treasure.

Ms. Crawford’s story resonates deeply with me. My mom also fled a soul-crushing straight-jacket of a marriage and struggled to make her way in a world where she had to work twice as hard to be considered half as good. And she knew what she was getting into; she understood the price of her freedom.

Mom once told me about an incident that occurred while she and my father were still married, when she took a filing / paperwork job in the office of an air-conditioner distribution warehouse. Her horrible lout of a boss started making crude advances on her as soon as she started working there.

The harassment began with crude jokes and innuendos. He’d do stuff like cut out photos from porn magazines, hide them in catalogs and direct my mother to look up something so she’d see them, then he’d leer at her.

There was no one for her to tell at work, no home office with an HR department and rules forbidding that type of behavior. It was the 1970s; no one gave a shit.

Mom didn’t want to say anything at home because the fact that she had a job at all already wounded my father’s pride, but they needed the money. Eventually, the creepy boss escalated the harassment and got physical, which prompted my mom to flee the warehouse in tears.

She went home and told my father, who stormed to the warehouse and beat the shit out of the offending manager. Yay Dad! But my father’s anger was really more about another man trying to horn in on HIS property than outrage over the injustice done to my mother.

The beat-down was the end of that job and that income. There was no recourse for my mother, other than my father beating the shit out of the pig who groped her. That’s just the way shit worked back then, and God help women who didn’t have a male “protector.”

We’ve definitely made progress since those days, but I don’t have to tell you that it has been uneven. My guess is there isn’t a woman reading this who hasn’t experienced something similarly vile — at work, in a classroom, in the dorm lounge.

We can measure progress in how quickly swinish predator Harvey Weinstein was tossed from his gilded perch after his serial abuse of women became widely known to the public rather than an open secret within the industry. It was a surprise to Harvey; his early comments make it clear he thought he could brazen it out. And why wouldn’t he think that?

Weinstein’s fellow swinish predator, Donald Trump, is in the White House, despite — or worse yet, because — he’s widely known as a crude, leering pig. And his minions and media stooges have the unmitigated gall to try to smear Hillary Clinton with Weinstein’s crimes.

But, as Ms. Crawford says, the fact that this wretched behavior is now called “abuse” is a treasure that we must guard. Because God knows it’s in danger of being stolen away. And, we have our heroes. That’s important too.

104 replies
  1. 1
    Barbara says:

    Well I will bite. My father was a complete sports lunatic. He loved anything that involved a ball and keeping score. And he loved excellence. He used to choose which hockey games we went to based on the opponent (Boston was his favorite) and baseball games based on who was pitching for the other team. We saw lots of low scoring hometown losses. He wanted Pittsburgh teams to win but he loved seeing great players. And he loved Billie Jean King because she was great. He wanted us to be like her and was always a little disappointed we didn’t jump on the women’s sports bandwagon as it was getting started in the early 70s. So my whole family watched the match and my dad and my mom were just thrilled that King knocked the stuffing out of that pompous blowhard.

  2. 2
    Mnemosyne says:

    I have to say, for all of my issues with my wingnut dad, he was not a misogynist, ever. Somehow, he managed to avoid that trap, possibly because he had 5 sisters and a mom who supported the family as their town’s postmistress until after she had her 4th child, which was also when my grandfather started to have some success in real estate and pressured her to quit. My own mother had a career until a few months before cancer got her, and my stepmom worked, too, until they were able to retire early together.

    It really makes a huge difference to know that your father considers you to be a full human being. Not all of my friends had that.

  3. 3
    rikyrah says:

    My great-grandfather, a former slave, had 3 daughters.

    It was his demand that all three of them get an education.


    Because, as family lore has it,

    ” The only children that they will take care of ARE THEIR OWN.”

    My grandmother had her MASTERS Degree by the time she married my grandfather…

    in 1905.

    Like their mother, my mother and her three sisters were all educated, with Masters Degrees…BEFORE Brown v. Board.

    Their options for professions were slim : teacher or social worker.

    But, they never worked in a White woman’s home. My mother, and each of her sisters, had more than one marriage. And, they could leave their marriages without a second thought, because they had the means to take care of themselves.

  4. 4
    Miss Bianca says:

    I remember watching that match on TV. I don’t remember my father – or anyone but me – being that worked up about the result, but I do remember feeling that surge of joy when Billie Jean took Bobby Riggs down – mostly because I remember seeing an interview with Bobby Riggs beforehand when he came off as such a smug jerk that I had been, for the first time and probably the only time in my memory, *praying* for a woman athlete. Thank you, Billie Jean King!

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:


    When I went to college, I had strict instructions from my dad NOT to get married. I was always supposed to have the ability to support myself, no matter what, and having a BA was a huge part of that.

    ETA: My grandfather was a first-generation immigrant from Italy, so that drive to better oneself was there for all of the kids. Two of my dad’s sisters have PhDs.

  6. 6
    gvg says:

    Actually my dad wasn’t like that, and I have never experienced something that frightening. Some guy answered the door naked when I was delivering pizza around 25 years ago, but my male bosses put the house on the no deliveries list…there was a promotion I couldn’t get long ago but I changed jobs. I am 54. I have been lucky. So even though you think every woman has experienced it, there are those who need to hear it. Trumps election was a huge shock to me. I could see since the 90’s what nonsense was happening to Hillary but I still can’t process the stupidity of sexism.

    For contrast, Richard Spencer is coming to UF next week and the University is prepping with arranging extra police from nearby, suggesting we review active shooter plans, letting us off if we don’t want to be here. everything is going to be locked with badge and ID card required. I have to decide if I am working that day. I kind of want to just do my job and not let him impact us. The University President has been writing us. he says he is shocked they can’t prevent the guy from coming and can’t even charge for extra security. UF tried but lost legal arguments on this. We are a state school so I suspected it would be a problem denying him. HR is sending out notices to look out for people who feel threatened by this (ie minorities). the school are planning extra events to demonstrate inclusiveness over the next month which I guess is a good plan. This sucks.

  7. 7
    ThresherK says:

    Just looking at that paper, it strikes me I had no recollection King was married. This was a bit before my time.

  8. 8
    Ithink says:

    Thats an awesome family history! As a fellow African-American, I would love to see a movie it a book by you based on your family tree; I bet it’d be Academy Award nominated in the right hands!!:)

  9. 9
    Karen says:

    We still have states where there are no shelters for women, if you are beaten maybe; but only in big cities. Where I lived the only places a woman could find safety was by fleeing and finding someone who would take her in. A friend told me that it has gotten even worse since dolt45 has been in office; white men still “own” their wives and children, that might not be what the law says but it is what the police and judges say.

  10. 10
    Ruckus says:

    Wow. I like that story, but not that it had to be.
    Having grown up with a strong mom and a good dad I didn’t see the mysoginy n much at home, but you had to be blind not to see it around you.

  11. 11
    Elmo says:

    My Dad was priceless. A jewel. I was six in 1972, so I’m a little younger than the author but not much – and my Dad had nothing but the most towering, complete respect for my Mom. He adored her, but he also respected her immensely. And he worked hard to make sure I knew I was every bit as complete a human being as my three brothers.
    He taught them nothing he wasn’t also willing to teach me – soldering, fishing, shooting, swimming, chess, even the right and wrong way to throw a punch. He shared with me his love of books and history.
    My Mom was a stay-at-home, my Dad a blue-collar guy who left the house every morning before dawn; but the rule in the house, with almost no exceptions, was that Mom cooked and Dad did the dishes. Every night.
    Mom had a severe aversion to profanity of any kind. In the beginning of their marriage, and for the first 20 years, my Dad was a Navy sailor and then Chief. You can imagine that conflict! But it only took a few slips for my Dad to modify his language to respect her wishes, and by the time I came along – I’m the youngest – I never heard so much as “Damn” pass his lips until the day she died.
    Jesus, I was so fucking fortunate.

  12. 12
    Steeplejack says:

    Editing note: straitjacket.

  13. 13
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    Have not seen BoS yet but I’m very excited to. It’s apparently great. BJK is truly a living legend and everything I’ve read about the WTA is that all the players love and admire her even today.

    If you are a tennis fan, you can hear a good chat about it here (start at 47 minute mark)

  14. 14
    Jeffro says:

    Mrs. Jeffro’s dad raised her as a single dad, back when that caused no end of problems (when they traveled, when he took her clothes shopping, etc). He was a feminist before it was cool ;) so I consider him a hero.

    This might count as heroism…well, close, anyway: When Is Enough, Enough?

    Our constitutional system designates the president as the person to execute the laws. Congress passes them, the president signs them, and then he is obligated to enforce them. His oath is clear on this point: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” What if he won’t or cannot execute his duties and/or cannot preserve, protect and defend the Constitution? The Constitution says the remedy is impeachment.

    Within the past 24 hours we’ve seen the president threaten to ignore or violate the First Amendment and threaten a group of Americans with denial of service to which they are legally entitled.

    On Wednesday, President Trump said he found it “disgusting” that the press can write what it wants and suggested that NBC’s “license” be revoked for “fake news.” (After nine months, he still has no idea how the government works and what various agencies, commissions and departments do.) In response, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) tweeted a statement reading: “Mr. President: Words spoken by the President of the United States matter. Are you tonight recanting of the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect, and defend the First Amendment?” I asked Sasse by tweet and through his office if Sasse thinks Trump has renounced his oath, and if so whether he would favor impeachment. Neither Sasse nor his office would reply.

    This is unacceptable. Sasse also took an oath to defend the Constitution. While it is the House’s job to initiate impeachment, as an elected leader Sasse can certainly raise the question of fitness and recommend the House proceed. Why tweet and then clam up — the political equivalent of knocking on the door and running away? Trump is a travesty, but it is the Senate and House Republicans who apparently believe, according to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), that the president is not fit to govern. To do and say nothing is reckless and not in keeping with their own oaths of office.

    It is the Senate and House Republicans who have heard and seen Trump denigrate the First Amendment, deny the Russian threat to our electoral system, fire an FBI director who did not bend to his will, attempt to badger the attorney general into resigning, etc. The question is not whether Trump thinks he has recanted his oath; it is whether Sasse and his colleagues do. It is time Republicans started doing their job rather than shuffling their feet when Corker talks or tweeting questions.

    A “March for Shame” or a “Honor Your Oath” march would be a great way to remind these cowardly clowns that they supposedly swore an oath to defend the Constitution, NOT Donald J. Trumpov – the most eminently ‘crushable’ president* in this history of the Republic.

  15. 15
    Betty Cracker says:

    @gvg: Marco Rubio was on Twitter urging everyone to avoid the event, deny Spencer the attention, etc. I understand the appeal of that strategy, but I hope tens of thousands of students show up and shout the slimy little shit-cannon down. Peacefully, like they did to those imbeciles in Boston shortly after the Charlottesville thing.

    “Ignoring Nazis” doesn’t strike me as a sound strategy, especially when there’s an authoritarian pig in the White House claiming that some Nazis are “very fine people” and a fat cat donor family (Mercers) bankrolling Nazi outreach on behalf of the GOP. Thought about showing up myself for the counter-protest — I’m an old Gator — but I bet the kids have it well in hand.

  16. 16
    Ruckus says:

    This post has touched a lot of buttons for a lot of people even those who don’t think they were affected. That is amazing.

  17. 17
    arielibra says:

    @Mnemosyne: My dad was an old-school patriarch of a big Catholic family. He paid lip service to some of the old misogynist beliefs, “the man is the master of the house” and so forth, but he insisted that every single one of his daughters be able to change their own flat tires and work their own way, and encouraged us all to excel in sports and education. Better to be a hypocrite in that direction I guess?

  18. 18
    MattF says:

    @ThresherK: Note that Wikipedia refers to her as Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born November 22, 1943), which is… a bit weird, IMO. But she apparently used her married name professionally.

  19. 19
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:


    I really enjoyed your story; very inspirational. Keep fighting.

  20. 20
    geg6 says:

    I was in junior high, probably 14, when this happened. Happily, my dad was the furthest thing from a misogynist that anyone could be and in our household, this was serious business. We all were cheering for Billie Jean, mom, dad and all six of us kids (4 girls and 2 boys). My dad adored strong women and he loved Billie Jean. He had nothing but contempt for Bobby Riggs. This is a very good memory for me.

    I, too, plan to see the film. Although there was no misogyny in my immediate family, we were well aware of it in the rest of the world. My mom became a journalist later in life because her father wouldn’t let her go to college back in 1944 because he didn’t believe women should be college educated. She was an only child and he could have afforded it with some budgetary gymnastics, but no way was he wasting his money on education for a girl. When he died in 1967, she took most of the money she inherited from his estate and went back to college, taking night classes. When she graduated and she got a job at the local paper, they wouldn’t hire her as a reporter. She had to be hired as a secretary. But within three years, she had a new title on the strength of her work. All this, while taking care of a home, six kids and a husband that worked two jobs. My mom would have made Billie Jean proud, had she ever known her story.

  21. 21
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:

    My father was adoring of my mother and let her run the show all the time – he was a passive gentle soul. It was truly a shock to me to see how rare that was, and is. I would visit other people’s houses and want to go home because of the way the fathers treated their family- some were creepy, some were mean. I was lucky. This poor woman’s experience was typical I guess, but damn, harsh.

  22. 22
    Ruckus says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    The only way an ignore works is when the people ignored have zero power. Drumpf has power even if he doesn’t have a fucking clue what being a human being is. We can’t ignore this.

  23. 23
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:


    Well, no one is, of course, perfect. Some people are, however, irredeemably broken, befouled, or F***ed up.

    My parents overcame a lot. My father was mostly Native American, my mother’s family pre-WWI immigrants from Poland. None of their parents were educated past about 4th grade. My parents did not visit upon us the physical abuse they suffered.

    They weren’t perfect, but I loved them dearly.

    As a father, I do all I can to make sure my daughter is strong, intelligent, hopeful, and compassionate. I want the world to be wide open (and healthy) for her.

  24. 24
    rikyrah says:

    As for my father,
    He had 3 daughters and no sons. He broke away from his father due to mistreatment of his mother, and supported her decision to get a divorce.

    I dunno if my father was a feminist, per se. But, he shared the household chores with my mother by doing the cooking. If there were 100 meals cooked in our house, my father cooked 95 of them. Did the grocery shopping.
    Both my parents were sports nuts. I grew up watching all sports, with the exception of hockey. I did watch boxing, but didn’t like it.
    But, basketball, baseball, football. My parents were true fans.
    And, I spent Sundays watching golf with my Dad, when the only Black golfers were Peete and Elder. We also watched tennis together.
    Because of what his mother went through, my father was very definitive on what guys could and could not do. We always had our own money when we went out. We always had change – to find a payphone to call him – no matter what time – if something went wrong. Daddy didn’t play.

  25. 25
    cosima says:

    Is anyone else following the huge drama on facebook about the keynote speaker at the Women’s March conference in Detroit? Hint: it’s not a woman. Hint no. 2: It’s an old shrivelled up white fella who shivved women in general, and Hillary in particular, in 2016.

    When I saw that on my feed I shared it to my page with a ‘I’m thinking the women’s march (organisation) sucks.’

    How do women make advances when organisations that are purportedly *for* women do this sort of thing? I have never been a huge fan of WM, but will admit they have effected positive change in some ways. I’m wondering what they’re trying to do. Promoting him & his agenda, his followers (not a fan), it is wrong.

    I wish that I had a story to share about having parent(s) who valued women, empowered me, as a female, but I do not. So, I have made it my life’s goal to raise my girls to be warriors, and so far that’s going well…. Big C has graduated uni, and is learning to fly. Little C has her sights set on Cambridge or Oxford, and whether or not she gets there, the fact that she aspires to do so is a step in the right direction. I was raised with the directive to look pretty and marry well. That will mess a female up. A lot of my adult life has been centred around recovering from that & raising daughters in a completely different fashion.

  26. 26
    rikyrah says:

    Trump’s Embarrassing, Unconstitutional Response to Puerto Rico
    The president keeps pretending that he only needs to represent red states, not all Americans.

    by John Stoehr
    October 12, 2017

    Donald Trump unloaded a tweetstorm this morning about Puerto Rico’s continuing recovery after Hurricane Maria that managed to appall even after all these months of being appalled by what this president is willing to say.

    I’m not going to talk about how racist it is. Many writers of color—who are smarter than I am and more authoritative than I am on matters of white supremacy—are going to talk about it. I’ll defer to them, and a lot of other white people should too.

    What I want to talk about is the obligation of the office of the presidency—to defend and protect not only the U.S. Constitution, but every single American’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (Puerto Ricans are indeed U.S. citizens.)

    More precisely, I want to talk about why the office of the president is supposed to do those things. To that end, let’s remember the works of John Locke, the English philosopher who left an indelible mark on the Founders’ thinking, especially Thomas Jefferson’s.

    Locke believed all of us are born free and equal, and that governments must be constituted to protect those natural rights. The Founders added Hobbes and Montesquieu to conclude that government’s goal is also to protect the weak from the strong. Part of its mandate is to defend against a state of nature.

    I presume neither the Enlightenment philosophers nor the Founders were thinking about cataclysmic hurricanes when they pondered the need for government to protect against a state of nature, but that’s surely the kind of thinking we need now that much of Puerto Rico remains without power and without adequate supplies of food and water. Hurricane Maria destroyed the island’s infrastructure as well as its agriculture—Puerto Rico is going to need huge investments.

    Yet this morning, the president said in so many words that Puerto Rico was a disaster before the hurricanes hit, and that the federal government can’t stay to provide aid forever. Puerto Rico, Trump implied, will have to take care of itself.

    Like I said, I’m not going to talk about the white supremacy of his tweetstorm. My point is the president is saying the natural rights of people born free and equal are like a buffet. The government can pick and choose whose rights to protect, and throw away the rest.

  27. 27
    rikyrah says:


    Is anyone else following the huge drama on facebook about the keynote speaker at the Women’s March conference in Detroit? Hint: it’s not a woman. Hint no. 2: It’s an old shrivelled up white fella who shivved women in general, and Hillary in particular, in 2016.

    And, they have the nerve to take their theme – RECLAIMING MY TIME – from a Black woman.

  28. 28
    ruemara says:

    I found my heroes in myth, fable, and story. Nichelle Nichols as Uhura was huge to me (I figured she was as important as a captain, she wore red, right? And she went on missions, so.) It felt and still feels strange to exist in a world where skin shade and gender is an impediment. I wish more people had clued into the fact that every freedom, every step of progress can be dragged as far back as we let it be by inaction or ungratefulness. I wish more people truly read Tolkien, because he warnings about lassitude versus vigilance struck me deep in my psyche as a young girl. I have never perceived myself as less than any man. Perhaps because I have never perceived any man to be less.

    @rikyrah: You really do need to write your family history, because people need to know your story.

  29. 29
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, since we’re discussing feminism and working women, I’m going to put in a plug for a recently published book by a colleague of mine called Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation After much research in the archives, she discovered that while women were not directly hired as animators by sending query letters (as in the infamous one you can find online), there were quite a few women who were promoted internally after being hired for inking and painting. It’s a really fascinating book about a hidden piece of history that some people try and tell you never existed at all.

  30. 30
    cosima says:

    @rikyrah: That was the icing on the cake. They didn’t roll that out until after the fanfare over their exciting keynote speaker. I reclaimed my ‘like page’ and they are off the $%£&ing island.

  31. 31
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    When I first started following her, she was still Billie Jean Moffitt.

  32. 32

    @Steeplejack: I wasn’t gonna point it out but I’m glad you did 😏

    To answer your question from the overnight thread the app is in Go.

  33. 33
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:


    a Woman’s March for Berniebros. HARD PASS.

  34. 34
    Miss Bianca says:

    @cosima: been trying to avoid that BS bs. And yeah…that they took the theme “Reclaiming My Time” and didn’t honor Maxine Waters with that keynote speaker spot? Beyond contemptible.

  35. 35
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @rikyrah: Ugh…because OF COURSE they do! Some days (all of them) I’m so deeply ashamed of my fellow, white men.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:


    Yup. Really, given that there are AT LEAST a dozen kick-ass Democratic women heading up the resistance, you give the prime speaking spot at your women’s convention to BS and not to an actual woman?

    And then you give Maxine Waters — the woman who spoke the words that you’re using as your tagline — a lesser spot than an old white man?

    GTF outta here.

  37. 37
    Barbara says:

    @ThresherK: King was born as Billie Jean Moffett and her brother played major league baseball — I think for the SF Giants. His first name was Randy.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    Betty Cracker says:

    @cosima: It’s huge drama on Twitter too. I don’t hate Sanders to the depths of my soul like some of y’all do, but I think it’s BULLSHIT that the WM org made him the headline speaker. Maxine Waters is there — they use her phrase, “Reclaiming My Time,” as the theme. Why the hell isn’t she the headline speaker?

    The organizers put out a mealy-mouthed statement a little while ago trying to tamp down the fury. They claim they asked other prominent women (HRC, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillebrand, Elizabeth Warren, etc.) to attend but their schedules didn’t permit it. People are demanding proof, and I don’t blame them. Smells like bullshit to me too.

    On top of everything else, it’s a PR disaster that proves the folks in charge aren’t up to the job.

  40. 40
    cosima says:

    @Miss Bianca: I’m not a big FB fan in the best of circumstances, so don’t spend much time on any of that.

    The Women’s March, though, is an entity that gave off some negative vibes right from the beginning. Not honouring or acknowledging Hillary Clinton for the big march was number one. I haven’t been a fan since then. They’ve given off pro-BS vibes pretty consistently since then. Which, as long as they’re working for the greater good, okay, I can watch from the sidelines and support their efforts.

    This, though — no bloody way it flies. What the ELF has that old man done for women, or the Democratic party, or minorities in his decades of public service? Big C, our oldest, lives in VT, so there is a bit of BS worship that is inescapable there. I have to keep an eye on these things and bring them to her attention. It’s wrong. It’s wrong in so many ways, and it’s important to have discussions about that with young, impressionable voters, particularly when those young impressionable voters are your own children. So, I’ve posted it on my FB page for my handful of ‘friends’ to see, they’ll all ignore it, but maybe Big C will give it a bit of thought.

  41. 41
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    I’m the dad of daughters, with a protective streak toward anybody I think is getting crapped on. My kids sometimes say that I’m bound up in too much protecting, that I deny them empowerment, but I would be an angry shithead if my kids were guys being crapped on by girls.

    I do have some standard patriarchal ideas on looks and pronouns, though. If one were to ask me about my tastes, I tend toward finding “slightly trashy” to be the ideal…

  42. 42

    A father who believed women (and more importantly his daughter) could do anything was the best gift of my childhood. It helped me withstand the misogynistic teachers (you want to be lawyer, girls can’t be lawyers) and professors (I see you behind a white picket fence). and the creepy bosses who leered (or worse made comments) about my bust-line. And more…

    He’s not perfect by any means and he’s still a man of the times he grew up in – but that belief in me, that’s what I will always remember.

  43. 43

    @Betty Cracker:

    On top of everything else, it’s a PR disaster that proves the folks in charge aren’t up to the job.

    It’s only even barely hyperbolic to say that they had ONE JOB–hiring a woman as keynote!

  44. 44
    David 🍁Canadian Anchor Baby🍁 Koch says:

    Saw the film – it was great (video)

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Is there a hashtag I can follow? I love a good train wreck. 🚂

  46. 46
    goblue72 says:

    @cosima: Nobody more bitter than a PUMA scorned.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:


    Hey, look, another white dude comes by to lecture us about why white dudes need to lecture the little ladies at a women’s conference.

  48. 48
    bookdragon says:

    I was extraordinarily lucky too. My Dad is gem and worships my Mom. And he always encouraged me to be whatever I wanted. (Although he had plans for me to be an astronaut). But his mother, who had grown up poor, got her kids through college and then went back to school herself – in her 50s – to get a nursing degree and have the career she had always wanted.

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:


    Tell us, what wisdom about women is Bernie going to share in his keynote? What personal experience as a woman is he going to be telling us about? Or will he just read excerpts from his old newsletter about how women secretly love to be raped?

  50. 50

    Huh, I guess this troll hasn’t been around much since the mobile pie filter was rolled out. He wasn’t in my list. Fixed!

  51. 51
    cosima says:

    @Betty Cracker: Yes, I think it’s safe to say that I hate the old bastard. Tad Devine. Don’t need anything more than that, though there is plenty that came after.

    Someone on FB posted a GIF (in the comments) of BS being a misogynist d-bag to women — palm in their faces to shut them up, cutting them off, etc. Yup, he’s definitely earned my loathing & contempt. Hate is a good word for that, though I try not to put that much energy into my feelings about him.

    This keynote speaker thing, though! Using Maxine Waters’ (a genuine heroine & badass) words as your tagline/motto/headline/??? and placing her second to HIM? 1000x no.

    I don’t know that I’d say the organisers aren’t up to the job — I think they’re definitely up to the job. The question, as I noted above, is what is the job that they are trying for? BS for 2020? I don’t get it.

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    If he tells me that my vagina isn’t magical again, I’ll screenshot it and email you just that one so you don’t miss the hilarity.

  53. 53
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Mnemosyne: Hey, how the hell would goblow know, anyway?

  54. 54
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @cosima: Very true. The lack of invitation to the first woman to be a major party nominee (and win the popular vote) was a pretty glaring problem.

    I think I’ll start asking all the Bernie defenders: wouldn’t a true ally to women have the common sense to say “no, let Maxine, Kamala, whoever else etc. do the keynote??”

  55. 55
    cosima says:

    @Mnemosyne: That sounds like one not to be missed. Can you get the screenshot frontpaged? That actually sounds like an excellent tag to me…

  56. 56
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: Just go to @womensmarch and watch the train plunge from the bridge, land on a nuclear reactor and get hit by an asteroid. HOURS into the brouhaha, one of the organizers tried to claim Waters was the headliner all along and that newspapers that said Sanders was were mistaken. But uh-oh, that self-same person was quoted in the newspaper articles gushing about Sanders as the headliner and had posted announcements with the “error” on Instagram and FB. Lordy, what a catastrophuck.

  57. 57
    Josie says:

    I never thought about how ahead of his time my father was until this post and the comments. I grew up in the fifties with two brothers, and we were always treated equally in every way. My father made sure I could change a tire, shoot a gun and go to the university, just like the boys. He was insistent that I be able to support myself. He said it was important that I choose to be married instead of having to stay with a man because of economics. I am so grateful for his wisdom and foresight. In my time, I have seen women stay in difficult situations for just such reasons. All of us in my famlly cheered for BJK and were really happy for her win.

  58. 58
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    Oh, it was back during the primaries, possibly the general election. Apparently I don’t understand women’s issues as well as he does because my vagina isn’t magic. I still can’t stop laughing about it.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:


    It was seriously high-larious. It was one of those late-night threads where the weirdos start to show their true colors.

  60. 60
    Brachiator says:

    I’m a guy and my friends and I all enjoyed watching BJK demolish Riggs.

    BJK and Emma Stone who plays her were at the US Open. A further sign of how far we’ve come is that the paycheck for the male and female champions there was the same, something else King was fighting for. Still love Sloan Stephens’ reaction to realizing that she had won $3.7 million (“that’s a lot of money!”).

    Apart from that, I am reading and appreciating all the comments here.

  61. 61
    The Moar You Know says:

    All my high school years, there was a tennis club right across the street from my high school. It was very important to every student there: it had vending machines that would dispense candy and soda.

    Wasn’t until my forties that I was driving by one day and noticed a little sign at the bottom: “Bobby Riggs Tennis Museum”. The guy who runs the place was the executor of his will and his last standing fan, apparently.

    I had to look him up on Wikipedia. Had no idea who or what he was. He’d lived here in his heyday and died. I guarantee you not one student at my high school (couple thousand kids) had any idea who he was. None of the kids who go there now do. I poked my head in to the room – and it’s not a big one – that serves as the “museum”. I got the feeling I was the first person in years to do so.

    I knew who Billie Jean King was. Even back in high school.

    Go up against progress and die alone and unremembered. Maybe some kids will use the vending machines at your place of repose, and have no idea nor care who you are.

  62. 62
    d58826 says:

    OK this is totally OT but it does involve a chicken. The male peacock is doing is level best to attract the attention of his lady love – a plan old garden variety hen. She isn’t impressed.

  63. 63
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    OMG, this twitter thread is hilarious. White girls CRYING about the fact that their “Robert E. Lee” school will soon have a name change (the horror!!) Anyways, Black Twitter has a field day with it.


  64. 64
    Gretchen says:

    Great movie. You’ll love it.

  65. 65
    cosima says:

    @Mnemosyne: I miss all of the fun stuff, I guess, being 4-9 hours (depending where you are in the US) ahead of you all. For instance, right now it is nearing my bedtime…. The thought of searching balloon juice for ‘magic + vagina’ makes me laugh! As does the idea of lesser or greater degrees of magical vagina-ness. I do wonder if that will make it through the BJuice filter…

  66. 66
    cosima says:

    @Uncle Ebeneezer: I will read more of that thread, but had to pop over to say WTF with the Robert E Less High School ‘Home of the Volunteers’ sign. Is *that* what they were calling slavery, volunteering?

  67. 67
    Betty Cracker says:

    @d58826: Poor peacock! That hen seriously does not GAF.

  68. 68
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Just go to @womensmarch and watch the train plunge from the bridge, land on a nuclear reactor and get hit by an asteroid.

    OMG, I am laughing so hard at this image I may have to close my office door!

  69. 69
    Kay says:

    My husband loves tennis and he loves Billie Jean King. He’ll be very happy there is a tennis movie :)

    My daughter played in high school – our team isn’t very good. They’d play MUCH bigger high schools and I would just die- get all weepy because the girls seemed so heroic out there, not a chance in hell of winning but trying so hard. That kills me.

    This is great:

    On Sunday, Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, said he would bench players who did not stand during the national anthem. This threat was publicized nationally and applauded by President Trump. (In the last few hours, the President told Fox News that the NFL “should have suspended” Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem because “you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem — you cannot do that.”) It is still unclear whether the players have First Amendment protection against retaliation of this kind – though that possibility grows each day as the President ratchets up his involvement and brings the power of the federal government to bear. What is clear, however, is that Jones’ threat violates federal labor law. Benching, or otherwise disciplining, players who engage in anthem protests would be illegal.

  70. 70
    Miss Bianca says:


  71. 71

    Huh, I guess you ridiculed the troll away.

  72. 72
    azelie says:

    The messages I got about the gender hierarchy were much more subtle than Ms. Crawford’s. My dad (in his 70s now) has been patronizing to my mom and I would not in any way want to be in a similar relationship, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. I was too young to be aware of the BJK/BR match when it happened, but I definitely remember that anytime there were competitions that looked like battles of the sexes (even a mostly-female team vs. a mostly-male team on game shows like Family Feud), he cheered for the men. A mistake on the road made by a woman driver was chalked up to her sex, of course. He didn’t think companies should have to hire women because they’d just get pregnant and quit. And there weren’t countervailing voices anywhere around me. I noticed problems in my conservative upbringing when I was in high school but didn’t really break with the sense that I was going to vote Republican when I could do so until college. One time when discussing my politics, my dad said he’d love to know one day what happened to me and suggested that I couldn’t have experienced sexism at home, so I must have been influenced by other experiences in my life. I haven’t been brave enough to set him straight, for fear of unsettling family harmony, which is already precarious.

  73. 73
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Kay: I hope every damn player kneels. On every team. In every game.

  74. 74

    Threads like this make me uncomfortable for a reason I suspect I share with damn few other people. I’m a writer, right? It’s definitely not a hard and fast rule, but my protagonists are mostly tween girls. There is no agenda to it beyond my really liking the ‘strong little girl’ trope, and being inspired long ago by a friend drawing a little girl staring down a tiger. There is no strategy to it beyond ‘I assume since we’re all people, she’ll think and act much like a boy.’

    I get praise for giving tween girls an action heroine of their own. And then I read a thread like this, and I feel like I’m being told I’m doing well in a race when I’m actually driving around without a map going ‘I like that street.’ Partly it’s pleasing. Partly it’s scary, because there’s nothing stopping me from going entirely in the wrong direction at any moment. Mostly I feel vastly out of my depth.

  75. 75
    ThresherK says:

    @Miss Bianca: I think there’s a mineshaft collapse in there also.

  76. 76
    Kathleen says:


  77. 77
    Kathleen says:

    @rikyrah: You honor your ancestors with your fierce passion for justice and a strong and tender heart.

  78. 78
    Kay says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Well, what I love about it is the more they get punished the better claim they have, because it’s more of a collective workplace action with each retaliation. That’s the strongest part of the claim- supporting other players who are being punished.

    The moron probably didn’t think this stunt thru.

  79. 79
    cosima says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: We’re all driving without maps, always. At least that’s my opinion. Because I had to fight so hard against my upbringing to become a strong woman, raising a hell-raiser was my reason, my life. I love that I have two girls. I’m sure boys are nice, yes, but often I feel like ‘this is why I’m here.’ My girls can change the world — even in tiny little ways. Tiny things can grow.

    You can change the conversation about tween girl heroines. You say ‘…she’ll think & act much like a boy.’ You can write & write & write, and someday that phrase will be obsolete. When Little C was small we had two boys living near us, brothers, near her age. One day something happened and Little C said ‘I screamed like a boy!’ (a high-pitched scream). Most children would have said ‘screamed like a girl’ but that was not her reality, we didn’t use those words/phrases, and she’d heard *boys* screaming high pitched screams.

    We get to draw our own maps. And change the direction of conversations. Challenge tropes/norms/etc. Be the change you wish to see. Let this thread be inspiring (apart from the magical vagina discussion, or perhaps because of it?).

  80. 80


    You can write & write & write, and someday that phrase will be obsolete.

    It’s funny that you said that, because writing it, I was thinking ‘This technically isn’t correct, it’s more that I should write boys and girls with the same thought process, because that process is basic human.’ But it’s so incredibly clunky and roundabout to say that, and I felt like it would lose the point. And that, actually, reinforces what you just said. This is still an environment where I had to phrase it as ‘she’ll think and act much like a boy’ to avoid a messy explanation.

  81. 81
    Ruckus says:

    Well…… I’ve never seen a magic one myself and while the sample size isn’t stasticistly useful still I’d have thought if there was a magic one, I’d have noticed. Of course if you look at the other side of the asile there isn’t any magic there either.

  82. 82
    RobNYNY says:


    I think that is one of the words like whose current correct spelling is not the formerly incorrect spelling. Like “chaise lounge.”

  83. 83
    cosima says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: I definitely understood what you were trying to get across, and also that our current environment is such that phrasing it in the way that you did made it easily/instantly understood.

    Our girls are nearly 15 years apart, which means that they have very different experiences of society’s expectations for girls. It changes that much, even for siblings. Little C would be bemused by the ‘like a girl/boy’ thing. Big C would relate to it. And that nike commercial a while back ‘play like a girl’ (or something like that) made me cry my eyes out because of how that was missing from my life growing up. Different parents could have brought it into play, but I had the parents I had, and they were not empowering…. so. There are still girls being raised as I was (look pretty, marry well), it hasn’t gone away, so there is a long way to go until the needle is moved. You can help move it.

    Now it’s my bedtime over here in the glorious UK.

  84. 84
    Steeplejack (phone) says:


    Balderdash. There is nothing inherently “straight” about a straitjacket. It was specifically designed to straiten, or confine, the wearer.

    And your bringing chaise longue into the discussion is like making a regular felony into a hate-crime felony. Good day, sir!

  85. 85
    HumboldtBlue says:

    My mother gave birth to nine children in 10 years.

    She’s my hero.

  86. 86
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @cosima: I think they mean people who volunteered to fight for the South, which is…even worse?…

  87. 87
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @cosima: I try to do this with my tennis students. We have a game called 4-Square where the top player is: King, then Queen, Knight and at the bottom Peasant. I always tell my girl students (or girl-presenting) that they can be Queen or King (or whatever else they like) when they get to the top position. When students reflexively say she/I can’t be “King” she’s/I’m a GIRL…” I get great pleasure telling them “she/you can be whatever you want to be.” It’s small, but I enjoy making them think in a less gender-normed fashion.

  88. 88
    HumboldtBlue says:

    I could read this thread for the next month and still not get all the beauty, rage, love, savagery, and fierce loyalty dripping onto my keyboard.

  89. 89
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @cosima: See the millions of girls in Evangelical churches. Since the early 90s there has been an increasingly hyped-up emphasis on the idea of God having created men to be leaders and women to be followers. This despite the fact publicized in the seventies by female theologians that the word translated ‘helpmeet’ to describe Eve is used to designate God in other passages. Gives quite a different slant to the role of women!!

  90. 90
    Mnemosyne says:


    My Google-fu is failing me, but there was a famous woman writer in the early 20th century who was asked how she was able to write such realistic male characters. Her response was something along the lines of, “I always try to make my male characters speak and act like human beings as much as possible.”

    We humans are more alike than we are different, which is why some people spend so much time trying to distance themselves from people who are so like themselves.

  91. 91
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Ladyraxterinok: I?t’s clear this renewed extreme emphasis on the subordinate role of women is the result of the fear of the changing roles of women and men in our society.

  92. 92
    HumboldtBlue says:

    @Uncle Ebeneezer:

    That’s gonna live a long rich life on the internet. That’s … oh myyyyy

  93. 93
    Mnemosyne says:

    Okay, I went and read the Twitter comments for the Women’s Convention and they were everything Betty promised. This one probably sums the kerfuffle up best:

    Bethany Marsh @bethany_marsh
    Replying to @womensmarch
    Wow, I see they still haven’t clocked on to the irony of giving a woman’s job to an old white dude.

  94. 94
    Duane says:

    This is a good post. I enjoyed it, as well as the comments. I was a young boy when they played that match. I rooted for Ms. King.

  95. 95
    J R in WV says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Thanks again, so much, for the work you and Alain and Cleek have done with regard to the Balloon Juice jerk/creep/Russian troll filter. I use it every day, and it always works perfectly. I especially like being able to read replies just by clicking the “un-pie” button.

    I almost never un-pie the actual comments, as they are always strange/stupid/unAmerican.

  96. 96
    different-church-lady says:

    I’ve rendered Ms. Crawford’s tweets in paragraph form below the fold…

    Thank you for your service to this country. [Stabs Twitter Vodoo doll with hatpin repeatedly]

  97. 97
    Bonnie says:

    I saw the match on a 20-inch tv, which was all I could afford. I thoroughly enjoyed the match. The young woman who won the U.S. Open this year saw that her winning check was for 3.7 million dollars. She exclaimed, “That’s a lot of money!” She needs to properly thank Billy Jean for that. I saw the movie. It is pretty good. The actress was much taller than the realy Billy Jean King; but, she really looked like her and talked like her. Steve Carrell was excellent as Bobby Riggs. However, I did not like the bedroom scenes, which is a complaint I have for all modern movies. I like it better when the couple just goes into the bedroom and closes the door. I don’t like being a voyeur of any couples’ sex whether heterosexual or homosexual–nor do I believe it adds anything to the storytelling. Still, I highly recommend especially for the people who are too young to even know that such problems of equality existed.

  98. 98
    J R in WV says:

    I also rooted for Billie Jean King, back in the day. Even though I am now an overweight old hairy guy, I’ve always cheered for women whenever I have had the chance.

  99. 99
    cbb says:

    Perhaps it’s along the lines of Simone de Beauvoir’s quotation, “Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female — whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.”

  100. 100
    LanceThruster says:

    Still curious about this allegation. Riggs was always a hustler, but regardless, BJK is a treasure.

  101. 101
    LanceThruster says:

    Still curious about this allegation. Riggs was always a hustler, but regardless, BJK is a treasure.

  102. 102
    Gretchen says:

    Are you sure about your dad’s motives when beating the shit out of the manager? He could have been a less-than-ideal husband, while still acting out of love for his wife. Maybe? And I like the beating the shit out of asshole manager, whatever his motives.

  103. 103
    KS in MA says:

    @Uncle Ebeneezer: Oh my … Priceless!

  104. 104
    Msb says:

    @ BettyCracker
    Thanks for this post. My home Environment wasn’t nearly so toxic and I was older than you, but I knew Riggs had psyched out and humiliated Margaret Court and was terrified he’d do it to Billie Jean. Also prayed throughout that match and can’t wait to see movie.

    Seconding the request to publish your family history.

    Re: Visits by Spencer and Milo Yia-yia: the problem of response is that these trolls feed on hostile reactions. Would it be possible to have a counter-event, sort of a big party with extra added patriotic songs? Those trolls would look pretty foolish if they gave an outragefest and nobody came.

    The last thing I need at a women’s conference is some old white guy, especially that old white guy, telling a lot of women what to do.

Comments are closed.