If I’m being honest, I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it.
Over the weekend, the New York Mets had their rookies dress up in costumes of characters from A League of Their Own. The players dressed up as women - complete with wigs and fake breasts — and went out to get the veterans coffee.
I’d wager a serious amount of money that the Mets and their players meant no offense by it. It’s a tradition, it’s silly, it’s a team-bonding exercise. I probably would have just rolled my eyes at the story, had I not seen what Julie DiCaro wrote:
And before the “lighten up, it’s just a joke” crowd has the chance to chime in, think about this: What if the rookies were all dressed in blackface as a joke? What if they were all dressed like Negro Leagues players? Is that OK? What if they were dressed as the current U.S. women’s softball team, complete with wigs and fake breasts? How do we feel about it then?
It’s a “scales fall away” moment to think about it like this. This isn’t just a stupid hazing thing. This perpetuates the idea that women are weak, and that there is nothing worse for a man to be than a girl.
(As SUNY Oswego grad Stacey Gotsulias pointed out in DiCaro’s piece, it’s even worse that the men-dressed-as-girls are fetching coffee for the “real men.”)
On the level of things to be offended about, this is low on the list. This is not at the level of the domestic-abuse violence, or the whitewashing of those stories from too many sports’ figures resumes (I’ve noticed that PTI hasn’t mentioned one word about the accusations against Derrick Rose. Can’t imagine why). To be honest, the Mets’ quick embrace of Jose Reyes is much more problematic than this stupidity.
But that doesn’t mean it’s OK or should be ignored. Casual sexism is still sexism. It still spreads and perpetuates messages that are unhealthy for young women and men to see. Representation matters. How people are portrayed matters. It affects how we see the world, and how we see ourselves.
In a year when the dominant star of the Olympics was Simone Biles, when Bryce Harper happily served as the medal holder for Katie Ledecky, it’s unfortunate to see the Mets rely on such a cheap stereotype for a cheap laugh.