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Punting into the wind on objectification

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I was covering the post-game activities at the football game, when I suddenly found myself back in the 60s.

And not the good part of the 60s, the civil rights, anti-war, great music and films part.

I was back in the part of the 60s whose objectification of women included go-go girls.

There above the Rum Hut, amid flashing strobes and pounding music, two young women were up on a ledge space doing what I suppose was dancing.

In some ways sports have come some distance, particularly in dealing with racism and homophobia — some distance, though by no means remotely far enough, not when homophobia is still rampant and when teams in Washington, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Kansas City among others still delight in depicting racial stereotypes.

I know that many in professional sports still believe that objectifying women is necessary to appeal to the demographic they think buys tickets; many in professional sports undoubtedly don’t even think of it as objectifying, because it’s part of their world view of how things are. But even some beer companies have realized they can convince people to buy their beer without demeaning women in the process.

And yes, I know, we’re talking about consenting adults here.

Interesting that while the Blue Bombers have a gender mix in their cheerleaders, there’s a distinct difference in the amount and type of clothing that the genders wear.

Yes, I know I’m punting into the wind here.

I remember when child the younger told us that there were restaurant chains that she would not patronize, because of the way that they make the women on staff dress.

Back when I was coaching boys’ soccer, there was a suggestion that we hold the wind-up party at a restaurant chain which was widely believed to hire women based on the size of their breasts.

I told the team that if the majority opted to go to that particular establishment, that I had no right to impose my values on other families, but would not organize the party and would not take part.

I had no intention of being any part of validating some other men’s belief that men have the right to judge women’s value on any basis, let alone on the size of a physical part of their body, nor would I be a part of inculcating among the boys on our team any notion that society accepts and expects men and boys to behave in that fashion.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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