Wednesday, September 24, 2008
wrestling with girls
My son, John wrestled in high school in the heavyweight division. He never experienced something that many of the guys in the smaller weight classes did - wrestling against a girl. One of the coolest things about high school wrestling in California is that anyone can participate and if need be, the rules are adjusted. John's team had a blind wrestler. The rules were adjusted so both wrestlers had to maintain hand contact with one another at all times. There was a wrestler with one leg. Both wrestlers began on the mat. Girls can wrestle as well and compete against boys. There are no changes in the rules. There were some girls who were very, very good. BTW, the photo is of Jazy Green, a high school wrestler from Santa Monica who competes at 103 pounds.
As you can guess, wrestling is an intimate contact sport and hands and body parts often touch in places and ways that under other circumstances would be very inappropriate. You could tell when a boy was wrestling a girl for the first time. As the match began, he would have a tentative look on his face, unsure where to put his hands. For a few seconds the girl had an enormous advantage. After the first time she threw him, he got down to wrestling and didn't worry about where to place his hands. After all, the rules were the same regardless of whether the opponent was male or female. If the girl is upset about having some strange boy touching her anywhere and everywhere, she shouldn't be wrestling.
I've been thinking about that as an analogy to Sarah Palin. So far, the press and the Obama campaign have seemed hesitant, unsure as to where they can place their "hands." They are acting as if the rules are different since she is a woman. And the McCain camp is pushing for a change in the rules as they ask for deference from the press corps and refuse to have Palin give a press conference. They are trying to institutionalize that momentary advantage and claim that any attacks against her are sexist. The reality is exactly the opposite. Campbell Brown got it right when she accused McCain of sexism. If Palin is going to compete at this level, she has to play by the same rules as the boys. That means she is subject to all of the same questions and critiques. If she can't answer the questions, then she ought to get off the mat.