June 9, 2007

Fillies Aren't Girls, Sorry

I was thrilled beyond words over the filly Rags To Riches winning the Belmont Stakes today, but ABC's lame commentary almost spoiled it for me.

To start out, there's only one woman (Jeannine Edwards) on the entire broadcast team. (They did have former jockey Donna Brothers commenting trackside at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but ABC didn't even bother with that.) Now, I enjoy listening to Randy Moss and Kenny Mayne as much as anyone--they would make a hilarious vaudeville act, I think--and Jerry Bailey provides invaluable insights.

That doesn't change the fact that the male-to-female ratio is severely, and noticably, skewed. I wonder if anyone has asked (or even thought of asking) retired jockey Julie Krone to join the team? Hell, she won the Belmont, in 1993. She could talk about racing just as well as anybody, and for commentary, I don't think a penis is a requirement.

Perhaps the presence of more women would have avoided the following cliches: "girl power" (nevermind that the 'girl' in question is a female horse, properly termed a 'mare' or a 'filly') and "battle of the sexes" (the last I heard, one horse trying to outrun another is hardly 'battling,' and 'sex' has nothing to do with it). This business of trying to extrapolate the results of a horse race to male/female relations is inane, to say the least. Rags To Riches' accomplishment is lauded, and rightfully so, because it it so rare; she is the first filly to win the race in a hundred years, and the first ever at the mile-and-a-half distance (the last filly to win, Tanya in 1905, only had to run a mile and a quarter).

This is a simple fact of equine biology; at the young age of three, colts are generally a bit bigger and stronger than fillies. You could see this as the two contenders came down the stretch; the colt, Curlin, was obviously larger and more muscled than the filly.

But she beat him anyway.

Nevertheless, a horse is a horse is a horse, and not a person. A filly beating a colt on a given day, or vice versa, should have nothing to do with feminism, patriarchy, or anything else. This condescending attempt by all the (male) commenters to turn it into something it isn't completely rubbed me the wrong way, and damnere spoiled the race.

I guess that's what You Tube is for, or the video on the Blood-Horse site. I'll mute Tom Durkin's sexist racecalling from the top of the stretch onwards, and just enjoy the sight of two magnificent animals doing what they were bred to do.


jo22 said...

Nothing to do with racing, but this reminds me of my male ex-partner, who I still live with, saying about our me and our two female cats, "it's three against one in this house."

Um, no it isn't. They're not women. They're CATS.

I came across your site because of its title. I am a feminist who was brought up a Christian and I've just started reading "Feminist Theory and Christian theology" by Serene Jones (do you know of her?). I'm wondering if my desire to reconcile the two is because I genuinely see the commonality (like being born into sin/born into patriarchal culture), or because I can't shake off my upbringing. How did you come to your beliefs, or have you always had them?

Sorry, I had to ask as you're the only Christian feminist I am aware of! There aren't any feminist churches in the UK as far as I know.


Unknown said...

Hey Jo, thanks for stopping by.

I was raised in a Christian community some people might call a "sect" or a "cult"--I'm not going to name it, as I'm still very much a part of it and I don't want to open myself up to any kind of backlash. But I only began to explore feminist theory in the last few years, and that process is still ongoing. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

As for other Christian feminists, check out Midgetqueen , Church Gal, Shawna Atteberry, and The CBE Scroll from my blogroll.