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It Ain’t Easy Being A Feminist Sports Fan

It ain’t easy being a feminist sports fan.

Sure, we’ve got Mo’ne Davis and Serena Williams, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Hope Solo, but it’s still a man’s world. The news headlines related to sports stars’ personal lives often bring up the cold hard truth: sports and feminism are a tough combination to make work.

Everyone’s talking about Ray Rice. As they should be. When my boyfriend and I tune into sports radio in the morning it’s on, when I listen to NPR in the afternoon there it is. An NFL player punched his fiancée-now-wife so hard she fell, hit an elevator railing, and was knocked unconscious. It’s inexcusable, even if you listen to some people on my Facebook newsfeed who have provided justifications for such a horrific act of violence.

Man-splaining is popping up everywhere, particularly on social media. Victim blaming permeates our conversation around Ray and Janay . . . why didn’t she leave? (Here’s a few good ways of looking at that, by the way)

So how do I, a sitting commissioner of my fantasy football league, deal with a clash of ethics and passion?

I’m lost. I love my role as a feminist in the workplace, in my friendships, on the Internet. I also love watching sports—baseball primarily (and we can discuss the relatively low incidences of reported/known incidents of intimate partner violence in that sport at a different moment)—but I have been known to get down with some Sunday football or even the occasional NBA outing. Sports are fun. They are highly entertaining, intricately complex, and competitive. I like competition.

So can I still call myself a feminist and be a sports fan when all we’re talking about is a horrific case of violence against women in the world of sports? When the men in control of the most watched sport in America are sweeping things like the Ray Rice video under the rug, how can I stick to my guns in the fight against misogyny (which I would argue a man hitting a woman is a clear example of)? I don’t know. Will I tune in to watch Sunday football when I can? I don’t know.

I don’t have an answer. I’m struggling to understand how I can be a feminist and still support the NFL. I’m trying to just live inside the contradiction. I don’t have an answer, which means I am really conflicted. So I’m just going to sit with that for a while. 

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1 Comment

We need to have no tolerance for abuse--of women, children, others (e.g., participating in murder), and animals. Greed is the driver and all falls to the side in honor of the dollar. Yes, this is about feminism, but it is also about values, and whether we have any that trump the almighty dollar

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How to cite this page

Diamant, Emilia. "It Ain’t Easy Being A Feminist Sports Fan." 15 September 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 24, 2018) <>.


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