Watchdog Blog

Myra MacPherson: Feminist Social Media Clout — Billie Jean King Weighs in

Posted at 7:22 pm, March 6th, 2012
Myra MacPherson Mug

Those of us who lived in the dark ages of the 1960’s and 1970’s sexual revolution remember Grand Slammer Billie Jean King’s 1973 famous whipping of men’s tennis champ Bobby Riggs as an athletic moment of joy. The year before, in June of 1972, Title 9–a landmark civil rights law barring gender discrimination of education in schools that receive federal funding–became law, creating a sports revolution. For openers, a young woman for the first time ever received a sports scholarship that September. Now a line of women’s sports clothing is labeled Title Nine. Young athletic women probably do not know the derivation of the name brand they wear. If they did they might be astounded at history’s path.

The nationally televised King-Riggs match was known as the “Battle of the Sexes” but today King says she is fighting “the real battle playing out in the halls of Congress right now, because Republicans are waging an epic battle against women’s health care choices.”

Allow me a brief personal how-times-have-changed story. In 1969, when I covered the Miracle Mets victory for the Washington Post I couldn’t get in the press box because women were barred. An old style male reporter looked at me darkly and grumped, “the next thing you girls are going to want is to get in the locker room.” I replied that we didn’t want to use the urinals, just the typewriters. Segue to my daughter, Leah Siegel, who was three in 1969: As a grown up, Leah, a three times Emmy award winning ESPN producer, routinely interviewed NFL football players in the locker room. In 1969, women covering sports were rare. Now there is an American Women in Sports Media organization (acronym spells AWSM; I am sure you get it).

It was the few women in Congress who led the Title 9 battle against sexist males, who thought it would cut into the high rolling revenue from male college sports. Don’t ask me why; it sure didn’t happen.

Now fighting the “Republican War on Women” are today’s women in Congress–Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Kirsten Killibrand, et al. Someone got the smarts to add King but by now many of us have already signed. There must be a female data base up there in the blogosphere sky because all the women I know are being inundated with the “Dear [your name]” emails with the huge red STOP Sign, asking us to sign the DCCC’s [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] petition and, of course, give money.

Which brings me to the phenomenon of Internet social journalism. Any of us old-time newspaper journalists who dreamed of creating social change never knew if we affected anything. A few letters-to-the-editor were our only feedback. I was skeptical when people first predicted that the Internet would dramatically revolutionize everything dealing with news but it did. Including creating what is called social media. There is no more dramatic example than the Internet outcry which forced the Komen breast cancer foundation to fund Planned Parenthood after bowing to conservative pressure.

The next questions are, Will the social media marvel die from overkill? Will it get easier to show your annoyance at inundation by clicking the delete button? Are people getting tired of the amoeba-like spread? Once you give money or sign a petition, you get more and more requests. The Planned Parenthood/Komen mess seemed to have galvanized a sleepy women’s movement, but will that last?

As of today, King says they are 134,691 short of the million mark on the petition. Pardon the sports metaphor, but King hopes the ball she lobbed into the House Republicans’ court will spell victory as she and others demand that they “End the War on Women.” I thought I was back in 1969 when the House Republicans recently held a hearing on women’s access to birth control coverage that included no women on the panel. That’s when the backlash began. Then they changed their own rules and refused to televise testimony from law student Sandra Fluke. This petition to demand change has been going on for some days and it seems in a country this size their goal should have been reached by now. It remains to be seen if social media pressure will continue to be a game changer.

A new feminist goal is to get a libel suit going against the nutcase named Limbaugh for calling Fluke–a non-public figure testifying on the need to fund contraception–a prostitute. No petitions to sign have come my way yet. This is trickier, as lawyers have to get into the mix. But I am sure many women would like to sign that one.

7 Responses to “Feminist Social Media Clout — Billie Jean King Weighs in”

  1. Mike H says:

    Take a 30 year old athlete in the prime of her career and pair her off against an 55 year old chain smoking man about 20 years past his prime and the man destroys her … betcha forgot about Margaret Court and the “Mother’s Day Massacre” dindtcha? Or how about the Connor v Navratilova “Battle of the Sexes” where Connors had only 1 serve per point and had to cover half the doubles alleys. Even at that disadvantage, Connor destroyed her.

    Ahhh … the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match .. really tells you everything you need to know about feminism in a nutshell. Stack the deck in favor of one sex, force “equality” in areas where the sexes clearly aren’t equal, demonize those who disagree and then whine incessantly when you still can’t achieve equality in outcomes.

    And just as an FYI, someone ran the numbers on Flukes $3000 claim and it pretty much confirms Limbaugh’s opinion that the girl is a prostitute.

  2. Myra says:

    Wow, Mike, are you Limbaugh’s press agent? I hope you have seen that 28 or maybe more now advertisers have dropped Limbaugh and Republican politicians are racing to disown him. Why are men given a pass for sleeping around and women called names by the likes of you for using contraceptives? Do get lost. Myra

  3. MarySue Foster says:

    OK, Mike H — can’t let this pass. I’ll just comment on one piece of wrong-headedness that’s reflected in your response.

    Here’s a detail about birth control pills (hormonal contraception) that have only been around since the 60s. A woman takes ONE A DAY. She can then have sex 100 times, if she so desires. Her costs for contraception are the same if she NEVER has sex or ALWAYS has sex. I can’t believe this massive understanding is now making its way around the social media as if it were facts.

    Suggest you read up on some biology before your next post and, perhaps, also some general-interest magazines to discover what other medical conditions artificial hormones might be prescribed. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t confine your news gathering to listening to Limbaugh. You could be in a heap of trouble.

  4. Mike H says:

    @ Myra
    I am not surprised that the bulk of your response consists of ad hominems, typical I suppose, but I would like to correct something you wrote: Why are liberal men given a pass for sleeping around (or even raping women) and women called names for not toeing the liberal line on issues? Inquiring minds want to know. As far as Limbaugh’s sponsors go, he has tens of millions of listeners, so I doubt the void left by the advertisers will last long.

    But being a good progressive self styled feminist, I am surprised I missed your many angry diatribes when your liberal pals used excessively crude sexual language describing conservative women. But if there’s one thing I have learned in life it’s that being a good liberal means never having to say you are sorry.

  5. Mike H says:

    @ MarySue Foster
    Fluke wasn’t specific as to whether she was speaking of the pill or some other form of contraception, so lets dig into this a bit. She specifically said “safe sex”. As we all know from our high school health classes oral contraceptives don’t block the transmission of STD’s, so their use alone doesn’t qualify as “safe sex”. Assuming Miss Thing (aka Sandra Fluke) was referring to the pill, she would have been spending between $15 and $50 a month without insurance according to Planned Parenthood. That means anywhere between $540-1800 for three years, so take an average if $1170. Now, I can buy a pack of 100 condoms at Costco for $30, or one from a bathroom machine for 1$, once again the average is $.65. Assuming the good girls at Georgetown were practicing “safe sex” with the pill and a prophylactic, that means over the course of their three year studied, they would have to go through 2 and a half condoms a day for that $3000 number to work out.

    Thanks to all the profits Planed Parenthood makes from their abortion mill afilliates, they give lots of contraception away for free, but evidently the smart, “safe sex” having friends of Miss Fluke don’t know this, so they can only afford to have sex “safely” 18 times a week on their meager $3000 budgets.

    Yeah … I don’t buy that either.

    But there’s those gosh darn facts conflicting with reality again … whats a good lib gonna do!

  6. Kimberly says:

    In the area of healthcare morals, Limbaugh had admitted prescription fraud for viagra, to say nothing of his addiction issues with prescriptions. He’s ok with breaking the law to keep his pecker going, but finds fault when we lawfully try to help keep our society healthy and in check.

    I do think Mike H has a point – when you compare the gender of most serial killers, mass murders and rapists, you will find that men have indeed FAR outscored women. But focusing on these stats is fruitless. Let’s look at how we can all keep our society healthy, strong, educated. Not sure if prescription fraud qualifies.

  7. Andrew F says:

    The best , and perhaps only way to bring an end to the Limbaugh way of doing business is, in fact, the lawsuit. it seems quite unlikely that this Court would uphold the holding or reasoning of NY Times v. Sullivan. Ms Fluke may be in a position to rid us of Limbaugh and the likes of Rupert Murdoch to boot. Since these characters make up the bilk of what passes for the prss these days and the remaining mainstream organs are far more careful, lets make sure this litigation gets financed

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