Stacey May Fowles of Vice has a good and, unfortunately, necessary column up today. She calls it a “manifesto,” but most manifestos aren’t as calm and reasonable as this one is. Nor is the point of most manifestos so painfully obvious, even if it’s almost uniformly ignored.
The point: just because a woman thinks a ballplayer is good looking doesn’t make her somehow less of a fan. Nor does it mean that they should be dismissed by so-called “real fans.”
And they are so often dismissed as such. Shallow. Superficial. “Cleat chasers,” maybe. Which, sure, some women in the world may well be. But I’ve observed in baseball fandom that many, many men, especially when there are no women around, find it impossible to accept that women can be serious baseball fans. And, if they encounter women fans, so many, many men assume that they’re only in it for the beefcake. At the same time women, Fowles observes, so often feel the need to make it ABUNDANTLY clear to the point of absurdity that, nope, they’re not checking out some ballplayer’s tush, no, never. And that need, she correctly argues, is aimed at conforming to men’s expectations of how fans are supposed to behave.
But the fact is ballplayers are hot. At least most of them. They’re crazy-in-shape athletic men between the ages of 20 and 40 who do stuff a tiny percentage of the planet can do. You’d have to be crazy to think there weren’t hundreds of hotties in such a sample. Appreciating that does not disqualify anyone as a serious fan, and the idea that it does or should is ridiculous.
So, my heterosexual male friends: go read Fowles’ column. Then, the next time you’re at a game, take a look at Bryce Harper or Giancarlo Stanton or someone and ask yourself how many sets of mental gymnastics you’d have to execute to claim they WEREN’T amazing looking, objectively speaking. Then ask yourself whether that realization makes you any less of a fan. And further ask yourself why we’d think that realization on the part of someone who is actually of the opposite sex or orientation wouldn’t think that too.