In December, Major League Baseball announced a new anti-hazing rule. Veterans commonly initiated rookies by forcing them to dress up like women. We’ve criticized the practice quite a bit here, as it’s often misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic.
You can add the Cubs to the list of people not happy with the rule, as ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reports. Catcher Miguel Montero said, “I think it’s B.S. It’s about making guys uncomfortable. I always say: Get uncomfortable to get comfortable. That’s what we try to do.”
If it were truly only about making someone uncomfortable, then the new rule shouldn’t be an impediment. There are many ways to make a teammate feel uncomfortable without demonizing women, feminine men, and transgender people, just to name a few. Montero suggested off of the top of his head that their dress-up shenanigans could include wearing wrestling tights through the airport on a road trip. Jake Arrieta and Justin Grimm suggested making the rookies wear Speedos. And those are fine ideas. They don’t punch down at oppressed groups to get laughs.
Arrieta said, “Maybe it needs to remain out of the public eye, but we aren’t trying to offend anyone. I know how serious it can be with people dealing with an uncomfortable time with the way they identify themselves individually. It’s a serious situation. Kids hide who they are because they feel like they will be ridiculed, and that’s wrong.”
Perhaps manager Joe Maddon should take his players on a field trip to the Halloween store. There are plenty of ways to dress players up in something embarrassing or uncomfortable that doesn’t make femininity the butt of the joke.