I’m sitting on a patio in Denver Metro this beautiful (and HOT!!!) Wednesday morning with my youngest son who is gobbling down a fresh pastry the way he has enthusiastically ingested the 2014 NBA Finals this season. He asks unrelenting questions about everything that is the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, the “guy with the weird hair” (Kwahi Leonard), the “guy with the bald spot” (Manu Ginobili), and of course, his favorite, Birdman (Chris Andersen). In his inquisitiveness, I find myself reminiscing and reliving my long, yet short, three-and-some years covering the NBA and I’m surprised how at peace I am with it all.
For those reading this, that know me from blogging about the Denver Nuggets, Russell Westbrook, and sexism in sports, you may already understand what I am referring to. How poorly, at times (though, for me, it felt like it was every, single day), I was treated by male (and female) fans, bloggers, and well-recognized writers – in public and private – for the mere fact I was a vagina-toting, well-opinionated female dishing out my hot takes on their most beloved sports icons.
There were plenty of days, I just wanted for these people to tell me my opinion was crappy because it was crappy, not insert some HORRIBLE identifier that had to do with my vagina, breasts, or how hot (or not hot) I looked and it was in those moments that I knew, that perhaps, I was too much of a strong identity for sports blogging, yet that wasn’t the reason at all.
I’m kind of a bitch.
Okay, I am a bitch.
I tend to not hold back in life.
I spent over 25 years holding back who I was as a human being, and what is that exactly? Who is Tammy (or Tammeh, as you may remember me)?
This is Tammy, as I have come to love, adore, and embrace her (in a nutshell, obviously).
Tammy is opinionated.
Tammy is insightful, even when she wants others to think of her as “just mediocre.”
Tammy is loving and sweet, even when she tries to hide it.
Tammy is mindful of others, though, she spent many years self-medicating this lovely part about her.
Tammy is “soft” yet hard at the same time.
Tammy is quirky.
Tammy is a true feminist and not one of those internet feminists who marginalizes other women by judging them based on their words formed, or their style of dress, or how many people they have had sexual relations with.
Tammy is cynical, yet open to the promises of society and humanity.
Tammy yearns for human equality that transcends gender, size, race, and sexual orientation.
Tammy is empowered.
Tammy can be articulate, yet chooses to shy away from her gifts.
Tammy is an Empath which essentially means she absorbs your feelings without you even realizing it, and in an instance, can sense all of your negative or positive emotions.
Tammy yearns for a social revolution that erases all oppression on her LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
Tammy is sensitive, yet she’s tough.
If Tammy was a city, she’d be a mix of Rome, Paris, and the Bronx.
This is Tammy (Or Tammeh, if you prefer) and it took feeling ostracized, alienated, and marginalized by self-proclaimed “inclusive” sports folks to realize this is who I am and always was. That’s not a horrible thing, rather, it’s a remarkable and peaceful thing.
I think about how cruel I was to those people who may have been uneducated in their basketball opinions, or just had a differing view, and I realized, sports writers across the board are similar to religious fundamentalists (and how bloody awful is that!?!?!).
They may be educated, well-informed, and heck, even knowledgeable about their area of expertise, but in a blink of an eye that’s all forgotten when they verbally pummel folks for believing in something else, when the high road can be taken. Educating and talking to someone without a condescending tone can go a long way in life. A. Very. Long. Way.
In that area of what I was projecting in the universe, I am incredibly sorry I was this AWFUL sports fundamentalist. That’s something I am very grateful that NBA bloggers/writers taught me about myself – my former character – as I embraced that it’s okay to be sensitive and objective; not hurling insults just makes you more of a remarkable human being and less of an asshat.
Being a woman among men, also taught me that as much as men marginalize women in male-dominated areas of life (especially in sports writing and religion), women marginalize men in a similar manner. As someone who was raped, I did that same thing, pigeonholing all men as the same, though instinctively I knew this was incredibly asinine and false.
NOT ALL MEN ARE HORRIBLE, MISOGYNISTIC, MINIMIZING, PIECES OF SHIT.
They are not.
Sure, the United States is still a social construct based on patriarchy, but it is NOTHING, and I mean, NOTHING compared to many other nations where our fellow women are killed JUST BECAUSE they are female. I know many women will become hell-bent with fury that I imply that they are marginalizing men, it is something that women do. It’s something to say that *some* (a small percentage) of men are douches, but to imply that every man is a future rapist is doing a great disservice to not only men, but human equality as a whole.
To be perfectly honest, my GREATEST advocates during my NBA-writing years, were men.
I know, you’re probably scratching your heads and that’s okay.
For every five men (and women) that sent me hateful, fear-inducing comments, I had as many men in my corner ready to take a swing for me. Though, I made it perfectly clear, I can take care of myself, but it was still refreshing to see someone cared about equality as much as I did and do.
I never respected it as much then as I appreciated those efforts now.
Being a woman among men taught me that men are in this misogyny fight right along with me. We are fellow soldiers; they just wear a cup protecting themselves from impending kicks to the groin.
I’ll spotlight one fellow NBA writer now, Andres (he knows who he is) who still (and will probably always cover the league) is an incredible statistics genius with a flair for scientific formulas uses in the stat world. He is a kind, yet opinionated Denver Nuggets fan who really supported me not as a “female blogger” just simply, a blogger.
Just thinking about a post he had written one time declaring his own sexist tendencies (though I never really saw them that way) and the kind things he said about me and my character, brings tears to my eyes.
I said I was sensitive, guh!!!
Andres, words are never enough when ones actions exemplify their truest character in the most universal way and you did that . For me and every other woman that’s ever felt marginalized and demonized in her life. Your words comforted me when I had given up on myself, the truest measure of a person, is how they treat others in their most dire of circumstances.
You may have understood a little bit of how awful others were to me, Andres, but truly, it seemed like an endless carousel of malicious-drenched comments on social media, emails, and passive-aggressive posts. An unrelenting roundabout of emails and direct messages demanding scandalous photos or I would be blackballed for, what seemed, like a sports eternity, and only I know how grotesquely horrendous these folks were, yet your soft words made it easier to “deal with” and for that Andres, I’m more thankful than I can utter.
Andres, you along with a barrage of other beautiful, kind men are the driving force behind me and other empowered women as we seek more equality in this patriarchy-laden society. For that, I will always be thankful and in that, you’re like the Russell Westbrook of feminism: Others may criticize you, they may never understand you, heck you may even “chuck” words too often or not often enough, but we… I appreciate you and things you may or may not realize you have done.
Being a woman among men didn’t marginalize me further, it marginalized themselves further.
Being a woman among men didn’t cement me as “just a woman,” it cemented themselves as “just nasty men.”
Being a woman among men didn’t place value on me, I placed the value on myself.
Being a woman among men didn’t remove the veil, I took the veil off of misogyny and watched it burn slowly.
Being a woman among me didn’t remove me from writing, I removed myself.
Being a woman among men didn’t minimize myself, it minimized their characters.
Being a woman among men taught me a bit more of humanity that I want to strive for.
Being a woman among men brought me in contact with men that understand gender equality and showed me women who perpetuate more female-hate than men can even hope for.
Being a woman among me brought truth to the light and light to the truth.
Being a woman among men showed me supporters come in all genders, sizes, and races; in that moment, I seen a greater picture of what a man is and what a man isn’t.
Thank you, men.