No Women AllowedDecember 15, 2008
I don’t know about you, but my mornings are timed down to the last second, let alone minute. I know how much “spare” time I have before I will start to cause a backup and ultimately be late leaving the house to go to work. Sipping tea, listening to the news, I couldn’t quite believe what I thought I heard as a partial news story filtered into my still dozing brain. The topic? That wives of former football players with disabilities were not allowed to attend a recent meeting about former players with disabilities. I didn’t hear the entire story, so I jumped online to see what I could find.
The New York Times fortunately had a brief article. Eleanor Perfetto, whose husband — former N.F.L. player Ralph Wenzel — has dementia and was apparently unable to come in person, showed up to attend a meeting of retired players who were discussing “later-life care of retirees.” OK, in fairness, maybe there was a good reason to not let Eleanor Perfetto attend this meeting of players for players. I looked at the clock again; time was flying, and there was this little matter of getting to work. I could spare one last paragraph — and that’s when I stopped in my tracks.
“If there’s a woman in the room, I have to watch what I say. Maybe we need to go back and make an exception for her and the wives of players with dementia. But then again, men are men, and they’ll look at that woman and will not say everything they want to say in the manner they want to say it.”
So said former Giants linebacker Harry Carson, according to the New York Times article.
I wonder what Ralph Wenzel would think about this reasoning if he were able to understand that the individual representing his interests was not allowed to attend the meeting simply because she was a woman, which would apparently restrict some of the bad language being used during the meeting. I say “bad language,” since I assume Harry Carson was referring to that when he said that the men “will not say everything they wanted to say in the manner they want to say it.” Anything else may be considered discriminatory, whether against women, against disabled players unable to represent themselves, or who knows what.
Making a mountain out of a molehill you say? I would, too, except that the kind of excuse Carson gave to prevent a woman from attending a meeting is a molehill I thought long flattened. The fact that it still exists shows the need for organizations like AAUW to continue their missions of breaking through barriers to advance equity. Oh, and by the way Harry Carson, I imagine Eleanor Perfetto would be willing to listen to any language in order to make sure the future wellbeing of her husband and family were represented. Meanwhile, it’s off to work I go.