No Women Allowed

December 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.

Christy Jones, CAE By:   |   December 15, 2008


  1. Aaron Matthews says:

    Isn’t that the same reason that the Feminist professors use to keep boys out of their classrooms in publicly funded classrooms?

    Isn’t that the a big reason why girls sports teams won’t let a single boy on them, even if the boy is smaller than them?

    Isn’t that why so many schools set up leadership programs focusing on girls?

    and so on… and so on….

    Seems to me that women say it’s a bad reason if anyone, even a private group, uses it against women, but when society uses it against boys then it’s a legitimate reason.

    Is this your version of equity?

  2. Peggy says:

    Aaron, I agree that barring participation based on gender, race, ability, etc. should be scrutinized. When we limit ourselves to only those that share our same opinion, voice, or in this case anatomy, we lose an opportunity for a broader discussion. Christy even admits that there may have been valid reasoning for keeping Ms. Perfetto from attending the meeting. But it seems that the reason for the meeting, “later-life care of retirees” would have been a perfect environment for her attendance. As with non sports-related health care issues, the impact on families is immense and direct for those that provide care. By barring Ms. Pefetto, the NFL ignores its obligation to its older players and the families that helped build and support it.

  3. Bob says:

    First and foremost, I attended a public university and boys were always in feminist classes granted they were limited but not because professors did not permit them. Also I think Aaron may want to look over leadership programs because what he will notice is that they are geared to the most underrepresented groups in either that university or in America. Often times this is determined by the persons race, sex, socio-economic class, or disability. The article was simply pointing out that “bad language” should not keep a woman out of a meeting that critically impacts her husband and possibly other retired sports athletes who rely heavily on the women in their lives to handle their affairs. Lets be honest, these pro-athlete wives have probably heard it all so why be shy now? It really just sounds like Aaron is so bitter about his personal problems that he fails to realize the true impact of what the NFL players have done here.

  4. christyjones says:

    One of the interesting aspects of the internet is the opportunity to obtain education online. Numerous friends of mine are taking online classes to augment their regular brick & mortar ones and are looking forward to graduating earlier as a result.

    MIT offers the MITOpenCourseWare program, which allows anyone FREE access to most of their classes, including lecture notes, book lists, etc. A good learning-for-learning sake autmosphere, taking classes here does not give you college credits but gives you the ability to receive undergrad/grad level edcuation. Based on the comments to this post, I am providing a link to their Women’s and Gender Studies series so that any man or woman can increase their knowledge in this area, something that wouldn’t hurt any of us.

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