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Is it PMS, my broken nail, or my innate, girlish feistiness that makes me want to strangle Dan Wheldon? By Hannah Wallace   Bear with me as I use this entry to mold a few ideas. (Thoughts rarely get set if they stay in my head; I find I need ideas made manifest so I […]

June 6, 2007


Is it PMS, my broken nail, or my innate, girlish feistiness that makes me want to strangle Dan Wheldon?

By Hannah Wallace
 
Bear with me as I use this entry to mold a few ideas. (Thoughts rarely get set if they stay in my head; I find I need ideas made manifest so I can, almost literally, get a hold of them.)
 
Yesterday, I let myself get good and riled up at Indy car driver Dan Wheldon (while my ever-so-satisfying title for him is inappropriate for Sarasota Magazine, I can say it’s a four-letter word beginning with T), who was interviewed on ESPN’s PTI regarding an incident after a race on Monday: After something happened on the track that may or may not have been controversial (what do I know?), Danica Patrick approached Wheldon, grabbed his arm, said something (that, I imagine, was also inappropriate for Sarasota Magazine), and gave him a shove as she let go and stormed off.


The Contenders: Danica VS. Dan
 
Wheldon began the interview by joking that (I’m paraphrasing a little here because I can’t remember the exact words), “a lot of guys would like to have a woman all over them after a race.” So, right off the bat: You’re a jackass, Dan. He went on to call Patrick “feisty” and admit that he never considered fighting her because “you have to respect that she’s a woman.”
 
I don’t even follow racing of any kind, and Danica is take-it-or-leave-it in my head. But I’ll tell you what: If I’d been around, smug-ass Dan Wheldon sure would’ve respected that I’m a woman when I kicked him in his manliness.
 
This really shouldn’t be about any kind of bigger picture—go ahead and call your competitors crybabies and brats and talk trash about whatever; that’s standard sports media right there—but Wheldon’s self-righteousness as he implied that he was the consummate professional while taking shots at Patrick’s sex (which, what did that have to do with anything in the first place?) opened the door for battle-of-the-sexes-style musings. (Hence the above threat of physical violence; I do not actually condone crotch-kicking.)
 
When people get angry, we (most of us, I’m just assuming) look for any characteristics (hair color, for instance, or weight) to use as insults, even though these characteristics have nothing to do with why we’re angry in the first place. But if Wheldon had had an altercation with a black driver, and then made a crack about having a black man all over him, or dismissed his actions as a product of his race, would Wilbon and Kornheiser still have laughed? (And shame on you two; I really like you guys, but I can’t believe you encouraged him in this crap.) Pardon the sports metaphor, but those sorts of remarks, in this sort of context, are usually out of bounds. It was bizarre to see them bandied about so casually.
 
I’m not trying to defend Patrick for making a scene, and I’m certainly not trying to bemoan with the Sad State of Modern Society or dictate what should or shouldn’t be said (Wheldon’s allowed to talk idiotic trash—and so am I). It does suck that this attitude is not all that unusual—and often flies under the radar of ostensible gender equality—but I think you have to take these things on a case-by-case basis: Essentially, I just wanted to vent because Dan Wheldon made me angry.
 
But, really, he probably doesn’t know any better. I mean, he’s just a man.
 
(Please oh please note the purposeful irony in the above sentence. There’s more to be blathered on this topic and my own experiences in sports, and I might just make this entry a two-parter. So, um, consider yourself warned.)