Monday, February 5, 2018


Yeah. I watched the game.

I frequently wonder, and despair, about the 53% of white women who voted for Donald Trump. It seems unthinkable to me that so many women could vote so sincerely against their own interests - these women saw a serial adulterer and sexual predator (not to mention a racist, xenophobic, incompetent bigot) and affirmed, yes, I want this man to represent me. And these weren't just poor women, frequently profiled in semi-journalistic pieces about the working classes and their disenfranchisement, but well-educated, affluent women. Women who look like me.

It baffles me. It angers me. I do despair.

And yet, last night, I settled in with my plate of burgers and glass of non-alcoholic chardonnay, and I watched the game.

I talk a lot about the suffering of minorities on this blog, knowing, of course, that I cannot comprehend those experiences. I'd like to think that I have some sense of the need for justice, for better representation, for equal rights and dignity, but I know that my whiteness, my financial security, my excellent education all protect me from the ravages of institutional racism and economic strife.

I could easily be the kind of woman who cheered, without thought, the gladiatorial pomp and valorous pain of men, our entertainers, our objects. Of Black men, bound and gagged, owned, denied the right to protest.

And last night, I was. 

I am complicit.

I pushed my values to the side. I stand, in theory, against the high risk of injury - I don't believe that any occupation justifies frequent concussions. I stand against the stifling of free expression - the NFL's blackballing of Colin Kaepernick is shameful, abhorrent. I oppose the domestic violence which seems to go hand in hand with this violent American pastime. I am a good person, in my head.

But my actions belie my good intentions. I am, in this instance, the 53%.

I ask myself, why. How could I let this happen? And it comes down to selfishness, and convenience, and betrayal.

I am selfish because I chose to be entertained - I enjoyed the back and forth, the well-contested match, the athleticism of both teams, the triumph and the defeat. That entertainment became more important to me, for those long hours, than my values. And I watched the commercials, anticipating more entertainment, knowing that consumerism is the curse of American capitalism - seeing a shocking and disgusting Dodge Ram commercial and feeling good about myself that I knew that using Doctor King's words to sell a few trucks was deeply wrong.

How many women found Donald Trump entertaining? How many got a secret thrill when he was crass, when he "told it like it is?" - when crowds cheered, when tribalism prevailed, when they wore red hats with white stitching which proclaimed, I am better than you?

And convenience - instead of having a frank, and perhaps difficult, conversation with my husband about why I could not watch the game, I gave in. I put that conversation aside, thinking oh, next season, I won't watch. Next time I'll be better. How many women voted for Donald Trump to avoid such uncomfortable conversations with their spouses? How many put their heads down, pulled the lever, denied their responsibility in order to avoid the cringing feeling of going against a man's convictions? 

How many women have betrayed themselves? Have betrayed their gender? I - a women of supposedly strong convictions - was able to betray what I claim to believe. It was easy. I don't bear the consequences. I am not at risk - I will not be injured, I will not be silenced, I am not a possession of the American public or of a wealthy organisation which cares only for profits and not for the cost of human lives.

The thing about complicity is that it is the path of least resistance. It's so simple, and its simplicity is seductive. Complicity makes sure that we don't have to have to give up our entertainment, to have uncomfortable conversations, to hold fast to our own convictions. Complicity is a cozy sofa and a warm blanket, a cocoon, a wall between us and our guilt, a football game, a vote.

I was entertained. It was a good game, last night, and the team I supported won. And another player suffered a brain injury. And no one knelt - I have no doubt that they were ordered not to. From 6:30 to 10:00, millions of dollars were spent to reassure us that Black lives don't matter.

This morning, as I see the strength of so many men and women who righteously abandoned football all season long, I am shamed.

But heck - Doctor King told us to buy a truck. It's all good, right? 

1 comment:

  1. I offer a modest proposal or two. I propose that, while watching the game and the ads and whatnot seems to have weighed on your heart, it matters to neither the NFL nor the advertisers. The bottom line for the advertisers, and thus the NFL, goes ka-ching. Unless you have bought a Dodge Ram since yesterday, you have not rewarded them for their sponsorship.
    Further, I propose that, in future, you continue to watch the Big Game and any little games that amuse you. While watching, make a list of the advertisers and sponsors. After the game, order that list by offensiveness from the most offensive on down.
    Then post the list and encourage anyone who sees it in a boycott for all the reasons you put forth above. At the very least, suggest that anyone considering a Ram take a look at some Fords first (
    Encourage other fans to make their own lists and to debate the offensiveness rankings.
    If you don't like the picnic, don't go. If you REALLY don't like the picnic, show up with a bucket of ants.

    Yours in nihilism,

    - Andy