As the wife of a former N.F.L. player with degenerative dementia, Eleanor Perfetto finds herself performing the most basic tasks for her husband, Ralph Wenzel: she feeds him, bathes him and tries to explain all that is happening to him.
She could not, however, attend a meeting Thursday night in suburban Washington between N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell and former players, the third in a series of discussions regarding the later-life care of retirees. As Perfetto tried to enter the room, Goodell told her the meeting was for players only.
But the problem wasn’t just that the meeting was for players – it’s that it was for men. Goodell told the NYT reporter that women being present could impede the discussion.
Perfetto and the wives of other players with dementia criticized their exclusion, adding their voices to a debate over the care of retired players that has been the subject of two Congressional hearings.
“We wives are the voice of players with dementia, because they can’t speak for themselves,” Perfetto said. “They are only allowing players healthy enough to attend. That means they’re getting a very slanted view of what it’s like out there.”
So sexism is stopping what could be a comprehensive discussion. Nice. Though I’m betting this isn’t just about keeping women out – it’s about keeping caretakers out. These women are the ones who know best what is happening to their loved ones – shutting them out isn’t just sexist, it’s irresponsible.