What We Missed

Carnal Nation questions the validity of Ms. Magazine’s coverage of sex workers.
Steven Waldman, left, of Beliefnet and William Saletan of Slate debate the idea of reducing abortion by paying pregnant women.
Planned Parenthood of El Paso is closing all six of its health-care centers because of financial problems.
Tennis player Chris Evert joined agrees that the noise level in women’s tennis, specifically the “grunting” is out of hand. Seems steeped in mysognoistic assumptions about appropriate conduct for women to me…any tennis players want to chime in?
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge.
Sex education that provides information about abstinence, condom use and other contraceptive methods is the most effective way to reduce the growing number of teenagers who contract a sexually transmitted infection or become pregnant, according to a Council on Science and Public Health report adopted at the AMA Annual Meeting. Duh. I mean, very excited that this info is being widely accepted in the medical community.

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34 Comments

  1. Logrus
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    “Tennis player Chris Evert joined agrees that the noise level in women’s tennis, specifically the “grunting” is out of hand.” -
    Sexist and probably racist too, this was a beef people were drumming up about the Williams sisters a while back. Hey assholes, get over it. Good athletes exert themselves and exertion sounds like…well it sounds like exertion.

  2. micki_d
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m from El Paso and find the closing of all the PPs really sad. Irvin High School was at one point the school with the highest pregnancies in the nation, and my parents grew up in Central when it was the poorest zip code in the country as well. People need PPs services. I’m trying to figure out what I can do though I live now in Cali, where PP has its own troubles with the budget crisis.

  3. Tracey T
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    who wants to take bets about when and where the qoute on sex education will be reduced to: ” Sex education that provides information about abstinence…is the mot effective way to reduce the growing number of teenagers who contact a sxually transmitted infection r become pregnant, according to a Council on Science and Public Health rport adopted at the AMA annual meeting”?
    As for the tennis grunting: someone pointed out that if a player grunts to loud the opponent can not hear the ball as it leaves the grunters raquet and that a lot of really good tennis players can tell the way a ball was hit and where it may likely end up based off of how they hear it leaving the raquet. If that’s the cas defiantly adds a new perspective, otherwise, yeah, sounds suspect.

  4. dirtydemocrat
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m a tennis player, or was, in university. There is definitely a double standard in terms of noisemaking for women players as opposed to men players, mostly in terms of how women players feel they should behave. It was always interesting to see how my team sounded when the boys’ team was practicing nearby versus when we were alone. Using all of one’s strength requires some amount of exertion, as Logrus wrote. Plus, the Williams sisters are awesome. Making fun of how they sound is probably about the only thing that bored announcers can come up with to criticize. As for what Tracey T. mentioned about the noises distracting people…I’ve never heard that complaint. Especially not while watching men’s pro matches. I’m no pro either, but I’ve never gotten the impression that a player could “hear” where the ball was going based on the sound the racket makes. So the whole complaint seems pretty bogus to me.

  5. Logrus
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    RE: The firefighters article.
    The earlier decision was a pretty clear-cut violation of Title 7:
    It shall be an unlawful employment practice for a respondent, in connection with the selection or referral of applicants or candidates for employment or promotion, to adjust the scores of, use different cutoff scores for, or otherwise alter the results of, employment related tests on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
    If the test is biased on race then challenge the validity of the test, something the lower court did not do nor comment on.
    The fact is you had a bunch of white guys who were due a promotion based on their test results. They got scores which qualified them for promotion but because a disproportionate number of POC folks didn’t qualify for the same promotion the white people who passed were denied promotion while the POC who did indeed pass were granted the promotions.
    If a 90% (arbitrary guess at the score needed) score gets you a promotion then it gets you a promotion. That should be the end of the story.

  6. Logrus
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I fence, and fencing is probably one of the most rigidly codified sports in terms of etiquette. However noise made, from foot-stomps to sighs and grunts are all part of the game and designed to lure and lull the opponent.
    It’s called gamesmanship.

  7. Jake N.
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    I’d recommend reading at least part of Justice Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion. She addresses that doing well on the test has a racial bias.
    One specific example: most Hispanic and black candidates were first-generation firefighters, whereas most non-first-generation candidates were white. Non-first-generation candidates had access to other family members’ copies of the costly preparation materials for the written part of the test. First-generation candidates (who wanted the clear benefit of having preparation materials) would have had to buy them either at local stores (where the books were frequently out of stock) or through another means like online or by traveling to another another city (which would pose a burden on an economically disadvantaged candidate).
    So it’s a lot more complicated than you are positing. Please do some reading beyond the summary article if you really want to be an informed part of the discussion.

  8. davenj
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Yep, it’s no shock that Ricci v. DeStefano was overturned.
    As Logrus says it’s a Title 7 violation masked as an attempt to look like New Haven was concerned about the test itself, when what they were really concerned with were the results. The standard has to be the test itself here, not the fear of a lawsuit. If the test were biased they’d have had a legitimate fear of being sued, but this was clearly not enough.
    I wrote in one of the old Sotomayor threads that this was going to get overturned and come back to haunt her. It was and it has. This will be the real sticking point of her confirmation hearings. A decision where she both signed off on it and signed off on not having it appealed to a full court goes to the SC and gets reversed, and all quite recently and in regard to the hot button issue of racial preferences.
    We probably won’t see enough to stop Sotomayor’s confirmation, but this could hurt the Democratic party if her confirmation is contentious and only gets by based on their senate majority.

  9. Logrus
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think this is a huge strike against her confirmation, nor should it be.
    Judges who do more than just go on the work of other judges are going to make decisions. People who make decisions also make mistakes sometimes.

  10. davenj
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    This would have been an interesting argument for the city of New Haven to make, but in this case their argument was not predicated on the fear of lawsuit due to disparate preparation materials, but rather solely disparate results. The city decided the promotion issue on the grounds of what they deemed to be unfavorable results, not study equality.
    If you read the city’s briefs in the appellate phase you can see that they did not decide on promotions using this issue.
    So in effect the test may not have been fair, but the city of New Haven didn’t throw out the results because they believed the test was unfair, but rather the results themselves, which is a violation of Title VII.

  11. davenj
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    And I’d agree with you if this were a simple “mistake”, but what it appears to be is a serious difference of opinion between Sotomayor and the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, and on a very contentious issue.
    I don’t think it’ll stop her nomination unless she puts her foot in her mouth during the confirmation hearings, but it’ll give the right something to work with in 2010 and 2012.

  12. Logrus
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    None of which is reflective of how the people who passed still passed.
    If you’re told that you get a raise for doing something and you do that thing then you’re due the raise. And I said the lower court didn’t comment on the validity of the test or the test parameters. I’ve found nothing on the validity of the test other than Her Honor Sotomayor asking about the possibility of changing the test (but not venturing an opinion on the validity other than it’s results).
    Ricci himself had to shell out some of those hardship dollars according to his testimony.

  13. Ruby
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get how ordering the study materials online would present more of a financial burden than buying them in the bookstore? In my experience, you can almost always find a better deal on textbooks by ordering them off the internet, but maybe this is different.
    And, I can’t help but think, if you’re a firefighter, and you know a bunch of other firefighters, wouldn’t you know at least a couple of people that you could potentially borrow or purchase the books from secondhand?
    I’m not trying to argue that the test didn’t have some racial bias–I think that all standardized tests tend to be geared towards the white, middle-class candidate, but the example you gave didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

  14. Logrus
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    To be fair, the tests and the resulting promotions are competitive. It is not to your advantage to assist anyone when you’re competing for the same limited number of promotions.

  15. Logrus
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Her dissenting from the mainstream is something I view as an asset.
    I think one of the worst things for a bureaucratic system is a lack of dissent and agitators.

  16. MzBitca
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    It’s not a serious difference of opinion. the court was split 5-4. It is not like they rulled 8-1 to overturn it. It shows that she is in line with more liberal end of the court which is to be expected. Also, your average overturn rate for an Appeals Judge is 70%. Sotomayor was sitting between 50-60% before this case. Some court decisions get overturned, when the court is set up the way ours is currently getting a case overturned may not mean anything other than the lawyer managed to convince Kennedy

  17. zp27
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Actually, she was following precedent in the 2d circuit, so…this is probably a good argument against her being an activist judge. But I agree, the issue embraces all the major affirmative action touchy points, and her own comments about race (no matter how thoughtful they are in context) might make this a bit of a battle for her.

  18. BodyPart
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    1.The first time “grunting” became an issue was not with the Williams sisters but with a (then) Yugoslavian player known as “Monica Seles” (recorded at 93.2 dB).
    There goes your racism.
    2. The Williams sisters are not the only ones fingered nowadays for “grunting”. Maria Sharapova is a notorious grunter.Sharapova has been recorded to grunt at 101.2 dB. For comparison, a jackhammer at a distamce of 1m has an intensity of ~100 dB. Now can you imagine playing tennis with a jackhammer constantly going on around your ear?
    3. Michelle Larcher de Brito: Grunts at 109 dB ~ A jet at 100m distance. Do you want to listen to a jet landing and taking off 100 m away from you for an hour?
    Grunting loudly at such decibel levels is a health hazard and such players who consistently grunt at such high acoustic levels must be dealth with harshly (e.g. dock points)
    BTW did you know that the above mentioned players have all been trained by one Mr. Nick Bollettieri in Florida. Maybe it is just a sly tactic he teaches his charges :)
    The American connection does not stop here. Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi were also notorious grunters. Ivan Lendl once had to complain to the umpire about Agassi. Currently Nadal and Gonzalez are fingered nowadays amongst the men.
    So there goes the charge of sexism. Some of the biggest crusaders against grunting are Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.
    So the question should be: why do American and America-trained players grunt so much?
    As for grunting being due to exertion, that is bull. If other players can play at the same intensity as you can without grunting, so can you. If you cannot then stop playing. Just don’t use your grunting to cheat and then lie about it as due to exertion.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8110998.stm
    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/06/21/wha_unhhh_a_defense_of_the_tennis_grunt/?page=full
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4118708.stm
    http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/news/story?id=4293867
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_pressure#Examples_of_sound_pressure_and_sound_pressure_levels

  19. Vexing
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    The shrieking of the likes of Sharapove lasts long enough to stretch into the prep time of their opponent, putting them at a slight disadvantage.
    I suppose the counter to this is to also scream when you take your shots, making the disadvantage roughly equal.
    Welcome to the world of cacophonic tennis.
    Entertainment ++

  20. journolat
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I still live in El Paso and I was pretty devastated when I heard the news. Since I graduated from college two years ago, I’ve been somewhat of a vagabond intern. I was a journalism major and newspaper jobs are soooo hard to find right now. Thus, I’ve ZERO medical insurance. It sucks. I need my yearly pap check up soon. To be honest I don’t know where to go. I can barely afford going to the doctor. I usually go to Juarez, but the violence is escalating so much that I’m a bit worried about going there too. EP is a pretty large city (above 700,000 now) with very, very high poverty rates (every single school in EP county and neighboring counties are considered high need)and a huge minority population (above 80 percent hispanic). HIV/AIDS was already on the rise here… I think the future looks grim for affordable women’s health care.

  21. ElleStar
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    First of all, the vocabulary and discourse surrounding male versus female grunting is very, very different. Recently, I’ve heard it sexualized in terms of “save that for the bedroom, ladies.”
    And while grunting may be loud, it is by no means constant. A loud grunt every few seconds is not comparable to a “jackhammer in your ear.”
    I don’t have an opinion about grunting one way or the other, but just because both men and white women also are commented on for grunting does not mean that it plays out the same way, with the same connotations, or the same discourse.

  22. zp27
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Can I just pay Saletan to shut up?

  23. MaggieF
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    The Bloggingheads video (#2 on Courtney’s list) was creepy. First of all, why are two men debating the merits of paying pregnant women not to abort? Come on, NYT.
    Waldman kept talking about “reducing the number of abortions” as the driving reason behind this hypothetical program, and if it were me debating him I would have cut right in with “Sex education!” Saletan, to his credit, mentioned something about reducing unwanted pregnancies, but I wish he’d have pushed the issue a little more. I wish he’d have spoken up a little more, period. I didn’t come away with a very good picture of his argument.
    Maybe the most offensive part was when Waldman said (paraphrase), “We wouldn’t want to make the number too high, or women might start getting pregnant to get the money.” So we’re back to welfare queens, now, huh? Thanks, Steve.
    In general, I think the point about the current system that benefits adopting parents but not birth mothers was valid, and maybe something that should be addressed in adoption policy. But things like that shouldn’t come instead or at the expense of abortion availability and reducing unwanted pregnancy from the get-go.

  24. AnatomyFightSong
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    It was just idiotic. We know what reduces the abortion rate: reducing unplanned pregnancies. And we know what reduces unplanned pregnancies: sex ed and access to birth control. No need to invent a whole new “solution.”
    As for Saletan, I’m just sick of him being the go-to guy on abortion, with an emphasis on guy.

  25. greg713
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    But the length of de Brito’s scream, grunt, whatever, is so freakin long. What is she doing, lifting a car, or hitting a ball. It’s annoying when men and women do it, and I have a feeling that old school players of yesteryear didn’t sound like barbarians on the court.

  26. nestra
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    The grunting is definitely a tactic, and BodyPart is right that it is most common among players that studied with Bollettieri.
    It is the equivalent of a well placed cough right as a golfer is swinging. It is meant to be a distraction and should be penalized.

  27. Interior_League
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    The grunts must be stopped.
    This is Wimbledon. We have
    the Queen watching here.

  28. Interior_League
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    She screams loud and long
    to hide her incredible
    tennis flatulence.

  29. BodyPart
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    Have you ever watched Sharapova play? Every shot is punctuated with a grunt. It is a loud grunt every second. It is as annoying and a jackhammer!
    And whether it is a man, a white woman or a non-white woman, in tennis constant grunting is annoying and does not conform to the spirit of the game. I think a good medicine for these grunters would be for the opponent to grunt just before the grunter is going to make a shot.

  30. BodyPart
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    The only slight problem with your charming little ditty is that the only sport the Queen cares about is horseracing.

  31. RZoe
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I would disagree that ‘anti-gruntism’ (just coined that term…) is sexist.
    The grunting does seem to be louder and more prevalent – more of a problem – among female tennis players (not that males don’t do it, of course).
    Grunting is not only unnecessary in tennis, it is also distracting to the other player. I tend to see it as a form of cheating. There’s no need for it and it’s not a case of being ‘unbecoming’ of ladies or going against some old-fashioned code of how women should behave. Basically it is an annoying and unfair practice, regardless of which gender is doing the grunting.

  32. LalaReina
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I love to play tennis and I love to get to the Open when I can. Grunting and the shrieking are two different things to me. You make a routine volley and you have to scream at the top of your lungs? please, I think it’s to mess with your opponent’s focus and it’s really irritating to watch/hear.

  33. Shachi
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Seems steeped in mysognoistic assumptions about appropriate conduct for women to me…any tennis players want to chime in?
    It’s strange a feminist blog can’t spell misogynist.

  34. writeoutloud
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I disagree with the idea that sexism is at play in the argument against screaming during a tennis match. I’m sure there are commentators out there who have discussed the problem in a way that is sexist, but that doesn’t mean the problem is not real. The discussion I heard at the linked-to website did make any “assumptions about appropriate conduct for women”. They were debating the legitimacy of opposing players’ (of the same sex) complaints about the noise and distraction.
    I consider myself pretty tuned in to noticing even subtle sexism, but I think you are reaching here.

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