Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Pink or Blue?

I read Mazer's piece with two others in mind. The first, of course, being Freedman. Both are academics studying wrestling by finding a group of wrestlers and spending time with them. At the end of the day both dash off to write things down. Mazer is a woman spends a good bit of time considering how her woman-ness impacts her relationship to her subjects. Freedman is a man, and though he too is relegated to special status through his nickname of “Professor,” he otherwise is quickly accepted as one of the boys to the point of becoming a part of the show.

The fact that they are studying two very different environments invalidates many of the claims we could make about their respective experiences. If anything, it would be of interest to analyze Mazer's relationship with Sky Magic to see if the feelings of solidarity arising from being the lone women in the gym accomplished similar ends to that of Freedman and the Wildman bonding as they drove stretches of road drinking beers. There do, however, seem to be parallels in the ways they were accepted into their communities. The Wildman took Freedman under his wing, (though so far as Freedman tells it, this was out of good-naturedness more than respect for his scholarly endeavors.) For Mazer, it is Johnny who not only allows her access, but gives her a role in the gym (as an embodiment of the 'audience' during training.)

The other work I've temporarily lost the citation for, but was an ethnographic work considering the role of gender when a male ethnographer studied the wives of professional football players. The dynamics were quite different from Mazer's – he interviewed the women one-on-one in their homes. Much of what he described, however, involved the duality of genders he found himself conforming to: Firstly, his role as a non-woman. A woman, by contrast, would have been threatening, by perceived tendencies to gossip, judge, or go after their husbands. Secondly, his role as non-man. He de-gendered himself such that the wife was always his focus, not her husband, even when the football player walked in while they were talking.

This consciousness of gender roles is one that Mazer shares, though the results differ. Again, it is perhaps in her relationship with Sky Magic that we could see the ways in which gender allowed her access to information that a male could not get. What she seems to be denying, however, is any benefit with regards to males. Her gender is always a lurking landmine, and it would be interesting to see if there were any points at which it was beneficial (or in which she notices benefit) in her 'abnormal' gender placement.

1 comment:

Sam Ford said...

Tess, the Mazer and Freedman pieces do make natural comparisons. The role of academic in wrestling is a major aspect of this class as well, as what does it mean to be writing about this world that exists, as Aaron Feigenbaum has written, as a liminal space balanced between so many dualities? How does one approach the wrestling world? Both Freedman and Mazer choose to look at wrestling through the performers, as do others we will see throughout the semester. In video form, "Lipstick and Dynamite" did this, although looking at historical examples...but I think you are right that we have to take into account the radically different perspectives "The Professor" was coming from, as compared to a female outsider. It certainly led to a much different response from the wrestlers.