Sizing up John Gibbons "dresses" comment


By: Emily (@JaysGirlEmily)

Canadian Baseball Network

For those of you who aren’t aware, Tuesday night the Blue Jays took their first loss of the season in Tampa Bay after a controversial application of the brand-new ‘Chase Utley rule’ ended the 9th inning.

John Gibbons afterwards seemed annoyed at the rule, and how it cost his team the win. He said it was an “embarrassment to the game”, later asking “What, are we gonna go out there in dresses tomorrow?”. I was completely behind him up until that point. And then *insert record scratch noise here*. Oh no.

I would really love it if folks would stop telling me Gibby’s ‘dresses’ comment wasn’t offensive. Whether or not a particular person is offended, and whether or not the comments are offensive, are two completely different things.

As Tao of Stieb put it, “Women hear that [stuff] that’s ‘not offensive’ all the time, and it’s dispiriting.” Gibby’s comments are part of a sad trend in the sports community that is, objectively, offensive, and if you stick with me for a moment, I’ll show you why.

I know Gibby is a fun person, and a smart baseball mind, and I’m 95% sure even HE doesn’t think women are all weak and bad at sports, but that’s not the point. I’m not saying he’s a terrible person. I’m saying the things he chose to say were terrible.

The point is, there are a myriad of words available in the English language to describe being ‘weak’, ‘ridiculous’, or ‘overly cautious’ that aren’t related to being feminine (or to effeminate/gay men, as ‘pansy’ or ‘sissy’ would have been – looking at you, Gregg Zaun). And he didn’t use any of them.

The ‘intent behind his words’ is not the problem, it’s the way he chose to express himself. If you want to call something an overreaction, say that. He could’ve easily said ‘they want us out there in bubble wrap tomorrow?’ or ‘Ok so we’re tiptoeing around now?’. That would have illustrated his point just fine. But that’s not what he said. He asked if they’d be ‘going out there in dresses’. Like little girls. Which is why we’re here.

I played softball, with girls, for 9 years, I guarantee you we don’t take it that easy either, but that’s beside the point. Women have proven time and again that we’re far from weak, yet whenever people in the sports world are searching for a metaphor to explain weakness, they look no farther than to compare the weak person or action to women. It’s annoying, frustrating, and stupid. And it needs to stop.

I know he didn’t attack women directly, but there’s no need to bring them into the conversation at all! He had an issue with a rule that was created by men, was used on a man, and was last night enforced by men. Leave us out of this! And since when is caring about the health and safety of another person a thing that only girls do? Bautista himself even agreed with the existence of the rule, he just didn’t think it needed to be implemented in this case.

If you need another example of how to criticize the rule without insulting anyone, look no farther than Kevin Pillar:

I know Gibby was pissed off last night, and when we’re mad we all tend to say things we shouldn’t. But being mad isn’t an excuse for having that as your go-to example. I really hope he apologizes, and it’s sincere, not just ‘I have to say sorry because because people got upset’.

He was right to be frustrated, and for the most part, I saw his point – he had a good one. He just didn’t need to throw women under the bus in order to make it.


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