Sadly, Jenni Carlson is still a bad columnist…
10:00 AM EDT on May 19, 2010
Last week, Jenni Carlson wrote an odd column in the Oklahoman about the common stereotype that girls who play softball are"” newsflash! "” occasionally lesbians. The column was apparently spurred by the reaction people had to a picture (see above) that appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The picture in question was an old, dated photograph of Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan playing some recreational softball....not a picture of Jenni Carlson playing softball.
After the photo published, newspaper columnists, bloggers and political commentators from around the country questioned why the WSJ selected such an odd photo. Many of them claimed the Journal may have used the photo to subtly imply that Kagan is a lesbian. One of those people was Ryan Chittum with the Columbia Journalism Review. Here's what he wrote.
We'll have more on that later, but I bring this up in the context of a bit of a stir the paper created yesterday with its large front-page photo of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan playing softball. You don't have to be a cynic to think that the Journal chose the two-decade-old picture to imply Kagan is a lesbian.
Sure, that's a debatable statement, but I don't think it's very outlandish. I mean, the Wall Street Journal is owned by the same guy who owns Fox News, so they can't really be considered fair and balanced.
Also, I'll admit some guilt here, but I assumed that Kagan was a lesbian before I ever saw the softball photo. I mean, she's never been married, never had any kids, and has a haircut from the Indigo Girls Hall of Fame. Of course I don't think her sexual preferences matters (I actually like lesbians!), and it shouldn't have any bearing on of she's qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice (I also like midgets!), but I'm just saying.
Anyway, apparently Jenni Carlson got a little upset from the minor controversy and used it as an excuse to write an angry column about how awful it is that female softball players are often stereotyped as lesbians. Here's a snippet:
The photo quickly sparked a raging online debate about Kagan's sexuality. Speculation has existed for years that she is a lesbian. She never got married. She never had children. Add that to the fact that she once played softball, and the rumor mill went into overdrive that she must be gay.
Ryan Chittum wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review: "You don't have to be a cynic to think that the Journal chose the 2-decade-old picture to imply Kagan is a lesbian."
You might not have to be a cynic, but you might need to be a complete and total moron. It's as idiotic as saying every football player is dumb; Rhodes Scholar turned NFL draftee Myron Rolle might take issue with that.
So let me get this straight.
The Wall Street Journal, either intentionally or unintentionally, publishes a photograph of a woman that many people allege is a lesbian playing softball. People then criticize the Journal's use of the photo, claiming they printed it to reinforce the lesbian rumor/allegation. And what does Jenni Carlson do? She goes after the people who criticized the Journal's photo for acknowledging that a lesbian softball player stereotype exists. That makes total sense! (sarcasm)
Anyway, you have to wonder why Jenni would write such an strange column. And I think I have an answer. She's bitter.
You see, I remember when Jenni Carlson was a young, chubby, single, tomboyish, short-haired sports reporter for the Oklahoman. At the time, I assumed she was a lesbian because she fit the lesbian stereotype. She worked in male dominated field. She covered a male dominated topic. She even had short hair and tomboyish looks. About the only thing she didn't have was an old black and white picture of her playing softball on the front page of the paper.
I'm also pretty sure that I'm not the only person living in Oklahoma who thought Jenni Carlson owned a Mellisa Ethridge CD collection and flannel shirts. That's why I think she's bitter, and that's why I think she wrote a column about the lesbian stereotype in women's softball.
Knowing all that, maybe Jenni should rewrite her column. But this time, instead of supporting her argument by calling people names and citing out of context quotes, she can support it with a personal story. Maybe she can reference what it was like to be a heterosexual woman and have people assume your gay based upon your hobbies, occupation and hair cut. Maybe she can write about how that stereotype impacted her life and how it's wrong for people to stereotype others.
Maybe she can do that. And if she does, maybe I'll even read it"¦but I probably won't. I mean it still is a Jenni Carlson column.
p.s. "“ Here is Ryan Chittum's reply to Jenni's column in the Columbia Journalism Review. It's worth a read.
p.s.2 "“ By the way, Jenni's original column was emailed to us. That's why we read it. Hopefully, that answers the "If I don't read Jenni Carlson columns why did I read this one" question.