I've set up a multi-author social blog to be used by my part-time blogger friends who don't want one of their own. Send me a note if you'd like to be able to write on For Consideration

Friday, June 02, 2006

Richard Petty's unfortunate comments (a very long rant by Zebster)

In response to Danica Patrick racing in the Indy 500:

"CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - Richard Petty didn't think women belonged on the race track when Janet Guthrie became the first female driver to compete in the Coca-Cola 600 in 1976.
Thirty years later, his opinion hasn't changed......

"I just don't think it's a sport for women," Petty said in an interview with The Associated Press. "And so far, it's proved out. It's really not. It's good for them to come in. It gives us a lot of publicity, it gives them publicity.
"But as far as being a real true racer, making a living out of it, it's kind of tough."
Petty, a seven-time champion and NASCAR's all-time winningest driver, was one of the many people who gave Guthrie a cool reception when she came to Lowe's Motor Speedway for her first NASCAR event.
Guthrie had failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 when track officials persuaded her to come to North Carolina and try to make their race, then known as the World 600"...

Men and women aren't "equal" (read same) but there should be equal opportunity as long as that opportunity is fair to all. So to the extent that changes in a sport make it possible that it takes less ability to be competitive, then that's not fair equal opportunity. But, I think we'll always end up at the same place in these kind of discussions. There's no way for us to know what makes a race car succeed. In each instance it's a different combo of talent behind the wheel, talent in the pits, talent of crew chief, better equipment, communication, experience, etc. There's no way for us to really compare drivers.
But here's an idea: Put her in an IROC car and see what happens.

In response to the idea that maybe it's all right to pay women less for the same work:

I believe women should have equal opportunity, and with that comes equal responsibility. My mother raised the 4 of us by herself working in a shoe shop making piecework wages, which were equal because you got paid X cents per production item; but most jobs still don't pay fairly. I even think some bosses hire a woman because they know the woman will work harder to gain the respect than the avg man and he doesn't have to pay her as much.
IMO it's simple. Everyone for a job they're qualified for should be paid the same and with that comes the responsibility I spoke of before. "I'm hiring you to do a job and these are my expectations." Then it's incumbent upon that person, male or female, to live up to the expectations; and if those expectations are that you're not going to be taking 10 sick days a year because of the kids, then don't take the job or don't be surprised to learn you're fired because you weren't living up to the expressed expectations.

That somehow because you're different it's okay to treat you unfairly:

I spent 8 years in the Corps working with women, many of those times a woman was my boss at one level or another; and even though this was a clerical MOS, if the unit went out and ran 5 miles in packs, you better bet the boss was right there leading it, man or woman. At that time is when the early pitch to allow women into the infantry started. I feel now the same as I did then. It's your life and your choice. Of course, the counter-argument was that a woman in the infantry could get others killed because she couldn't handle things physically. Valid point, except that even in the infantry there are standards. If you can't meet those standards, you can't be allowed to do it. There were women in my NCO class who could physically do some of the obstacle course type challenges that some men couldn't do. If they can qualify and want to take a chance on getting their heads blown off, I have no problem with it.

In response to the thought that merely making the comment has no effect on opportunity or equality:

Their lack of success in the sport to this point as proof they don't belong is a quantum leap of assumption. How many opportunities have there been, especially in quality equipment, with enough seat time to prove yourself, etc, etc. There's no way anyone can prove they didn't have the ability based on what little opportunity we've seen thus far. And if Guthrie and Robinson, etc, weren't talented enough, proves nothing.
Examples: If say 10% of all men are capable of successfully driving a stockcar but that number is 1% for women, we thus should not let women have the chance? We haven't had a truly successful black driver yet. What's that prove? It proves nothing. It's about opportunity and support and ATTITUDE. 30 years ago how many drivers outside the southeast had success in Nascar? Did that prove only southerners could? I don't think so.
And you can bet all female drivers have met many along the way with the same attitude about them that Richard speaks of. You don't think that has an effect on opportunity? We have no way of knowing how many capable female drivers never even got the chance to prove themselves. If everyone had Richard's attitude about it, they wouldn't get to race (ergo, wouldn't have the opportunity, wouldn't have the right).
Just because Richard's not in a position to keep women from participating means I'm not allowed to point out that he's wrong and that his public opinion does have an effect on opportunity? Or is he special and excempt from criticism while we roast others for saying similar things? (Remember, no one loves the King more than I. The #43 hasn't been my number for 30 years for no reason) It would have been interesting to hear what he'd say if Danica Patrick had won the 500.

If a racist or sexist comment was not allowed to be disagreed with on the sole basis that the speaker was not in a position to act upon said belief, we'd never have changed any sexist or racist views. Don't you think that given his high degree of respect in the world that his view does have an effect? At the very least it emboldens others with the same views who heretofore may not have acted on them. "Well, if King Richard believes that, then it's okay for me to."

Honestly, I think if someone has a belief that someone else doesn't have a right to opportunity, they should keep that opinion to themselves.


Karen said...

As a woman who works and husband stays home, it would be hard for me to argue your points. My only additional thoughts are sometimes women never get even to the point of trying because of beliefs right within their own families (could be said for men, other races yet) and (trying not to loss my woman card), in my experiences in Corp america, some women are our own worse enemy in the advancement of women......

Cheri said...

Well said Zeb. tough can it be? Go left....go left!

Zebster said...

Now be careful. I've been a huge Nascar fan for 30 years; and if I didn't allude to it well in my post, I should say that Richard Petty always was and is my favorite driver, someone I respect in many ways.

Karen said...

LOL Cheri, you crack me up! But I will warn you, Zeb used to have 43 on his car plates

Zebster said...

I couldn't disagree with him more on this issue, but he's been a philanthropist in many ways...a very good man.

my email addresses, sign on names, etc through the years have had 43 on them because it's his car number. LOL

Anonymous said...

From Tom: Please; chicks in Racin? Hell, next thing you know, they'll let'em vote! Good stuff Zeb, Ditto of course.

As for your NASCAR pitch... i seriously think you have missed your calling. I say get that published. Call the Sentinel or whatever. Couldn't hurt.

Rubbin's racin'