The Olympics brings out the best & worst in us, not just the athletes but commentators & writers, who in the throes of sportivo enthusiasm express all manner of regrettable things. The Sydney Morning Herald writer Peter Hanlon covering Australia’s Diving gives this description of Tom Daley: “sparkling eyes, gleaming teeth and EFFEMINATE DICTION”.
Yes, the other, better known Aussie diver is the cuter than puppy cute, out-gay Matthew Meecham. So, for the contrived choice of words “effeminate diction”, read effem, dick, passive… it throws the starter switch on some covert gay-hunting. Edie Kosovsky Sedgwick describes the phenomenon as homosocial.
I was furious and retorted with the following, a letter which doubtless will never be printed:
“I was concerned to read Mr Hanlon’s account of Tom Daley in the 2012 Olympics, (SMH July 30). In what universe is it acceptable to describe another male as having “effeminate diction”? Mr Daley has qualified as an elite athlete; surely that entitles him to some respect. Is your journalist some Hercules of impeccable masculinity; anyway what does that consist of, these days? We all value our urbanity, only degrees away from gentleness, which is why we read the SMH. Unless Mr Hanlon aspires to the grunting neanderthal stereotype of the sports writer. So, Mr Hanlon, how do you spell grunt?”
Hanlon’s description smacks rather readily of the misogyny sports afficionados share, usually in a conveniently gay context: we’re all blokey blokes here, love the little woman, can’t live with them, can’t do without them. We love them, we’re just not like them. Only gays enjoy being women. Etc. The logic is just too copacetic, as the hetero bloke says in Tales of the City. Yuk, moving on…