Friday, August 26, 2011

Danica Patrick - You Go, Girl!

Well, what we've all known was going to happen is finally official: Danica Patrick is coming to NASCAR. Lots of fans, including me, are thrilled and excited about the only woman who has won an IndyCar race, come closest to winning the Indianapolis 500, finished higher in one of NASCAR's top series than any other (a 4th at Las Vegas in the Nationwide race).  Now we'll get a chance to see what she can do running full-time in Nationwide for JRMotorsports (as in Dale Earnhardt, Jr) and part-time in Sprint Cup for Stewart-Haas Racing (as in Tony Stewart).

Immediately after the announcement, the Twitter feeds lit up. Not so surprisingly, a lot of the good old boys are petulant and negative about a girl invading their territory. (And the good old girls too, for that matter. It's also not unusual that women are often harsher on their own sex than men are.)

It's not that they don't support women in general, oh, no, it's just this particular woman. They love them some Jennifer Jo Cobb and Johanna Long and Chrissie Wallace - the perpetual backbenchers (not necessarily because of lack of talent but lack of sponsorship). You know, they can bolster their non-sexist creds by playing up their affection for the non-threatening females.

They dislike Danica because of how she got where she is. She's sexy and beautiful and she's played on both those attributes. She posed for Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition and she made risque ads for her sponsor, Go-Daddy.com. Danica is the exact opposite of the often caricatured butch female athlete. She's tiny and feminine. When not on the track, she dolls up in make up and long curls and high heels and be-sequined, low-cut dresses.

She's taking a ride, I'm told, that would better go to some worthy kid running on a dirt track in Podunk but, oddly enough, NASCAR fans who scorn Danica's path into auto racing as undeserved, nevertheless cheer on the boys who got their slots through inheritance. Dale Earnhardt, Jr son of Dale, Senior (who was the son of Ralph). Kyle Petty, son of Richard (who was the son of Lee), Dale Jarrett, son of Ned Jarrett. Steven Wallace, son of Rusty Wallace. And just coming on the scene, Austin and Ty Dillon, grandsons of team owner, Richard Childress (who both appear to be excellent drivers but can anyone deny they'll have had a head start by being given the best of everything by Grandpa?) I could go on and on naming drivers whose entry into NASCAR was bequeathed to them. Did some of them go on to earn the honors they received? Yes, but that doesn't change the fact that they were on a glide path to their dreams from the start unlike that kid from Podunk.

Or Danica. She didn't have that option so she had to create it through guts and determination and yes, chutzpah. To me, that's even more admirable and honorable than using families and connections.

She beat the men at their own game by using what our male-dominated society has deemed important. It isn't women who worship at the alter of  tits and ass, it's men. Danica just took that persona and hung it around their necks like an anchor. "This is what you want from me, fine, I'll give it back to you in spades".

Okay, maybe this isn't her attitude at all but it is mine. Men set the standard but then when women actually use it, they cry foul.

Too bad. Probably if Hillary had looked like Danica, she'd be the president today.