The face of embarrassing small-town journalism, revealed.
Dave Begel recently made the mistake of writing an article titled "Women's UFC fight a disgrace". An attempted piece of persuasive writing about why women should not be allowed in Mixed Martial Arts, it was a mistake not only because it was rife with errors and based on logical fallacies, but also because it revealed his writing to those outside of the readership of OnMilwaukee.com.
Begel has been fortunate enough to spend many years writing drivel for a small publication in Milwaukee where the spotlight was simply not large enough to expose his nonsense. Judging from his complete inability to defend his viewpoints, as seen by his guest appearance on Inside MMA, it seems clear that he has spent a very long time writing with complete impunity, shielded by the fact that his writing was being read by, essentially, no one. This article, however, has thrust him into the public eye, where he has been the target of a great-deal of public ridicule.
Unlike most, who reasonably had their fill of Begel after the first article, I decided to delve further into his writing to see what other gems Begel had to contribute to the sports writing community. I found precisely what was to be expected, the sort of writing that comes from someone whose primary skill is an eye for the utterly obvious and so mundane that it seems designed specifically to avoid controversy. However, sprinkled throughout the articles was something else, a common thread that seems to inform his opinion on women in Mixed Martial Arts: Dave Begel is simply the worst kind of patronizing sexist. And he has no idea.
It's important to note that Begel is not against women in sports. No, he thinks there are a number of sports that women should be allowed to participate in and he clearly thinks the fact that he does so is very progressive. He is the unethical, understated sexist who is absolutely convinced that the things he says and does are what is best for women, regardless of what an actual woman might have to say on the subject. He is the man who pulls out a woman’s chair, not because he thinks it is a kind thing to do, but because he doesn’t think she can lift it herself. He is the man who opens the car-door for a woman because he doesn’t think women should be touching cars. So when he puts a pen to paper to describe why a professional fight between two women shouldn't happen, the results are bound to be interesting.
But the truth is, his article on females in Mixed Martial Arts isn't interesting. It is nonsensical. You would be hard-pressed to find another sub-500 word article that makes less sense. An analysis of the article borders on unnecessary, but we should examine the overall logic that he pursues in order to tell us why two female professional fighters shouldn't be allowed to make a living fighting each other, as it tells us a good deal about Begel's general thought-process in regards to women. It seems that his problem has less to do with MMA and more to do with women.
(For reference: http://onmilwaukee.com/sports/articles/begelwomesufc.html)
"Think about it: Put two women in scanty clothes into a locked room (the octagon), let them take off after each other and and (sic) roll around on the ground, legs locked together and sweat dripping off each of them. Sound like some kind of porn? Of course, and it plays into the fantasy of lots and lots of men."
Begel would have us to believe that a legitimate reason to stop two professional female fighters from fighting is that there are men who might fetishize it. Just to be clear: A woman should not be able to pursue a career because of what sexual thoughts a man could potentially have about it. This is Feminism by way of David Begel. The idea that an adult male could write this while thinking they are somehow standing up for the honor of women without understanding how incredibly backwards their logic is is simply bizarre. You might suspect that he also thinks women shouldn't wear short skirts because men have been known to obsess over women's legs. However, you'd be wrong, as Begel's other writing makes very clear us that he is, indeed, pro scantily clad women, but we'll get to that a bit later.
Later, in the same article, he goes on to say:
"I love women playing tennis, golf, skiing, skating, gymnastics soccer and even softball. Those sports, when played by women, retain the essence of the sport, regardless of gender.
But there are sports that women play where the game is drastically different than (sic) the men's game. And the difference is because of the difference between the sexes. Basketball and hockey come to mind, as well as boxing, wrestling and baseball."Women's groups have long been active in fighting the exploitation of women. This UFC farce ought to be their next target. It is extreme exploitation."
Here, Begal ceases his attempt at employing logic and begins to reveal just how insulting the sexism that drives his opinion is. Begel's own personal mythical "essence" of sport is apparently the measuring stick by-which women in sports are judged. He makes it clear that there are some distinctly feminine sports, such as tennis, golf and gymnastics. In Begel's universe, contact and combat sports are strictly off-limits for women and the "essence" of crossing someone up and driving to the basket or throwing a left hook to the body simply changes when a woman does it. The simple fact that the sport differs from its male counterpart is enough to convince Begel that not only is your sport not worth watching, but that "Women's groups" need to step-in to stop the "exploitation"
Of course, we know this has nothing to do with any sort of "essence of the sport," it has to do with Begel's desires concerning the way women should behave. It certainly isn't a coincidence that the sports he wants women to participate in are marked by a distinct lack of contact with your opponent. He wants to stand as a paragon for the traditional daintiness of women - regardless of if they want him to. Begel has been reduced to the 21st century version of telling the boys to play with the trucks and the girls to play with the dolls. He reinforces this bit of absurdity with the article "Women's basketball has evolved, but not for the better", in which he somehow manages to outdo his sexist outline with this incredibly sexist comment:
(For reference: http://onmilwaukee.com/sports/articles/WNBAhascometoofar.html)
"Women's basketball should be played with different rules than men's basketball because it is a different game entirely."
Regardless of your opinion on the WNBA, most would agree that the fact that the people involved have vaginas does not fundamentally change what game is being played. Begel doesn't seem to be onboard with that viewpoint though.
His MMA article is truly absurd, but we already knew that. He is just one of the many older individuals desperately grasping onto the past through an irrational hatred for anything new. However, you shouldn't think these toxic thoughts of his are isolated to Mixed Martial Arts. That article was just the latest in a long history of sexist pieces. His other writing is just as telling concerning his opinion on womens' place in sports. With a quick examination we can see that he isn't merely ignorant as far Mixed Martial Arts is concerned, he simply has no understanding of what sports and gender mean to each other. In an article dated April 17, 2012, he rails against the concept of Acro, or Sports Acrobatics, saying about their attempt to become an officially recognized NCAA sport:(For reference: http://onmilwaukee.com/sports/articles/begelacrostunt.html)
"Acro and Stunt are really cheerleading on steroids. They have both exorcised all that is good about cheerleading and have embraced all that is bad.
I love cheerleaders because of the following reasons:
The girls are usually pretty. They cheer for the team I'm cheering for. Midriffs. White vinyl boots. Those flip skirts. Decolletage. Big smiles. That little hop they do when running off the court or field. Sometimes those cheap all-white tennies instead of those high white vinyl boots. An obvious lust to get the crowd fired up. How they all sit the exact same way with their pompon (sic) shakers anchored to each hip."
None of those things exist in Acro or Stunt."
Open and shut case, fans of Sports Acrobatics: You are not an acceptable submissive female archetype and therefore not worthy of being called a sport. Even ignoring the subtle creepiness that pervades his description of a juvenile power fantasy, there is something slightly vomit-inducing here. The very idea that he thinks costumes or equipment define what makes a sport brings into question what Begel even understands a sport to be. That being said, Occam's Razor shows us that, no, Begel didn't grow up in a bizarre alternate-dimension where sports cease to be sports depending on how much the participants smile or show their midriffs. He is simply a terribly sexist person who cannot help but say terrible sexist things.
Later, in the same article, as if to soundly stomp out of existence any chance that you might extend him the benefit of the doubt:
"An NCAA sport? Back to your high white vinyl boots girls."
This is a man who is paid to write.
In "A great sport on the brink of falling into a black hole" he says, explaining his ideas to make the PGA Tour more exciting:
(For reference: http://onmilwaukee.com/sports/articles/begel052708.html)
"I have thought about things I'd do, if I were PGA commissioner, to make golf more exciting.
I thought about cute girl caddies in shorts and halter-tops. I thought about having the USGA tell equipment makers to cut their prices by 75 percent (remember, the USGA can do anything it wants). I thought about letting players wear shorts. I thought about making the hole in the green four times bigger.
None of those ideas really seemed to be enough."
Begel couldn't even be forward-thinking enough to apply his sexism to actual female golfers, instead relegating them to caddies, standing on the side, ready to hand clubs to players. And despite his protests that women shouldn't be "objectified" by being allowed to fight each other, he somehow thinks it is okay to do the same to female golfers (Golf, if you recall, being one of the acceptable sports for a woman to play):
(For reference: http://onmilwaukee.com/sports/articles/lpgatomilwaukee.html)
"The women are hot. Make no mistake about it; the LPGA markets sex appeal as one of its strengths. Think of Sandra Gal, Blair O'Neal, Natalie Gulbis and Anna Rawson in short skirts walking Brown Deer.
In a way, it is somewhat comforting to know just how deeply Begel's sexism runs. Clearly, he doesn't possess the nuance required to make legitimate arguments against women in any particular sport and it shouldn't be news that there are horribly backwards people out there who feel the need (and get paid) to spew their opinions. While his rhetoric is both offensive and stupid, at the same time it provides us with the assurance that, when it comes to women, his opinion can be safely disregarded. It makes no difference if the subject is MMA, gymnastics, sewing, or metaphysics. So perhaps it is best to simply ignore him because as long as OnMilwaukee.com continues employing Mr Begel, Milwaukee is being represented with by a relic of ignorance that not even Ronda Rousey could take down.