More than just a novelty act

My favorite heroines — sports or otherwise — aren’t women who succumb to the cookie-cutter ideal of  being “role models” but who relish instead stepping outside acceptable boundaries to discover the world as it is, and reshape it, even a small bit, to their ambitions and will.

Sally Jenkins on Danica Patrick:

“I’ve always liked Patrick a lot, because she owns herself. Her image and sexuality belong to no one. They are nobody’s property but hers, to do with as she pleases, and she reserves the right to play bait-and-switch with them. She’s an expert self-promoter, with as much control in that area as she has over a car. For all of the discussion about her risque Go-Daddy commercials, they are all suggestion and little exposure, with a lot of zipper sounds but not a lot of skin. Off camera, she’s firmly married and very private. Good for her.

“As an athlete, she has no political or social agenda, she’s never bought into what Camille Paglia calls ‘Infirmary Feminism, with its bedlam of bellyachers.’ She knows better than to whine about patriarchy in racing, because the sport made her a millionaire. Every good car she’s gotten came from a guy. Again, good for her.

“But it’s a lonely position she’s staked out. She’s disrespected from two sides at once.

And so it has always been, and always will be.

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