[eDebate] I've had enough

GatorDebate at aol.com GatorDebate
Mon May 15 08:27:53 CDT 2006

In a message dated 5/14/2006 2:34:49 P.M. Eastern Standard  Time, 
Brian.M.Smith at Dartmouth.EDU writes:

We are all part of  this community.  We need to deal with this.  Are we 
really all so  sexist and mean to our friends that we can't?  Isn't there a 
"liberal"  bias in debate?  Every time someone who is leaving debate tells me that  
they don't really feel like the people in it are real friends or they think  
the relationships they develop are superficial, I begin to wonder, was my  
experience with debate where I developed meaningful relationships  unique?  Its 
tough for me to imagine myself sticking with debate if I  came home from a 
tournament to find that the only reason someone found me  interesting enough to post 
to edebate about was the kind of sex I was rumored  to be having.  If you 
want to treat someone like this, go get a blowup  doll.  Please leave my friends 

Brian is absolutely spot on in his assessment.  I too  question some of the 
ironies surrounding the "liberal" bias in debate.  As  much as I love this 
community and many of the people in it, I often find myself  appalled by the 
rampant sexism of the community.  My wife Cynthia was an  NDT debater and coach 
throughout the 80's and she wrote one of the first  academic journal articles on 
why women leave debate ( Szwapa, C.  (1994). Sexual harassment and gender 
discrimination in NDT debate. Argumentation and Advocacy. 31, 41-44) it's sad that 
after 12 years, many of  those same reasons exist today.  The horror stories 
she has shared with me  about her experiences and the experiences of other 
women active in debate at the  time is sobering.  The unwanted sexual advances of 
other debaters, the  gossip, the inappropriate advances and propositions of 
other coaches and  judges.  
Of course today we are discussing this boorish and  inappropriate behavior in 
the context of sex and gender but there are many other  areas where the 
obvious liberal bias in the community does not extend beyond in  round arguments 
and personal politics.  To go along with the rampant sexism  in debate we could 
also include discussions on racism and classism in the  community.  We could 
also discuss how the in round environmental ethic does  not translate into 
showing more respect for the classrooms and hotel rooms that  we use.  Our respect 
for the disenfranchised does not extend to how we  often deal with hotel and 
university custodial, food service and security  staffs.
Sexism is a symptom and not a cause in our community.  It  is one of many 
symptoms that seem incongruous with the arguments that we like to  make.  Some 
might call it complexity but I guess I just think of it as  hypocrisy.

Frank P.  Irizarry
Debate Coach/Lecturer/Doctoral Student
University of  Florida
Center for Written and Oral Communication
413 Rolfs Hall
PO Box  112032
Gainesville, FL 32611-2032
Tel: 352-392-5421 (Office)
Tel:  386-216-3193 (Cell)
Fax: 352-392-5420
Gatordebate at aol.com

"Then I  got myself a factory job, I ran an old machine
And I bought a little cottage  in a neighborhood serene
And every night when I'd come home with every muscle  sore
She'd drag me through the streets of Baltimore
Well I did my best to  bring her back to what she used to be
Then I soon learned she loved those  bright lights more than she loved me
Now I'm a going back on that same train  that brought me here before
While my baby walks the streets of  Baltimore"
- Gram Parsons, "Streets of  Baltimore"


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