What do we expect? They're Dick's.
October 11, 2014 7:50 AM   Subscribe

12-year-old calls out Dick's Sporting Goods chain for being sexist. We might never have known about her exceptional letter, but one of her parents is a reporter.
posted by spock (49 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Kid should start a website.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:56 AM on October 11, 2014




They are indeed Dicks....but the issue is more than sexist. It is also dumb marketing if we assume they also sell goods for females.
posted by Postroad at 7:58 AM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Free marketing for Dick's. Cynical me sees a proud reporter-parent making daughter write this, Dick's marketing falling on their sword, sweet photo op that follows, girl gets some free swag and the consumer public is placated. Clearly I need some more coffee or I'm just in a really foul mood.
posted by karlos at 8:03 AM on October 11, 2014 [25 favorites]


The apology that "no female basketball players were featured" is only part of her complaint (no women's anything except shoes on one page, one woman as a spectator, female cheerleaders on coupons), though.
posted by jeather at 8:04 AM on October 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


My wife's family calls the store Dick's Balls.
posted by yeti at 8:14 AM on October 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


The closest REI to me is five hundred miles. This, and the behavior of chains like Dick's and Scheel's, make me very sad.
posted by Ber at 8:59 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sometimes when I'm driving through Greensboro I get a free giggle by driving past a stripmall's sign advertising
DICK'S sporting goods
BJ'S warehouse
posted by ardgedee at 9:08 AM on October 11, 2014 [18 favorites]


Sincerely,
McKenna Peterson
The Fabulous Basketball Player


[triumphant/supportive hands thrown in the air emoji]
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:16 AM on October 11, 2014 [11 favorites]


The apology that "no female basketball players were featured" is only part of her complaint (no women's anything except shoes on one page, one woman as a spectator, female cheerleaders on coupons), though.

It was a basketball catalog, though, so presumably the majority of photos were of basketball players.
posted by jaguar at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think there's a different feeling when you have no women at all vs women as cheerleaders in a basketball catalogue.

And of course they'll fix the catalogue next year, and don't mention what they will do for the other catalogues they will be having out in the next 12 months.
posted by jeather at 9:41 AM on October 11, 2014


karlos, This story claims that she did write it herself:
"When she was writing the letter, I was suggesting things to say, and she said, “Daddy, shut up. I got this.” When Chris reviewed his daughter’s work, he couldn’t believe how well she articulated her point."

Enjoy your morning coffee.
posted by cccorlew at 9:48 AM on October 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ardgedee, that's Burlington! Reprazent!
posted by mfu at 9:48 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


This story claims that she did write it herself

Yeah. You know lying is a thing, right?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:49 AM on October 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


The apology letter isn't signed. Just pointing that out.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:00 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


12-year-old calls out Dick's Sporting Goods chain for being sexist. We might never have known about her exceptional letter, but one of her parents is a reporter (who knows how to pander to the news.)

edit: Coffee is good.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 10:26 AM on October 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sys Rq: "You know lying is a thing, right?"

No it isn't.
posted by boo_radley at 10:29 AM on October 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


I would have* written letters like this when I was 12 , so I won't be surprised if the kid really did write it. The letter is full of phraseology that is borrowed or imitated, in a way which seems quite pre-teen to me. "[T]he dunking machine, Brittney Griner"? Oh my god, I die.

Also, "If you actually read this far"? That is so 12. It's equal parts "If you made it this far with all THIS MINDBLOWING SHIT", "If you didn't just IGNORE THIS TRUTH like the stupid adult you are", and "meep I'm a kid please deign to take me seriously". If it's a fake, it's a decent fake.

*I kind of did, if you count the enraged letter I wrote to the Snuffy Smith cartoonist about how Deeply Unfunny he was (for some reason, no one would find his address to mail it for me), and protesting letter to a mean advice columnist who I didn't realize was a parody :(
posted by Coatlicue at 10:31 AM on October 11, 2014 [17 favorites]


having been a 12 year old girl who got called precocious a lot, i absolutely believe she wrote this. of course her dad posted it for partially self interest reasons (which includes parental bragging) and of course once it started making the rounds dicks is going to seize on to it, promise to do better, and look for the photo op. that doesn't remove the thing she did. shining the light on this type of shitty sexism helps girls in the long run.

be cynical if you want, but instead of just sitting on her hands and deciding that dick's were poopyheads, mckenna peterson actually did something. that's awesome.
posted by nadawi at 10:52 AM on October 11, 2014 [28 favorites]


You know what? I don't care if she wrote it all herself. I don't care if it's some cynical ploy blah blah blah. I don't care that it's about something as trivial and inane as basketball or shopping. I'm tired of girls everywhere being treated like their interests and aspirations and desires and existence don't matter, and I'm pleased when anybody says something about it.

You go, McKenna.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:53 AM on October 11, 2014 [32 favorites]


Yeah, that letter does NOT read like it was written by an adult. It reads like it was written by a smart and irritated kid.

Maybe her parents did say "honey, I see you're upset about this. Why not write a letter to the company?" Call that 'prodding'? I call that GOOD PARENTING. Jeez.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:53 AM on October 11, 2014 [19 favorites]


I have no problem with this. Shit like this is everywhere you turn. It's on ESPN. Its at the courts when you play basketball. It's in ads like this one and probably Eastbay's as well. And if the corporate response from a sports-related entity is "You know what, you're right, we will fix that and not do that any more", and not laughter or someone saying its being blown out of proportion, or blaming some lower level person who did the page layouts, then I have no problem with that. Good for this kid.
posted by cashman at 11:03 AM on October 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


it occurs to me that a sports reporter's daughter might even be more likely to write this than, say, someone who is the daughter of a data analyst. sports, sports reporting, women's place in sports, these are probably all regular conversations around the house and letter writing as a response is something she's likely been around. i dated a gal in high school who was the daughter of a lawyer who led a campaign to get the school to stop using social security numbers for things like tests and homecoming tickets. she had more of a foundation for that objection than i did, the daughter of a computer programmer, even though we were in very similar classes making very similar grades. our parents influence our interests, especially at that age, and, if they're doing it right, parents pass on their strengths to their kids.
posted by nadawi at 11:12 AM on October 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


I dunno. We get an Athleta catalogue every other month for some reason and there's never a single man in it. Because it's a women's clothing line. Maybe Dick's just has a men's-only catalogue? is that really so terribly weird? It's not LL Bean.

Not that there's somehow something wrong with complaining about it or the catalogue being changed. Certainly more and more women play basketball and it's to Dick's benefit to get with the times. But a unisex clothing catalogue is not prima facie terrible and sexist.
posted by GuyZero at 11:26 AM on October 11, 2014


Did Balloon Boy cut us so deeply that we can never again believe in another puff piece no matter how small the stakes or credible the subject?
posted by absalom at 11:37 AM on October 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


no one said a unisex clothing catalog is instantly sexist - but yes, it is weird for a sports store basketball catalog to completely ignore women in their marketing - it is not a male only store and they don't sell just mens clothing or gear (as evidenced by the fact that she bought her last two pairs of basketball shoes there and her practice hoop).
posted by nadawi at 11:49 AM on October 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


ugh. i obviously didn't mean unisex - i meant gender specific.
posted by nadawi at 11:56 AM on October 11, 2014


Sexist and the recipient of millions of dollars a year in tax breaks. Dick's sounds like a great chain.

Less dependent on tax breaks than Bass Pro or Cabela's or Wal-Mart, but their competitors are subsidizing them nonetheless.
posted by wierdo at 12:12 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh cripes, did I get unisex perfectly backwards there? Sheesh. yeah, I meant "single gender" or whatever too. I can't even mount a decent defense of sexism, what's with me?
posted by GuyZero at 12:21 PM on October 11, 2014


it is not a male only store and they don't sell just mens clothing or gear

But not every piece of marketing needs to be aimed at all possible customers.

Some will look at this and see sexism, and I can't tell those people they're wrong.

But I look at this and see market segmentation. Perhaps done poorly. But still, segmentation is Marketing 101.

If Dick's made a deer-hunting gear catalog that was male-only, would there be the same reaction? Yet here's the stuff for female hunters.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:52 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's also market segmentation when bicycle companies choose to focus on the men who make up the bulk of the cyclist market. It doesn't mean it's not sexist and unfair that me and all my friends who ride bicycles between 44cm-49cm only have a few options since many companies don't even manufacture frames that small, or that we're not completely justified in complaining about it publicly.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:14 PM on October 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Assuming the version of the catalog that she got is the same as the version at my closest store, there are some women's shoes in the catalog. It's not like it's the men's basketball catalog, and there's a different one for women. It's the generic basketball catalog, and it just happens that every single picture is of a man or a boy. And yeah, if I bought basketball shoes at a store, and they were willing to put women's shoes but not women in their basketball catalog, I would be pissed, too.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:19 PM on October 11, 2014 [7 favorites]




Oh shush. What lack of gender representation?? Dick's sells a full line of pink camouflage items for female hunters. Guess you all feel pretty silly now. Female hunters need their pink camouflage! It helps them hide when they go hunting inside Barbie's Dream House.
posted by the webmistress at 1:46 PM on October 11, 2014 [26 favorites]


Oh shush. What lack of gender representation?? Dick's sells a full line of pink camouflage items for female hunters.

Your attempt to denigrate my point with a strawman has failed and just made you look kinda shallow. Try harder.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:07 PM on October 11, 2014


Your attempt to denigrate my point with a strawman has failed and just made you look kinda shallow. Try harder.

What. I actually did not read your comment before making mine. I just got back from Dick's, and spent some time looking and laughing at all of the pink camo. My husband and I made many jokes about it. So....I wasn't attempting anything except humor. Thanks for judging me though.
posted by the webmistress at 2:18 PM on October 11, 2014 [13 favorites]


Maybe her parents did say "honey, I see you're upset about this. Why not write a letter to the company?" Call that 'prodding'? I call that GOOD PARENTING. Jeez.

I agree with you. If she wrote it herself, go her! And go parents, too, for encouraging her! And, just in my own personal opinion, I think she probably did write the letter.

Yeah, that letter does NOT read like it was written by an adult. It reads like it was written by a smart and irritated kid.

Of course, that it reads to you like a tween girl wrote this is not much of an argument, really. Her Dad writes for a living, and who knows this girl better than her parents? He could easily have written it, no question. I am certain that I could write a letter that reads like either of my sons wrote it, if I wanted to. I could post a couple here, one written by me and the other by one of my guys, and I bet it would be really difficult for an outsider to figure which was which.

I wouldn't ever try to pass my own writing off as theirs, though, or, alternately, take credit for something they'd written. That would be all kinds of ethically wrong, and my kids would never trust me again.

Which, to me, is the strongest argument for this actually being written by the reporter's daughter, as he claims. Otherwise, I'd expect his daughter to call him out on it, maybe even publicly. No way she doesn't know how to login to Facebook (or whatever social network the cool kids are using now) already at twelve years old.

I think that, most likely, the parents' biggest contribution here is telling their daughter that a physical letter is the way to go. Most kids these days would go for emailing a comment to the "contact us" mailbox. And, of course, her Dad using his connections to make this go viral.
posted by misha at 2:26 PM on October 11, 2014


Why are all these people wondering about the validity of a 12 year old girl writing a letter? Sorry that your screenplay or novel hasn't given you the success you were hoping for. But damn, let this 12 year old use the written language to effectively criticize this business.


And by the by...if her parents DID help her with it, so what? She's 12, and its a letter. I doubt the plagiarism police cares.

Get off her, haters.

Good for you, McKenna! See you in the NBA one day! I didn't misspell.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:41 PM on October 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I think this is exactly the way a 12 year old would write. The "Oh, wait, sorry" and capitalization for emphasis is very pissed-off-12-year-old writing to me. Also it was at about that age I started to realize all the sexist crap in media. So this rings pretty true to me and I'm not sure why people are questioning it so much.
posted by sweetkid at 2:55 PM on October 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've been tutoring different groups of kids, including a good number of 10-12 year olds, in various writing-related situations for a little over a year now. They are super smart and sophisticated, to the point of scary sometimes, and they would definitely write something like this if they haven't already.

Hell I was a pretty passionate and articulate 12 year old too with a strong interest in writing.

The infantilization and cynicism over the kid's writing skills is depressing.
posted by divabat at 3:13 PM on October 11, 2014 [10 favorites]


If girls never see themselves in sports catalogs, they will assume sports is for boys, primarily.

I know I did. It wasn't until I was a grown woman that I saw much of any representation of women in sports, and frankly, it's still pitiful and full of sexist crap.

Go Makenna. You tell 'em.
posted by emjaybee at 3:16 PM on October 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


My last trip to Dick's (to look for MMA gloves, FOR PUNCHING) was possibly my LAST trip to Dick's thanks to the dumbshit pinkification of every.single.lady.thing. Hello. In my normal life I wear black 24-7. I'm shopping for tools that will help me PUNCH HARDER. Why is everything pinkkkkkk?

Companies need to be called out on their shit, and none more than these assholes.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:14 PM on October 11, 2014 [12 favorites]


Pink It & Shrink It

a.k.a.

Put a Hibiscus on It
posted by Juliet Banana at 4:49 PM on October 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


if I bought basketball shoes at a store, and they were willing to put women's shoes but not women in their basketball catalog, I would be pissed, too. This is sort of very much the point. The shop has a whole bunch of stuff for women athletes, but fuck it, they're not going to bother to advertise that women can be athletes.

It is about market-specific advertising, but the specific market is athletes and according to their marketing materials athletes are all men. That is a fundamentally different and casually sexist approach than is selling only women's athletic gear (such as Athleta, as mentioned above) does. (And frankly, Athleta does not really sell athletic gear. With the exception of sports bras, it's just expensive girly shit that you could wear to the gym, if you wanted to.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:22 PM on October 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


Absalom: Did Balloon Boy cut us so deeply that we can never again believe in another puff piece no matter how small the stakes or credible the subject?

I believe she wrote it, but it also totally strokes all the attention grubbing parent erogenous zones. It's such a platonic "And you won't believe what happened next!" BuzzWorthy headline. I get why people were skeptical, is what I'm saying.

This isn't a zero on the "parents may be full of shit" meter. It's like, a 3/10, but I get it.

Maybe I really do have some scar tissue from that, and kaycee, and everything else though. I believed this, but when I saw the comments attacking skeptical people I definitely got some PTSD flashbacks.
posted by emptythought at 2:52 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


The infantilization and cynicism over the kid's writing skills is depressing.

And this happens every time there's a post on MetaFilter about a child doing a thing. It's odd how grownups completely forget what being a child was like.

(Full disclosure: my Mom helped me with my letters to Mrs. Thatcher about apartheid and nuclear weapons because I used to worry she wouldn't take me seriously if there were spelling mistakes.)
posted by jack_mo at 4:26 AM on October 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


Pink it and Shrink it is COMPLETELY a thing, and I despise it - but it is October...which makes everything from yogurt tops to oil filters pink.

Good for McKenna for writing a letter to complain about it. Dick's is a pretty miserable store regardless, (who doesn't have ski jackets for women during ski season when your store is at a base of ski resort?) - but it looks like they handled this PR media crisis well enough. At least the guy who runs their twitter account anyway.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 9:29 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Put a Hibiscus on It

Motorcycle gear manufacturers figured out that not many women want to buy pink pants (it's a bit much when you've already got the pink jacket and gloves, I guess). But of course, they can't just make regular motorcycle pants in women's sizes. So my otherwise perfectly normal black motorcycle pants, which make me look and feel like a tank, have flowers embroidered on them.
posted by gueneverey at 9:46 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


12-year-old calls out Dick's Sporting Goods chain for being sexist. We might never have known about her exceptional letter, but one of her parents is a reporter (who knows how to pander to the news.)

This would be a sicker burn if somebody had bothered to sign the response.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 3:16 AM on October 14, 2014


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