Friday, September 14, 2018

My Weekend Crush

I haven’t stopped thinking about last Saturday’s U.S. Open Women’s Finals between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. What started as a brilliant display of female athleticism and excellence ended as a pathetic display of the fragile male ego and persistent double standard women everywhere face in their personal and professional lives. That it played out on the grandest of slam stages only further highlights a persistent and pernicious problem for 51 percent of the population.

Here were two women, at the top of their respective games, battling it out. And we, the spectators, were lucky enough to see it all unfold. Until, that is, the chair umpire decided to inset himself in their match. Why? Well, first he warned Serena that she had been coached when her coach in the stands made a hand signal which she undoubtedly did not see. And then, he took away a point when she smashed her racket in frustration. And, finally, he took away a whole game after she called him a “thief” for taking the aforementioned point.

Now, granted, if you stick with the letter of the rules he may have been within his right. But if you think about everything that has transpired in men’s – from the storied celebration of such blowhards as McEnroe and Connors and other men in this sport – it was an imperious punishment for a relatively minor offence. Seriously, just for calling the umpire a thief? Guess this dude never worked in fast food. I’ve heard more vicious and unrelenting rants at McDonalds when someone forgets the fries in an order.

But then, that’s what happen when women – particularly women of color – dare to challenge male authority. Instead of letting these two women play it out, he inserted himself. He unnecessarily made his presence felt. And in doing so he robbed both Serena and Naomi of what should have been a historic match. He did not give Serena the benefit of the doubt and he did not give Naomi her rightful moment. It tainted her win (though, believe me, I think she would have won because she was playing so brilliantly). It robbed them of the honest result, the honest victory, the honest loss. He stole this from two women of color at the pinnacle of their profession. So, yes, he was a thief.

Still, what happened after the match is just as extraordinary – but in a good way. At the trophy ceremony Serena implored the crowd to stop booing. She asked the crowd to celebrate Naomi’s win instead. She put her arm around her. She encouraged her. She comforted her. She made her feel like the champion she was.

This is women – particularly, again, women of color – carrying the emotional weight of progress on their backs. Carrying it an inch, a foot, a mile at a time toward full equality, against sexism, against racism. Smashing the patriarchy one tennis racket at a time.

What Serena said in her press conference, this is the work and the struggle. This is the distillation of intersectional feminism – to fight for our and the next generation’s right to live in a world without having to deal with the same sexist and racist bullshit over and over again. For men and women to be treated and respected and officiated the same way.

Alas, we still live in a world where men who argue are passionate and women who argue are hysterical. Men are strong, women are angry. Men are fired up, women are in meltdown.

That’s how a champion wins, no matter what the scoreboard says. Happy weekend, all.

p.s. Naomi Osaka is a pure delight. Watch all of this and seethe a little more at what he stole from her. Thief indeed.

p.p.s. To the commenter who used the handle "Margaret Court" and wanted me to post an article by Martina Navratilova, here is a link to an article where Martina Navratilova calls out Margaret Court as a "racist and homophobe." Enjoy!


Carmen SanDiego said...

Fucking thief, indeed. That douchebag was yelled at by nick kirgios and did nothing, zero. Ugh, men are the worst.
Naomi Osaka Is a class act and Serena is the GOAT

Luna said...

That's why it's so difficult for women to be leaders. A leader has to be angry at times to lead effectively. But even minor expressions of anger are not allowed for women. I've lost count of how many times I've been instructed that my anger was definitely not OK when a male in the same situation would have completely blown their tops off, and be respected for it.

Look at Clinton for a fine example. People lectured her that she was "too positive". She didn't have any other option, dammit! If she had been one tenth as angry as Trump, she would have lost a lot of votes for that.

Anonymous said...

Martina Navratilova's NY Times article about this match is right on the money, and should be read by all who are even remotely interested in a fair take on what happened.

Osiris said...

I still think Serena was out of line and don't have a problem with the judge who enforced the rules. The rules of decorum have changed since the 80s when McEnroe would cuss the officials and slam rackets down.

Anonymous said...

Thief, oh yes, if anyone stole Osaka's moment of glory it was Williams and her appalling behavior.

Margaret Court said...

Ramos was deliberately placed in the chair because he is one of the few umpires that will not tolerate blatant cheating, and they knew that one of the players in the final is the biggest cheat in professional sport. The other is a superbly talented tennis player who wiped the floor with the steroid-fueled cheat, just as the equally superb Angelique did at Wimbledon. Your post is a total embarrassment to yourself and anyone who reads the nonsense you have written. Please delete and replace it with a link to Martina's article in the NY Times so people can have the benefit of something written by an intelligent woman who actually knows something about tennis.

Anonymous said...

I’ve played various sports all of my life and it’s so frustrating to see this kind of sexism. Thank you for discussing it DS.

revpet said...

Hey Margaret Court..... Billie Jean King knows and thing or two about tennis and sexism. She summed it up pretty well in 2 tweets.

So take your racist BS somewhere else.

Katie said...

What i found revealing is that during her talk with the tournament referee after the game penalty she kept saying "This is so unfair...This keeps happening to me at this tournament". After all this time to reflect, she still believes she wasn't wrong in 2009 & 2011, when she absolutely was. This time, not so much at first, but to let it escalate so badly was on her and unprofessional. (Watch Toni Wiley's CBS Boston interview on youtube it's direct and fair).
As for standing up for women everywhere, well Serena taking part in a homophobic sketch mocking out lesbian player Amelie Mauresmo's appearance - where Amelie is played by a man - when knowing the absolute shit that Amelie endured, or the abhorrent victim blaming comments she made about the Steubenville rape case - is that what female solidarity is? Good at tennis, yes, but certainly not beyond reproach.

Elly said...

Well said Katie, i only wish DS's post was so well informed then maybe it wouldn't have been so fawning about Williams.