Throughout my years of watching sports, I’ve witnessed men fight on the field, harass referees/umpires, slur officials, and even throw balls across the court when they disagree with a call, but when a woman, who is just as passionate about her athletic craft as a man, merely says to an umpire “You stole a point from me, and you are a thief,” she is penalized and as a result, loses a game.
On this past Saturday, Serena Williams competed against Naomi Osaka in New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium for the Grand Slam title. Umpire Carlos Ramos accused Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, of giving her hand signals during the match which is deemed illegal coaching. Williams was offended by the accusation and immediately checked Ramos by saying, “I don’t cheat. I’d rather lose!” Serena was livid, and rightfully so. But even during her rage, she never once used profanity (in earshot at least), she didn’t throw her racket across the court at anyone, nor did she call the umpire names or attempt to fight him. But because she is a WOMAN who had the audacity to voice her opinion in an assertive manner, she was robbed of a point which caused her to lose the match, costing her the Grand Slam title, and she was fined $17,000 by the US Open.
While witnessing the blatant biases that Ramos displayed against Serena, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking, “I bet this would not have happened if she had a different set of genitals.” And from doing a little social media digging, apparently, my thoughts were being shared and validated. Since this incident, two male tennis pros have confirmed the sexism which resulted in Serena losing the match.
I will admit I have said worse and not gotten penalized. And I’ve also been given a “soft warning” by the ump where they tell you knock it off or I will have to give you a violation. He should have at least given her that courtesy. Sad to mar a well played final that way.
I’ve regrettably said worse and I’ve never gotten a game penalty
And some people wonder why feminism exists. Before I go off on a brief tangent about that, let’s examine another case in the same realm of bigotry. Just last week, tennis player Alize Cornet was handed a code violation for taking off her shirt to switch it around because she had it on backwards. Underneath her shirt, she wore a sports bra. In case you’re in the dark about sports bras, it’s one of the least provocative bras a woman can wear. The purpose for it is not to expose anything, but to keep everything intact while one takes on vigorous activities. But because she was a woman who, according to society’s rules, should have been taught at youth to cover up and keep quiet, she was fined.
If time permitted and space was unlimited, I could name countless of other incidents that show why feminism exists. However, these two recent events clearly depict the prejudices that we women face in this world. It’s inhumane to treat anyone less than or to put someone in a box because of how they were born. If a woman can hit a ball, fix a car, drive a bus, preach a sermon, or run a political office as good as or better than her male counterparts, then she should be treated with the same respect as they are treated. Women are not asking for favors, or to rule, or to be singled out, we are asking for a fair chance. We are asking to be seen as humans first and women second. We are asking to be able to dictate our own existence, govern our own bodies, not be treated as objects, and to be heard and not considered a b$%^& when we speak up for ourselves with confidence. We are asking to be recognized as the powerful human beings we are, and not be stripped of a point or title when we have the courage to defend our honor. Equality is what we seek, but partiality is what we get…and that’s why feminism exists.
P.S. – In the midst of the Serena debacle, shout out to LeBron James and Essence Magazine for teaming up and publicly recognizing and celebrating women of color from a place of positivity. The Strongest, the name of the powerful social media campaign birthed by James and Essence, highlights 16 black women who exemplify strength to the NBA star. This campaign follows LeBron’s reveal of his exclusive Nike signature shoe collaboration designed by three African American women. See a few pictures of LeBron’s honorees below which includes our girl Serena. Thank you LeBron and keep shining ladies!