Saturday, September 11, 2010

Watch it with the sound off

I haven't had the television on for very long, but I have already heard enough sexism to convince me to turn the sound off:

Kevin Frasier believes that women automatically take their husbands' surnames.

Dick Enberg apparently believes that all police officers and firefighters are men (What decade are we in? To recognize September 11 by thanking a "policeman" or a "fireman" utilizes language that is all the rage again, I know, but that doesn't make it any less sexist--makes it more so.)

Earlier in the tournament:

John McEnroe found a way (I knew he would) to make fun of Denis Istomin because he is coached by his mother.

Commentators continued, ad nauseum, to ask Kim Clijsters about the "balance" in her life.

Commentators regularly call female players, even those in their late 20s, "girls."

Martina Navratilova, who routinely asks the other commentators to please call the players "women," referred to them as "guys."

Headlines proclaimed that Schiavone "does a Federer," when--in reality--Schiavone has been hitting 'tweeners for years.

Virginia Wade is carrying the message about women's desperation to "keep looking young."

As relentless as the sexism* is, there are also plenty of other comments, unrelated to gender, that reveal other prejudices. For example:

Enberg believes that if you are Russian and read Russian literature, you are " a serious sort."

A commentator actually bragged about mispronouncing a player's name (then immediately insulted a commentator who regularly mispronounces a name).

Liezel Huber continued her non-stop USA flag-waving every time she spoke.

And finally, in a moment of significant tone-deafness, Mike Bryan accepted a stole from the ambassadors of India and Pakistan, and immediately suggested he could "make a shirt out of it." (Perhaps his doubles partner, Huber, who "came from a third world country with only a suitcase and a dream," could educate him.)

*There are people all over the Worldwide Web who express so much concern about racism and ethnic prejudice, but the vile gender-related (and sometimes homophobic) things they are saying about Kim and Venus (and, at other times, just about any woman who is playing) demonstrate bigotry at its most disgusting.

16 comments:

VD said...

I check this blog out everyday. It is one of my favorites. For the most part I enjoy what you have to say and how you say it. But this ad nauseum complaining you do nitpicking even the slightest thing folks say comes across as holier than thou. I mean when you add Martina Navratilova onto this list for using "guys" you're jumping the shark. Talk about reaching.

For the record how exactly does Huber's "USA flag waving" as you call it fall into the same category as racisim, sexism, homophobia or any type pf prejudice??? Seriously shark = jumped. She's obviously happy. I don't seen anything wrong with her happiness. I'm happy for her. Everyone should be so happy.

Vickie

Diane said...

VD, I don't mind Huber's being proud of being a USA citizen, but she never stops with it. And she was downright nasty about it when she accused the Williams sisters of somehow not being "American" enough a few months ago. That turned a lot of us right off.

As for sexist language, yes, I do point it out (someone has to), and I just find it odd that Navratilova makes a point of calling out others for it, and then using it herself.

And my point isn't that "he said this" or "she said that." My point, which I may not have made clear, is that there is an almost never-ending stream of inappropriate comments made by commentators, etc.; it's the collective effect I intended to point out.

I also don't recall saying that Huber's chauvinism is in any way comparable with bigotry (though in many people, it is). We can agree to disagree about whether Huber's patriotism is annoying. I suppose the Fed Cup incident keeps me from perceiving her words the way others may perceive them.

VD said...

This is interesting. I wouldn't put the term "guys" into the same category as calling grown women girls or the idiotic comments made my JM. It's a pretty generic term nowadays. I use it all the time when addressing a group of people informally.

I don't think you really believe that Dick Enberg doesn't think there are women Firefighters or Police Officers. It comes across as sarcastic and diminishes the argument you are trying to make.

You say you didn't equate Huber's chauvanism with bigotry, BUT go back and read what you wrote. The first half of the blog was about sexism. Then you wrote: "there are also plenty of other comments, unrelated to gender, that reveal other prejudices. For example" Under that you made the comment about Huber's flag waving.

I went back and read all of your blog posts pertaining to the Fed Cup incident. I didn't read any commnents that were overtly nasty towards the Williams sisters. I don't see anything wrong with her comments about how the Williams should not expect to be put first in line for the Olympic team when they have minimal commtment to Fed Cup. If anything Oudin's comment was far worse. It was also one of the more honest comments I've read. I agree completey with Oudin.

As for her I'm the proudest American blah blah blah.." A lot of immigrants tend to be flag waivers. At least all of the ones I've encountered anyway. Is this a reverse prejudice against Huber for "criticizing" the "real" Americans?

In the interest of full disclosure I am no fan of the Williams sisters. I am indifferent to Venus at best. After the comment Serena made about Steffi needing to retire many many moons ago I have never been a fan. After last years grotesque display I think she should've been suspended or tossed from the sport entirely. Alas, my perspective might be skewed.

Diane said...

Poor wording on my part, yes. Sorry for that.

Language is the means by which we express our values, culturally, as well as individually. When people walk up to a group of men, or a group of men and women together, and say "How are you gals doing?" I'll stop complaining. Yes, "guys" is generic--that's exactly my point--that male remains the default gender in language. I don't like being referred to as a man when I am a woman.

I agree with you about Oudin, Vickie--actually, I think she was riffing off of Huber--and I bent over backwards at the time to accept Huber's words for what they were, despite feeling quite uneasy about them. The problem was with the way she said them.

One of my fellow bloggers had this to say: http://tiny.cc/pugkk

Anonymous said...

The "real americans" of tennis! lol, Well Fed Cup captain wants those "Un-American" to play, MF stated that eariler this week at the U S Open. Lol, the tea party members of the USA Fed Cup might not want the william sisters, but it's not up to them who plays. I hope the sisters do play I'll be their watching and also watching the so called "real Americans" gritting their teeth and talking up under their breath about those William sisters! Lol, America and it's hatered of people who don't ACT, LOOK or THINK like the dwindling majority!

VD said...

Oooooh, I liked that blog. I never clicked on the link to the side. I've added it to my reading list.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

"The "real americans" of tennis! lol, Well Fed Cup captain wants those "Un-American" to play, MF stated that eariler this week at the U S Open. Lol, the tea party members of the USA Fed Cup might not want the william sisters, but it's not up to them who plays. I hope the sisters do play I'll be their watching and also watching the so called "real Americans" gritting their teeth and talking up under their breath about those William sisters! Lol, America and it's hatered of people who don't ACT, LOOK or THINK like the dwindling majority!"

If you have any quotes from Huber/Oudin/etc. claiming to be "real Americans," or saying the Williams' are "un-American", I'd certainly like to see them. Seems to me you are deluding yourself into believing things that weren't actually said in order to justify your own hatred. Sad.

Anonymous said...

"I check this blog out everyday. It is one of my favorites. For the most part I enjoy what you have to say and how you say it. But this ad nauseum complaining you do nitpicking even the slightest thing folks say comes across as holier than thou. I mean when you add Martina Navratilova onto this list for using "guys" you're jumping the shark. Talk about reaching.

For the record how exactly does Huber's "USA flag waving" as you call it fall into the same category as racisim, sexism, homophobia or any type pf prejudice??? Seriously shark = jumped. She's obviously happy. I don't seen anything wrong with her happiness. I'm happy for her. Everyone should be so happy."

-----

Indeed, Diane tends to make mountains out of molehills (often imagined ones) but that's what makes the blog so fun!

Although, to be frank, the cry of sexism regarding Schiavone's "Federer" shot is ridiculous even by this blog's standards. When Mikhail Youzhny hit a between-the-legs shot in his quarterfinal against Stan Wawrinka, it was called "pulling a Federer" immediately on-air and nearly every article I read on the match afterward that referred to the shot made it out to be a Federer-patented shot.

Seems to me that Schiavone and Youzhny got the exact same treatment, so where's the sexism?

The reckless manner in which you throw around the word "sexist" makes this blog a guilty pleasure, but please tell me that the majority of the accusations you make are made simply to be a provocateur. The idea of you ACTUALLY BELIEVING Fran Schiavone and her 'tweener are victims are sexism is completely facepalm-worthy.

Anonymous said...

I want to make my first million by inventing a DVR that allows you to mute the commentators but hear the on-court sounds. Seems like it should be do-able. And I would be its first happy customer!

I have DirecTV, and during the Mix channels' broadcasts in the first week, every once in a while, late in the day session, the commentators leave but the match feed continues. So you see the match without ANYONE talking about it. And honestly? It's heaven. Especially during a women's match, which so often brings out the worst from the folks calling it.

I keep wondering if this is really 2010, or actually 1965, the sexism seems so horrifically bad right now. To your list of offenses, I may quibble with one or two, but no matter -- you are doing a service by being as "nitpicky" as humanly possible. I thank you for it.

Rebecca

Anonymous said...

No, I'm not the deluded one, I just call it like I see it! If it looks like a duck, quacks like at duck, it's a duck!

TennisAce said...

VD, it would be nice when you are attributing statements to players that you are correct in those statements. At no point in their careers did either Serena or Venus ever refer to Steffi Graf as old and that she should retire. That wonderful statement can and will be attributed to the one and only Martina Hingis. Yes, the same Martina Hingis who was run out of the sport after testing positive for a banned substance, something that neither Venus or Serena have ever been guilty of.

So funny that those who wanted Serena banned from the sport for losing her cool in a career defined by more bad calls than anyone else should have had to go through are the same ones who are at pains to try and get Martina's ban overturned on the basis that cocaine is not really a performance enhancing drug and then go on to claim bias when Gasquet said that the cocaine in his sytem was due to kissing a girl. When in doubt always blame those evil women.

Full disclosure, I am a fan of both Venus and Serena. I believe they have carried the hope of a nation for most of their careers and indeed have suffered more than most players in their careers. Through it all they have shown mental and physical fortitude and have never lost their love for the sport or indeed abandoned the sport and cursing it from the sidelines. As a matter of fact they have on all occassions expressed gratitude for what this sport has given to them.

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for people like Clijsters who not only turned her back on the sport, but kicked it over and slammed the door on her way out. How soon we forget.

Diane said...

Anon, I would like to enter some logic in this this discussion. Youzhny does not have a history of hitting 'tweeners; therefore, he more or less "pulled a Federer." Schiavone, on the other hand, has been hitting 'tweeners her entire career, yet the media chose to say she was "copying" Federer. Inferring sexism from that isn't much of a leap, I'm afraid.

But I'll give you one other alternative--that those who write and talk about women's tennis have never watched it and therefore wouldn't know who hits what. Doesn't matter--the end result is a sexist statement--the received message--is sexist.

You don't know me, of course, but I try to avoid using any words in a "reckless" manner. Sexism, however, is so acceptable in this culture at this time, that it reminds me of the 50s and 60s. I stand by what I have said with regard to sexism. Just because things become the "norm" doesn't make them right.

Diane said...

Oh, and thanks, Rebecca.

Anonymous said...

Well said Tennis Ace!

TennisAce said...

Diane, never has it become more apparent to me that most commentators do not watch women's tennis than when it comes to the US Open. There is never any narrative in relation to the player's careers. The only narrative that is ever pulled out are the emotional ones, especially as it relates to the women.

I am a big Federer fan, and I have not heard any narrative about how emotional he is/was and all of us knows that Federer will cry at the drop of a hat.

This year I had occassion to watch a lot of women's tennis from many diverse tournaments. I came to know players, their strengths, their weaknesses, who could remain firm in a clutch and who would keel over and lose a match.

Andrea Petkovic has captured the imaginations of commentators but for fans of the game, she has totally lost her way. She cannot close a match to save her life and she has now descended into mediocrity by making a fool of herself thinking that that is the way to generate interest and buzz about herself. Clearly the player that I saw giving Dementieva a what for in Paris Indoors has disappeared.

Players should start taking control of their careers and sending the message that they want to send. Maybe when they start doing that the commentators will begin to sit up and take notice. Wozniacki was doing just fine playing boring tennis and adding different layers of her game. For some reason her clothing sponsor decided she needed to sex herself up so she did just that and what we saw at the USO this weekend was a different person than we had become accustomed. I am not sure that I like what I am seeing.

Diane said...

Actually, there has been a lot of criticism of Federer, who--apparently--is both "a girl" and "gay." (I guess that makes him a lesbian.) He has been called a "crybaby" by both fans and tennis writers, though the writers find less overt ways to say the same thing.

Of course, not only is there a greater cultural (in our culture) condemnation of male tears, but male and female tear ducts are constructed differently, and there is generally more prolactin present in females. (And it seems to be okay for Federer to cry when he wins, but not to cry when he loses.)

Marat Safin, one of the most emotional players of all time, once criticized WTA players for being "too emotional." I've been a psychotherapist for decades, and imagine my surprise when I learned that anger and frustration are not emotions!

I couldn't agree more, Karen, that players need to take charge of their careers. The ones who do are the ones who win.