Thursday, September 1, 2011

Carillo 1, Allaster 0

Mary Carillo interviewed WTA chairwoman Stacey Allaster today, and the WTA's leader--despite making a few comments about women's DNA being different from men's (seriously, she said that)--assured all that something was going to be "done" about the "grunting" on the tour. In the past, Allaster has tried to defend players from the barrage of ridiculous criticism leveled at them, while still trying to take the criticism seriously. Today, she was much firmer in insisting that a "solution" is on the way, and that this solution will involve "objective" (as if) measurement. In other words, there will be some type of decibel measuring device available.

Carillo, to my surprise, reflected exactly what I was thinking (at least some of it) when she immediately told Allaster she thought it was good that Allaster had found a way for someone to make money, in addition to solving the "problem." There was then an uncomfortable lull in the conversation.

Throughout history, women and girls have had everything on them and in them measured and examined and tested to assure that they were "pure" or "qualified" or "hot" enough to do everything from marry to serve drinks on a plane. Now the WTA wants to add yet another invasive measuring device that involves women's bodies. To borrow a phrase from Serena Williams--Go WTA women's equality campaign!

The 5th and 6th seeds, both major champions, played poorly and lost in the first round of the U.S. Open. Women still make less money playing tennis than men do, and they are expected to play fewer sets than men at the majors. The tour's injury list is long and impressive. Commentators and writers refer to 28-year-old women as children. On-court coaching, which fosters dependence and makes women look ridiculous, continues. The tour has problems, many of which are caused by sexism. One of those problems is the perception that it is somehow "wrong" for women to grunt or yell.

Maybe a really strong campaign against sexism and a closer look at the tour's expectations would be in order? Of course it would be, but it won't happen because the WTA is busy tending to important things like catering to a culture that doesn't want women to be real people and doesn't want female athletes to be real athletes.

Measure that.


Sunny nine said...

I agree with you Diane. I just want to understand why this is such a big issue NOW. I know that over time, Sharapova's or Seles' name would be brought up, but then people would move on. Sharapova is very popular. Not just on her website but she brings out an audience that apparently don't mind the "noise". Is it because now there is Azarenka also? Is it because Wimbledon made more of a big deal about it this year possibly because Vika and Maria went deep in the tournament? No matter whether the player is a man or a woman, the person can be a "high" grunter or a "lower" grunter. The thing is so many people grunt. WHO is going to decide what decibel level is too high? P. McEnroe went on and on about this subject and that something should be done about grunting. But hey the Williams sisters can be very loud. Nadal often sounds like a wounded animal. They did a poll on ESPN the large majority of people didn't mind grunting. P Mac said that they should change the poll to to "shrieking". I don't understand the extra push it is getting now. I guess I am rambling but it just gets to me. It is just one more thing directed at women, demeaning women.

Todd Spiker said...

That interview didn't bode well for the WTA's future under Allaster.

Sunny nine said...

Oh yeah, you and your readers may like this done awhile ago at the blog "Any Given Surface"

Diane said...

I'm not sure why this is such an issue at this time, but I think it probably does have something to do with what a big deal Wimbledon officials made of it. Also, there are practically no consequences anymore for sexist behavior--it's actually encouraged--so a campaign against female athletes can easily be waged.

Some of the tour's (supposedly) most beloved stars--Venus, Serena, Sharapova, Schiavone--either scream or grunt. Are we now going to punish the Williams sisters? I mean, among those four, they've won two dozen major singles titles, so they're really "bad" for the sport.

Azarenka screams, and the world number 1 does an "Oompah" grunt. Kvitova "barks" when she hits winners. She just won Wimbledon, so let's punish her, too.

As for Patrick McEnroe--the clearest statement I can make is that I see no point in even discussing him.

Anonymous said...

Let me first say that I love your blog and I think that your coverage of women's tennis is exceptional. On this point I disagree: "perception that it is somehow "wrong" for women to grunt or yell."

One cannot dismiss the fact that the shrieking of some players detracts from some fans' enjoyment of the game. It isn't necessarily sexism to say that a loud noise is offensive.

Diane said...

I agree with you, Anon, but there are numerous factors that can detract from fans' enjoyment, yet this is the one being picked apart. And I get back to this: Why aren't fans complaining over the grunting of male players? Male players grunt or yell "hey!" or scream at their boxes, and no one complains.

When we have female political candidates (I'm speaking of the USA), their voices are described as "shrill," when--in fact--they are not speaking any differently from the men. I do think that what we deem as "acceptable" or "annoyng" is often gender-based. (Those "no grunting, ladies" signs kind of said it all for me.)

Oh--and thanks for your kind words!

Anonymous said...

You make some compelling points. Still, I feel there is a difference in the noises emitted by different players. A grunt of exertion, such as that made by several male players, doesn't offend my ears. A prolonged screech that forces me to reach for the mute button does affect my enjoyment of a match. I think the line should be drawn at least in part on the location of the ball: if the ball has cleared the net, the noise should be done. Volume is also a factor.

On the topic of female politicians I agree completely (though the antics of Palin and Bachman are not helping the cause). Remember when people pilloried Hillary for supposedly breaking down in tears, but the tapes showed she barely teared up?

In any case I think it's important to examine the possibility of sexism so kudos to you for facilitating a debate.

Diane said...

Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

"Women still make less money playing tennis than men do, and they are expected to play fewer sets than men at the majors. The tour's injury list is long and impressive. Commentators and writers refer to 28-year-old women as children. On-court coaching, which fosters dependence and makes women look ridiculous, continues."

So I take it that you are complaining about the women playing fewer sets and you want to abolish the on-court coaching? I'm with you on that. But please don't tell me that it's sexist to mute or change the channel when confronted with this:

Or this:

I mean, really? You think there would be no protesting if men were screaming LIKE THIS??? said...

I fully tie in with everything you have printed.