Saturday, April 18, 2015

A non-defense defense of Genie Bouchard

When Genie Bouchard refused to shake the hand of her Fed Cup opponent, Kristina Kucova, before the rubbers began in February, it was hard to believe that she would repeat the act again this weekend, but she did--with Romania's Alexandra Dulgheru. The whole "I don't believe in wishing my opponent good luck" thing is ridiculous since the handshake isn't about "good luck"--it's about sport, and what sport is supposed to represent. One would think that Bouchard wouldn't need to have that explained to her.

But apparently, it's a "thing" with the Canadian star, and undoubtedly one that is part of something more important in Bouchard's worldview. What that might be, I don't pretend to know.

But I do know what it feels like to hold a conviction that goes against the convictions of close to 100% of those who surround you in your culture. Most of the things that I'm told are "good" and "positive" and that people around me support and cherish, I oppose, usually because I find them morally or ethically unacceptable, but sometimes because I find them intrusive or just plain stupid. I believe in fact-finding and fact-checking, and in remembering history, and I'm terrible at denial.

The international female star-making machine may have made a "sweet, beautiful tennis star" out of Genie Bouchard, but if you actually watch Bouchard and listen to her, there's quite an edge there. This is a woman who sometimes sounds as though her insides are drawn tight as a top. This is a woman who says very tough words but cries on the court. Readers, this is a woman who wore a kimono to a press conference.

I'm sorry that Bouchard chose a benign, but very sporting gesture, to make the object of her "me against the world" stand. I'm reminded of what the White Queen said about Alice in Through the Looking-Glass: "She's in that state of mind that she wants to deny something--only she doesn't know what to deny!"

Believe me, Genie, if you have the will to stand against what everyone around you thinks is "positive," you will make friends with yourself, even in your cultural isolation, and some people will even respect you. But first, do the fact-finding and fact-checking. From my point of view, shaking the hand of your soon-to-be Fed Cup opponent is just plain sporting, and even a social and political iconoclast like I am can't find anything that isn't positive about that.


Anonymous said...

i always find it interesting on what issues people decide to take a stand. sometimes, for me, it seems important and other times it is a non sequitur. people hold ideas back and then they explode and cry out for something that is seemingly not important in the grand scheme of things. to refuse to shake someone's hand where there is a tradition to do so doesn't seem like an issue on which to take a stand. i mean, why not skip the after match tradition? why have any tradition? a pre-match acknowledgement is not unheard of. after the coin toss there is often the nod of the head towards an opponent and on the men's side i have seen a quick touch of the arm.
with regard to fed cup, the latter is an event that celebrates sports as a way for countries to benignly get together and root for their team. it is also not a solo act. a player works with a team to represent their country in the most positive way-to respect the other country.
this seems part of genie's "i don't want to have any friends on the tour" thing. she wants to stand apart but i don't think she is going about it the correct way.
but.... it is important to her enough so that she withstands the criticism. i have no understanding of her decision but for some reason she finds it necessary to stand alone on this issue. and now that it has happened twice, maybe we should all let it go.

Diane said...

It bothers me a lot more that she thinks she doesn't want to have any friends.