Shortly after I posted about Serena’s accomplishments, I found this: Serena shaming examples.
At least there seems to be a discussion on the topic – as the author of the posted cited above states: Fortunately, as online critics have also been quick to point out, the continued shock and awe that Williams’ body does not conform to some tiny little white girl paradigm is outrageously narrow minded and insulting.
Why is it that a woman’s body is considered an open target for judgement and criticism? Serena has proven beyond a shadow of ANY doubt – that she is simply the best at what she does. She is an athlete, and she (and we) should be proud of her strong, muscular body. She (and her body) deserve our respect and admiration; and I simply cannot fathom the depths of the judgmental self-righteous arrogance that seems to compel haters to jump in with their irrelevant and insulting criticisms of one of the greatest athletes of any generation.
And then there is This NY Times Article about the body image issues in women’s tennis. The article gives credence and valuable editorial real estate to the view that many players prefer to be more ‘feminine’ (read: tiny, quiet and white) in appearance. The label ‘feminine’ is subjective at best, and racist and sexist at worst. It has been (and appear to continue to be) used to defend the undefensible stereotype that women should be small, quiet and demure, versus being our true selves-selves that come in a wide range of sizes, colors, volumes, personalities, skills and strengths.
More power to Serena and other women who are unapologetically STRONG, Powerful, Smart, Fearless, and Outspoken vs. trying to conform to someone else’s stereotype of what a ‘real’ woman should be.
It reminds me of the words of Sojourner Truth regarding the condescending definition of femininity of her generation; a definition that was used as justification for denying women basic rights such as the vote and the ability to own property in their own names:
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”