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To Speak Badly of One Woman is to Speak Badly of All Women

As you will see from the following link, a lot of very mean men wrote horribly misogynist things about Marion Bartoli, the French woman who won the women’s singles at Wimbledon this year.   (Marion Bartoli).

In my line of work, I spy sexism all over the place.  And racism.  And heterosexism. But this incident has me particularly pissed.  Serena Williams may be tall, but she isn’t blonde and one would NEVER see those same kind of comments made about her very awesome athletic self.  There are numerous so-called “ugly” men who play tennis who would never be called sluts or fat because they weren’t tall and blonde. 

One of the biggest problems with this open world of social media is that people can actually tweet comments or write comments they would NEVER say in public.  For a few years I felt that homophobia, heterosexism and fat hatred were the last vestiges of public (meaning people DARED to say stupid shit in public about other people) oppression remaining in our culture, but lately, I feel like sexism and misogyny is getting a resurgence that makes me want to vomit.

Perhaps it is all connected to the War on Women.   The attacks by republicans on women’s BASIC human rights to control her body and her fertility might be setting a bad tone.  I mean, if those rights can be attacked, why not call us fat sluts at the same time.

If you can stand it and you scroll further down into the “Public Shaming” article you will see tweets that go from calling her a slut to calling her a dyke and saying she has a penis.  I mean, god, can you imagine a female athlete being a lesbian, being tough, and being strong?  What is this world coming to?  Jeez. 

For me, I want to organize and have a strategy to fight this.  Couldn’t the corporate executives who own these social media have policies about racism, heterosexism and sexism?  Couldn’t they have language about what types of hate speech will not be allowed?  Call me crazy, but we know the FCC has rules around what words can be said on the radio and on TV.  If those same misogynists and homophobes who spoke so horribly of Marion were using racial slurs, would there have been a different backlash or comment?  The twittersphere and blogosphere went nuts when The Onion called Quvenzhane Wallis from Beasts of the Southern Wild a cunt.  Is it because she was a Hollywood actress, a child or is it because women’s athletics doesn’t get that kind of attention?

What makes all of this worse is that even the BBC reporter John Inverdale remarked that Ms. Bartoli was “never going to be a looker.”  What does THAT have to do with her playing tennis?  Are you fucking kidding me?  Who is his boss?  Do any women producers work for the BBC who might clue him in that Bartoli is an athlete and her looks have NOTHING to do with her talent? 

Seeing blatant sexism like this, 22 years after I decided to be a feminist makes me feel old, sad, frustrated, and disappointed.  First, I’m disappointed that we are still raising men, HUNDREDS of them, as you’ll see from those tweets, who feel that way about women.  Who are their mothers and sisters and daughters?  Do they not get that to speak badly of one woman is to speak badly of all women?  I’m frustrated that we have an educational system that does not address sexism and misogyny at a young age.  I’m sad that the progress I have dedicated most of my career to seems to be slipping backwards. 

And for those of us with really good men in our lives, take a moment today to thank them for not being an asshole like all those jerks who tweeted so negatively about a champion.  Apparently it takes a lot more effort to be a good man these days than to just tweet that someone is a slut. 

my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.