Make Challenging the Norm, Not a Celebration

Andy Murray recently challenged something that definitely needed to be challenged- and it wasn’t with regards to whether a ball was in or out. In an interview, a journalist said Queerey was the first US player to get to a Grand Slam semi-final since 2009. Rightly so, Murray corrected him: Male player. Murray has always voiced his support of women’s tennis and that is totally cool. But it should be the norm, right? Not something we celebrate so much that a man’s – or a person’s – decent comment is presented as strange; alien; outstanding.

IMG_2998There is this ugly stigma attached to men’s words when he voices opinions that support women’s rights. Naturally, this contributes to many feeling alienated by the term “feminism”; we need to consciously tackle this. Yet, when a man outwardly supports equality (like a female tennis player being seen as just as important as a male tennis player), we stand back, eyes widened and begin to clap. Sensible challenges need not be seen as a case for celebration; a milestone. Wait, a man wants us women to succeed? It’s insulting to everyone. Murray made a good move; I think he’s a brilliant guy. What he said, however, should be the norm. We need to constantly be challenging comments like this particular journalist’s; our colleagues’; our friends’. I think if we abolish this idea that feminism is a Men Not Allowed topic, then we will stop acting so unfairly shocked when a man says the right thing.

I was thinking these thoughts a couple of days ago when a perhaps similar circumstance popped into my mind. Actress, Priyanka Chopra was interviewed on an American chat show, The Wendy Williams Show. Not only was she asked why she didn’t have a date at the red carpet for Baywatch (*rolls eyes until develops a headache*), but the interview focused on what was apparently “the big deal” of the interview… Her friendship with Meghan Markle. In an interview that should have focused on promoting the actress’s new film, Priyanka was grilled about “Prince Harry’s girlfriend.” A marker Priyanka challenged: “Also Meghan Markle: actress; Suits; her achievements.” Priyanka then joked that Wendy moved away when the interviewer went back to talking about her movie. I celebrated all of her comments.*

Like women’s sport is pushed aside to chat excitedly about men’s tennis, a woman’s worth (especially high-profile figures) is placed in terms of who they are dating. I did immediately praise Murray, much like I did Priyanka. These instances make me fangirl for feminism because we don’t see these immediate reactions as often as we should. So when we do, they stand out. This probably shows how equality isn’t yet engrained in our society. However, a couple of days ago I questioned why we were throwing so many metaphorical parties with thanks to Murray’s comment. Consequently, I realised I can’t decide Murray’s comment should simply be celebrated by us making these corrections the norm, but consider Priyanka’s comments standing-ovation-worthy. It needs to be one rule for all.

I think I am concluding that, of course, both Murray’s and Priyanka’s comments were brilliantly necessary but they weren’t necessarily brilliant. These are two people who clearly carry similar beliefs to me in terms of equality and they used their position to present these beliefs. Clearly, though, if we react so excitedly to these corrections, we need to be making them the norm. (Have I said this enough throughout the post?) We need to encourage everyone to correct others because, by default, accidental and ignorant old school sexism really could linger in our society for years and years yet.

Like any subject, the more we challenge, the sooner we’ll make change happen.

~ Kat ~

*It should be noted that neither Murray nor Priyanka asked for praise.

P.S. I must also address the fact Murray’s comment wasn’t all-inclusive. He did not correct the journalist in terms of the wheelchair or doubles tour which inspires another debate about how we need to see these two tours in the same was as we see the men’s! I wonder whether it is because they were discussing the singles men’s tour but it’s definitely necessary to explore.

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