A sexist walks into a bar and, once again, is the biggest punch line of the joke. Not so long ago I was watching the final day of Wimbledon in a pub in Bath. The 3/4 British doubles final was on but my excitement deflated after I heard the utterance, “I’m not a sexist but…” My ears woke up; my expression read nervous. Women’s tennis, like it has been the focus of a lot of debate in the last month or so, was the topic. I heard him out; I gave him a chance. I’ll walk you through his comments.
I’m not a sexist but…
… The women shouldn’t be paid the same as the men
I’m-not-a-sexist-but insisted he is informed enough to dictate the pay packet of the female tennis players who brought us viewers some of the most nail-biting matches of Wimbledon 2017. His reasoning? Well, they don’t play as many sets (A sentiment, on the surface, I understand. However, I am informed tennis-wise and this man was not.) The crucial facts the guy was missing:
- The women have consistently campaigned to play five set matches like the men do in particular grand slams.
- There is a call for the men to play the best of three like the women.
- The men’s singles tour (although I will assume this man will disagree) at Wimbledon this year, due to a plethora of injuries, was disappointing (although *spoilers* apparently more entertaining than the rest of the tours). To keep a seed or climb higher, tennis players have to consistently play. The men are playing the best of five throughout the year, leading to injuries that have made some matches almost unbearable to watch. The men are suffering so terribly from such a tough routine and we shouldn’t ignore this and encourage it further by considering the women’s best of three matches as “less work,” weaker and devoid of entertainment.
… The women just aren’t as entertaining to watch as the men are [to be continued]
Yes, the guy followed up “I’m not a sexist but” with the entirely sexist (and ignorant- he simply cannot have been watching the women’s singles tour at Wimbledon this year) comment that reflects the age-old, “boys are better than girls” belief. The men have been dropping like flies, a handful of matches resulting in a player retiring. The athletes were pushed too far and the result was a slightly less gruelling tournament, as well as defeated players. While I still adored my daily dosage of a men’s singles match or two, the women’s was far too entertaining to miss. Their game was on fleek.
… Because the men are physically better
Much like McEnroe’s unneeded comments about Serena Williams, we see someone belittle these fantastically strong athletes with the most incredible stamina; summoned to nothing but a tired comment that sees men always winning the fight. The women’s and men’s tennis tours are so unbelievably different; Williams has noted this herself. So why does I’m-not-a-sexist-but feel the need to reduce these athletes I admire so very much to nothing but weak girls that just don’t compare to the big men over his pie and pint?
All I wanted was to politely turn around and inform him of the facts he was surely missing, or worse, ignoring. My heart broke to see two women and another man nod along, no one challenging a single thing he said. What broke my heart more, though, was that I said nothing. My hands crunched from irritation and I didn’t blink for the entirety of his one-sided debate. His comments played on my mind for the rest of the day, but I felt so silenced by something so anciently misogynistic.
~ Kat ~
A side note (that I don’t think needs to be said): This person’s gender is so unbelievably irrelevant; I’ve heard similar views from females too. The thoughts that drive such comments are to be questioned without any focus on the speaker’s sex.
P.S. Feminism Up ❤