Today in Unsurprising Things: Azarenka and Sharapova Make Some Noises, and There's a Double Standard in Sports. Look, a Bird.
...and the double standards continue in the world of professional women’s sports.
A few days ago, striker Sydney Leroux of the U.S. National Soccer Team was carded and cyber-shamed for baring her sports bra and “sushing” fans while celebrating a game-winning goal. This morning, the New York Times published an article asking tennis fans how they planned to endure the “high pitched wails” of Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, who squared off today in the French Open semifinals (the victory went to Sharapova).
Azarenka and Sharapova share an intense rivalry, with Azarenka winning seven of the 13 games they’ve played so far. They also share a pretty vocal style of play. The Times decided to make the latter the focus of their pre-game coverage, with few words spent on the players’ stats, odds, or challenges, while many were spilt over the match’s “soundtrack.”
(For your viewing pleasure, some noisy tennis:)
According to the Times, the women’s loud play is “used as exhibit A of what’s wrong with women’s tennis, rather than what is right.” The last half of that sentence betrays a glimmer of awareness of the sexism at hand (call me when you hear a male athlete mocked or criticized for the sounds he makes). Then again, if the Times really wanted to focus on the women’s game, they would have gone ahead and done that instead of generating an entire article out of the bias of select tennis viewers. Yes, our nation’s most revered news syndicate apparently thought it was important to point out that Azarenka and Sharapova’s shouts are “a turn-off for fans” (that is some League of Their Own-status stupidity) and asks readers to share what music (“Jazz CD? Jock Jams?”) they will play over the muted match. Because you know, women = much nicer when silent.
Azarenka and Sharapova are professional athletes performing enormous feats of strength and endurance, not singing us all an opera. (By the way, I’ve heard singing reach similar pitch-levels at the opera and people pay to listen to it/survive). The double standard here is perhaps hard for half the population to understand, because such sounds aren’t in their vocal range, but are you really going to tell these women not to make the noises that come naturally to them in the heat of competition? Let’s face it: no one would suggest a man fall silent if being loud helped him win. Articles like the Times's perpetuate the notion that on some level, women’s sports are still a spectacle, and if that spectacle isn’t pleasing, it loses its reason for being. The newspaper has dubbed Azarenka and Sharapova “the sound and the fury.”
Well, they got the fury part right.
Image: Getty Images