Thursday, June 23, 2011

Every Girl In This League Is Going To Breathe Like a Lady

Pull out the fainting couch for Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club. He is not okay with lady tennis players who grunt. In a recent interview, he said:

“'We have discussed it with the tours and we believe it is helpful to reduce the amount of grunting.'

Although spectators may find the noise off-putting, 'we are one tournament in a global circuit,' Ritchie said. 'But we have made our views clear and we would like to see less of it.'”


I love the vagueness of the complaint that something a woman does is "off-putting." It's like people think, hmmmm, how can I voice my disapproval of strong women without outright saying I have issues with strong women? It was the same thing with how some people Had No Problem with Hillary Clinton running for president, it was just, like, her voice was so grating. Like fingers on a chalkboard, really.

Anyway, as a lifelong athlete, it's been my experience that grunting can be used to generate more power in a myriad of sporty endeavors (and some scientists agree that it enhances performance). In some martial arts, for instance, a kiai- or yell of spirit- is used to unite the mind and body, to generate explosiveness in board-breaking, and to protect the body's core during sparring. A grunt in tennis is that sport's kiai.

So, when I see some dude clutching his pearls about the impropriety of female athletes grunting, I see both a literal and figurative attempt to rein in a woman's power, strength, and athletic ability. In this proposed stifling, we see how gendered expectations imposed upon female athletes work to impede their athletic performance.

An athlete who is a girl or a woman is always female first, an athlete second.

What's next, Charm and Beauty School? Workshops for the lady athletes on make-up application? Mandatory skirts for the ladies?

Athena forbid we just let athletes play their sport and present their gender however the fuck they want to present it.

[Tip of the beret: Shakesville]

No comments: