Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Woman Dunks, Some Can't Handle It

[Content note: gender policing]

For those who don't follow basketball, Baylor University's Brittney Griner has had two impressive dunks in the NCAA Tournament.

Although I find it incredibly problematic to feed into the notion that the way for female basketball players to "prove" that they are Awesome Basketball Players is by dunking, we quickly learn that even when a woman authoritatively slams the rim with a two-handed dunk it's still not enough for the haters of women's sports.

Nothing a woman does will ever be enough.

For those sexists who deem themselves arbiters of True Athletic Prowess, the goalposts for who constitutes an authentic athlete worthy of fame, money, and attention are constantly shifting so that a woman can never be in that category.

Ramona Shelburne wrote a nice piece at ESPN on the topic
of women dunking (also included is footage of Griner's NCAA dunks):

"Whatever it was about Griner's dunks, it was enough to make folks uncomfortable and uncomfortable enough to get nasty."

By "nasty," some commenters have stooped to the low of questioning Griner's biological sex. See a woman who's really good at basketball? Well, she can't possibly be a Real Woman! So entrenched is some people's belief that Good Athlete and Woman are mutually-exclusive categories.

In the article, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie added:

"'People are never really satisfied,' she said. 'I dunked and people said it was just one-handed. Now Brittney's dunked two-handed and people are like, 'Oh, there's only one person who can do that.'"

'I don't think any of us can ever live up to the expectations or things naysayers throw at us.'"

USC coach Michael Cooper added that Griner's dunks make people uncomfortable because she does it so easily and because dunking is one of the last moves that things male players do consistently that female players don't.

Interestingly, the article also notes that the first dunk in women's college basketball occurred in 1984. The coach of the opposing team was the only one with the game tape and, according to the ESPN article, he for some reason "essentially took it to his grave." The tape eventually resurfaced in 2009.

Just kind of shitty to think that I, and probably countless other girls, grew up believing that it was impossible for women to ever dunk.

Related: But but but Men Are Better!

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