A LESSON IN SEXISM
Sigh. In case you haven’t heard, Gilbert Arenas wants everyone to believe that the WNBA does not have its desired fan base (which is obviously men) because its players aren’t attractive enough and are wearing too much clothing. Yup, the all-knowing Gilbert Arenas wants the ladies to take-it-off. In support of his oh-so-unoriginal theory, Arenas posted a video on this Instagram account showing two bikini-clad women playing a game of one-on-one. (I couldn’t bring myself to embed the video here, but I will give you a link to his Instagram page.) The fact that he believes that sex not talent sells female athletes places him in the category with millions of people across the world, so ordinarily I might not even take the time to respond. But the length with which he went to degrade women (his fellow athletes no less), the stature of his celebrity and the fact that in a later post he tried so sincerely to defend his statements as being factual and non-sexist, demand that I provide a response. Now, I’ve already been very clear on what I believe are the solutions to the WNBA’s revenue woes and have no interest in being redundant, so this isn’t a post to re-hash that. Instead, because it is clear that Arenas hasn’t picked up a dictionary in a while, I want to provide him and his cohorts in sexist rhetoric a lesson on the actual definition of sexism and why his commentary amounts to sexism (and misogyny) not facts. I’m going to break it down line for line; because that’s what lawyers do.
But first, let’s get some definitions in line. For the purposes of today’s lesson, sexism is defined as discrimination based on sex; behavior, conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. Misogyny is defined as hatred of women; a dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. By these standards, Arenas’ opinions are 100%, absolutely sexist (towards men and women) and misogynistic. Let’s start with the original post:
“NOW this is what america was hoping for when they announced the #WNBA back in 1996… not a bunch of chicks running around looking like, cast members from #orangeisthenewblack…dont get me wrong, they have few #cutiepies but theres a whole alotta #beanpies running around hahahahahaha if #skylardiggins came out like this, I dont care if she missed every layup..imma buy season tickets and I dont even know where the fuck #tulsa is hahahaha #2016newwnbaoutfitPLS and if u think this is sexist,9 times out of 10 u the ugly one and we didnt pay to come see u play anyway #donkeykong …smdh #thiswillbeawesome #soldouteverywhere”
|Arenas’ Words||Sexist, Misogynistic, or Just Stupid||Why It Is What It Is|
|1.||Overall Theme: Female basketball players would attract a greater male viewership if they were more attractive and wore less clothing||Sexist||It’s sexist because it holds women to a different standard than men. It requires that women show up for work half naked in order to be paid and respected while men have no such requirement. It’s also sexist (and stupid) because it assumes that anything that women do in this world is to attract the attention of men. Apparently we have no personal interests, aspirations, goals outside of that. Finally, it’s sexist towards men because it promotes the stereotype that men only value women for their sex appeal.|
|2.||“NOW this is what america was hoping for when they announced the #WNBA back in 1996… not a bunch of chicks running around looking like, cast members from #orangeisthenewblack…dont get me wrong, they have few #cutiepies but theres a whole alotta #beanpies running around hahahahahaha…”||Stupid and Misogynistic||These words are stupid because he assumes: 1) That everyone in America has the same moral compass and appreciation for women as he does…which they doesn’t, thank God; and 2) that everyone has the same standards or beauty that he does…which they don’t, thank God.
He’s also showing his misogyny because rather than refer to the WNBA players as athletes, females, women or (God-forbid) their legal names; he degrades them by calling them “chicks,” “cutiepies,” and “beanpies.”
|3.||“…if #skylardiggins came out like this, I dont care if she missed every layup..imma buy season tickets and I dont even know where the f**k #tulsa is hahahaha…”||Sexist and Stupid||It’s sexist because he completely aligns himself with the stereotype that a woman’s value/proper gender role is to appeal to men. He suggests that someone even as talented as Sklyar Diggins has nothing to offer except her body.
It’s also stupid because he, an American citizen, admitted to not knowing where Tulsa, OK is located. He needs a dictionary AND a map.
|4.||“…hahahaha #2016newwnbaoutfitPLS and if u think this is sexist,9 times out of 10 u the ugly one and we didnt pay to come see u play anyway #donkeykong…”||Sexist and Misogynistic||I mean this one has to be obvious…He’s equating intelligence in women with unattractiveness. He is displaying clear disdain for educated women by disparaging them as ugly and apelike. He has resorted to childish name-calling simply because a woman might disagree with him.|
|5.||“…smdh #thiswillbeawesome #soldouteverywhere…”||Sexist||See 2.|
I would very much like to end the analysis here, but unfortunately, Arenas decided to continue his sexist, misogynistic, stupid rant. In an effort to defend his earlier statements, Arenas provided his followers with some “facts” to support his opinion. I guess this was meant to somehow prove that what he was saying wasn’t sexist; it’s just the way the world works. So bear with me as I break down some more of his garbage.*
“Ppl act like I said some s**t thats just down right sexist and rude…..str8 men are attracted to women RIGHT? Men are 80 percent of sportviewers RIGHT? So lets name a few women sports,that still attract the men viewers…#Tennis,omg they were short skirts like female..#trackandfield,short tights and crop tops,so we can see abs “we get a** prints and stomachs,in that sport YAY”#volleyball,short tights and booties hanging out the back off their shorts “F**K wheres my beer” #beachvollyball,fyckn swimsuits,jumping up and down WOW..#arenafootball theres nothing attractive about a women playing #FOOTBALL until they came out with the gear (no they didnt)”girls running each other over with 90 percent of their clothes removed..whos the mastermind behind this #sexist sport he or she needs a f***ing statue..#UFC the manliest sport by far but they seem to attract men viewers by the million OMG it must be the tights and the crop tops and just maybeeeee a fighter gets hit so hard her sports bra falls off hahaha….ALL ABOVE SPORTS seems to understand the concept…..#Basketball has the lowest views by men BECUZ their mimicking MEN #Basketballchicks has some of the best bodies in women sports #Lesbians or #str8 we can give two s***s about what they prefer in the bedroom becuz men prefer #a**andt*****s and last time I checked theres 20 total t*****s and 10 a***s running around but for some odd reason were not getting it..what were getting is #tats #dreads #highsocks #baggyshorts #elbowpads..sounds like MEN attire to me..this sport will continue to be less viewed and under paid compared to other female sports #presidentLAURELRICHIE theres a reason 7 out of the top 10 highest paid women athletes come from tennis #Skirts and #a**…..if the #NBA got rid of the thug imagine for global viewing SHOULDNT you?? I dont care if u dont like the truth becuz MEN DON’T WANNA WATCH WOMEN ACT LIKE MEN..if they came out with an all #gay man sport..I bet they will wear less clothes then the #WNBA and thats a #FACT lol NOW GIVE US WHAT WE WANT and unveil them bodies…SEXINESS RUNS THIS WORLD…if ur selling sex,MEN are buying…ive never seen a man hooker trying to pick up women on the corner.”
|Arenas’ Words||Sexist, Misogynistic, Stupid or Just Wrong||Why It Is What It Is|
|1.||Overall theme: His overall theme here is that he is not sexist or rude because he has proof. His proof lies in the “fact” that in sports where female athletes where tighter fitting, shorter clothes than in basketball, women make more money and men watch more.||Just Wrong and Sexist||He’s just wrong because in the chart above we just broke down how sexist, misogynistic and stupid his statements are.
His statements are sexist because he assumes that the sole reason that men watch female athletes is to see their pretty faces and skin. He clearly hasn’t met the millions of men who support and encourage their daughters to play sports, or the male coaches to work tirelessly to help their female athletes succeed, or even the friends, relatives and genuine fans of female athletes.
|2.||“Ppl act like I said some s**t thats just down right sexist and rude…..str8 men are attracted to women RIGHT? Men are 80 percent of sportviewers RIGHT? So lets name a few women sports,that still attract the men viewers…#Tennis,omg they were short skirts like female..#trackandfield,short tights and crop tops,so we can see abs “we get a** prints and stomachs,in that sport YAY”#volleyball,short tights and booties hanging out the back off their shorts “F**K wheres my beer” #beachvollyball,fyckn swimsuits,jumping up and down WOW..#arenafootball theres nothing attractive about a women playing #FOOTBALL until they came out with the gear (no they didnt)”girls running each other over with 90 percent of their clothes removed..whos the mastermind behind this #sexist sport he or she needs a f***ing statue..#UFC the manliest sport by far but they seem to attract men viewers by the million OMG it must be the tights and the crop tops and just maybeeeee a fighter gets hit so hard her sports bra falls off hahaha….ALL ABOVE SPORTS seems to understand the concept…”||Just Wrong and Sexist||It really irks me when people throw out statistics that are just plain wrong. No data suggests that 80% of sports viewers are men. To the contrary, across the board in major US sports (MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL, NASCAR and MLS) women consistently make up at least 30% (usually much more) of the viewership. These stats don’t even account for viewership in sports like gymnastics, track and field, tennis, women’s soccer, skating and swimming/diving which no doubt have high percentages of female fans. So the idea that sports fan and revenue bases are completely controlled by men, is just plain wrong.
His statements about the choice in attire in sports other than basketball is sexist and wrong. It assumes that women only wear form-fitting clothing to appeal to men (because of course that’s their purpose in life) and men only appreciate women when women wear revealing clothing. His statements are flat out wrong because there are actually practical reasons for the attire choice in all of the sports he mentioned, I know because I played two of them. Athletes who participate in tennis, track & field, volleyball, arena football and mixed martial arts wear form fitting clothing because wearing loose fitting clothing would make playing more difficult. This holds true for the women AND men who play these sports. Baggy shorts, shirts, skirts, etc. would be unduly restricting and cumbersome in each of the sports…THAT is the reason for the clothing choices, not men. His statements are also wrong because he completely ignores the fact that women’s soccer has been and continues to be one of the fastest growing female sports. Those women play their sport in looser fitting, covering clothing and their fan base and respect continue to grow.
As you can see, Arenas’ rant continues on for a number of lines but, as I read it over and over again, I realize that it’s just more of the same sexist, misogynistic, stupid, flat out wrong baloney, and at this point I’m over giving him any more of my energy or space on the blog. But in summation class, Arena’s statements are the epitome of sexist. The world doesn’t need its professional basketball players to show up in thongs and bras to play. It needs men like Arenas to have many seats with duct tape securely fastened around his mouth. The world needs other men to stand up and support female athletes and it needs more and more girls to be empowered to play sports in clothes that are appropriate and comfortable.
It’s so very sad that on the same night that Abby Wambach, a female athlete who has done so much to advance women’s and girls’ sports and who has amassed a following and respect of boys, girls, men and women, retires I have to sit and explain why Gilbert Arenas is wrong. It’s the end of 2015 and rather than celebrate women and female athletes we are still forced to defend them, define them and encourage others to be like them. Let’s hope 2016 brings more open minds.
*It appears that Arenas has removed the latter comments from his Instagram account, but don’t worry…I’ve provided you with what he wrote, word for word.