Reactions to NBA player’s wife reflects the problems of women in sport

Even if you don’t watch NBA basketball, like myself, you most likely have been aware of the Twitter firestorm that resulted from Ayesha Curry’s comments last week.

Curry is the wife of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who saw backlash when she took issue with the officiating in NBA Finals games. Stating that she didn’t like what she saw apparently made her the embodiment of evil, in the eyes of some sports fans. The insults that were then hurled at Curry are misogynistic, one writer astutely observes:

This isn’t just about Ayesha, though. Overt and subtle sexism exists from Twitter to SBNation to ESPN, and drives women to the margins of sports. The ideas that women need to be subservient to men, that women are seen but not heard, and that women are weak, all lead into a narrative that women aren’t welcome in NBA culture. Men in sports have been conditioned to distrust women’s voices to protect their masculinity. Men are more worried about being shown up by a woman than hearing what women have to say. This results in mansplaining, exclusion, and invisibility.

Ayesha is not infallible, and that’s okay. But because NBA fandom mistakenly thought she fit some invented “ideal”, she’s become the target of misogyny and harassment on Twitter (never look at her mentions). For women, mistakes are blown out of proportion, and the margin for error is that much tougher. Misogynistic men thought Ayesha Curry was that “perfect”, loyal girl that wouldn’t friendzone them and would stay in line, and they’re angry now that Ayesha has shown she’s just like any woman. There’s no easy solution to misogyny. The first step is clear, though: men have to start listening to women as individuals, rather than viewing them as accessories or embodiments of who men want them to be.

Wow. So many incredibly accurate points.

1. “Overt and subtle sexism exists from Twitter to SBNation to ESPN, and drives women to the margins of sports.”

Over the weekend I was tweeting a stranger, and he disagreed with me. He must have looked at my profile because he suddenly started to diss women’s basketball. That’s just like race or gay baiting/taunting.

The Sparks have broken the WNBA record for best season start, and the LA Times has written one story on them so far this season. Margins, indeed.

2. “Men in sports have been conditioned to distrust women’s voices to protect their masculinity. Men are more worried about being shown up by a woman than hearing what women have to say. This results in mansplaining, exclusion, and invisibility.”

Profound observation for a young man. He could teach many older men some things.

Women need to speak up more, and continue to push the envelope. Too often, they back down for fear of being disliked or disenfranchised. But if women stuck together, that wouldn’t matter (because it doesn’t).

3. “For women, mistakes are blown out of proportion, and the margin for error is that much tougher.”

Of course. NBA players can brawl on court, brawl in a bar in a city they’re playing in, break a hand fighting on their own time, and feel no repercussions. WNBA players don’t smile enough and they’ve got a bad attitude.

Racial/ethnic minorities, women and LGBT folks have to work three times as hard to be considered just as good. The #@$% is old.

4. “There’s no easy solution to misogyny. The first step is clear, though: men have to start listening to women as individuals, rather than viewing them as accessories or embodiments of who men want them to be.”

Heck yes.

And women have to stop allowing others to treat them as accessories.

If you like the WNBA, be about the WNBA. Who cares how many “likes” it gets, or who else loves or doesn’t watch the league. Social media has made many people even more dependent upon the approval of others than they already were. The weakening of personality that has resulted is something everyone needs to step away from.

Sexism is so powerful that it affects not only female athletes, but the wives of male athletes.

Don’t just sit there: fight back.

LEAVE A REPLY