To: Jamie Feldman, Huffington Post
re: ¿Thank you for your contribution?
It is hard to know where to begin, so let me please start with a question: Are you joking?
No, really, are you pitching for a Christmas card from MRAs?
All hail Serena Williams, Sports Illustrated’s first female “Sportsperson of the Year” since 1983 and the sexiest woman alive―if her latest red carpet look is any indication, that is.
No, really. Please tell me this is a joke.
Why are you taking part in gendertyping? Why are you reinforcing stereotypes about women’s apperances?
Catherine Pearson, last week recalling some of the year’s more spectacular moments of sexism, included media treatment of Serena Williams:
Serena Williams is an indisputably fearsome competitor, but in 2015 the media focused on her body almost as much as her world class skills. Perhaps the most glaring example was a New York Times article that explored how in the world tennis’ top women are able to balance body image ambition, talking about Williams’ “large biceps” and how competitors choose not to “emulate her physique.” Huh?
And Pearson, again, this week, recounting some of the highlights about high-profile women responding to sexism.
The tennis star’s flawless response to a male reporter’s question about why she wasn’t smiling after a U.S. Open win was totally honest and totally spot-on.
“To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t want to be here,” she said. “I just want to be in bed right now and I have to wake up early to practice. And I don’t want to answer any of these questions, and you guys keep asking me the same questions.”
Let us take a moment, please, to look over to Salon, where Brittney Cooper brought us some news about Serena Williams:
This week, Serena Williams bested a horse to be crowned Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsperson of the Year.” Because American Pharaoh, the horse, became the first Triple Crown in 37 years, readers in an online poll at SI chose the horse for the honor over Williams. The LA Times then tweeted a picture of Williams and Pharaoh in a split shot with the question, “Who’s the real sportsperson of 2015?”
The initial LA Times online coverage of the decision to honor Williams ran with the question, “Are fans right to be upset that Serena Williams beat American Pharaoh for Sportsperson of the year?” Is this really the question? A better question is: Are Black people right to be upset about the continued, blatant, unmitigated racism of the American public? This piece also made sure to mention that SI chose to honor Williams “for reasons that hang in the grayer, less comfortable ether, where issues such as race and femininity collide at the games.” In the very next paragraph, Chuck Schilken argues that American Pharaoh has been “put at a great disadvantage,” because unlike Williams who showed a spirit of sportsmanship by returning to Indian Wells in 2015 after being the subject of racial slurs there in 2001, “horses can’t really display sportsmanship.”
Forgive me for this, but: What kind of bullshit is this?
And then there is Jamie Feldman of Huffington Post, sexually objectifying Serena Williams … mere hours later.
And it’s not just the timing, though in truth it couldn’t have been worse. It’s the fact that sexually objectifying women is what Huffington Post calls style. Honestly, can you explain to me, for instance, why anyone should care if Kate Middleton is an “outfit repeater”? And can that explanation be fashioned without relying on fashion and style as a sterotypical trait of women’s lives and concerns?
In the end, all these objectifying articles accomplish is the reinforcement of insane expectations regarding a woman’s appearance. Does she smile enough? Is a professional athlete too unladylike? Is she (gasp!) an “outfit repeater”?
My daughter just turned thirteen. I tend to believe American society has achieved some progress at the intersection of women and human rights. But articles like we’re seeing out of HuffPo’s style department only reinforce the misogyny that haunts every day of my daughter’s life.
So, you know, please. Stop it. Stop doing this. Stop reinforcing sexism for the sake of some clicks.
Because it’s also true: Your contribution to misogyny is not appreciated.
Image note: Damn ― A real headline from Jamie Feldman of Huffington Post, 16 December 2015.
Cooper, Brittney. “The truth about Serena & American Pharaoh: Here’s the real reason why the comparison is so insulting”. Salon. 16 December 2015.
Feldman, Jamie. “Serena Williams’ Sheer Dress Is A Grand Slam”. The Huffington Post. 16 December 2015.
Pearson, Catherine. “15 Times Famous Women Shut Down Sexist Bullsh*t In 2015”. The Huffington Post. 14 December 2015.
—————. “24 Times Sexism Was Very, Very Real In 2015”. The Huffington Post. 9 December 2015.