As I’ve said, there are always exceptions to the general rules. In a very embarassing case, tennis star Serena Williams shows that female athletes can be indiscreet sluts too.
I linked to the photo mainly because I don’t personally have any problem with nudity. We’re all born naked, and I think the world would be a better place if we all could walk around nude. I’m aware however, that outside a nudist context, this is a bad idea and perceived as advertisement of sexual availability, when not in an artistic or incidental anthropological context.
So, when I read that Serena Williams did a nude, I was hoping and a little expecting something more…free. I was hoping for something that looked more natural that perhaps highlighted her very well cared for physique. What greeted my eyes instead was a pinup. My first thought was, “Oh…well…Is she trying to be the female Dennis Rodman or something?”
Pinup is a context for theater and music entertainers. That’s how they make their living. An athlete may be as sexually free as they like, but there are lines one’s public face shouldn’t really cross. When they do, it’s like taking a step down.
I wonder what Serena Williams is trying to say with her step down from tennis powerhouse to run of the mill attention hoe. Is she saying that this is all she ever was…a hoe who just happened to be a talented tennis player? Is she saying perhaps that despite being an extremely talented tennis star, people around her make her feel like just an everyday hoe?
I thought, for a moment, about how Americans have a tendency to reduce everyone’s worth to their looks or income. Everybody, especially every Black woman from Michelle Obama down to a McDonald’s cashier, regardless of her character, is ripped to shreds even though her looks beyond grooming are irrelevant to her contribution to society. The best wife and mother in the world is called things like “hideous” or “sexually worthless” by the peanut gallery. The peanut gallery in the U.S. can be pretty sanctimonious and pushy about it.
I think about my own experiences with this: stupid things I did in response to being treated this way. There are decisions I made because despite the reality, I legitimately believed that Americans had some kind of cultural retardation…that whatever powers that be in the media had successfully twisted American men to the point that they couldn’t see beauty, just conformity to the media template.
I did find out at some point that little other than testicular removal can accomplish this. That was around the age of 17. What if someone didn’t figure it out?
So when I look at the Serena Williams nude, I see a woman who’s trying to show us that she’s beautiful. Thing is, we knew that already. Even the shrill, culturally retarded idiots talking their trash know she’s beautiful. That’s one reason they talk so much trash.
However, there’s no excuse for giving in to the peanut gallery in such a public way. What’s done is done though. Now, as a Black woman, I have to figure out how I’m going to handle the consequences.
In her insulated, secure, celebrity life, she doesn’t have to worry about what her looking like a slut before the world is going to do to regular Black women like me, for whom she becomes the excuse for men to treat us like sluts on the street. She’s not going to get the catcalls, the groping, or the being viewed suspiciously by other men’s wives just for being polite.
She works out her body image issues in front of a camera, and I and women in my socioeconomic class pay the price. I can’t even get up a sarcastic, “Thanks alot,” for this one. All I can do is ask why.
Why Serena? Why???