What happens when a woman speaks about her experiences?
“It’s just because she was losing”
“She was looking for a way out”
“She ruined it for Osaka”
Now I don’t know much about tennis, but what I do know is that the word of a solo woman, whether she is a survivor of assault or the queen that is Serena Williams, is just a bit ‘meh’.
It is questioned. It is second guessed. It is asked for a second opinion. ‘Did it really happen like that..?’ ‘Are you sure?’.
If Serena Williams says that the way she was treated by the umpire in that game was a double standard, I’m going to damn well believe her. Dealing with a double standard due to both her race and her gender is her lived experience. It is her life. She has faced it consistently since the day she was born.
How am I to understand what she goes through? How she feels? How that game actually went? How do I have any idea what it feels like to be labelled as an aggressive, hysterical drama queen while a man showing the exact same behaviour is labelled passionate? What it feels like to be told off for turning my top around on the court when male tennis players routinely take their shirts off?
I have no idea. And neither do the thousands of people who have weighed in on this tennis game online (myself included). But at least I can admit that I have no idea, instead of pretending that I am the expert of tennis sexism.
Why can’t we just BELIEVE HER. Believe the women who tell you about the discrimination they have experienced. Believe the hundreds of women that have come forward with allegations against men in power. JUST BELIEVE US.
A huge reason why this lack of trust exists is the myth that women ‘make up’ stories to benefit themselves. That they just want the attention, or that they feel guilty about what they have done so they blame it on someone else. They cry wolf.
Time and time again I hear people repeat this myth. ‘Oh how can we know for sure’ ‘Yea but she did do that, so you never know’.
This myth needs to die
This myth is the reason why whenever a woman claims a double standard or that something was racist or sexist, she is second guessed. Why less than 5% of rapists are convicted. Why people can’t just accept that Serena Williams has dealt with sexist and racist bullshit her entire life. Why when she says that the umpire was treating her unfairly, people don’t believe her.
If we can’t even believe Serena Williams on this seemingly ‘low level’ sexism and racism, how on earth are we going to believe an unknown woman coming forward with a sexual assault allegation?
Do you know what she said to Naomi Osaka after she won? “She said that she was proud of me and that I should know the crowd wasn’t booing at me.” That is a kick ass woman right there. Bringing up Naomi, another woman of colour who has faced the same shit that she has, supporting her and telling her that it is not her fault. That is what we need more of.