My faith in humanity’s intelligence took a huge beating on Saturday. While a very senior journalist (sports commentator), incidentally male, from the holy cow BBC decided it was pertinent to note that the new Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli was not a “looker” (read a hot woman capable of eliciting extreme lust among spectators); many twitteratis also decided she was far too “ugly” to be the new face of the grand slam. But of course!
The question here is not of sexism. The comments, some silly and others downright disgusting and puke-inducing, were, beyond doubts, sexist. The question really is about intelligence. How, in the name of God, is a tennis players’ oomph factor important? How?
She may have got the same prize money as Andy Murray (equality, you see!), but, man, did she pay for it! She was called all kinds of names on social media, including, a whore. One tweeter said she was so ugly that she would not even be raped! Another felt that because she does not look like the factory-produced tall, thin, blonde models (the epitome of beauty in the diversity-starved minds) she was a bloke (man). How else could this short(er), fatter, brunette beat Sabine Lisicki, who is, indeed, tall, slim and, yes, blonde? Bartoli should have remembered that cardinal rule: don’t look like a model, can’t win Wimbledon!
But, now, here is the clincher. The apology from BBC presenter John Inverdale, who commented on her looks and surmised that Bartoli’s father must have reminded her about the fact that she doesn’t look like the stunning Maria Sharapova and, hence, must fight it out. (Oh! You think if you don’t look as good you still have the capability to win a grand slam? Huh? Huh?).
You see, there are some people in this world who just can’t see the truth that is so evident to others like Inverdale. So, they criticise and raise a hue and cry and visionaries are then forced to apologise!
So, while saying how insensitive he was, Inverdale also, very sensitively, added, “She is an incredible role model for people who aren’t born with all the attributes of natural athletes.”
Now, now. Don’t ask silly questions! I think we all know what these “attributes of natural athletes” are. And, no, these attributes do not include the ability to win one of the biggest, toughest sporting events in the world.
(A version of this article first appeared in The Hindu Business Line. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blogs/blog-aeshadatta/grand-slam-on-inverdale/article4898308.ece)