This is all regarding a discussion that took place on ESPN W, a network (supposedly) devoted to women, women athletes and women’s sports. (Link here) Watch the video, and if you were as offended as I was by the commentary, please read on and share your own thoughts.
I am not of the opinion that every woman should support every other woman on everything all of the time. There’s a difference between supporting other women and being a monodynamic group that blindly says “yay” to everything another woman does, ever. But this round table discussion got my blood boiling because of the utter disregard for the opposing point of view, and for the character of another woman and her right to speak.
I found it utterly offensive when Shelley Smith said, and I quote, “I think she is polarizing. I just want her to be quiet.”
NO. We cannot afford for women to sit back and be quiet, we’ve done that for centuries. We are just now coming into the point in our history where we are starting to be able to speak our minds, to speak what we feel is true, to make our own statements, without fear of retaliation. Even now that isn’t certain in or out of the United States, but we cannot move backwards. We cannot move back behind the curtain of niceties, pleasantries, and of expectations. We’re finally starting to throw that weight off of ourselves, and to have a woman tell another woman that she should go sit down and shut up is indefensible.
We need people to be polarizing. Without polarity, we do not progress. If everything remains at the status quo, there is no incentive to change.
Nobody talks about this stuff. We’re just starting to create a culture where it’s okay to say, “yeah, I grew up in this family, with an addict, an abuser, and it affects me.” That it happened and is a part of a person’s life from that point forward. It can affect everthing. (Take it from somebody who knows.) Nobody talks about the critics who they’ve felt have gone a step too far. Nobody talks about the decision of their coach, or their boss, or their parent that they thought was the worst thing they could have done. Hope described the reaction of her teammates to her tweets defending another teammate; they cheered. They cheered because it’s what everyone was feeling, and what she decided to say out loud. She alone is reaping the consequence for something so many of us were thinking.
I debated writing this response, because my need to defend (which I feel like I’m doing with this post) is in direct conflict with Hope, who I could guess wouldn’t want to be defended or feel the need to be, as she seems to be really good at dealing with critics. (Then again, then I’m making assumptions, which she has also explicitly pointed out people should not make in regards to her life, so here I am, rock/ hard place. I chose to speak.) Instead I put this out there as an offering to say “Hope, you’re not alone,” or to a fan who reacted similarly like I did, you’re not alone either. Knowing that other people think and feel like you can be a very different kind of comfort that feels good whether you feel like you need “defense” or not.
I will be contacting ESPN W, by tweet if that’s the only method I can find, and expressing my displeasure with the one sided conversation that took place. At the very least, they could have balanced out the conversation on the other side. I would encourage others, if you feel similarly, to join me. Feel free to direct people back to me if you’d like.
And as always, feel free to disagree. I welcome differing opinions.