I never cease to be amazed at the excuses we make for our behavior. For example, in the case of R. Kelly…”yeah the girl was underage and he was a grown ass man but she was asking for it.”
Last week on my blog JasmyneCannick.com, I posted a story about Venus Williams and tennis commentator Roger Rasheed of Australia’s Channel Seven’s remarks about Williams’ rear end during a slow motion replay of her match against China’s Yan Zi,
He told co-commentators Tracy Austin and Nicole Bradtke as Venus’ backside filled the TV screen, “take a look at this now. Make or think as you will, ladies, but for me, that’s a pretty good sight.”
This resulted in a myriad of comments from both females and males justifying the commentator’s statements.
The comments ranged from “she’s got a fantastic a***” to “I’m sure Venus wasn’t offended, she loves her some White men and is engaged to one,” and of course my favorite “all you have to do is look at the White girls who play tennis with no butts and no breasts and look like teen boys to see why a man might find Venus’ rear to be, what did he call it, attractive.”
I’m sorry, did I miss something? Just because a woman has a nice bottom doesn’t mean that in the middle of a tennis match she should be objectified on live television?
First of all, it’s a tennis match where the majority of the women that compete wear short form fitting clothing. Hello? Venus and her sister Serena certainly are not the exception, they just wear it better. And just because they were blessed to be born Black doesn’t mean that they should have their butts viewed in slow motion and commented on every time they take to the court for a match. You and I both know that nobody is zooming in on Maria Sharapova’s rear end.
Now to bring it home, because all politics are local.
Let me tell you why I don’t like to walk in certain parts of Los Angeles on the street and it has nothing to do with the crime. It has to do with fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, and yes—grandfathers driving by honking and hollering some obscenity out of their car window at me about my butt and what they’d like to do with said butt. Some of the perverts are even bold enough to pull over. Mind you, I’m not dressed like a prostitute. It could just be jeans and shirt. It doesn’t matter because they see a big butt and like White on rice are immediately drawn to it. It happens every single day in the hood to some Black woman. And granted, there are some females that want it and are working for it, but most of us aren’t and don’t appreciate it.
The disrespect of women has been going on for so long that we have learned to accept it as the norm and then attempt to rationalize it.
True story. When we did the R. Kelly protest, I arrived a bit early. I parked my car and walked to the intersection of Prarie and Manchester and stood in front of the Coliseum to wait for the others to arrive. It wasn’t even five minutes before a car drove by with some tired a** brotha in it honking talking about “hey baby.” This went on for about ten minutes before I walked back to my car. I couldn’t handle it. It made me extremely nervous to be out there and to have to deal with all of that. I remember talking to a girlfriend of mine on the phone while I was walking back to the car because I was so nervous.
Now brothas will cop an attitude if you do that to their moms or sister, but when it comes to women that are of no relation to them, suddenly it’s cool. But we’re someone’s sister, daughter, or mother too. Where’s our respect? I was just waiting on the corner for my folks to come so are you going to tell me that I was asking for it too? I wore my jeans to tight so I should expect it. You can miss me with that.
This issue of respect for women is larger than the commentator’s remarks about Venus’ buttocks. It’s about our daily interactions and the lack of respect showed towards women and then us women attempting to make excuses for the behavior.
Plainly put, it’s degrading and disgusting and in some ways can be debilitating for the sistas out there on the bus that have to put up with it every day, as if we don’t already have enough issues to deal with.
So before you make excuses to try to rationalize why it’s ok for sports commentators to make remarks about the butts of Black women on international television, stop for a moment and put yourself in her shoes. I don’t recall Venus ever saying that she liked it or that she wanted it. Would you use the same rational regarding a female rape victim? Would you say that she asked for it because she wore a short tight dress? I don’t think so.
No one is arguing whether or not Venus’ rear end is beautiful, the answer to that is obvious, but just because someone finds it beautiful doesn’t give them the right to say whatever is on their minds about it and especially not on live television. It was wrong and foul and just exemplifies the constant disrespect and objectification that Black women in particular face on an everyday basis from men, all over the globe.
Jasmyne Cannick n is a social commentator and activist who is known for addressing the issues others can’t or simply won’t. Chosen as one of ESSENCE Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World, at 29, Jasmyne is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and writes a popular daily blog at jasmynecannick.com and myspace.com/jasmynecannick. She resides in Los Angeles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.