Amy Roberts: Women cause a racket for respect
There’s an old urban legend that claims death happens in threes. If that’s true, then it seems fair to assume societal expectations women be ‘lady like’ in their disapproval, or politely defer to the whims of male opinion, are (hopefully) on their death beds. Three times last week three prominent women stood up to say they’ve had enough. In doing so, they not so subtly pulled the plug on the submission that is all too often expected.
It started last Monday when Monica Lewinsky ended a live interview after being asked an off-limits question about Bill Clinton. “I’m so sorry, I’m not going to be able to do this,” she said before walking off the stage.
On Twitter Ms. Lewinsky announced she “left because it is more important than ever for women to stand up for themselves and not allow others to control their narrative.”
Ironically, this was immediately followed by others attempting to control her narrative.
Headlines stated she “stormed off stage” and one news outlet reported an “enraged Lewinsky” cut the interview short. A now-viral video of the moment proves otherwise. Ms. Lewinsky was apologetic and poised, while standing firm in her conviction. There was no storming, just a polite confirmation the parameters she set for the interview were not merely suggestions. Her actions were a powerful reminder that women should not be expected to be compliant when their stated boundaries are ignored. Good for her.
Just two days later during Senate confirmation hearings, California Sen. Kamala Harris asked Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, “Can you think of any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?”
The question wasn’t asked out of curiosity. It was asked to make a clear point about the hypocrisy of women’s bodies being regulated by mostly male lawmakers. Mr. Kavanaugh admits to being a devout Catholic and has offered commentary that lead many to believe he will act to overturn Roe v. Wade. The judge stammered through his answer before ultimately admitting he couldn’t think of any laws that give the government control over a man’s body. Because of course, there are none. Fun fact — in this country we regulate a women’s uterus more than we regulate guns.
Then over the weekend, a third woman dared to demand respect and equal treatment. It happened at the U.S. Open when tennis star Serena Williams was handed several code violations for expressing her frustration in a far less berating way than many men in her sport have been known to do.
Williams got a point penalty for smashing her racket, and later a game penalty after she confronted the chair umpire and called him a thief for taking a point from her. The tournament referee considered this verbal abuse and punished her.
While one can debate the sportsmanship of her conduct, it is not debatable that male tennis stars — Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, and Andy Roddick to name a few — have famously behaved far worse without being penalized for it. In fact, they have been rewarded with commercial deals showcasing their well-known verbal assaults and smashed rackets.
At a press conference following the match, Serena told reporters, “He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief.’ For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”
While I applaud each of these women for taking a stand — for themselves and for women everywhere — you have to wonder, why are requests for equality and demands for respect newsworthy to begin with?
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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