Monday, June 22, 2009

Girls, Grunts and Ground Strokes OR Ladies, Loud Noises and Lobs (Take Your Pick)

An article in the Boston Globe yesterday discussed the possibility that the ever so proper tennis establishment is contemplating a new rule banning grunting among the women players. Not among the men mind you, just the women. It would be called a “noise hindrance.” I think it should be called a “violation of the lady code.” Why? Apparently, it is ok for men to grunt when they hit the ball, but for the ladies? No, dear God, no.

And there is the additional issue of the gendered way these “noise hindrances” are discussed. The women’s noises are described as “shrieks,” “squeals,” and “screams.” I’d love to hear someone describe Raphael Nadal’s noise as a “shriek.” It just isn’t manly, you know?

I do get the point that these noises, by men and women, could be distracting for opponents. If I close my eyes while watching Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams play a match, I could mistake it for a remake of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre. However, it is equally disconcerting to hear the men grunting like they seriously need a dose of Dulcolax.

Could you imagine any other sport, other than golf, instituting a rule where competitors can be penalized for making too much noise (I’m sure there are others, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head).

I think the whole thing is silly. Let them all grunt, squeal, snort, scream, snuffle or fart (ok, maybe I take that back). Or stop everyone from making loud noises regardless of their gender. To make a rule that applies only to the women players can only be construed as sexism. And that don’t play with me.

For more on this topic check out One Sport Voice and After Atalanta.


Phern said...

Pat, I am a big tennis fan and player, and I couldn't agree with you more. People are always commenting on women grunting..I guess it started with Monica Seles. Ever since then, I actually go out of my way to grunt when I actually helps!

Yesterday I saw you in Training Rules at Frameline 33 in SF. That film was so fantastic...and moving. I'm 60 years old, so I have seen so much of the homophobia problem with women's sports...and lived it, but watching Rene Portland ruin those girls' lives was a tragedy to behold. I don't think I'll ever get over it. Thanks for doing all the consciousness-raising that you have...especially at Penn State.
Phern Hunt

Pat Griffin said...

Phern, thanks for writing, I really love to hear from people. I agree that TR is an amazing documentary. I was really disappointed when Kathy and I could not go to SF for the showing there. I think one of the best things for me about the film is the healing it has provided for the courageous women from Penn State basketball who speak up in it. I think it has been a great experience for all of them.