Simon Williamson

Grunt to your heart's content

2014-06-09 08:11

"These 'lady' tennis players, that grunt and shriek after every shot, should be banned from the beautiful game," said a Facebook post I read this week.
Of course, at the recently completed French Open, we had the four times yearly argument about the noise some women make while striking the tennis ball. A large portion of the public (it is not exclusively men, by any means) don't enjoy the sounds said women make, and feel the need to complain about it, usually because they know most of their friends will agree with them. Bashing even marginally masculine women is an easy task.
Even when those women are in peak physical condition, at the tops of their game and are beating the living hell out of a tennis ball for a million or so dollars, some people would prefer their sports stars to remain tall, thin, quiet and European. You know, "ladylike".
A 'ladies' issue

Men, of course, can grunt, as anyone with working ears who watched the men's French Open final on Sunday morning will attest. In fact Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are two very loud contributors. Judging by the dearth of complaints about their top-range quotient of decibels, I think it is fair to assume this issue is limited to "ladies", as the aforementioned quote attests.
"Ladies", in this instance, is a broad term for the set of criteria under which women are supposed to function. In fact this entire discussion is about how women are supposed to behave, especially while on television, which people can seemingly not turn off, nor adjust, nor switch over to the menfolk whose job is evidently to make a noise when they do precisely the same thing.
Women who are not, at any point in time, graceful - such as those sweaty ones who are trying to hit a moving thing as hard as they possibly can, while having breath move through their vocal cords - are offensive to the sensibilities of a fair portion of the tennis-watching public. And it is why people often allude to physically strong women as being gay - they simply cannot be PROPER women, right?
Condescending vibes

The same goes with the condescending vibes you'll get when a woman loses her temper, or is drunk, or does something that isn't gentle or classy or thin, like HIT AN EFFING TENNIS BALL, which she is doing with the utmost effort because, like a man, she has a job. A physical job. On which she spends a tonne of effort. And in the process, grunts.
A post on the Jezebel website summed the situation up beautifully: "Sometimes, when a tennis player (male or female) hits the ball with the [tennis racquet], they grunt with exertion-just like you, when you lift a heavy box of video game cartridges or sit down too hard in the recliner. Oof! Gross!!! The difference is, though, that these tennis-grunters are professional athletes who are the best in the world at hitting-tiny-balls-really-fast-with-a-thingy, and their priority, weirdly, is not your boner."
Assuming you are able to change the volume or channel on your television, that might just be an easier option than trying to make every woman on television behave like you wish them to.

- Simon Williamson is a freelance writer. Follow @simonwillo on Twitter.

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