In response to my essay Serena Williams’ Comments Hurt Me But Don’t Surprise Me; And That Hurts Even More, sharipep left a comment that I believe is important to address.
This doesn’t surprise me at ALL. While I thoroughly enjoy watching her play and have the utmost respect for her brilliance as a tennis player, I have NEVER been a Serena Williams fan. She has a terrible reputation for being a very nasty, arrogant, self-absorbed human being and has proven this fact not just with these statements here, but with her often childish temper tantrums on the court.
Like Maya Angelou says - when people show you who they are, believe them.
Let’s be very clear about something here. A person’s personality has NOTHING to do with whether or not they proliferate rape culture. Remember, it is endemic to our society. Even if Serena is “arrogant” on the court (as ALL of the major players seem to be, especially the men, which is deemed okay in their cases since they are White and male) or not, it has nothing to do with this issue. Many people who are deemed “kind” and “thoughtful”—people in our families, people who attend churches and social groups with others, people who teach children, even people who work in non-profit and social services—still proliferate rape culture. The fact that the Rolling Stone piece juxtaposed her saying something mean about Sharapova to the Steubenville victim blaming, actually making them seem like “equal” “mean” things to say is ALSO rape culture. Her having court swag and confidence in her game and even trash talking fellow players IS NOT EQUAL TO victim blaming. The latter is more severe and more serious.
This is not about Serena’s court ego (and I am always suspicious of claims of Black celebrities being “egotistical” when White celebrities are never labeled as such). Rape culture is proliferated by people perceived as “humble” and “kind” as well. Personality review is not the issue here. We need to tackle the problem of rape culture in every manifestation and by every person who proliferates it, and I promise those people aren’t all “meanies.” And therein lies the danger.