The persisting culture of sexism towards the WNBA

MANILA, Philippines - In case you missed it, the Minnesota Lynx clinched the WNBA championship after downing the Los Angeles Sparks, 85-76, in a winner-take-all Game 5 on Wednesday, October 4 (Thursday Manila time).

The game was neck-and-neck until the final 30 seconds when the Lynx’s Maya Moore drained a running floater to seal the deal for Minnesota. Moore had 18 points and 10 rebounds while eventual Finals MVP Sylvia Fowles had 17 points and 20 big boards.

If these paragraphs were posted on a SportsCenter comment thread, however, chances are people have stopped reading after “In case you missed it” and would scramble to type in “Of course we did.”

Sounds incredibly sexist, doesn’t it? Well, that’s just the beginning of it.

Moments after the Lynx secured their league-leading 4th championship, media outlets naturally put up their congratulatory posts on social media. However, instead of people commenting praises for the momentous occasion, Facebook soon became a hotbed for machismo-driven witticism.

Take ESPN for example. In their congratulatory post, the top comment as of this posting is “Wow all 5 fans celebrated this monumental victory with the team” – with more than 300 likes. This is followed up soon after by comments like “When did the season start?” and “Now that the WNBA season is over, dishes can be cleaned more often, and dinner will be made on schedule. Get back to it ladies.”

This is not an isolated incident, too. A quick look in other top pages like SportsCenter and Bleacher Report will reveal the same unapologetic and condoned ignorance. See for yourself:

 

Even the NBA page itself was not spared from jokes like, “Is that Dwight Howard in drag?”

One would think that in 2017, citizens of the Land of the Free have moved on from such insensitivity, even among pages with a male-centric demographic – or at least see some form of dissent in the form of “angry” reactions. But no, these kinds of comments are liked by thousands as voices of protest are drowned in more egotistical jokes. 

This kind of unhampered sexism is part of the reason why women’s sports in general have a hard time breaking barriers. Those who comment “The Mayo Clinic Verizons won their 4th title” are part of the reason why teams have allowed sponsors to take over their jersey designs. If your sole purpose to a majority of the public is to be the butt of jokes, then you are left with no choice but to rely heavily on sponsorships to stay alive.

Women’s sports have continued to fight and will continue to do so, but they need the public’s support, not their judgment. Brittney Griner, a former WNBA champion, 4x All-Star, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, scoring champion and 5x blocks leader is an African-American gay woman. Just take a minute to internalize how many levels of discrimination she had and is continuing to go through. Despite all the barriers society has placed in her way, she has persevered and succeeded. However, not everyone has the tenacity of a Brittney Griner. Who knows how many other dreams have been crushed because of oppression that they never deserved and could have easily been avoided. 

If you can’t make time to watch, at least make time to realize why dissing them is not the way to go. It shouldn’t be that hard.

Pat Summitt didn’t die for this, people. Look her up. If you have time for comments, you have time for research. – Rappler.com