Nike has come out with another controversial and inane commercial. And its message is terrible for female athletes.
The entire message of the commercial paints female athletes as fighting against being called “dramatic”, “nuts”, “delusional”, “unhinged”, “hysterical” and “crazy”. Who is saying these things about female athletes? Well, the commercial does not tell you that. There is just Serena Williams telling us that’s what people say about women athletes. And what Serena Williams tells us is a lie.
The whole commercial is here, but we will go through it, line by, self-aggrandizing, line.
The commercial is read by Serena Williams, one of the biggest names in sports, not just women’s sports and not just American sports. Serena Williams is one of the wealthiest and most famous athletes in the world.
At the end of 2018 she was worth $27 million. Just as a quick reminder, she had a baby in 2017 and made it to only 1 Major Final. $27 million was a huge dip from her 2016 earnings. She makes $19 million from endorsements alone.
But we will come back to Williams at the end of the commercial. Rather, let’s take each point she makes on its own.
“If we show emotion” it says women are called “dramatic”.
Unlike this commercial that isn’t dramatic at all.
“If we want to compete against men” it says they are “nuts”.
If you believe the reason people discourage women from competing against men is because of male chauvinism you have no idea what you’re talking about. None, whatsoever.
Women should not compete with men because women are not as good of athletes as men. If you are confused, I lay this out very simply here. Having women compete with men is a disadvantage to women. If it was decided to get rid of men and women’s sports and only had a single professional basketball league or a single collegiate basketball team only men would compete. Women could not make the team. Women’s athletics, separating a men’s and women’s division, is advantageous to women not men.
The people who are “nuts” are the ones trying to make the argument that women and men are exactly the same and can compete together on an equal playing field. Again, if your confused read here.
“If we dream of equal opportunity” it says women are “delusional”
This is said by Serena Williams who earns as much for winning a Major as any men, though she plays best 2 sets out of 3 where men play best 3 sets out of 5. Over the course of a 2-week tournament it is multiple hours that separate how much more tennis the male Champion has to play versus the female Champion. There is inequality when it comes to men’s and women’s pay in tennis.
But seriously, women have never had more equal opportunity than now. In athletics most of all! Athletics and sports are dominated by men, not because men don’t allow women to compete but because most women are not interested.
As a female athlete in high school who earned a Division I scholarship I was shocked to watch other female athletes turn down the opportunity to compete in college. Why did they do it? They just did not want to keep playing their sport.
There are collegiate scholarships that are nearly given away in some sports on the women’s side that are desperately desired in others. Golf is an especially notorious sport of this. There are Division I women’s golf programs the scrape and search to find those with the skills and the desire to play collegiate golf. Whereas with men’s golf there are never enough scholarships to go around, leaving many great high school golfers to find their way outside the country.
The delusion of this commercial is not “dreaming of equal opportunity” it is that of grasping for the unfairness of the 1960s when your living in the cornucopia of female opportunity of the 2020s.
“Unhinged” is what the commercial says we think of those women who “stand for something”.
Talk about over-dramatic.
Seriously, women lead in all aspects of American life. They are on the front lines of literally ever “stand for something”. Whether it’s climate change, the pro-life movement, gun control or 2nd Amendment advocates every single one of the movements has women in leadership positions or as vocal proponents of them.
The last time I saw someone calling a woman unhinged for standing for something it was CNN hosting a town hall and they were calling Dana Loesch unhinged.
Was Dana Loesch called “unhinged” because she was a woman or because of her opinions on guns?
No one is telling women they can’t stand for something. Nike needs to stop making up issues to sell leggings.
“Hysterical” “Irrational” and “Crazy” are what women are called when they “get angry”.
I’ve never heard them called that, but I have heard female athletes called bad sports. Because guess what, that IS what it is called when you lose control on the field. Serena Williams is a poster child of poor sportsmanship when she begins to lose, I talked about it extensively here. And other female athletes have said similar things about her bad sportsmanship.
Bad sportsmanship is never ok, female or male. Don’t conflate sexism with common decency. Don’t tell people that “getting angry” is fine because you are a female. Don’t make a standard that anyone who criticize bad sportsmanship is doing it because of your sex and not the content of your character.
There is then a giant mash-up of amazing feats women have accomplished from running a marathon to dunking a basketball to coaching in the NBA. This is by far the best part of the commercial. It is inspiring to look at the physical feats’ women have accomplished.
Women’s athletics is in a Golden Age. There are no records out of reach on the women’s side of sport. There has never been such success and such societal approval of women athletes.
Yet during it we hear Serena Williams chanting “crazy” as though there is anyone in the world who doesn’t want to see women succeed in sports.
That is not the world we live in. It’s a delusional world created to sell tennis shoes. There is no one of any legitimacy (and no, random people on Twitter are not legitimate) who are saying women succeeding in sports are crazy and it should be discouraged.
Lying about it does not make women’s sports better. Lying is lying.
Finally, it ends with Serena Williams speaking about how “crazy” she is for winning 23 Grand Slams, having a baby and then coming back for more.
Yes, her winning 23 Grand Slams is crazy. Crazy in the sense only one other woman has ever won that many.
The media, ESPN and the Tennis Channel especially, have over hyped her having a baby and coming back. The truth is, shocker, women having babies and coming back and competing literally since the beginning of professional tennis. We write about Margaret Court doing it here.
But no one said she was crazy in they were hoping she would fail. I have heard no one of legitimacy say they wanted her to fail. None.
So why is the commercial so bad for women’s athletics. Because it is based on a lie.
The lie that America as a culture is not supportive of women’s athletics. Serena Williams is proof that this is a lie. She is one of the richest human beings on the plant because of her athletic feats. But she is perpetuating a lie to make herself out as a victim.
The whole commercial has the undertones of sexism. The sexism that throughout the country are men trying to destroy women’s athletics. This is a lie.
It makes claims that are just false. Claims that women athletes are denied equal opportunity, that they cannot compete against men, and that they are punished for standing for their beliefs. Lie. Lie. Lie.
The commercial insinuates that anything that goes wrong for you is based on whispered sexism and not your own actions.
Or, as a naturally optimistic person one could read the whole commercial differently.
It could be read that Serena is creating a non-existent foe.
This of course is a common athletic tactic. Any great athlete will have someone they are “trying to prove wrong” or some opponent who did not show enough respect and it motivated them in the worst moments of training or the darkest moments of competition.
If NIKE is doing this, they forgot to tell their audience the foe is in their head not in their fellowman.