Thursday, December 27, 2012

Navratilova, King, being feminine and "smelling a bit lesbo" - Part 2

This is part of my ongoing translation of parts of Anders Haahr Rasmussen's wonderful book "Én bold ad gangen." All errors are mine or the magical elves'. This is from page 78 ff. Part 1 is here

Of course, around 30 years have passed now, and you don't see worried mothers acting as "shower guards" any more. In many ways, a lot has happened since. In many ways, not so much.

At the 1999 Australian Open, a French teenager arrived with her partner, Sylvie Bourdon, into whose arms she jumped when she beat the world number one, Lindsay Davenport, in the semi final. It was a rare sight, to put it mildly, and it wasn't passed over in silence.

"She's with her women lover, " said her opponent in the final, Martina Hingis, who concluded, "She's half man."

A disappointed Davenport related how she thought she occasionally thought she "was playing against a guy" referring to her opponents hard ground strokes and "huge shoulders." (footnote: The comments seem especially odd given Lindsay Davenport's own build -- 189 cm. and 80 kg. -- and power game, which Mauresmo wasn't late in pointing out: "Lindsay hits the ball harder than I do; she's stronger than me, she's taller than me, so they really surprise me.")

Mauresmo quietly distance herself from the remarks about her, stood by her openness and added that there were many other players like her "who say nothing, who feel bad and are even unhappy".

A few years after, the award winning TV series The L Word triumphed around the world with it's portrayal of the lives of especially lesbian friends in West Hollywood. It was fiction closely tied to reality when the character of Dana Fairbanks, a professional tennis player, was invited to dinner with companion by a potential sponsor, and left her partner at home, and took her mixed doubles partner, Harrison, so she'd be more saleable.

This is a well know phenomenon in sports with big women and high market value. The actress and talk show host, Ellen Degeneres, probably pop culture's most well know lesbian, is a big fan of the WNBA, the women's professional basketball league. That's not without its problems. The TV producers, who fill the small pauses in the matches with crowd shots of celebrities in the crowd, have asked cameramen not to show Ellen.

But the WNBA every year has a course for new players, who are taught how to put on eye liner, eye shadow and mascara, how to powder their cheeks and the proper way to put on lipstick. "You are first and foremost women. Who just happen to play a sport," is what the WNBA tells the players. They say the players' "womanhood" must be emphasised to ensure the sport's popularity.

Or, to put it another way: "Don't worry folks, you can send your girls to basketball, they won't grow moustaches, the guys will still eye them, they'll still get married, it's a family friendly sport."

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