A week ago, Gilbert Arenas made an Instagram post about the WNBA that went viral. To summarize: Arenas posted a video of two women with mad basketball skills playing one-on-one in extremely skimpy attire and said that was what everyone had in mind when the WNBA was formed, but instead we’re being forced to watch what are mostly a bunch of, um, “#beanpies.” I don’t know exactly what a bean pie is, but you get the context; Arenas was stating very clearly that the WNBA is full of ugly women, and that the product would be far more watchable if it were filled with a bunch of scantily clad supermodels who could take it to the rim in style, perhaps occasionally stopping to wrestle and make out with each other. Arenas didn’t say all of that in so many words, but I bet he would nod in approval at the suggestion.
If you’re guessing that the public did not take kindly to this post, you’re spot on. Arenas may be mostly out of the public spotlight now that his playing days are over, but he still commands a large Instagram following, so his words reached a large audience and outraged many people. If a former NBA star compares the WNBA players to the cast of “Orange Is the New Black,” people are going to take notice. When pressed for an apology, Arenas stuck to his guns and posited the question of why he should apologize to ugly women because they were ugly.
Okay, admit it: this is funny. I don’t know enough about Arenas, aside from the fact he was an awesome player who ultimately succumbed to injuries, to surmise whether or not he wrote this as an attempt to be a humorous pot-stirrer or whether he really is that comfortable with taking on such a barbaric viewpoint on women, but I’m going to assume the former. In any case, Arenas’s comments bring up many controversial issues, with the key theme all coming down to discrimination.
Critics of the post point out that Arenas is basically coming across as both sexist as well as racist, as the majority of the WNBA is black, and the video he posted as an example of what the league should be featured white women. In a follow-up post, he even zeroed in on his “Orange Is the New Black” reference by delving into a discussion of lesbians, which added homophobia to the list.
Let’s be very clear before moving on here: discrimination of any kind is never okay, whether it’s being sexist, racist, or homophobic. There is no hierarchy of wrongfulness in discrimination — they’re all equally unacceptable. I can’t fully excuse Gilbert’s rant, but if he wants to say the WNBA is full of ugly players, how exactly is that wrong on the surface level? If there’s one thing I can’t stand apart from discrimination itself, it’s the over-sensitivity to perceived discrimination when it isn’t necessarily there. I’m not saying this is what took place with Arenas, as he pretty clearly went a little too far, but the critics have already brought up some issues that get me a little irritated.
ESPN’s Katie Barnes wrote a piece that called out Arenas for the discrimination in his posts, saying that objectification of women in sports has been an ongoing problem that needs to stop. If there is anything that triggers my bullshit meter, it’s the phrase “objectification of women.” It drives me absolutely nuts that when men take note of a female they find attractive even though personal appearance has nothing to do with her role in society, it’s considered “objectification.” No, women shouldn’t be judged by their appearance when they play sports, oversee a business, or run for political office. No one should ever be judged by appearance at all, but that doesn’t mean the world is blind to it.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a man watching a bunch of women run around in a sporting environment and appreciating the good looking ones, just as there isn’t anything wrong with women watching men’s sports and ogling the studs. What a ridiculous double standard. In a professional environment, appearance should absolutely not come up between genders, but for a woman to get mad when a man sees her differently is to reject the basic premise of biology. Just because there is such a thing as an environment where the fundamental differences between women and men must be ignored doesn’t mean it extends to every environment. If every environment were gender-neutral, the entire essence of human nature would be destroyed.
Are you telling me it’s okay for Essence Magazine, a publication geared toward black women, to create a list of the sexiest NBA players and swoon over the likes of Dwyane Wade as well as Wes Matthews and his “kissable lips,” but it’s wrong for Arenas to say that he would buy season tickets if Skylar Diggins played in a thong even if she missed every layup? Hypocrites.
Who cares whether Arenas prefers white or black women? We all have personal preferences when it comes to physical appearances, and it doesn’t need to equate to racism in the slightest. I suppose a horrible bigot would probably not find a race he despised to be attractive, but that doesn’t mean someone is racist just because he doesn’t find a certain race physically appealing.
By the way, Skylar Diggins is black, so it’s clearly not black women Arenas has a problem with appearance-wise — it’s just the ugly black ones. He would take just as much of an issue with ugly white women, or an ugly women of any ethnicity. Don’t distort this and take it out of context just because you like to point fingers.
Arenas only addressed this topic when it was specifically asked of him, and he made a point to say that their sexual preferences were not what he was referring to at all. Yes, the fact that he laughed it off by saying two women together just meant more fun for him sounds a little juvenile, but that’s not an inherently wrong thing to say. Any woman (or man) who gets offended by the idea of someone playfully discussing the appeal of a threesome is an insufferable prude.
While this particular issue is almost exclusively made up just to sensationalize this topic and bring in more readers since Arenas never said anything homophobic, I’ve got something I’d like to say myself. I am all for equal rights, and I’m all for same sex relationships; you have a right to be with whomever you want to be with, provided it’s consensual of course. That said, why the fuck was a WNBA player married to another player in the league? After doing a little research, I discovered that Brittney Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was briefly wed to Glory Johnson, a player for the Tulsa Shock.
Look, marry whomever you want, but isn’t it kind of unprofessional to marry someone you’re competing against? Can you imagine how the public would react if the dinner meeting between Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant last week had actually been a romantic outing that led to the two tying the knot?
No, you can’t imagine what the reaction would be, because it would never happen. While such an arrangement would certainly not be morally wrong, it would be more than a little awkward. Think of the ESPN game night promo: “Tonight’s big matchup features LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers squaring off against the reigning champs, where he will do battle with his husband Stephen Curry in a heated competition between two of the game’s very best.”
Granted, this isn’t a same sex marriage issue so much as a same sex marriage I think was stupid and poorly thought out. Equal rights is one thing, but when players in the WNBA are straight-up marrying each other, that only works to perpetuate stereotypes about female athletes and to turn the league into something of a joke. Use some common sense and do a better job of representing your league.
What Gilbert Arenas said certainly bordered on falling into the boorish, rude, and obnoxious categories. There’s no way around that. I think he was going for laughs more than anything, and if you didn’t like his humor, get over it. I’m not seeing the discrimination here, and I think it’s ridiculous so many people want to invent it just to have something to get self-righteous about.