By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Heidi Stevens does a tremendous job in this article which takes a look at society’s dysfunctional relationship to the female body.
The U.S. Tennis Association clarified that Alize Cornet should not, after all, have been admonished for her on-court shirt change at the U.S. Open.
So, that’s that. All good.
Except it’s not.
Not until we have an honest conversation, a bunch of them, actually, about the reason she was given a warning in the first place. And the reason is this: Far too many people think female bodies are, above all else, for sex.
Whatever a woman is using her body for, competing on the tennis court, walking down the street, working in her office, will be, at some point, by some guy, treated as a sideshow.
I know what you’re really up to.
Cornet, to the chair umpire, wasn’t simply fixing a backwards shirt. She was violating a code.
Not a code that says players can’t be briefly topless; tennis officials clarified this week that there’s no rule against what Cornet did. Male players strip their shirts off all the time. Twitter has been filled with side-by-side photos of Cornet’s seconds-long change next to men celebrating topless and cooling down shirtless.
No, the code Cornet violated is unofficial and deeply ingrained and it goes like this:
Female bodies are sexual.
They shall be gazed upon and regarded accordingly.
They shall be covered up accordingly.
They shall remain covered up until an appropriate time and place, lest they become a scandalizing distraction.
When uncovered at inappropriate times and places, they shall be scolded and shamed.
When uncovered at appropriate times and places, they shall also be scolded and shamed.
The owners of the female bodies do not determine those appropriate times and places.