Sunday, September 27, 2009

Leslie, the Media and "Looking Like Women"

Leslie's actual words about both the media coverage and about how women should carry themselves as representatives of the WNBA are available at Swish Appeal. The entire audio of Leslie's post-game comments can now be heard.

Leslie: "And I can tell you, I'm still really disappointed where women's basketball is. I mean, I just have to say, that this is an opportunity for me, but to see how hard we play and to look at the news and not even be able to find out, you know, to see the highlights of what's happening at Detroit and Indiana or to see the phenomenal play that's happened here, you know, with Diana and the Sparks and myself and Candace Parker, her having 18 rebounds and 24 points.

There's just been phenomenal basketball being played in the WNBA and we just cannot get our place, you know, in society and it's unfortunate that this great opportunity is being missed by, you know, I think the world at times. So I just hope that you guys continue to do your job and continue to write about us and support us. Because we deserve to have a place in the media, we deserve to have a place in the news. And when you turn on the sports channels, you should see what happened in the WNBA. We deserve that."

...and her words on WNBA deportment.

Leslie: "Also another important message is how we represent ourselves as women. We need to look like women; it's important how we carry ourselves, how we dress on and off the court. A lot of these things have to be addressed and continue to be addressed because we are the product, and it's important.

People want to see a good product. They do. That's just the bottom line. And you need to be marketable and I think that more women need to understand that here in our league."

She should have said, "we need to look professional" - a message about professionalism is not one about gender roles.


Diane said...

I couldn't have said it better. Stereotypes, it's time to go....

afoundingfan said...

Perhaps a better choice of words was in order re: looking "like women"...again, context. Regardless I am glad for the discussion it has started.

With regards to the other strong comments she made: Kudos to Lisa Leslie for both taking the media to task and for thanking those in the media that cover women's basketball.

ATLDreamFan17 said...

Based on those exerpts: Poor wording on Leslies part but I understand a part of what she's getting at (I say part because the "look like women" bothered me). The women in the WNBA are a product and people will buy into what they consider to be familiar and acceptable. My question is: using Leslie's model of thinking, is there ever a time where female athletes can "let down their hair" and be themselves? Or does the choice to have a career as public as a pro athlete not allow it?

Its obvious there are certain players who completely and naturally fit the role as marketing agents for the WNBA. However, not all do or will fit that role. I wonder: would trying to force players into a certain mold backfire? It's a tight rope to walk to say the least.

I'm curious what Leslie would consider unmarketable and unladylike. When I go to WNBA games I see people and families who represent the various players in the league (as far as looks/dress off the court goes). So should certain groups be alienated for the sake of more fans? I'd like to hear other players views on the matter.

But I will say it's nice that she pointed out the lack of media coverage of the WNBA.

Unknown said...

You grow up playing hard basketball and contending with the guys, you may not also develop an affinity for lipstick and hairspray. The way Lisa puts it, it makes it sound like our gals need to go through finishing school. I know that femininity is a very important part of HER identity as a baller, but I daresay that's a harder balance to find for a lot of players.

Phoenix Stan said...

I understand why these comments can be upsetting but I took it as Lisa saying that it is ok for women to be women and for them to celebrate and not hide from that.

I think the real message is to be who you are. As the father of a 12 y/o girl who hasn't (willingly) worn a dress or anything pink and "girly" since she was three, the message I hear from Lisa is "be who you are" whether that's "girly" or not.