So the entire tennis world is up in arms over an allegation that the Wimbledon organizers place the pretty players on center court while the homely chicks are relegated to the courts located in the netherworld. I have honestly been shocked by the amount of press that this story has managed to attract, what with the universal fixation on the death of Michael Jackson and the astonishing number of related scandals now clogging up the news pages.
I was even more intrigued that a spokesperson for the All England Club apparently conceded that physical attractiveness is one of the factors that determine court assignment. This admission -- if indeed it was made -- was as dumb as the apparent statement by someone from US Air that pitchman Billy Mays should have been wearing his seat belt when something from the overhead compartment hit him on the head. There are some things that I would not expect a PR savvy individual to admit, even when they are true.
But I’ve written before about this whole beauty issue. I will not repeat myself. I will instead recount a recent personal experience that affected me and that puts into perspective how I came to understand (again) that even the women designated as “pretty” may not necessarily be thrilled by the attention associated with their beauty.
I’ve started learning to play golf. I loved it immediately, and, if I do say so myself, have discovered that I have quite a knack for it. I assume that there must be some transfer of skills from my tennis. No wonder so many tennis players also take up golf.
So, having learned the hard way (from tennis) that it is better to learn how to play a sport the right way from the start, I signed up for a series of group lessons. We were about fifteen, a group of men and women, randomly assigned to about five instructors. For several of the lessons, I happened to be in the cluster with the same instructor. In my cluster was a very attractive young women whom I easily befriended. It became quickly apparent that our instructor was attracted to her. For every 90-minute session, he spent about 60 minutes dedicated exclusively to her. I learned how to play by listening to what he was telling her to do and simply copying it as best as I could.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am no shy wall-flower. So of course from session one I would pipe up and practically demand this man’s attention. So did other members of our cluster. He ignored us all, and remained zoomed in on his target. By lesson three I was utterly frustrated, so I joined a different cluster and got some serious attention. Problem solved.
One day, I am walking into class and ran into the young woman. I started teasing her about her “boyfriend” and about how the only way I was learning anything was by eavesdropping on their private sessions. She then started complaining to me about how fed up she was of this man’s attention. She was actually quite disgusted by it. She was a married woman who loved her husband and had made a point of talking about him to us all so that the instructor would back off. He persisted, disrespectfully, all under the guise of teaching her how to play golf. I understood then why her game never improved. She was too discomfited by the experience to learn anything.
She no-showed for the last two lessons. I was not surprised. I regretted only that I had not exchanged telephone numbers with her so that we could stay in touch and go out and hit a few together. And the experience reminded me that it is not always a picnic for women who find themselves defined only by their beauty.
So to this outrage over the apparent admission by a Wimbledon representative that less attractive women are discriminated against, I want to point out that this is not a compliment for the attractive women either. Because the message to the beauties is that their tennis accomplishments matter little. Their only worth is for the occasional up-skirt and boob shot. That too is profoundly offensive and deeply disrespectful to all women, pretty or homely.