Last week a video was doing the rounds on social media. A group of university sorority sisters from Arizona were at a baseball game. In the middle of that game one of the sponsors, asked fans to tweet photos of themselves at the game for a chance to see their photo on an upcoming broadcast. So the young women did just that.
Being American, this is the point where I feel I need to explain a little about American sports. Baseball isn’t limited to time like football, hurling, or rugby. It can literally go on for hours and hours! In fact one of our many much-loved baseball traditions is the 7th-inning stretch, where everyone gets out of their seat to stretch their arms and legs and sing “Take me out to the Ball Game.”
Over the years teams and sponsors have created ways, like the T-Mobile promotion, to make the long, sometimes slow-paced games more entertaining. A friend of mine from school has spent the past few seasons as one of these attractions – in particular the Tacoma Rainiers’ mascot, Rhubarb the Reindeer. In honor of the Seattle Mariners’ starting pitcher, “King” Felix Hernandez, their managing director created “The King’s Court,” a specific area in the stadium where fans wear yellow Felix t-shirts and hold up giant “K” cards.
The university students at the Arizona Diamondbacks game did exactly what the sponsors wanted them to do, and let’s be perfectly clear – what we all do at sports games. The difference was these girls were all blonde and conventionally attractive, and so they found themselves the objects of ridicule and disdain by middle-aged sports commentators who presumably felt that because these young women weren’t sports-fanning in a manner deemed acceptable by middle-aged sports commentators, they needed to be taken down a peg on live television.
“Better angle. Check it. Did that come out OK?” mocks one announcer.
“That’s the best one of the 300 pictures of myself I’ve taken today.”
“Every girl in the picture is locked into her phone. Every single one is dialed in. Welcome to parenting in 2015! They’re all just completely transfixed by the technology.”
And on… and on…. and on. Despite the fact that these men ignored the baseball game themselves to make fun of a group of women for presumably ignoring said baseball game, the irony seemed to be completely lost on them.
This is just one example of how society polices women’s looks and behavior. We are constantly told through advertising and media that there is a particular ideal aesthetic which we should strive to achieve. However if you manage to achieve that look, either through winning the genetic lottery or by doing your hair and makeup, you are then looked down on as being narcissistic, vain, and self-involved. You must be pretty enough to be considered attractive, but also hide any interest in your hair or makeup as these feminine endeavors mean less time to be interested in men. It’s a strange paradox whereby complying with society’s preferred aesthetic is seen as both self-obsession as well as “only doing it for men.”
But despite their smug efforts to put these “girls” in their place, the announcers found themselves at the receiving end of the most incredible mic drop. After the Arizona Diamondbacks apologised to the women and offered them all free tickets to a future game, the sorority accepted but asked that the tickets be donated to A New Leaf, a local domestic violence charity.
Ladies of Alpha Chi Omega, this slow clap is for you.
Words by Shawna Scott