An article in the Boston Globe yesterday discussed the possibility that the ever so proper tennis establishment is contemplating a new rule banning grunting among the women players. Not among the men mind you, just the women. It would be called a “noise hindrance.” I think it should be called a “violation of the lady code.” Why? Apparently, it is ok for men to grunt when they hit the ball, but for the ladies? No, dear God, no.
And there is the additional issue of the gendered way these “noise hindrances” are discussed. The women’s noises are described as “shrieks,” “squeals,” and “screams.” I’d love to hear someone describe Raphael Nadal’s noise as a “shriek.” It just isn’t manly, you know?
I do get the point that these noises, by men and women, could be distracting for opponents. If I close my eyes while watching Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams play a match, I could mistake it for a remake of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre. However, it is equally disconcerting to hear the men grunting like they seriously need a dose of Dulcolax.
Could you imagine any other sport, other than golf, instituting a rule where competitors can be penalized for making too much noise (I’m sure there are others, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head).
I think the whole thing is silly. Let them all grunt, squeal, snort, scream, snuffle or fart (ok, maybe I take that back). Or stop everyone from making loud noises regardless of their gender. To make a rule that applies only to the women players can only be construed as sexism. And that don’t play with me.