Friday, February 16, 2007

Black Widow?


Last month I took issue with TENNIS magazine's issue on "American" tennis. This month, in the Jan/Feb issue it got worse. Jon Levey decided to take issue with Martina Hingis's romantic life. Levey apparently sees a pattern: after someone gets together with Hingis, he (or she--they talk about Kournikova's doubles partnership with Hingis) gets injured with a consequent career downturn.

The piece is called "The Black Widow" and begins like this:

There's nothing wrong with a young lady going out and being social. And Martina Hingis has developed a healthy reputation for enjoying her time with the gents, particularly those with athletic prowess. [emphasis mine]

Translation: Martina Hingis is a slut and she is hurting the careers of young, innocent men (and one blond Russian who has not appeared to suffer all that much). The black widow--one of the few well-known examples of a powerful female in nature--trope is trotted out so frequently that we know this is all about monitoring Hingis's sex life. Levey's attempt at euphemism is quite transparent--insultingly so.

I have not always been a fan of Hingis's attitude and behavior but talking about her sex life in the pages of TENNIS is inappropriate and juvenile. And, in this month's issue (March) there is a brief mention of her recent engagement to ATP player Radek Stepanek which references the black widow piece and says something to the effect of "don't say we didn't warn you, Radek."

Is publisher Chris Evert even paying attention to what is being put in her magazine? Evert is allegedly a huge Hingis fan. She was her mentor when Hingis first arrived on the tour. Hard to believe she would let this piece of crap into the pages of TENNIS.

2 comments:

Diane said...

Hingis has had the "black widow" rep for a long time, and I think a reference could have been made to it that wasn't offensive. But yes, going out of one's way to talk about her sex life is offensive, indeed.

Who knows what's going through Evert's mind? Though (since she became an adult) she has always been very sensitive to the needs of women, she is, nevertheless, a woman who plays doubles every year with George H.W. Bush. I remember I was turned off when I read she had mocked (albeit sweetly) Martina N.'s efforts to get her to stop supporting factory farming. (I realize that makes her just like almost everyone in America, but it turned me off nonetheless).

Evert is my all-time favorite player, by the way. I like to concentrate on her tennis and not think too much about the rest of her.

ken said...

There was no redeeming value to this piece. It was specfically aimed at showing (with pics) Hingis's "conquests."
I know Chris Evert has come a long way since her early days when she shunned BJK's efforts to start the women's tour. Still as a publisher I wish she would do a little more. It seems, as evidenced by your examples as well, that her notions of equality and fairness and feminism are somewhat shallow.