Is This Cartoon Racist ? Serena Williams Meltdown at US Open

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  1. RJ Schwartz profile image86
    RJ Schwartzposted 5 years ago

    The artist says the cartoon depicts the behavior of tennis superstar Serena Williams during her US Open loss - Social Justice Warriors claim it's pure racism and nothing more.  What's your opinion?

    1. Credence2 profile image77
      Credence2posted 5 years agoin reply to this

      It is an unflattering caricature, but I can find something similar in any political cartoon. I might find the term 'racist' to describe it a bit over the top.

    2. Readmikenow profile image95
      Readmikenowposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I think it's pretty funny.

      1. profile image0
        RTalloniposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        Though I do not think it is funny, I do think it's more than about her. The representations of the other two characters tell us a lot about the artist's motivations. The man is represented as helpless (not as the one with the power), the woman is represented as blonde (not a minority). It is sad business. Ignoring it is the smartest thing for people to do because that gives the least credibility to the messages in it. That there is truth about her behavior in the way she is depicted does not make the cartoon okay. That she was provoked does not make her behavior smart.  There's a lot to think about, if we think about it.

    3. paradigmsearch profile image60
      paradigmsearchposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Yes, it is racism and sexism. We are only allowed to make cartoons like that about white men.

      1. lovetherain profile image78
        lovetherainposted 5 years agoin reply to this


    4. Sharlee01 profile image81
      Sharlee01posted 5 years agoin reply to this

      It is purely a character cartoon meant to accentuate her most obvious standout features, such as the way she wears her hair etc...  These kind of cartoons are never flattering. the fact that she is black should not put her off limits for this kind of well-used art form. Have a look at a few of Billy Jean Kings cartoon looks, as well as her opponent Bobby Riggs. For that matter have a look at a few of Trump's character cartoons.  In my opinion, I don't see this as racist.

  2. Live to Learn profile image60
    Live to Learnposted 5 years ago

    I just read an article explaining one opinion as to why the treatment of her during that episode was racist. If one agrees with that opinion then any cartoon such as this would perpetuate that racism.

    I haven't decided. I will say that women, in general, are held to a different standard of conduct which can seem unfair. And outbursts by women are looked upon differently.

    1. wilderness profile image96
      wildernessposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      One of the things that commonly comes up in articles about the incident is Alize Cornet, who was called for changing her shirt on the court.  A "sexist" call by the umpire.

      But the tennis association promptly apologized, and clarified the rules so that women and men both can be shirtless on courtside...while emphasizing the rule that women can go to the bathroom to change their shirt without being charged with a bathroom break...something male players cannot do.  Sexism, right?

      Are we trying to re-write not only the physical differences between men and women but centuries of cultural mores and norms?

      1. MizBejabbers profile image88
        MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        Wilderness, I don't know whether allowing women to change their shirts in the bathroom while men can change their shirts on the court is sexist. I didn't witness the incident, so I don't know how bare the woman's chest was. Was she wearing a T shirt or camisole under the shirt (probably not to play tennis) or was she bare to her bra? Did it look like underwear or not? I think it would depend on that.

        But society does hold different standards for men and women baring their chests. Men can bare their "breasts" in public while women cannot nor are they allowed to run around in public in just a bra on top without being cited for public indecency. (Although some bikini tops show more than the average bra, apparently it's just the thought that counts.) Stop and consider if that were my wife or daughter, would I be comfortable with her changing her shirt down to her bra in front of a large audience? Seems like that would depend on what she was wearing under her shirt.

        Perhaps a good compromise would be to require that a female player wear a sports bra that looks more like outerwear so they can change shirts in public without violating man-made indecency laws. Would that be considered sexist? I would hope not.

        And men, please remember that most of our laws on indecency were passed by men.

        1. wilderness profile image96
          wildernessposted 5 years agoin reply to this

          She was bare to her bra...but it was a sports bra.  She didn't show anything objectionable at all, in other words.

          But you missed the point on the bathroom thing; apparently players are only allowed a set number of bathroom breaks, perhaps to keep them from a "time out" during the match.  But women are allowed a break to change in a bathroom without being charged with one of their set number of bathroom breaks, while men are not.  If men choose to use the bathroom to change their clothing it will be counted as a bathroom break - a sexist rule if there ever was one, at least in today's climate of everybody is identical and must be treated that way.

          But that was kind of the point; society does hold different standards for men and women, nearly always because of the physical differences.  And because of that, some women come unglued when it happens while forgetting it can and does work both ways.  If a male showed up at the Oscars showing half the skin women do they'd be hustled out in a heartbeat!

          1. MizBejabbers profile image88
            MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

            Ok, you answered my question. Thanks, that renders my comment moot. I find your analogy of men and women at the Oscars as opposed to opposites on the tennis courts amusing because you do have a point. But most of those dresses are designed by men, a lot of them gay. Hmmm

            I find the whole thing of what's good for women and what's good for men kind of silly and sexist anyway. Look at the old drawings of men in knee pants with their calves covered only in stockings, and at the same time, of women in long dresses who were shameful if they showed an ankle covered in a stocking or a laced boot. There just ain't no tellin'. But men have made our laws concerning decency for eons. Women were compelled to follow suit. Now that they are gaining a voice of their own, I think men can expect some long awaited verbal kicks in the shins.

            1. wilderness profile image96
              wildernessposted 5 years agoin reply to this

              Men may have passed the laws as the legislators of the time, but women were instrumental in making sure that they were passed as well as ensuring all women followed them.  Sure, there were some of each camp that probably (surely) disagreed, but on the whole women were quite happy with those ridiculous laws.  Consider that there are 33 states where women can go topless, and In 2006, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department wrote a letter to a California attorney stating that “hiking in the forest, in the nude, is not a violation of the law.”  Yet virtually no one does.  I'm afraid that the large majority of women are as canalized by their upbringing as the men are.

  3. abwilliams profile image66
    abwilliamsposted 5 years ago

    I aree with Cred and Mike, it is unflattering, but it isn't racist, it's just funny.

    Her behavior (which caught me off guard) is what we used to refer to as "throwing a fit", "having a temper tantrum", "having a hissy fit", "behaving badly", "being a spoiled brat".... Today, "behaving badly and being a brat" is seen as, the new normal.

    1. Credence2 profile image77
      Credence2posted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Greetings, AB, I would not go so far to say that I find it funny, not really. There is a similarity to the ugly racial stereotypes and dehumanizing caricatures of Black folks from earlier times. But, to look at the big picture, caricatures are rarely flattering, in of themselves. That is what is part of why political cartoons have a punch.

      But there is a overriding principle to which I must pay deference.

      You, in an earlier thread expressed dismay on a cartoon lampooning Trump. This was the one that showed him being steamrollered on an escalator. One would think that it was exceptionally vulgar bordering on
      treason, itself. I thought that the depiction was apropo and humorous.

      A free press means that I do not necessarily have to approve of every utterance out there to not defend the idea of freedom of expression from anybody without partiality as to its ideological or political origins.

  4. TeriSilver profile image96
    TeriSilverposted 5 years ago

    Both... it does make fun of her bad behavior.  But yes, it is racist and sexist.  If the drawing of Serena wasn't so stereotypical of a black African baboon-like character (wearing a skirt because it's women's nonsense ... note the sarcasm here)  and the people who created it are kidding themselves if they don't expect to be called on it.  I don't have a problem with a cartoon showing Serena acting like a crybaby (even though I think she is right) but this one is absolutely terrible.

    1. RJ Schwartz profile image86
      RJ Schwartzposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      What's interesting is that her opponent in the photo is Japanese, yet she is depicted as a blonde....

      1. profile image0
        RTalloniposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        It pays to be observant if we want to form correct opinions.

    2. profile image0
      RTalloniposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      The cartoon character is wearing the outfit Serena was wearing. I despise the cartoon, but she put herself out there acting that way. Yes, she was provoked, but she did not have to respond in a way that others could use against her. Even so, something tells me she can handle it.

  5. paradigmsearch profile image60
    paradigmsearchposted 5 years ago

    Sorry if a little off topic, but was Serena right? To us, it's just a game; but to the players it is their job and serious money is involved. Does anyone know if the call that caused the meltdown was accurate or not? Just really curious.

    1. RJ Schwartz profile image86
      RJ Schwartzposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      It's a mixed bag on the issue from different sources - she did unfortunately let it get to her and demonstrated poor behavior by smashing her racquet

  6. abwilliams profile image66
    abwilliamsposted 5 years ago

    Greetings, I am not interested in a back and forth with you Cred. I've made it a policy to avoid these 'discussions', I have apparently been 'reported' each time I've paid a visit here to enter an opinion.

    I don't remember that particular thread or cartoon of Trump being flattened (I'm assuming "steamrollered" means flattened) maybe if this particular cartoon being discussed today, featured harm being done to Serena ( via a flattening or a beheading or something similar) I'd have a different opinion.

    1. Credence2 profile image77
      Credence2posted 5 years agoin reply to this

      There is no 'back and forth', I am stating a point of view, no need to get 'touchy'.

      I don't do things behind anyone back, I confront people head on if we disagree. I don't DO the reporting and I am not anyone's adversary in that sense

  7. abwilliams profile image66
    abwilliamsposted 5 years ago

    That's good. Take Care!

  8. Kenna McHugh profile image91
    Kenna McHughposted 5 years ago

    Billy Jean King's Op-Ed in the Washington Post is a great read. I agree with her opinion. I play competitive sports against men, racquetball. I've had to stand my ground many times with them because they were sexist. However, this cartoon perpetuates exactly what the umpire did during the game. The umpire lost control, not Williams.  It is the umpire's responsibility to not lose control like he did. Since Williams is black, a woman, and a celebrity, this cartoon was created. I recommend reading King's Op-Ed.

    1. profile image0
      promisemposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I suggest they both lost control. Serena smashed her racquet and called the umpire a "thief" and a "lair".

      That's a pretty poor showing of control. I've known umpires and referees to penalize players for a lot less.

      1. MizBejabbers profile image88
        MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        True, Promisem, but male tennis players are coming to her defense, a couple have actually said that they committed similar or worse offenses and were not penalized as severely. I think the cartoon is more sexist than racist. Look at cartoons of other women in the news, like Hillary or Nancy Pelosi. I know, I know, they are politicians, not tennis players, but a cartoon is a cartoon and none of them are flattering depictions. George Bush's and  Obama's faces and ears and Bill Clinton's nose, for instance. Some of the men have charged that the referee pushed Serena too far. That is sexist.

        1. GA Anderson profile image91
          GA Andersonposted 5 years agoin reply to this

          Why is it sexist MizBeJabbers? Couldn't it also be just a case of a bad umpire call? That's what I think it is. I think the ump screwed-up, and then doubled down because his call was challenged.

          I am not a knowledgeable tennis fan, but from the promos it seems this was a very big deal, a possible upset of a veteran winner by a talented up-start.

          I can see the mindset of the Umpire. But, it seems he carried his job a bit too far. I think Serena was justified in her anger. And to top it off, and to her credit, I saw a blurb where she, (Serena), lamented the controversy over her actions because it detracted from the other players elation at winning.

          All in all, I say the Ump screwed-up, Serena reacted to that screw-up, and then tried to be the better person and return the focus to the match winner's accomplishment.

          1. MizBejabbers profile image88
            MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

            GA, I think you just want to argue. I explained why. I repeat, the male tennis players are coming to her defense and calling it sexist. That's good enough for me. As for the cartoon, I get tired of everything involving a person of color being labeled racist.

  9. paradigmsearch profile image60
    paradigmsearchposted 5 years ago

    Another thought: and that is the saying, "There is no such thing as bad publicity." Of which I do believe Serena got about a free 10 million dollars worth. big_smile

    After all, who knows how much of that "meltdown" was simply showmanship?

    For that matter, the cartoonist probably made out like a bandit as well. lol

  10. profile image0
    ahorsebackposted 5 years ago

    Serena's a spoiled brat , She got 1.8 million for second place and stole the light from the winners circle  for a REAL sportswoman .  Is she justified for throwing a extremely childish fit , No ! She should have been fined way more than she was !

  11. GA Anderson profile image91
    GA Andersonposted 5 years ago

    Is this where you want to be? First it was the embarrassment of a national debate about which bathroom we should use, and here ... it's a debate about whether a political caricature - that is true to the person being caricatured, is racist.

    Holy cow, and kiss my butt. If folks want to run their words past a Dog whistle/code word/microaggression/might-offend-somebody-somewhere checker - then be my guest. I'm moving to the mountains. You folks are nuts.


  12. Kenna McHugh profile image91
    Kenna McHughposted 5 years ago

    Miz, I agree.

  13. Nick Bishop profile image69
    Nick Bishopposted 5 years ago

    Perhaps the cartoon makes her look like a freak.  However as others have noted cartoons are never usually flattering  Caricatures are meant to accentuate someones features.

    I do not find the cartoon racist and while I understand why Serena would be offended it is meant as a joke nothing more.  It seems like all minorities Serena has a persecution complex just because she is black.

    I personally find Serena beautiful and very elegant.  The umpire may look weak but actually is cool under fire.

    As for Serena's opponent being white with a blonde pony tail.  Her opponent is Japanese/Haitian as I understand it and the blonde merely reflects a colour she has dyed her hair

  14. GA Anderson profile image91
    GA Andersonposted 5 years ago

    No MizBejabbers, I don't "just want to argue." I just disagree with the "sexist" perspective. Even with the male player's support for it.

    If Serena had been a black male, and the same call was made, then would that have been racist instead of sexist?

    I would have to know more about tennis to be able to "argue" with your perspective, but I don't have to know any more than the publicly available info to disagree with a perspective.

    I don't see the cartoon as racist or sexist.

    Here is a thought, (not one I am promoting): What if the Umpire was 'in-the-bag' for the Japanese player, or for personal reasons wanted her to win, and was doing whatever he could to throw the match her way, would the calls against Serena still be sexist?

    Or, just regarding the cartoon itself - what if the caricature was of McEnroe; the Ump's comment would still be apt, but certainly not sexist. Yet, by your perspective, the same situation and comment becomes sexist when the player is a woman?

    [EDIT ADDED] ps. I didn't catch that your reference to other male player's coming to her defense and calling it sexist was your reason for saying it was sexist. That was my error - I suppose.


    1. MizBejabbers profile image88
      MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      GA, you have your viewpoint, I have mine. We both have the right to our differing viewpoints. My point is that I just get tired of explaining my viewpoint over and over again to people who have a different viewpoint. To me this is just another ploy to keep at me until I agree with yours. Won't happen.

      1. GA Anderson profile image91
        GA Andersonposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        Hello again MizBejabbers, I didn't mean to make you explain yourself  "over and over again," my question was sincere, I understood why the umpire's actions were considered sexist - I just disagreed with that perspective.

        When I responded to you, it was to ask why you thought it was sexist. This isn't the type of perspective that I expected to change, but it is one that I think needs to be defended - if you can.

        I am not "keeping at you" to get you to change your mind, (although I think that would be the rational thing to do), I am just engaging in a discussion.

        On this particular topic, I think we each hold our perspective because of our own life-view. I don't expect to get you to change yours, but, if you post it in a discussion forum, I do expect you to be willing to discuss it.

        I am sorry if my response made you feel I was attacking, or, "keeping after" you. To me it was just a discussion - about a perspective I disagreed with. It should have been an interesting exchange - not a drudgery of defending what you think. Sorry.


        1. MizBejabbers profile image88
          MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

          GA, I did discuss it and I had no more to say about it. I felt like you were pushing me. I just now saw your edit to your last post, and I appreciate it.

          By the way, you admitted that you knew little to nothing about tennis. I'm not a player anymore either, but in both high school and my freshman year at the small private religious college, we were required to become proficient in tennis in order to pass the physical education course required for graduation. I became proficient enough to pass the course but not to excel. I do know the rules and how to play, but I will say it doesn't matter. That knowing the rules and how to play have nothing to do with judging the behavior of Serena and the referee. That is a matter of decorum. Personally, I think they were both overboard, but this forum was supposed to be about the cartoon anyway.

          1. GA Anderson profile image91
            GA Andersonposted 5 years agoin reply to this

            Okay MizBeJabbers, we disagree. The umpire couldn't have just made a bad call, and followed it with bad judgement - he was just a sexist.

            ... and we will leave it there.


  15. Readmikenow profile image95
    Readmikenowposted 5 years ago

    It seems everybody in today's society is so focused on being offended nobody can laugh at what is funny.  The words "sexist," "racist," and others have been used so often in so many situations, they've all but lost their real meaning.  They've just now become tools for people who want to assume the moral high ground.  This cartoon is funny, but some of the responses on this thread to it are really funny.

    1. MizBejabbers profile image88
      MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Mike, you are right. This cartoon is really funny.

  16. Kenna McHugh profile image91
    Kenna McHughposted 5 years ago

    Green Book is a movie that premiered at TIFF.  This kind of story is perfect for this climate. Viggo Mortensen comments on the red carpet are spot on - … nD2_mvIRw-  We can get desensitized by stupid or crazy remarks that are just reactive and illogical. But there is a situation in society.  We need to be kind and follow the golden rule.

    1. MizBejabbers profile image88
      MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Kenna, darn it, the link doesn't work.

  17. psycheskinner profile image82
    psycheskinnerposted 5 years ago

    She was wearing a sports bra and so no more naked than many women you see on the beach.

    1. wilderness profile image96
      wildernessposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      LOL  A lot less naked than some of them, I'd say!

  18. Jodah profile image91
    Jodahposted 5 years ago

    Ralph, this is a cartoon and cartoons are parodies and usually show charicatures of celebrities and politicians. I thought this captured the incident perfectly and her temper tantrum “spitting the dummy” (As we Aussies call pacifiers).
    A poll was conducted here and 85% of Australians who responded found the cartoon not sexist or racist. Sabrina is a pubic figure and it doesn’t matter how famous or what a great player she is her bad behaviour brought the spotlight on her. While she was ranting uncontrollably she actually looked like the charicature in the cartoon.
    I have seen much worse portrayals of Donald Trump in cartoons and of our own Aussie political leaders etc. her claims that a male player would not have been treated the same way can also be disputed. John McEnroe was made to forfeit an entire match in an Australian Open for bad behaviour and abusing a referee.


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