The 2018 U.S. Open is a wakeup call for women’s rights

In this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, file photo, Serena Williams, right, talks with referee Brian Earley during the women's final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament against Naomi Osaka, of Japan, in New York. Some black women say Serena Williams’ experience at the U.S. Open final resonates with them. They say they are often forced to watch their tone and words in the workplace in ways that men and other women are not. Otherwise, they say, they risk being branded an "Angry Black Woman." (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)

Although I am certainly not a professional tennis player I understand enough to know that there are rules and regulations involved in the game. However, seeing the news from the U.S. Open last Tuesday, I was shocked to see what exactly Alizé Cornet was penalized for.

Brace yourself:

She took her top off.

After breaking in the locker room, Cornet returned to the match with her shirt on backwards. In a quick attempt to fix the problem before play resumed, she whipped her shirt around, briefly revealing her sports bra to the umpire and spectators.

Yes, for a whole 10 seconds, Cornet’s bare stomach was actually showing.

On the same court where Nadal had been seen earlier, stripping down to his shorts under the intense midday sun, Cornet was warned over a wardrobe malfunction. Although she was not deducted points, the warning alone caused an uproar in the crowds.

This act of discrimination reminded me of the school dress code days, in which girls were expected to follow a long list of rules regarding the skirt lengths and sleeve types, while boys could not wear hats. And their pants could not be falling down. So if a boy took off his baseball cap and put on a belt, he was good to go. Girls risked being sent home if their jean shorts didn’t quite hit mid-thigh.

Perhaps an even more frustrating part of women’s dress code in society is the fact that their choice of outfit is often labeled as a “distraction” for hormonal men. Women become blamed for the fact that men cannot keep their eyes to themselves. If a woman is wearing a low cut tank top and tight leggings, they become “responsible” for any negative attention they receive from men. It is appalling how throughout history, sexual assault occurrences and incidents of domestic violence have been blamed on the victim rather than the aggressor.

Only days later, during the Women’s finals match, Serena Williams faced another act of discrimination on the court.

The 23 title champion, was accused of communication with her coach during play.

Williams claimed that she was not involved and could not see the signal her couch had given from the stands. Outraged over the point loss, she called the ump “a thief”.

“Thief.”

This was the word that lost Williams the game, therefore infuriating feminist fans everywhere.

Williams was the first to point out the fact that many male players had lost their temper with the umpire in past games resulting in no violation.

This is evident in society as well. Think about it. When men use aggressive language, it is hardly even considered, while a women’s angry tongue can label her as “emotionally unstable” or even “crazy.”

What happened to the ideals of Title IX? The 1972 law that states women in public education systems should have equal participation in sports are outdated and must be revisited.

Clearly sport participation is only the beginning of the inequality faced on and off of the field. It is elemental that the same rules must be established for both men and women to follow, when playing the same game.

So the next time you're walking to class, and you pass by a shirtless guy on his morning run, don’t hesitate to alert the authorities.

This kind of behavior is clearly intolerable.


Kate Luongo  is a contributor to The Daily Campus Life section.  She can be reached via email at katherine.luongo@uconn.edu .