Thursday, March 24, 2011

Serena Williams, When is Sexy Transgressive

Serena Williams and actress Rileah Vanderbilt, recently made a commercial for the video game, Top Spin 4.  The ad was deemed too sexy but was released on youtube anyway.  Some are complaining though it never got any television play that it pushes the boundaries too far because the two women are in fishnets heels, black body suits that leave nothing to the imagination, looking like dominatrices.

 (Be Forewarned this Video is NOT SAFE FOR WORK)

I know that we are used to sex being used to sell all manner of items and in many cases it reduces women to sexual objects for male pleasure.  What I find transgressive about this commercial as that Serena chose to make it despite all of the racism, transphobia (yes cis women can be subject to transphobia), sexism, and body policing that she has been subjected to over the years.  Here is a small sample of some of the comments on youtube to give you an idea of what I mean.  

Cows on steroids have more appeal to me.

It's a man baby....

LowOIL 1 minute ago


wfbhs2011 2 minutes ago

They're using Serena's ass to sell a tennis video game? Who is their target audience? These people in marketing are meat heads.
@Shawakafetima2 Cosign bruh!

timewarpedstudios 6 minutes ago

she is one handsome man.

@HipHopJun LOL at your fucking face. Her being the best doesnt mean shes not fat. Plus theres Anna Kournikova so put that bitch back to cleaning nails

Sorry, I don't find male Gorillas sexy

MarcoSiu95 46 minutes ago   

There is $#@k all sexy about Serena Williams. That thing is part male.

Laurelesquire 47 minutes ago
this is fake, shes not in the kitchen
I won't deny that there are few comments defending her but many just use this commercial as just another opportunity to attack her.  The Williams sisters dominant tennis.  They come from a poor background and did not follow the traditional path to professional success. When you combine that, with the fact that they are Black women, that is more than enough reason to send people on the attack.

I didn't give a damn about tennis until the Williams sisters started to play.  The first time I heard their names, was when a White male co-worker of mine went on a rant complaining about how ugly they are.  I decided at that point to find out who these women were, and why they had drawn such ire.  Since that time, I have heard many attacks against them that mirror what my former co-worker had to say.  The Williams sisters are confident and unapologetically Black.  Even if they had never won a single tennis championship, that would be enough for me to love them.

To debase them, people attack their womanhood by issuing the usual commentary about how they are not really women, that they are fat and that they are ugly.  Questioning their womanhood is actually a historically common method of attacking Black women.  Unwoman and Black woman have in may ways become synonymous. Though there are those who will claim that this is about personal preference, what and whom we find attractive is very much based in what bodies are privileged and held up to us to admire. Neither of the sisters are light skinned, they also certainly do not have slight frames and this is the antithesis of what we have been told is beautiful. The hatred against the Williams sisters exists because they have the nerve to be Black women with agency who are successful.

When I saw the commercial, I saw a lot more than another commercial sexualizing women for profit.  I saw the image of a Black woman who dares to be successful, beautiful and down right sexy before the world.  My mind screamed fucking yeah, as I embraced her sheer strength of being, in the face of so many who would simply rather she cover herself and disappear from view, and this is what makes this commercial transgressive. While some may question whether she has fallen prey to the video ho syndrom that has befallen Black women in the media, I believe she turns that image on its head and says, I'm as sexy as I want to be.  What are your thoughts?