Coach Mulkey may have taken it as a compliment after winning the national championship, but according to an article on ESPN, she has been irked by taunts, insults, and criticisms of Griner that have been posted on social media for weeks. Many of those posts on message boards suggest that because Brittney dunks, she must be a man. Ironically, one of the biggest criticisms of women's basketball is that women don't dunk, so it's not as exciting to watch. Despite Griner's ability to dunk, Coach Mulkey has acknowledged her reluctance to do so because of all the criticism she has received.
Criticisms that have been made about Brittney Griner illustrate what Mike Messner (1988) meant when he wrote it was "a double-edged sword" to say that a woman plays like a man. Messner explained that on the surface it may be "a compliment to an individual woman's skills, but it also suggests that since she is so good, she must not be a true woman after all" (p. 205). In many of the comments that I have observed on social media I have noticed that people suggest - in not so flattering terms - that if Brittney can dunk, then maybe she is "really a man."
I began to notice such commentary when Baylor played in the first round of the NCAA tournament at BGSU. I was thrilled to see her play, and excited to see her dunk in practice (below)!
Later, it was fun to see her first two dunks of the season in Baylor's second round game against Florida! As exciting as it was to see, I was troubled to read the insensitive remarks that flooded social media and even some of the blogs that students were writing in my classes. If I don't want to be bothered by the comments on social media, I could just do what Brittney does - according to the ESPN article - and that is to ignore it. But as an educator, I feel that I need to take this opportunity to educate. That task becomes more difficult when someone who coaches a team in the NCAA National Championships makes the kind of comment that fuels further disrespectful commentary. I have to agree with another Twitter post that Christine Brennan wrote that said: "Even though
I wonder the same thing!