In case you missed it, Serena Williams—the greatest athlete ever, according to both a Nike commercial and me—recently shocked the world by revealing she was 11 weeks pregnant when she won this year’s Australian Open back in January.
While the majority of us were busy posting celebratory (and self-deprecating) messages that Serena would never see about the monumental achievement of her record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam win, far too many took a different path. Here’s a quick recap of any reaction that wasn’t simply, “wow, she’s amazing.” (Which, in case you were wondering, was really the correct way to respond.)
- Men who know nothing about pregnancy (like how it’s a binary state—either you are pregnant or you are not), yet feel compelled to speak on the subject: “Big deal, Serena was barely pregnant when she won. It’s not like she’s 9 months pregnant and playing.”
- Ever-present mansplainers, who must weigh in on every topic with their superior knowledge and condescending tone: “Women have increased red blood cells from pregnancy so really she had an advantage. Let me tell you about Communist athletes from Russia in the 70’s…”
- Men who look for any excuse to put down women’s sports and who are completely ignoring the fact that she has won more Major titles than any person—man or woman—in the modern era and has competed professionally for the last 22 years: “This just proves how weak the women’s field is, not how great Serena is.”
- Men or women who think they’re a lot funnier than they really are: “So Serena was playing *doubles* against *singles* players. Unfair!” [Trevor Noah, this includes you. If you wanted to make a joke, at least talk about a future clash for world domination between Serena’s baby and Beyoncé’s twins or something.]
- Women who are clearly feeling unappreciated and undervalued in their personal lives and need a reminder that yes, all women should be celebrated for the things they achieve while pregnant, but that it’s not a competition and there is literally no award for surviving pregnancy: “Pssh, plenty of women keep doing their jobs when they’re pregnant. I worked until the day I was due!”
- And of course, the random racist trolls who can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that a beautiful black woman with curves could somehow be considered feminine by those of us whose standards of beauty extend beyond what’s seen on a runway: “Serena is a man; she can’t really be pregnant.” Sigh.
So the next time you’re tempted to diminish the achievement of any woman who is growing a human inside of her, don’t. Just say “good job.”
About the author: Anna Gracia is a writer in San Francisco. Her work has been featured on Scary Mommy, Roar, Mock Mom, and more. She writes about movies and the occasional book at TheSnarkyReviewer.com. You can follow her on Twitter.