The sports commentator’s chauvinism is showing again
Stephen A. Smith, this is precisely what you DON’T do when trying to criticize a woman.
By comparing Ayesha Curry to Savannah James, another woman, you are expecting women to fit into a gendered role, which is paternalistic and sexist. And it does both women a disservice. Introverted women who stay away from media scrutiny and those who are vociferous are not an either or proposition. Each woman has the agency to speak, think, feel, and act according to her own convictions that aren’t meant to conform to your myopic ideal of what a wife should be.
Curry is the wife of Golden State Warrior’s Steph Curry, while James is the wife of Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James. The two teams are battling for the NBA championship title, and will play the decisive game 7 this Sunday in Oakland’s Oracle Arena.
While discussing Thursday’s 14-point loss to the Cavaliers, Smith directed his harshest criticism at Ayesha Curry for her assertion, via Twitter, that Game 6 of the series was fixed.
She stepped out of line. She stepped out of pocket. I’m trying to sound as appropriate as I possibly can. You are the wife of Steph Curry. What you do is a reflection on him. What you do is a reflection on the organization he works for. You have to be mindful of that. You can’t get caught up in your own individual emotions and having this zest to speak out, to the point where it compromises your husband.
If that was Savannah, LeBron’s wife, if that were Gloria, LeBron’s mother, what would we be saying? LeBron James has a mom and has a wife, has kids, great guy, an even greater ambassador of the game of basketball than Steph Curry because he’s done it over the test of time. Wonderful, beautiful father. And I’ve got news for you. As beautiful as everyone wants to say Ayesha Curry is, and she is, Savannah is something special. I’m here to tell you something right now. Ain’t a man alive, particularly a black man, that’s going to look at LeBron James’s wife and not say that that woman ain’t gorgeous. Well, she’s wonderful inside and out. She sits there. She doesn’t bring any attention to herself. She never tweets and goes out there and calls out the league and stuff like that. And nobody, nobody is more scrutinized than her husband. But yet, she thinks about how she represents him, and as a result, she doesn’t do that.
To criticize the wife of an NBA player for stating her opinion when her husband and his coach faced financial penalties for their behavior laid inappropriate blame at the feet of someone who can’t control the outcome in the ways that Steph Curry and Steve Kerr can.
But to assert that Ayesha Curry should “stay in her lane” is no different from telling a woman to “stay in her place,” and that’s where the chauvinist comes out for all to see.
For someone who makes a parasitic living off the glory of world-class athletes, you should be the first person to understand and respect the emotions and the reactions that produce such strong opinions from heated contests. But you’re also a man, and it’s much easier to condescend a woman in the process. How about you do us all a favor and stay in your place and only comment about the game.
Desmond Hardy is a sports enthusiast, feminist, and three time “Top Writer” recipient for global Q&A website Quora.