21 March 2011
Apparently if I want to achieve true popularity as a blogger, I’ll stop talking about silent film and focus on women’s basketball phenom Brittney Griner, who’s a sophomore at Baylor. Yesterday 150 people came to this site for Griner alone — and they didn’t get here due to searching for more info about her amazing basketball chops, or even just her physical dimensions (she’s 6’8″, wears a men’s size 17 shoe, and her wingspan stretches to 86″). No, the Google searches that bring people to my site have to do with gender, biological sex, and sexual orientation:
- brittney griner a man
- is brittney griner a man
- brittney griner girlfriend
- brittney griner makeover
- brittney griner in a dress
- brittney griner gender
- brittney griner lesbian?
- is brittney griner xxy
- brittney griner in regular clothes
- brittney griner dressed up
This isn’t new. Ever since reporting on Griner a couple of times last year I’ve seen searches like this. So the question is, should I get cranky about these searches, or view them with a certain optimism? Should I explode and yell, Do you honestly think that anyone who plays basketball this well must be a man? Do you honestly think that this fact would have slipped by unnoticed by the NCAA, just like Barack Obama’s “Kenyan” birth supposedly slipped by US Constitutional rules?
On the other hand, maybe people read this blog and conclude, “Hey, maybe it doesn’t matter whether she’s XXY or gay or whatever, and I can just focus on thinking she’s awesome!” Or that women search for brittney griner lesbian? because they’re hoping they might have a chance with her. That they look at this image above, which I found last year on her personal website, precisely because it doesn’t try to prettify her according to some Vogue magazine version of sex appeal — instead it shows exactly the kind of female masculinity that Judith/Jack Halberstam discusses (and embodies).
Most of all, searches like this are a reminder to me that women’s sports remains one of those weird zones where a lot of people want to police gender lines and norms for femininity. Get over it, people, and — in the immortal words of En Vogue, free your minds, and the rest will follow. (But damn, remember how much En Vogue traded on their Vogue-ready looks and hotness quotient? Why oh why must it be this way?)