Women be ‘crazy’? Serena Williams highlights the double standards women face at work

The Nike advert is the latest in a string of ‘woke’ ads from multinational corporations

Serena Williams argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her defeat to Naomi Osaka in the women’s singles finals at the US Open. Photograph: Jaime Lawson/Getty Images

Serena Williams argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her defeat to Naomi Osaka in the women’s singles finals at the US Open. Photograph: Jaime Lawson/Getty Images

 

Dramatic, nuts, delusional, unhinged, hysterical, irrational or crazy.

According to a new TV ad starring tennis legend Serena Williams, these are all words used to describe women showing emotion at work .

Nike’s latest ad narrated by Williams is the latest in a string of “woke” ads from multinational corporations. It aired during the 2019 Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday night.

The ad shows how men and women are perceived differently in moments of intense emotion – a divide Williams is familiar with after her dispute with an umpire at September’s US Open.

Williams was fined $17,000 by the US Open following the argument with umpire Carlos Ramos, in which she called Ramos a “thief”.

At the time, Williams spoke out against the fine, saying she’s seen male tennis players call umpires “several things”.

The controversial ruling sparked an international debate about the double standard for men and women who show emotion.

Williams’s argument with the umpire was depicted in a cartoon in an Australian newspaper. The caricature was of an angry Williams – with exaggerated lips and tongue and wild curly hair rising above her head as she stomped on her tennis racket. It was condemned as racist by civil rights leaders, celebrities and fans.

It has since been found not racist by the Australian watchdog.

The ad focuses on this difference in perception and how it can hinder women’s advancement in the workplace.

The ad suggests women may be penalised for acting “dramatic”, “hysterical” and overly “emotional”, while men in similar situations can be viewed as “passionate”.

So what to do? Well, the ad calls on women to accept the mantle of “crazy” while showing them “what crazy can do”, featuring women who achieved their dreams despite being perceived as such, including Williams, Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympics, and Lisa Leslie, the first woman to dunk a basketball in a WNBA game.

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