How J.K.Rowling demoted Serena Williams

What should have been the brilliant Serena Williams' moment has transformed into a J.K.Rowling defending Serena one. The tennis star has enough calibre and celebrity to withstand stray comments, if she pays heed to them at all.

Instead, by rushing to her rescue Ms Rowling has reduced that victory to victimisation.

It started with Rowling posting her praise for Serena on Twitter: "I love her. What an athlete, what a role model, what a woman!"

A fellow called Rob responded with, "Ironic then that main reason for her success is that she is built like a man."

That's when Rowling did what she is now all over the place for. She posted two pictures of Serena in a slinky, clingy gown, her contours emphasised, and captioned it, "'she is built like a man'. Yeah, my husband looks just like this in a dress. You're an idiot."

For doing this, Rowling is now celebrated for having "decimated", "destroyed" a troll. Seriously? Can't even imagine the search words she must have used to find these photographs. Was it "Serena looking like a woman" or "Serena's hips"?

Rob has an opinion about women's bodies, and he does not think twice about commenting on a tennis player's despite the fact that she has won due to stroke play and not what she looks like. But, is J.K.Rowling any different from the guy who is denounced as a "body shamer"? One may accuse him of being wrong, or of misogyny, but has he shamed Serena?

Why would being built like a man qualify as shame? If a graceful male dancer is said to be built like a woman, would that be an insult? It ought not to.

I am surprised that the media has gone all pulp prose to commend Rowling, who should in fact be ticked off. She posts a picture of Serena looking 'feminine' and goes on to highlight it. What if she did not have those curves, would she then be less of a person of the female gender?

Not all women are built in the mould that a Rowling fancies as representative, just as not all men are uniform in build that Rob implies.

Worse, Serena is objectified not by the unknown man, but by this celebrity author. It's almost like a put-on display to justify to that Rob guy that she is all woman, all flesh. This is body shaming because it feels the need to prove that it is the desirably accepted female body and not what a guy from somewhere suggests it is.

Serena has won a title at Wimbledon. Her body has not. So, J.K. Rowling and her cheerleaders in the media and social media, bereft of nuance, can just shut up. And perhaps grow up.


  1. Agree with the broader point. But celeb objectification is always, always, a two-sided game. Not unlike lawn tennis!

    A person who wants to keep it private usually can.

    In my view, God makes every woman beautiful. From one prism, I will look and sound oh-so-feminist. Change the POV a little and lo behold, I turn into a sexist ogre.

  2. Everything has more than one side, but objectification can best be judged by the person objectified.

    So, by your logic you might not be a feminist or an ogre, but just beholden to god!

  3. Hi Farzana,

    I'm enjoying your new theme. Predominant blues and greens surrounded by a black background are a refreshing change – if only in contrast to the former reds and yellows retained over at least two transformations I can recall. And the “space” motif is especially intriguing – quite the departure from what I previously saw as more earth-bound arrangements – but then, maybe not, as there appears to be room to see a gestating fetus at the center of the translucent sphere, and the which is further suggested by cherubic arms and hands directing our attention thither to. The two combine to give it an almost "space odyssey" feel – perhaps both an inner- and outer-space sort of odyssey, depending on one's perspective? Outwardly oriented or no?

    I am also enjoying your recent flurry of posts. By enjoying, of course, I refer to your exquisitely edgy (aka “subtle” or, forgive me, even “nuanced”) *style* of composition (terribly missed during your somewhat overlong hiatus) and not necessarily the topic it may address. I highlight style because, on some topics ("Hanging Yakub Memon," for example), I don't know enough, really, to be gratified or stung in my closely held point-of-view; but I did, nevertheless, recognize the hyperbole in your “dark comedy” bit.

    Trust, therefore, you to above spot Rowling's . . . well, “decimating,” perhaps, defense of a feminine ideal in coming (perhaps Atticus Finch-like) to Serena's rescue. Rowling's interlocutor would seem to have been provoked by her effusions (“what a role model[!],” in particular, it seems to me, in that the main reason role models are usually put forward is as exemplars for success). Perhaps Rob was commenting on athletes as role models generally, that the raised and rising bar of success requires ever more extraordinary measures? That said, certainly the anterior and posterior photos of Rowling's devastating rejoinder shows Serena knows how to dress for success . . .


    Ps. Will you have an update on your remodeling adventures – perhaps a word on the disposition of those lovely pieces sacrificed to the cause? :)

    1. Hi Mark:

      Your word — "decimating" — is what I might have used in the title. But "demoting" is what came to me, and in my usual fashion I decided to go with instinct! Also, decimation makes the person into a sorry figure; demotion is only in rank, not skill.

      Ah, Atticus Finch...and racist undertones...white saviour.

      I agree with you that role models are promoted for their already successful lives, but surely Rob would not talk about a female gymnast in the same manner. I do believe that in Rob's world "built like a man" is probably the only way for an athlete to succeed, which is what he put forth.

      {certainly the anterior and posterior photos of Rowling's devastating rejoinder shows Serena knows how to dress for success...}

      ...not success, but celebrity.

      I can only imagine poor Rob wondering whether Kim Kardashian might indeed have a tennis player inside her waiting to come out...

      PS: Quite chuffed that you asked about the remodeling of the blog. Thanks! Shall respond in a separate comment here.

    2. Farzana,

      Briefly, my "decimating" pointed back to the Rowling posse's "decimating" cited in your post. But no matter, you are quite correct in quite graciously steering the emphasis back to your instinctive "demotion," as it is clearly the stronger, more evocative word. Can I plead distraction? :)


  4. Mark:

    About the template...first, it's wonderful when it gets noticed and there is feedback on what is often seen as mere background. 

    Long years ago, there were greens and blues too, although not together. Perhaps I am back to non-earthly concerns? 

    The theme has a lot to do with contextual shift. For example, I am not as ready now to talk about personal struggles of an emotional and spiritual nature, partly at least because the so-called wired world is a double-edged sword where the mesh is the maul (the subheads of the blog title). The black and white judgementalism portrayed on the right with palms are two sides of the same coin.

    The cherubic arms are a witness to it and, to an extent my idealism says, an assertion of purity despite everything.

    Let me add that I've taken some positive images and distorted them here, which now seems ironical given the intent.

    {an almost "space odyssey" feel – perhaps both an inner- and outer-space sort of odyssey, depending on one's perspective? Outwardly oriented or no?}

    I am rarely outwardly oriented, and space is itself an introspection into the unknown or enigmatic. I suppose the outward world's lack of nuance pushes one inward!

    About style of blogposts, except for some brevity, I did not think about it. Maybe I'm just lazier than I used to be!

    {Ps. Will you have an update on your remodeling adventures – perhaps a word on the disposition of those lovely pieces sacrificed to the cause? :) }

    What lovelies are you talking about? I must know, for not often do I hear about any lovelies here:-)

    PS: I must be a fakir, for I spend time over creating the masthead image quite aware that passersby, even some readers, if they notice, might think of it as a stock image or collage!

  5. Au contraire, thank YOU, Farzana. I had put some thought into your . . . well, "collage," perhaps, and am quite gratified that you (finally) favoured us with its intended feeling.

    >>Maybe I'm just lazier than I used to be!<<

    Maybe. :)

    >>What lovelies are you talking about?<<

    What lovelies?!? Why, only that quite substantial roll-top desk and couch that were victim . . . well, let's see, there was plaster falling all around you, then it became that your balcony was in pieces . . . "remodeling adventures" was euphemism in case you yet bore any trauma from the experience. Above, you and Footloose had discussed objectification, and the images you formerly posted of the roll-top and sofa came to mind. At the time, you were somewhat casual about it; but it can't have been as easy parting with those pieces as you let on. That is, if you did indeed, ultimately, part with them? :)

  6. Of course, "credible" international inspectors will be dropping by to verify. :)

    1. Those lovelies are gone, Mark...and indeed I would write about new discoveries post remodeling that has turned out to be quite distressing...,

      Re. Pt 2. "incredible!"

    2. Re. Pt 2. Actually, "credible" isn't mine. It popped up quite often yesterday as I browsed the news. The word -- and the frequency of its use -- seemed to me demoting in a way. :)

      If I may (I must know, it's been nagging at me all day), "quite distressing"? Dis-tressing? Hair gone too? And how do you mean "would write"? In the old-school way, or is there an impediment?

  7. Mark:

    Indeed, the credible seems like a demotion, a favour, or, as we are so fond of saying, appeasement.

    It is distressing when you have to give up, as well as the whole process of change. "Would write"...call it old world lazinesss...again :)


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