GQ cover sparks controversy: Serena is “woman” of the year

Wearing a black long-sleeved turtleneck leotard featuring a cutout at chest and accessorized with a Channel chain belt, Serena Williams graces the cover of GQ magazine, but it’s not her sexy appearance that got people talking, rather, it was a very strange caption that accompanies the photo: Introducing the 2018 “WOMAN” MEN OF THE YEAR.

Why did GQ put the word “woman” in quotation marks and why is the word “men” out there? I’ve heard some theories that Serena Williams is actually a man in disguise and many haters, or at least skeptics, have voiced their opinion under some Williams articles on my blog. But why is GQ mocking Serena? Let’s face it, the cover had to be approved by a team of people and how is it possible that no one saw anything wrong with the caption?

Trying to clarify the situation, Mick Rouse, a research manager for GQ, explained on Twitter that famed fashion designer Virgil Abloh, who created Serena’s 2018 US Open ballerina dress, has a habit of putting words in quotation marks and the word “woman” on the cover was handwritten by him. When we look at Serena’s dresses designed by Virgil, we do notice that words “logo” and “Serena” have quotation marks.

We could accept this explanation, but still, grammar rules and accepted punctuation norms are there for a reason, so magazines should not let some fashion designer write as he pleases. However, we can notice a trend of loosening grammatical boundaries. The latest dramatic example that comes to mind is slogan for Venus Williams’ new EleVen tennis collection which reads “She are the champions”.

Another thing backing up GQ’s explanation is that the word “men” is plural and there really are three other covers featuring men. By writing “men”, GQ probably wanted to emphasize that Serena is the only woman in the crowd.

The quotation marks probably wouldn’t have created such a big problem had Serena not been battling criticism for her muscular physique throughout her illustrious career:

I’ve been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage). It has been said I don’t belong in women’s sports — that I belong in men’s — because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it).

Serena’s father Richard has actually cultivated his daughter’s supposed masculinity — I can’t find the source now, but I remember reading that Richard said that he forced his daughters to train with boys when they were kids, because boys are stronger opponents and challenge way better than girls. Moreover, he compared Serena to a pit bull, as once she gets hold of you she doesn’t let go.

What do you think about all this mess? Do you you think it’s no big deal, do you accept GQ’s explanation or do you think there is some subliminal message?

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3 thoughts on “GQ cover sparks controversy: Serena is “woman” of the year

  1. Jacob

    Like you said, their was a room of editors approving this – how could they think this was appropriate? I find this very transphobic, essentially I see it as mocking Serena simply because of her body.

    I also did see why GQ or any publication has to say “man” or “woman” of the year? Why can’t it just be person?

    Regardless, congrats to Serena. She deserves it

  2. CLT

    I am horrified that Serena has received this award after her selfish behaviour at the US Open. I cna’t believe that a magazine like this would sanction her lack of sportpersonship after such a display. And there are plenty of other people who have come back after having a baby without talking about themselves so much. Re the inverted commas, yes the grammatical implication of them is that serena is not really a woman. It is amazing that it didn’t occur to someone at GQ that maybe thay weren’t such a good idea.

  3. Terlouw

    Move on CLT
    It is not up to you. how long people will complaining about usopen 2018 don ‘t you ever makes mistakes in your lief. Are you and others are that perfect. PLEASE
    Is it just Serena Williams in the world to justife every time she win a price. Why why .

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