Serena Williams is taking back the word “crazy.” On Feb. 25, Nike premiered their new “Dream Crazier” campaign that featured Williams speaking over a montage of female athletes. The video highlights athletes from different sports smashing their tennis rackets, doubling over in anger and saluting the flag. It ends with Williams promising young girls that we should “show them what crazy can do.” In a social climate where women are constantly challenging the patriarchy and epitomizing the idea of the future being female, Nike has once again created an ad that is much needed.
Nike’s montage embodies the new era of female athletes. No longer are competitors going to be shamed if they are too muscular, too emotional, too passionate or too feminine. 2019 is about taking back every piece of slander and criticism that women have experienced. If Williams is taking back “crazy,” so is every other woman. Female athletes are constantly subjected to a double standard of showing emotion in their sport, which is commonly confused for mental instability and hysteria. When a male athlete is combative with a referee, he is passionate, but when Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes in the world, questions a referee, she is compared to an ape. A male athlete is not criticized for what he wears to compete, how often he clashes with the referees or how many times he lashes out of frustration.
In competition, all athletes are held to high standards, however there lies an inequality between female and male competitors. The disparity between athletics creates an inexcusable imbalance of respect for all athletes. Being an athlete is about supporting and empowering your fellow athletes, regardless of what sport one plays.
This ad not only reaches out to audiences of older female athletes; the young generation of future Olympians and athletes will see this ad and be inspired as well. Growing up in an environment where I was constantly told to “stick to ballet” or “only boys can play football,” I felt inferior to the male athlete. As a young girl, my gender should not be a precedent for what sports I can and cannot play. If a young girl wants to play a contact sport that has been traditionally seen as a “men’s sport,” let her. If a young boy wants to try dance or cheerleading, let him. One’s inferiority complex of being unable to adapt with the changing social climate should not be an excuse for the imbalance of equality between male and female athletes. As for the Nike ad, seeing one of the greatest athletes in the world challenge the traditional role of women in sports, not only empowers young athletes, but give them the motivation to break the barriers and compete in whatever sport they want to. Those individuals who are still subjecting woman to only partake in “feminine sports” are the same people who are consumed by their insecurity and fearfulness of a female having greater physical strength and endurance than themselves.
In 2019, where women have broken glass ceilings and continue to show strength in numbers, it is time to stop ridiculing female athletes for being too emotional or masculine in their sports. Stop demeaning a woman’s emotions in order to satisfy your need to feel superior. Rather than having a woman be invalidated by hysteria and the idea of her being crazy, we are finally taking crazy back.