Umpires and Genders

Recently Ronnie O’Sullivan (an English snooker player) has suggested in an interview that umpires should start judging their own genders events with no crossover. His statement is a response to Serena Williams’ accusations that Carlos Ramos ruled her unfairly during the US Open final. In his statement, O’Sullivan says “female referees are very good but females should referee female matches because they understand how a woman thinks.”

This belief comes from the socialized assumption that women who are speaking out are being “hysterical” and have no control over their emotions. Elizabeth V. Spelman’s Woman as Body (1982) analyses Plato’s body-mind concept; this analysis helps us understand how O’Sullivan and society in large believes men and women to be controlled by different forces (body and mind) and therefore each gender is not likely to be able to understand the other. From Spelman’s work, we see how as a society we have been socialized to believe that a man’s choice to question a ruling in sport is seen as intelligent thought, while a woman’s outburst comes from a more primal place of anger and cannot be understood by a man because it is not intelligent.

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