Can women rock sports? AP says "neigh"

Serena Williams is the AP's Female Athlete of the Year. Don't ask who came in second

Published December 23, 2009 9:24PM (EST)

On Monday, Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote about her Google search for "female athlete of the decade," which yielded a bunch of results about the most attractive lady sports stars, regardless of talent or accomplishment. Her infuriating conclusion: The wisdom of the crowd dictates that "women in sports equals hotness in sports!" 

But this year, with its list of finalists for Female Athlete of the Year, the Associated Press chose to honor an overlooked category of sportswomen, one definitely not (we hope, anyway) centered on fuckability: The equine division. No, I don't mean "equestrian" -- out of the top 10 vote-getters, two were horses. All of the male finalists, just in case you were wondering, were human.

Now, I don't doubt that Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are a credit to their sport -- in fact, Zenyatta was the first ever female horse to win the Breeder's Cup Classic, while Rachel was the first filly to win the Preakness since 1924. Way to bust the glass ceiling, gals! Nevertheless, I can't help noticing that they are not human, which -- call me speciesist -- is something I usually expect from an "athletes of the year" list. Perhaps if the AP folks had given the subject a bit more thought, they might instead have chosen to honor, say, Rosemary Homeister, who in 2009 became the second most successful female jockey of all time. Or, you know, any other two women in sports, leaving Zenyatta and Rachel to duke it out for Horse of the Year. Something more like that?

The AP's official pick for Female Athlete of the Year was announced today, and I'm happy to report that human being Serena Williams took the title, beating out the second place winner by 48 votes. You know who that was, though? Zenyatta! Kim Clijsters, Lindsey Vonn and Diana Taurasi, all of whom placed after the mare, can suck it, apparently. 

The good news for the runners up -- and other actual female athletes -- is that it seems Zenyatta won't be racing in 2010, so maybe more two-legged candidates will stand a chance next year. As long as they're hot, of course.


By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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