Why GQ Called Serena Williams A "Woman" With Quotation Marks

Why? Why the quotation marks?

Serena Williams is a woman. She had a baby last year, if for any inexplicable reason anyone needed confirmation of this.

Yet GQ Magazine has attracted criticism for naming the greatest female tennis player of all time as its "Woman" of The Year for 2018 -- with the word "woman" in quotation marks.

People's reactions have ranged between confused and pretty darned angry.

The underlying issue here is that Williams has been body shamed countless times in her career by those who consider her too muscular or not feminine enough.

"People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I’m strong," she said earlier this year.

In the context of that sort of misogyny and hatred, why did GQ do it?

READ MORE: Sorry, Serena, But An Umpire Enforcing The Rules Is Not Sexism

Well, the magazine explains its thinking as follows in a blurb on the contents of this issue:

GQ worked up a special surprise cover collaboration with Virgil Abloh— the Off-White designer behind her coolest on-court looks in 2018— featuring his signature quotation marks in his own handwriting.

The last bit is the important bit. The words on the front cover were hand-written by well-known designer Virgil Abloh, whose distinctive designs often include quotation marks around words.


The problem here is that most people don't understand the context.

Most people haven't heard of Virgil Abloh. And even if they have, they might not realise the GQ cover wording was his. Not everyone reads a magazine's credits, after all.

This is the point many people are now making -- that without context, it just reads like the magazine is making some sort of distasteful statement.

While the magazine clearly meant no offense, it's a bit like an in-joke that falls flat when retold to a much wider audience.