Retired WNBA Player: Other Players Bullied Me Because I Was Straight
Retired WNBA star Candice Wiggins had a lot to say in a recent interview about what what she describes as a “harmful” bullying culture within the struggling league:
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply.
“There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs,” Wiggins said. “The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.
“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’”
Wiggins is working on a book tentatively titled “The WNBA Diaries” about her experiences in the league, so that should be kept in mind while reading the interview.
That being said, one can deduce that what she’s asserting is entirely possible, especially if her 98% guesstimate is anywhere close to accurate. In any environment where an overwhelming majority of a group is a particular type (white, or men, or hetero, etc), if you are not part of that majority, you are probably going to get treated differently because it’s human nature to treat people who aren’t like you in a different way.
But is it a “bad” kind of “differently”? This is anecdotal, of course, but I’ve worked in offices where the vast majority of my colleagues were men, and I was treated with a respect and courtesy that many of the men working there did not give each other. I’ve also worked in offices where the vast majority of my co-workers were women, and it was cut-throat, vicious, and the backstabbing was routine – against each other, but not the men.
There are a lot of unique scenarios out there where “differently” does not always equal “bad” but other situations where it very clearly is.
Wiggins’ situation falls into the latter category, if what she’s saying is true. We live in a society where the prevailing view is that it’s men who are holding us back, but there is not a woman in the workforce today who hasn’t been kicked in the tush by another woman who either cruelly used her female co-workers to get ahead, bullied female workers because she was in a position of power and authority, or who otherwise treated her female co-workers horribly simply because she was jealous of other women.
In short, women can be their own worst enemies – even worse sometimes than the men who are supposedly holding them back from greater things. And the more authority she gets, the worse off it can be.
Can you imagine a toxic atmosphere where most of the players you’re up against, or play alongside, are different than you and that “culture” is the norm and you are treated differently – rudely – because you don’t fit into the culture? Aren’t projecting the right “image” your collective group thinks you should be?
Hetero women in the workforce can be awful enough towards each other. But in an environment where you are conditioned to look, act, and compete like an [aggressive] man, as Wiggins suggests in her interview, can make it unbearable.
I look forward to Wiggins’ upcoming book.