array(13) {
  ["body_id"]=>
  string(30) "let-us-all-be-billie-jean-king"
  ["page_id"]=>
  int(89)
  ["page_content_id"]=>
  int(89)
  ["page_title"]=>
  string(30) "Let Us All Be Billie Jean King"
  ["page_description"]=>
  string(333) "Researchers have quantified the tax on women, and the tax on mothers, but I don’t think they’ve quantified this extra tax in the shape of the resources (time, energy, and mental load) we give to our communities of fellow professional women. It doesn’t feel like an elective activity like a craft hobby, playing video games, ..."
  ["post_type"]=>
  string(4) "post"
  ["title_bar"]=>
  NULL
  ["title_bar_enabled"]=>
  bool(true)
  ["masthead_url"]=>
  string(0) ""
  ["is_single"]=>
  bool(true)
  ["is_archive"]=>
  bool(false)
  ["is_search"]=>
  bool(false)
  ["is_search_result"]=>
  bool(false)
}


Researchers have quantified the tax on women, and the tax on mothers, but I don’t think they’ve quantified this extra tax in the shape of the resources (time, energy, and mental load) we give to our communities of fellow professional women. It doesn’t feel like an elective activity like a craft hobby, playing video games, or an athletic pursuit. It feels like a compulsory extra period at school that you have to take just for survival or else you’ll drop out. Only women and people of color have to take this extra class.

Sometimes all a man has to do is put some conscious thought into how he does the job he already does during his normal workday, and he can be lauded as a hero and gilded with the title of “ally” to women. And yet, I also know that I am privileged myself. As a majority Asian person in tech I know that Latino and Black talent face even more struggles than I, so I try to be an ally from where I stand. At the same time that I say men could do more, I know that I could do more, too.

So, when Billie Jean King won that tennis match for all of womanhood, I totally understand why she had a good cry afterward. It was such a huge accomplishment that took everything she had to give at the time, but we know it would never be enough. She had to know before she even accepted the challenge that people would discount her victory because Bobby was retired, 55 years old, and some would even speculate that he threw the match intentionally. When you’ve given your all, and even achieved the goal you set for yourself, but are faced with an even longer journey ahead, it can be pretty soul-crushing.

Media and the Patriarchy

I love when a woman’s story, which has long been buried under a male-dominated narrative, gets told. There’s a scene where Jack Kramer, the man who refused to pay women athletes equal prize money, spins his reason for why he is missing from the commentary at this historic match. Billie Jean gets visibly upset because Jack’s “alternative facts” just got heard ‘round the world during the television broadcast.

“I voluntarily stepped down so she couldn’t blame me if she lost” — after BJK blocked him from being a commentator by refusing to play if he was chosen

It felt so much like Ellen K. Pao’s recounting of her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins. In her book Reset, she posits that Kleiner used their substantial resources to hire a PR firm that flooded the internet to tear down her reputation. The term “court of public opinion” exists because it’s true. The person who controls the media can stack the odds in his favor in a legal case.

Athletics: We’re still fighting for equal pay!?

Right off the bat, this movie made it clear that Billie Jean formed the Women’s Tennis Association because the incumbent tennis federation refused to pay women equal prize money for equal tickets sold to spectators who wanted to see their matches.

My first thought was, “I‘ve heard this before, except it’s still happening today more than 40 years after the women of tennis demanded it. Abby Wambach spoke at the Watermark Conference in 2016 about the current US Women’s Soccer Team’s fight for equal pay.” Everyone knows the women’s team wins more and is more famous. Why is there even a pay gap in this direction?

Watch the Today Show interview of the team about their suit

#shortgirlproblems

There is a limit to what the internet can provide. Instead of a still of the awkward awkward Howard Cosell-Rosie Casals co-commentating the match, I give you this equally creepy image of Joe Biden with unwelcome hands on your shoulders.

The creepiest visual in the movie was of the TV commentators who were calling the match. Howard Cosell represented the men and had his arm around the shoulders of petite Rosie Casals, BJK’s friend and fellow tennis star, the whole time. It’s that alpha-male dominant body language that makes it impossible for the woman to appear confident or capable. Apparently the moviemakers edited the actress Natalie Morales into the actual historical TV footage because you wouldn’t believe that it really happened that way unless you saw it yourself. The real Rosie Casals has actually gone on record about how terrible that experience was. I couldn’t find any images of it on the internet so now you really, really have to watch the movie so you can see it.


It’s a stretch to imagine that my anxiety over speaking up in a meeting is anywhere comparable to the pressure BJK must have felt going into this match, watched live, by 90 million people worldwide, knowing for certain that the value of all women’s worth rested on her individual shoulders. But she rose to the challenge, and after seeing this film I have been inspired to rise to my daily micro-challenges with the same conviction and confidence that I saw from her. Battle of the Sexes won’t be in theaters much longer, so go see it this weekend and get inspired to #BeLikeBillieJean.