Regular readers of the Ye Olde Blogge, and you know who you are, realize that we support mental health awareness and openness and all sorts of positive mental health stuff, so it should come as no surprise that we’re having a quickie with Naomi Osaka.
The first quickie: Osaka refused to talk to reporters during the French Open due to mental health concerns. The tennis associations and federations of the world decided to fine her $15,000.00. Osaka then withdrew from the tournament citing anxiety and having had long bouts of depression.
The second quickie: Piers Morgan and the rest of the folks that have been stuck in the morass of the 1950’s promptly lost they minds. It should be noted that Piers put the ass in morass, amirite? This is the same set of folks that think black folk shouldn’t be too uppity and be satisfied that whites tolerate their presences outside of slavery and that women should be subservient to men and will lie about rape just to have the attention and will use abortion as a means of birth control. These are the folks that are concerned more about their own needs — in Piers’ case sacrificing any dignity or self-respect he might have once had for even a small glimmer of relevance and notoriety proving once again that sometimes no attention is better than any attention.
I think that the push from the youth and progressive types and women and POC is to accept that they have a version of the truth and not just dismiss it out of hand. When someone says that they are having a problem, we should accept that it is possible that their experience of whatever situation was distressing for them whether it was intended that way or not.
The third quickie: The rule of thumb to follow is “If I could do it differently, I would,” when you’re dealing with these situations. No one wants the shit storm that accompanies accusations of sexual assault or harassment, bigotry, prejudice, racism, mistreatment, or mental health issues. No one wants that. Even the very few people who make false accusations — right Jussie Smollett? — do so because they are feeling desperate and like they don’t have any other options. And, just like with Smollett, when they make their accusation, we take it seriously, investigate, and decide what is accurate.
Nobody uses mental health issues as some kind of weapon to silence critics. No one. You know why? Because the world still condemns people with mental health issues as being deficient and lacking in character. You invite abuse when you try to openly discuss your mental health issues. The Piers Morgans of the world descend upon you sensing that there is fresh meat with which to breathe just a smidgen of life into their flagging careers and cratering self-esteem. Nobody wants that.
If Osaka felt like she had a choice, she woulda chosen to do the presser. Losing $15,000.00 looked better to her than doing the presser. When was the last time you had something so bad in your life that you were willing to pay $15,000.00 to get out of it? If she coulda done the press thing, she would’ve. We should accept that she felt it worth the $15,000.00 not to do it.
And the last quickie: Increasingly in North American schools, we accommodate students who have individual needs. When a student reports that their anxiety levels are so high, they can’t participate in some common school activity, we try to find a way to accommodate them. They don’t get out of any real requirement, they still have to meet it, but it may just look a little different than what everyone else is doing. And, you know what? Our schools aren’t seeing thousands of students rushing to get some kind of special accommodation for their special needs because those students know that their lives will be diminished by being labeled that kind of student.
People make fun of those that are perceived as being different. It is a common universal reaction. No one wants to invite that upon themselves. We need our group membership to survive.
The folks that run the French Open coulda responded to her differently. They coulda said, “Thank you for telling us this Ms Osaka. We are sorry that you find meeting groups of fifty or more reporters who are trying to attract readers through clickbait and satisfy rabid editors by writing about controversies even when none may exist is so stressful for you. What can we do to help you and satisfy the needs of the French Open for press coverage? Can we offer you a pool reporter? Give you a list of written questions? Allow you a video link? What will make it better for you?”
You know because accommodations exist. Not everything need be done in the same way all the time by everyone.