Ayesha Curry is a Sobering Reminder That Cozying Up to the Patriarchy Won’t Save You

Ayesha Curry has made quite a name for herself as the wife of NBA baller Stephen Curry. The couple and their two children have become something like the royal family of the NBA; the wholesome allure of their family rivals that of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s brood. Their outspoken toddler Riley won our hearts after she accompanied her father to a press conference last year and spoke freely as he attempted to answer questions from the press. Steph himself has charmed fans off the court with public sightings of him spending his pre-game time not at clubs, but at a Joel Olsteen event. And when the Golden State Warriors point guard humbly admitted to using Uber just like any other millennial, it was easy to see why he’s loved by millions.

And then there’s queen Ayesha, whose looks reveal that she was once an actress and model. The loyalist wife and mother, who has used her platform to uplift her lifestyle blog and recently charmed her way into a new show on the Food Network, is a shining example of ideal heterosexual womanhood. She is the woman that overprotecting dads want their daughters to be.

To say that Ayesha Curry has been put on a pedestal would be an understatement. She has cashed in on all of the promises that are made to women in return for being pious and domestic in service to your man — a secure marriage and a well off family. She occupies a position that other women, even those with no such ambitions, are forced relentlessly to vie for under the limiting demands of heteronormative patriarchy. It’s been debated whether or not she is aware of her privilege under said system since she made an offhand comment late last year about women wearing revealing clothes… and how she was so different from them.

While feminist side eyes turned into subtweets and direct mentions, chastising Ayesha for pitting women against each other, slut shaming, and #PickMeTwitter-mongering, men from all walks of life rushed in to defend her. Never could the evils of feminism or a general desire for women not to be shaded for everyfuckingthing be allowed to disrespect princess Ayesha. In fact, for many of these gentlemen, dissent over Ayesha’s comment meant that all hope for a world where women only use their sexuality and opinions in the service of marriage and male desires was lost. Riding right past the point on their white horses, these men stormed Twitter to banish all traces of what they perceived to be hoeism to where it belonged, their private text inboxes.

Their message was heard loud and clear. Like a well played game of chess, the queen was protected and would keep her seat on the throne in this here sexist kingdom. Meanwhile, those of us who knew better got a kick out of memes like these.

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But when Steph Curry was ejected from game 6 of the NBA championship finals last week, in which a victory would have secured his team the championship, queen Ayesha did something that shocked and angered those who were once so loyal to her. She used her opinion to speak on sports. In a deleted tweet, she claimed that the game was rigged. She had stepped out of bounds and was no longer in alignment with the code of patriarchal femininity. Ayesha was dangerously toeing the line that separated her from the other heinous women that she was so often used to shame and ridicule. According to some, she had crossed that line. In perhaps the most blatant example of gender bias and paternalistic patronization, part-time sports commentator and full-time clown Stephen A. Smith went on a long winded rant condemning Ayesha’s tweet, juxtaposing her actions with her adorability and bright future.

I want to state upfront that I don’t think that Ayesha Curry is a bad person who got what was coming to her. She could be, but I think that she, like many people, are clueless about the realities of sexism and how it works to prop up some women while knocking down others. This cluelessness is the reason she saw no harm in prefacing a statement about her own views on clothing, and how important they apparently are in a relationship, with a statement about trends that she doesn’t follow. It is also why I don’t think she ever expected to feel the wrath of masculinity when she suggested that its beloved basketball league was imperfect and set up against her husband.

Ayesha Curry was used by patriarchy as a tool to reinforce its narrow ideals for women, and when she failed to meet one of those ideals (which involves being seen and not heard) she was discarded and judged just as harshly as the girls in the revealing clothes that she spoke out against. This is an important lesson, because the temptation for oppressed groups to pledge allegiance to the same rhetoric that contributes to their lackluster circumstances can be strong. Straight gays and black Republicans are a testament to this fact.

But let this be a warning that sexism is friendly to no one. As a wise woman, one I’ll assume the likes of Ayesha Curry has never even heard of, once said: The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.