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Candice Wiggins WNBA

We feel for anyone who has felt hurt, abused and rejected. But for Candice Wiggins, how much of it came from cis-hetero entitlement, internalized misogyny and homophobia?

Former WNBA player Candice Wiggins says she was bullied by fellow WNBA players for being heterosexual.

“It wasn’t like my dreams came true in the WNBA. It was quite the opposite,” Wiggins told the San Diego Tribune. She describes a “very, very harmful” culture within the WNBA, one which she was bullied for the eight years of her career. Wiggins claims that the abuse caused her to quit the league earlier than she had planned.

“I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state,” Wiggins said. “It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It’s not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. … My spirit was being broken.”

The former basketball player was a star at Stanford, averaging 19.2 points per college game, which dropped to an average of 8.6 when she turned pro.

“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.”

Let it be known: there is no data to support this (most likely grossly exaggerated) statistic. If LGBT women and those who would play under WNBA rules had the opportunity to work in such a tremendously lesbian and queer industry, every single lesbian athlete that I know would be vying for a position in the league. Job security, dating opportunities, an industry ruled by women and a giant gay conspiracy — could this be heaven?

Sarcasm aside, I feel for anyone who has felt hurt, abused and rejected from the spaces which they have tried to belong. But how much of it came from cis-hetero entitlement, internalized misogyny and homophobia?

In fact, Stanford Cardinals head coach Tara VanDerveer chimed in on the issue. “I don’t know that math was ever Candice’s strength. That, to me, sounds homophobic and negative.”

“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.”

Related: WNBA Fining Players For Protesting Police Brutality Is Misogynoir At Its Finest

“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 further claims that she was rejected by fellow WNBA players because of her femininity. “It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men,” she said. “So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”

Wiggins makes a truly legit argument here. In many businesses, women often begin to mirror toxic masculinity in order to get ahead in a “man’s world.” However, one cannot speculate on the reason why this alleged hostility was there without having all of the facts, and it simply does not align with the experience of other players.

Imani Boyette, a center for the Chicago Sky, responded to Wiggins’ claims. “There is literally a woman from every walk of life in the league, which is why I love it so much. I have never experienced the bullying you spoke about, and I hope no one else ever does.”

Monique Currie, forward for the San Antonio Stars, also had something to say in response to Wiggins’ claims. “Wiggins needs to check her privilege at the door and not group her very unfortunate personal experiences on an entire group of women,” Currie wrote in her blog.

“The WNBA has allowed many of us to live a dream. I pray that Candice does find peace with her life and is able to move forward without devaluing or diminishing what’s been priceless to so many others in the league,” says DeLisha Milton-Jones, an assistant coach at Pepperdine University, whose personal experience was a “complete contradiction of what’s been stated by Candice.”

“It’s important that we establish what it means to have the right to speak out, but also what it means to be accountable for what you say,”  Layshia Clarendon, guard for the Atlanta Dream, told ESPN. “Because what Candice is saying includes stereotypes and damaging words to an entire group.”

Wiggins has since set her eyes on a new sport: beach volleyball. Her reasons for the newfound happiness sound strangely cis-sexist and barbed, though: she says the sport is a “celebration of women and the female body as feminine, but strong and athletic. … It’s really the culture I’m signing up for. This is really who I am.”


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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