“Maybe Now She Can Do Something *Useful*…”

There’s sharks, and cramps, and jellyfish,
And always, unknown factors
Diana beat them all this time
But still has her detractors
They comment on the internet
Belittling her feat
The brightest, smoothest commenters
You’d ever care to meet.
It’s not that they’re the jealous sorts
You notice now and then
It’s just that—she’s a woman,
And these commenters are men
She’s not allowed to show them up,
Achieving something cool—
They’re guys, and it’s the internet…
It’s almost like a rule.

I love watching someone do something I can’t. Whether it is the Olympics, or surgery, or car repair, photography, interviewing, music, dance… or Diana Nyad’s swim from Cuba to Florida. It really was astonishing to see–in a world where there is literally a queue of people lined up to summit Mount Everest each year, Nyad is the first, and currently the only, to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage or flippers (each of which makes a huge difference in terms of moving water). It is an incredible feat.

And the comments online are predictably horrid. This was a useless waste of time and effort, it was a publicity stunt done for high speakers fees, it was actually something so easy, because of the huge support team, and it’s only a first because no one else wanted to do it. Oh, yeah, and she’s fat and ugly. And they were everywhere I looked. CNN. Fox. Even NPR. (The comment quoted in my title has, sadly fortunately, since been deleted.)

I suppose the good news is, anyone can see what’s going on. Haters are hating, engaging in a concerted effort to belittle the less privileged (in this case, a woman) from the safety of a keyboard. If jellyfish, sharks, dehydration, and exhaustion didn’t stop Nyad, I don’t think internet comments are going to faze her in the slightest.

Here’s to you, Diana Nyad! Congratulations! Well done!


  1. says

    These dudes seem to have missed the fact (or perhaps they haven’t?) that long-distance swimming is an extreme sport in which women *rule*, and always have. And my understanding (which I am happy to be corrected on) is that it is precisely that extra body fat that enables these feats, both for buoyancy and insulation.

    Now whether *any* of these activities — distance swimming, scaling Mt. Everest, the Olympics — are *useful* is a fair question (and as far as I’m concerned, we can deep-six the last of that list any time, for reasons unrelated to athletics per se), but somehow I suspect these dudes would defend the merits of whatever sports they happen to admire, being done by dudely dudes. It’s just “chick” sports they’ve got no use for.

  2. DLC says

    The Dood corps strikes again. Anything cool done by a woman cannot possibly be worth doing, or have been done right, or been done without somehow cheating. What a bunch of crumbs.

  3. Trebuchet says

    You also forgot the homophobic comments. One on NPR said her swim wouldn’t have been covered if it weren’t for “the rainbow flag in the background” and another said “He’s going to change his name to Bradley Manning.” And that’s on NPR, which I think of as a bastion of liberalism.

  4. left0ver1under says

    Cuttlefish (#2) –

    Yes, there are scumbags out there, but mentioning Nyad’s age doesn’t have to be negative. For her to do it at 64 gives me (male, age 46) more incentive to continue working out and not slough off, seeing plenty of years ahead. And we always need more role models for women and girls to keep fit or get into sports.

    Eamon Knight (#4) –

    These dudes seem to have missed the fact (or perhaps they haven’t?) that long-distance swimming is an extreme sport in which women *rule*, and always have.

    And ultramarathon running, races over 100 miles in length. It’s one of the few sports where women and men compete directly, no gender categories. Many of the top women ultramarathon runners are over 40 years old.


  5. Cuttlefish says

    Mentioning her age can and should be a huge positive! I assume it was, in comment #1–but I assure you, it was not positive in all of the online comments!

  6. Pliny the in Between says

    All hail anyone who does not go quietly into that good night. Criticism is easy – which is why so many prefer it to doing anything themselves.

  7. A Hermit says

    I’m more then ten years younger and sore as hell today from a couple of hours of light carpentry yesterday,,,

    Nothing but respect from me.

  8. left0ver1under says

    Cuttlefish (#10) –

    I could have worded that better, though you did take it as it was intended.

  9. Onamission5 says

    From her Wiki bio:

    After graduating from Pine Crest School in 1967, she entered Emory University, but was eventually expelled for jumping out a fourth-floor dormitory window wearing a parachute

    I think I love her.

    It should be noted that Diana Nyad has been setting world records in endurance swimming since the early to mid 70’s, and that she is also very outspoken about the sexual abuse in her past. A force with which to be reckoned, for sure.

  10. StarStalker says

    Wait, most people need a shark cage? So she was risking her life for a stunt?

    I find it hard to respect people who do crazy things that could get them killed just to show off, gender notwithstanding. I’ve always disliked daredevils out of principle… if Evel Knieval had died during one of his stunts I would have put him up for a Darwin Award.

  11. says

    Yeah. She could have done something more useful. Like, I don’t know, maybe show the locals around here how to balance more than 7 plates on their arms while chowing down at the all-you-can-eat buffet. That would come in handy! * please read with sarcastic emphasis :-) *


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