Tiger Woods is receiving heat from some, and applaud from others, for giving fellow golfer Justin Thomas a tampon during the Genesis Invitational. Many media outlets covered this story, including People, which was sparked by a photo captured of the actual tampon hand-off being made.
The "joke" very clearly indicates that handing Thomas a tampon equates to calling him a girl, which was used in a way to say Thomas's golf game sucked. The context of the joke also very clearly indicates this intention, since it happened right after Woods outdrove Thomas.
Those defending Woods have used every excuse from "locker room" talk to complaining that women are "too sensitive" (an age old tactic to discredit things women say).
But the feminine joke is a real issue, and it plays a major role in continuing the oppression of women and feminine expression. In fact, there are studies done on this very thing, such as this study by sociologist Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoskin, an expert in the field of feminine studies.
So let's break down what this joke meant: "You need a tampon, because that drive you just made sucked so you must be a girl." Concluding that girls suck at golf. That's the joke.
Joking about the incompetence, or skill set, or value of women, very directly relates to how those who identify and present as women are treated in our society. Women STILL have a harder time advancing their career, staying physically safe, being trusted with their experiences, being believed by medical professionals, having our needs considered by our government, not being objectified, not being excluded.
And golf has been used as an excluder for quite some time now. It's how professionals network, sell, make deals. Companies use the sport for huge outings, charity events. These practices have been normalized over many decades, starting during a time when women didn't hold jobs that involved socially golfing for business benefits, nor were women even ALLOWED on golf courses. And yet still today, even though 75% of golfers identify as male, companies feel inclusively secure under the idea that women are invited, instead of finding an activity that everyone can feel comfortable at.
And there lies this idea of "locker room talk". Golf is male dominated, and so comments like this are common (or so says the defenders of Woods).
If Woods had verbalized this joke and made it to a woman, would it be different? Worse? My guess is less people would be defending him, but a joke between two men, two "buddies", two people who are in the group of society who have oppressed women and the group of people who need to change the most in order for there to be true gender equality, has the same implications as making the joke directly to a woman.