What do female athletes have to do?


I’m not sure what else I can say that hasn’t already been said in The Guardian’s article by Laura Bates from earlier this week, however to summarise, two very different athletes in two very different situations found themselves demonstrating to the world in very different ways that women’s sport is still not taken seriously enough.

First up, the lovely Beth Tweddle and the Twitter sphere.  You know Beth, Olympic medal winning gymnast, triple world champion, first British gymnast to win a medal at European and World level, pretty much single handedly raise the profile of women’s gymnastics in the UK? Yes that’s the one.  Anyway, earlier this week Beth took part in a Twitter Q&A session for Sky Sports, where budding gymnasts and sports fans could tweet in their messages for Beth to answer (as is the mechanism behind a Twitter Q&A…). Or at least that was the concept, however on actually opening the Tweet-in Beth became the target of those horrendous Twitter Trolls that lurk around under their dank bridges of anonymity waiting to attack.  Instead of questions about what it felt like to win world gold medals or compete at an Olympics on home soil, she was instead ridiculed about her looks, her sex life and pretty much called a peodophile when a tweet about when she started gymnastics was taken out of context.

On the other side of the planet an interviewer at the Australian Open caused any follower of women’s sport to spontaneously feel the need to beat their head repeatedly against a brick wall thanks to a riveting post match interview with Canadian tennis golden girl Eugenie Bouchard. After beating Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, Bouchard not only got a step closer to the final, but also became the first Canadian to reach a semi-final in 30 years.  Quite an achievement for someone who hasn’t even left her teens yet.  The post-match interviewer’s job was pretty much written for her by being gifted a country’s newest tennis hope, however I guess the broadcast team wanted to put their own little spin on it.  Unfortunately this spin was one that involved not asking about tennis and instead questioning Bouchard on who her dream celebrity date would be.  Yes, after years of training, early mornings, aches, pains and travel Bouchard was repaid for it all by being treated with the same amount of respect as you would a reality TV participant. Worst of all, it was her response of the Pop-Boy-Robot Justin Bieber as her dream date (this was pre the whole drink driving/drag racing/arrest situation) that took the headlines in some papers.

Add to that jibes made on twitter about the lack of crowd turning out to watch the Women’s Ashes despite the fact England Women have possibly already scored more runs than the England men did in their entire Ashes Series and once again we’re given a picture of the complete double standards and pressure heaped on female athletes.  It’s the same tired argument again and again and reflects not only an issue in the sports world, but in society as a whole.  What do sports women need to do to be taken seriously as apparently being an Olympic medalist or setting a new precedent for your country’s sporting achievement isn’t it?


images from wikipedia.org/Beth_Tweddle and NYtimes.com (thanks!)


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