Our women’s cricket team plays one test in 8 years, women footballers protest astro-turf, and a Russian tennis official cracks an unpardonable joke.
There are many ways to show sexism, and it’s not always as obvious as asking your women employers to rely on Karmic justice for their raises!
Three recent stories from the world of sports show the huge chasm between the glamorous orbits inhabited by the likes of Messi and Federer, when compared to the more earthly struggles of their female counterparts. Across the world, sportswomen continue to be paid less, play in suboptimal conditions, and receive only some of the respect accorded to their male counterparts.
Earlier this week the head of the Russian Tennis Federation referred to to Serena Williams as a man in a talk show, once again exposing the inherent sexism in the sport.
I was at the Olympics and saw Maria Sharapova play her… him…,” said Ivan Urgant, the host of an aptly named nighttime interview show, Evening Urgant.
“…One of the Williams brothers,” Shamil Tarpischev finished.
This is not the first time Serena Williams has been subjected to such comments, even if her achievements mean that she’s likely the greatest American sportsperson of this generation. But some of the best sports journalists and commentators continue to deny her talent, choosing to focus instead on how she doesn’t look like the pinup model they want their female sportspersons to be!
Of course, as the article notes, we ARE talking here about a sport in which a top player like Tsonga can get away with saying this just a year ago!
You know, the girls, they are more unstable emotionally than us. I’m sure everybody will say it’s true, even the girls… No? No, you don’t think?” He added: “But, I mean, it’s just about hormones and all this stuff. We don’t have all these bad things, so we are physically in a good shape every time, and you are not. That’s it.”
Meanwhile female soccer players continue to fight with FIFA to be allowed to play on grass (where, you know, the men play) instead of on artificial turf in the next World Championship in Canada.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Canada was the only country that contested to host the 2015 Women’s World Cup?
The women suing FIFA and the CSA have three main reasons that this discrimination harms the women who will play in the Cup. It forces them to “compete on a surface that fundamentally alters the way the game is played,” leaves them vulnerable “to unique and serious risks of injury,” and devalues “their dignity, state of mind, and self-respect as a result of requiring them to play on a second-class surface before tens of thousands of stadium spectators and a global broadcast audience.” Bam.
“Instead of acting as foster mother, step-motherly treatment is given to WCAI. Neither we are getting the ground nor technical support like availability of coaches etc. It (BCCI) failed to hold any Test Match of women’s cricket during the last eight years, she said.”
In the last eight years the “richest sports board in the world” has sent its women for only one test, while a cursory look at Wikipedia tells us that the men’s team has played in excess of 85 test matches in the same period. Can we spare some of the windfall of IPL on supporting a women’s team that is hungry for success and willing to stretch?
We’d like to pretend that these stories surprise us, but they don’t. As far as sports officials are concerned, women continue to live in an unequal world. We may not be able to directly impact the way they think since we don’t quite fall into their demographic of “young dynamic male viewers”. But what we can do is to watch more of women’s sports, play more ourselves, and get our daughters to play more sports. Maybe that will make a difference?
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