Women athletes have been subjected to sexism since the time they started playing sports – which in itself happened quite late because of misogyny. With time, things have certainly improved but we still have a very long way to go. These smart and capable women are not taking any of it now, though. They are calling out sexist comments with confidence and we are proud of them for doing that.
1. When Sania Mirza was 18, a fatwa was issued against her for the clothes she was wearing on the court. So, India’s tennis legend started wearing T-shirts with messages like – you can either agree with me – or be wrong and I’m cute? No shit. Savage.
She never changed the way she dressed, and for that, we are immensely proud. Here’s what she said, about the whole issue:
How I dress is a very personal thing. As long as I am winning, people shouldn’t care whether my skirt is six inches long or six feet long. It is scary that every time I wear a T-shirt, it becomes a talking point for the next three days.
2. On Footwork With the Famous, Simone Biles was asked by a judge why she didn’t smile when judges gave her good reviews. And she responded, “Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals”.
The judge was Tom Bergeron and he owned up to his mistake later.
3. Reporter Bill Simons had the nerve to tell Serena Williams, “We’re in this together, baby”, after she gave birth to her daughter and returned to tennis. Williams quickly corrected him and said, “No, we’re not; you’re not going home to a screaming baby”.
He only made things worse with his next question. This interview was basically a masterclass in how to not conduct interviews.
I have never physically cringed as hard as when I read this in Serena’s transcript. Wow. pic.twitter.com/60wnSWG6En— Jeff Donaldson (@jdd_tennis) June 2, 2018
4. Jwala Gutta, while acknowledging that sexist comments affect women they are directed towards, also added this perspective to the whole conversation about women athletes’ looks.
Is there any rule that female sportspersons shouldn’t look good? I’m someone who likes to do her hair, nails, etc and want to be presentable. If I look a certain way, it doesn’t mean I’m ‘fast’ or ‘active’, which are milder comments among the lot. It’s just a personal choice. So how does that make me ‘easy to get’, and all the other prefixes that are being attached?
5. When Alex Morgan was criticised for her ‘sipping tea’ celebration, she reminded everyone how men are never questioned for their celebratory gestures which are far more in-your-face, and generally offensive.
She made the gesture after the USA defeated England, and we believe she was very correct in saying that the amount of criticism she got for it was not warranted. People get have to have their opinions on it, but there needs to be some equality in how these things are judged. How come men do the most outrageous things on-field and no one bats an eyelid?
I feel that there is some sort of double standard for females in sports, to feel like we have to be humble in our successes and have to celebrate, but not too much or in a limited fashion. You see men celebrating all over the world in big tournaments, grabbing their sacks or whatever it is. And when I look at sipping a cup of tea, I am a little taken aback by the criticism.
6. When Serena Williams served facts to Raymond Moore, the CEO of the Indian Wells Masters tennis tournament, who went on record and said that women should drop to their knees and thank male players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for carrying the sport. She said she can’t even count the number of people who watch the sport because of her and her sister Venus Williams.
Raymond Moore, who resigned from his position later, had said:
They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.
To which, Serena responded:
If I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister. I couldn’t even bring up that number. So I don’t think that is a very accurate statement.
7. India’s most decorated squash player, Dipika Pallikal refused to play domestic games till there was equality in pay.
The reason I don’t play many domestic matches is because men and women never get the equal prize money. I have always stood by the fact that equality is the most important thing. We are higher ranked than men. I am World Number 11 and Joshna (Chinappa) is 20. We do exactly the same thing as men, we train as hard as them, we put in the same efforts, we sacrifice a lot of things just like them.
8. Beach volleyball April Ross said, “I’m here to play my sport” when people were raising questions about what she was wearing – a bikini. This was her complete statement.
I remember in London that was a huge deal, it was the number one question that we got at the press conference. ‘How do you feel about playing in a bikini?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t care. I’m here to play my sport and wear what’s comfortable.
So many people need to take a hint from these and shut up.