Not OK: Asking a pro female tennis player to "twirl"
The gender equality rule of thumb is simple: if you would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS ask a man in a professional situation to do something, chances are pretty good that you should NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS ask a woman to do that same thing.
Case in point: would you ask a male athlete to twirl around to show off his outfit? Seriously, you wouldn’t? Never in a million years? Then don’t ask a female athlete to do any twirling. You know, because of gender equality.
Unfortunately, Australian tennis commentator Ian Cohen didn’t get the “gender equality” memo, and at the Australia Open asked Canadian player Eugenie Bouchard to spin around and show the crowd her outfit following her straight-sets victory over Netherlands player Kiki Bertens.
The “twirl request” was a response to a tweet Bouchard had sent out earlier giving big ups to Serena Williams for her game day outfit. Following up on that tweet, Cohen threw out the following to Bouchard:
“Last night you tweeted you loved Serena’s outfit. Obviously the fluoro is working for you girls at the moment – she was kind enough to give us a twirl, can you give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?”
Though Bouchard obliged, it was clear she was a little weirded out by the request, and afterwards admitted:
“It was very unexpected. I mean, yeah, I don’t know. An old guy asking you to twirl, it was funny.”
Bouchard wasn’t the only one asked to twirl. Serena Williams, currently women’s world #1 was also invited to spin for the cameras and crowds after beating Russian Vera Zvonareva. Which is crazy on top of more crazy, like it’s nuts to ask ANY athlete to twirl, but the number one athlete in her field being asked to play pre-schooler at a tea party, I think we can all agree, is next-level insanity.
When asked about her own “Twirlgate,” Williams carefully voiced her disapproval:
“A commentator asked me to twirl. I wouldn’t ask Rafa (Nadal) or Roger (Federer) to twirl. Whether it’s sexist or not, I don’t know. I can’t answer that.
I didn’t really want to twirl because I was just like, you know, I don’t need all the extra attention. But, yeah, it was fine.
I don’t think and look that deep into it. Life is far too short to focus on that. We have so many other problems we want to deal with that we should focus on. Whether I twirl or not, it’s not the end of the world. It’s about being positive and just moving forward.”
Williams played this situation like a diplomat, but Twitter had some harsher words for Cohen, because you can ALWAYS count on the little blue birds to call ’em like they see ’em:
The message reads loud and clear: don’t treat female athletes like little girls and don’t ask an athlete of one gender a question you would never dream of asking a player of the opposite sex. This is gender equality, these are the rules, learn ’em, love ’em, live by them.