We have a new favorite feminist hashtag: it’s #CoverTheAthlete. What exactly is #CoverTheAthlete? Well, think of #AskHerMore (the red carpet focused hashtag imploring journalists to ask actresses about more than their appearances), except #CoverTheAthlete is for athletes instead of actors.
If you thought it was ridiculous that actresses are often asked solely about their appearance at a ceremony celebrating their work, be prepared to be blown away by the sexist questions thrown at female athletes.
For example: an article about the world-class female Olympic team was titled “Olympic Beach Volleyball: Great Bodies, Bikinis and More.” Because clearly the reason these women work so hard at volleyball is to be ogled at in bathing suits.
The campaign started with an utterly hilarious video you may have already seen. Basically, journalists ask male athletes the same questions they ask female questions — and the men are bewildered. The guys are asked about who they would like to date, they’re asked about their “girlish” figures, and they’re asked about how their uniforms compensate for their body types. The men refuse to answer the questions, and women should too.
Consider the sexist (and, frankly, racist) coverage of Serena Williams when she beat her sister at the U.S. Open. Instead of reporting on her strategy or applauding her skill, one journalist quoted on the campaign’s website chose to discuss how she looks in a catsuit instead.
His verdict? The incredibly demeaning declaration that, “On Serena, it only serves to accentuate a superstructure that is already bordering on the digitally enhanced and a rear end that I will attempt to sum up as discreetly as possibly by simply referring to it as ‘formidable.’” This is arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, let’s talk about her skill not her looks.
Now, we are not denying that we’re occasionally curious about who made a celebrity’s dress or what workout regimen we can steal from these kickass athletes. But we also want to hear about how they practiced 24/7 to make that amazing pass, or how they worked with their teammates to strategize a way to be number one. Having both isn’t an issue — but when only women are asked about the former, and only men are asked the latter, we’ve got a serious case of sexist reporting.
“Sexist commentary, inappropriate interview questions, and articles focused on physical appearance not only trivializes a woman’s accomplishments, but also sends a message that her value is based on her looks, not her ability,” the #CoverTheAthlete website explains. “And it’s much too commonplace.”
Thankfully, now we have the perfect hashtag to let loose our frustration on Twitter. And, if the success of #AskHerMore is any indication, we won’t have to put up with this lazy line of questioning for too much longer.
[Image via Shutterstock]