After her winning match against Ana Ivankovic in the Grand Slam quarter finals, Eugenie Bouchard giggled as she admitted to her celebrity crush on the one, and only, Justin Bieber. This was breaking news in the world of women’s sports, making it on both The Guardian and CNN, among many other news and gossip websites. Many of these sites either completely disregard the fact that she is the first Canadian to make it to the Grand Slam semi-finals in thirty years at only 19 years old, or offhandedly mention it towards the end of the article.
Women in sports deserve more than this. They should be lauded for their athleticism, their skill, their achievements, not judged for their male interests or their bodies. Female athletes are often portrayed by society and the media in a way that is male-centric, or for the purpose of pleasing men. Just take a look at the dozens of “Sexiest Female Athletes” articles accompanied by said athletes wearing bikinis or even less. It’s a bid for the male gaze and promotes the further objectification of female bodies.
How much attention is paid to these women’s athletic abilities? A glance at attendance rates for women’s sporting events should serve as a hint. The same could be said about media coverage for women’s sports compared to men’s. From the looks of it, women’s sports aren’t nearly as exciting as men’s sports, right?
In the world of sports, there seems to be a preoccupation with the female athlete and what she might represent. They are seen as a woman, a mother, a beauty, fill in the blank, first before their athletic ability is mentioned, if mentioned at all.
Eugenie Bouchard and other talented women in sports deserve more. The sexism in the sports industry is still a prevalent issue that is certainly not going unnoticed by the women involved in it, evident by the apologies sent to Eugenie by the interviewer and former British tennis player Sam Smith. When female athletes get the same respect and treatment as male athletes, only then can the former’s skill can be fully appreciated.
University of Michigan