It’s no secret women around the globe often experience sexism and harassment in the workplace. And while it’s true we have seen some improvements in some industries, in sports reporting, it seems men are stuck in the archaic notions of sexism and misogyny. Sadly, it’s not that surprising—after all, sports has always been claimed by men as their dominion. Female reporters are thus often viewed as incompetent or less competent than their male counterparts, and even worse, regarded by some as nothing but a pretty face put there for the pleasure of male audiences. They are degraded—and “casual” sexual harassment seems to come with the job.
Just recently, Vegas Sports Daily reporter Jennifer Ravalo’s interview with boxer Kubrat Pulev made headlines, but for something negative. At the end of the brief interview, Kubrat grabbed Ravalo’s face in his hands, kissed her without her consent, and then walked away. She visibly looked shocked. Later, on Twitter, someone asked her how she felt. “[Little] embarrassing. Strange,” was all she said. Meanwhile Kubrat refuses to apologize for the incident. While Jennifer’s response seem understated, many netizens were clearly enraged at what happened. Some even urged her to file a sexual harassment complaint.
I found it damn right disrespectful. You were very professional which I applaud but that’s not right. He shouldn’t of kissed you on the lips.
On the other hand, some netizens—mostly men, no shocker there—saw nothing wrong with it. I just want to say, to all the men who think this way: just imagine if she were your sister or your girlfriend. Would you still say that’s perfectly normal? Please. Your sense of entitlement reeks. Also, it’s not overreacting because this is far from the first time something like this happened.
This kind of incident go way back. In 2017, French tennis player Maxime Hamou repeatedly tried to kiss journalist Maly Thomas on camera, even though she was physically pulling away and avoiding him. Thankfully, the player was later banned from the French Open. And who can forget. Last year, during the World Cup, female reporter’s awful experiences of being harassed on the job became a big issue that sparked public discussions. The hashtag #LetHerWork and #DeixaElaTrabalhar became viral when Brazilian soccer reporter Bruna Dealtry shared a video of a man leaning over to kiss her while she was reporting at a post-match celebration. In a Facebook post, Bruna addressed the incident. “I felt in my skin the feeling of helplessness that many women feel in stadiums, subways, or even walking the streets. A kiss on the mouth, without my permission, while I exercised my profession, which left me without knowing how to act and without understanding how one can feel in the right to do so,” she wrote in Portuguese. She also stressed how it’s all the more infuriating, as she worked hard to get where she is, including “college, courses, many lost weekends, many soccer games analyzed, tactical study, technical, research, etc.” She adds, “But for the simple fact of being a woman in the midst of a crowd, none of this had value to him.” She concluded by saying, “I’m a soccer reporter, I’m a woman, and I deserve to be respected.”
Following her post, her fellow reporters showed their support, and many revealed their own similar accounts of experiencing harassment, further proving that it was a norm in their profession.
And this isn’t even t the whole of it. Apart from physical harassment, many female sportscasters are constantly attacked online. This video challenging men to read “mean tweets” to female sports journalists is an eye-opener for that. At first, the mean tweets are just that—mean. As it progresses, even the men grew uncomfortable and had trouble continuing as the tweets became threatening and violent.
To think, that video campaign was three years ago. And after feminist movements, you’d think men would do better. It gets exhausting to drill the concept of “consent” and eradicating sexism to them. It’s 2019. The fact that a lot of men still fail to accept women as their equals is beyond me.
Art by Marian Hukom
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