Could You Give Us a Twirl: Sexism in Media Coverage of Female Athletes

“Could you give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?”[2] This question was posed to Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard in an interview at the Australian Open in 2015. Rather than interviewing Bouchard about her winning performance on the court, the interviewer asked Bouchard to comment on her tennis outfit. This interview was highly controversial, and viewers turned to social media to express their disappointment with the sexist commentary female athletes face. 

This interview of Eugenie Bouchard is at the center of the ‘Cover The Athlete’ campaign.[3] The #CoverTheAthlete Campaign was created to demand equal media coverage of female athletes. The campaign’s YouTube account states, “Sexist commentary, inappropriate interview questions, and articles commenting on physical appearance not only trivialize a woman’s accomplishments, but also send a message that a woman’s value is based on her looks, not her ability — and it’s much too commonplace.”[4]

To enforce the campaign’s message, a video was released parodying the type of inappropriate questions female athletes are asked on a daily basis. The questions in the video are real questions that female athletes have been asked before in interviews. However, the male athletes were never actually asked these questions. Rather, the male athletes’ reactions in the video were taken from old interviews where different questions were asked.[5]

Catcalls of London, an Instagram account with over 15,000 followers, reposted the #CoverTheAthlete video on September 1st, 2023. This video immediately went viral, receiving over 6 million views, 330,000 likes, and 1,400 comments.[6]

Many comments to the video blamed the female athletes for answering the reporters’ questions. These comments missed the call to change the focus of media attention from a female athlete’s appearance to her athletic performance.

Some of these comments include, “maybe women should react the way these guys did,” “answer like a man-they’ll stop,” “women never stop complaining. They need to grow up,” “women can change it by refusing to answer those questions just like the men do….,” “I like that the men don’t even consider them questions. Women should learn from this.”

The comments on Catcalls of London’s post showcase the persistent problem of sexism in sports. These comments demonstrate just how quickly women are publicly shamed and men are applauded, another example of victim blaming. Harmful stereotypes have influenced the way people think about women, especially in the area of sports.  Sexist views and demeaning comments devalue female athletes’ performance, achievements, and talents.

The media can use their platform to expose the unequal treatment of female athletes. Instead, the media perpetuates sexism in sports by interviewing female athletes about their looks and not their performance. 

If an employer asked a prospective employee about their appearance, such questioning would be prohibited as sexual harassment.  If this line of questioning constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace, why are we still allowing female athletes to be asked these questions on the playing field? 

[1]  Featured Image:






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