Women are made to face the barrels of buoyant sexism on a daily basis, be it at work or even at home. We are monitored and judged by the way we dress, by the way we speak, by the number of cuss words we know, or even by the number of beers we consume at a social event. Although women are now endorsing and demanding their social rights — in both their virtual and physical realities — the truth is that even till this day, women do not receive as much respect or recognition on the professional front as their smug male counterparts. This is especially the case when it comes to the sports industry.
Female athletes are objectified on the field, much as they are on the streets. From coaches, to commentators, to the audience, women are looked at as commodities showcasing themselves for men’s pleasure, not as entities of potential and talent. This level of sexism can come from even the highest of places and the most famous names.
For too long, it has been dominated and reserved for men, their justification being that ‘women aren’t really into sports that much anyway’. I remember attending a sports writing class when I was studying journalism, which incidentally on just that one day, saw a greater show of hands on the male side. What astounded me was the immediate ‘obviously’ that rang through the class, the minute the lecturer observed this out loud. When even my closest friends caught my indignant glare, they shrugged and dropped the usual ‘everyone knows girls don’t get sports’ one-liner, that consequently sparked off the greatest boys vs. girls debate to be held in that freezing corner of the campus.
Why is this such a no-brainer for men? Why does ‘sports’ invariably become synonymous with ‘male’? Why aren’t we raving about the women’s hockey team instead of star-marking Virat Kohli’s fitness regimes on our computers? Why isn’t mainstream media covering even a fourth of female-centric sports on their pages? As an observer, it is easy to take in the surface value of this reality, rant, and forget. But for the women who have to bear this on an everyday basis, it’s not a simple case of accept, forgive, and forget. They are embroiled in the eternal fight for their spot in the industry, one that is their natural right and none of it comes close to being easy.
The first challenge that female athletes have to face is being paid half or less of what is given to their male counterparts. Be it whichever sport, there are gross discrepancies between the incomes of male and female athletes. This is the case even with prize money.Female athletes are objectified on the field, much as they are on the streets. From coaches, to commentators, to the audience, women are looked at as commodities showcasing themselves for men’s pleasure, not as entities of potential and talent. This level of sexism can come from even the highest of places and the most famous names.