*Given that at this year (2015)’s Australian Open Eugenie Bouchard was just asked to “give us a twirl” – we thought we would re-post this article and remind everyone that sometimes, nothing changes. Keep fighting, Genie Army!
I’m not exactly “interested” in “sports” per SE (at all) but I do find it to be uplifting and a generally happy piece of news to hear that a Canadian athlete is doing well on the world stage. Go team! Ra-Ra-Canada! Etc.
Whether or not you’ve heard, one such athlete is Eugenie Bouchard – a 19-year-old tennis player from Quebec who just – historically – became the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam semifinal (It’s a tennis thing. Apparently. Just go with it.) at the Australian Open in thirty years, and only the second Canadian to get this far in the tournament at all.
The girl’s got fans, and even her own hashtag #GeniesArmy. She trains full-time at Tennis Canada’s National Training Centre. Ana Ivanovic (a tennis player who is good) called her “a very great player with a bright future.” Martina Navratilova (another tennis player, who is maybe even better) said, “She’s a potential future No. 1, no doubt about that.”
So after this historic tennis match, Eugenie is approached by an Australian news reporter for an interview. Rather than ask anything about the historic tennis match in question, or the fact that Eugenie just won a massive game for her country on the world stage while still a teenager, the report went ahead with this, “You’re getting a lot of fans here, a lot of them male. And they want to know, if you could date anyone in the world of sport, of movies… who would you date?”
Yeah. Because that’s what matters about that game. Did the reporter even watch the game, I wonder? Does the reporter know even know that she came out of it as the winner? Do they have any idea what the Australian Open is, or do they just assume it’s an event where women in short skirts compete for the attention of potential dates by swinging rackets through the air in hopes of catching his attention? Even I know better than that.
Don’t worry Eugenie. We are all equally embarrassed by this question.
Eugenie, clearly flustered, answered Justin Bieber, for what it’s worth (nothing at all. It’s worth nothing). This has further entertained the news media – taking a story that could have been about a brave, strong, extremely determined and dedicated young woman into news stories with headlines such as, “Glamour Girl Eugenie Bouchard Says She’d Date Justin Bieber,” “Eugenie Bouchard: Justin Bieber Would Be My Dream Date,” and “Tennis Star Eugenie Bouchard — I Wanna Date Justin Bieber!!!” (Ok that last one may have been TMZ. But still.)
As I’ve made pretty clear, I don’t watch sports. And yet I know this is not the kind of post-game question that male athletes are asked by reporters. The questions they are asked might be equally pointless – about focus and pucks and nets and teamwork and strategy and winning – but sexist they are not.
We are proud of our Canadian athletes on the international stage. We want them to get the attention they deserve. And we need to expect better of the international media. We need to stop treating female athletes like available bachelorettes. And we really need to demand an apology for Eugenie.
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